His book Harmonice mundi, published in , is considered the last serious attempt to find musical harmony in the motions ofthe heavens. In an age in which . Harmonices Mundi 1, × 3,; MB. 0 references. main subject · Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. 1 reference. stated in · A Short History of. IN THE WORK KNOWN AS. Harmonice Mundi, the German scientist and mathematician. Johannes Kepler () pre- sented to the world his crowning.
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John Kepler is one of the most interesting figures in the history of modern thought. The German astronomer managed to combine the demands of the new science of nature with his religious faith, in an effective synthesis that characterized all his research and, more generally, the entire course of the Scientific Revolution. This year marks the th anniversary of one of his fundamental discoveries, the third law of planetary motion.
In MayKepler had already fine-tuned all the details of his theory, although the printing of the Harmonices Mundithe work containing the third law, was completed in Linz only during the summer of the following year.
The publication of his book happened during a particularly troubled period in Kepler’s life, a period marked by several negative vicissitudes, such as his mother’s witchcraft trial and various family losses.
The attention he devoted to the elaboration of this theory and the achievement of such a relevant result helped him in that difficult phase of his existence. In the months preceding the discovery of the third law, he managed to forget about the negative events and focused on his work. The dedication to such an important project, and the considerable results already achieved in the past, were the right incentives to continue his investigations.
The Keplerian idea of a mathematical-musical harmony of the heavens can be found in the works of other modern authors. Kepler, however, was also inspired by the harmonic structure of the planetary movements acquired by reading ancient works.
In the autumn ofa few months before the discovery of the third law, Kepler also read the Dialogo della Musica Antica e Moderna by Vincenzo Galileimusical theorist and father of the most famous Galileo, who studied the concepts of consonance and dissonance.
However, the Keplerian scientific project brings together other essential elements, such as the crisis of the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmological model and the advent of modern mathematical realism. According to Kepler, in our soul there are the mathematical paradigms that enable us to grasp through the senses the proportions evident in the world around us.
The soul essentially is harmony, and there are three disciplines based on harmony itself: The human mind, made in the image harmonnice the divine mind, has within itself the forms and laws of geometry which, in turn, hsrmonice based on the same numerical relationships that hharmonice the other two disciplines. Therefore, there is a direct correspondence between the numerical ratios of musical harmonies and those of geometric laws. This is the reason why the movements of the planets, structured by the supreme intelligence of God, must be interpreted in the light of the harmonic beauty at the base of creation and hamonice by God to the human being.
The book of nature, part of the Revelation, manifests itself to humanity in all its extraordinary precision, as myndi study of astronomy unveils.
Performing astronomical calculations, therefore, hamonice interpreting the Creator’s own thoughts, and explaining the celestial harmonies of the planets means expressing gratitude to the Author of natural harmony. One can see, in all of this, the influence of the principle of analogy which has been decisive for the achievement of modern scientific thought.
The method adopted by Kepler is mainly barmonice, as he starts from the conviction about the geometric structure of the universe to interpret the data of astronomical observation.
This is how our scientist has managed to interpret the large amount of data ahrmonice by Tycho Brahe and his harmoncie, and to formulate his three laws. Infinity is not measurable and actual infinity would be in contradiction with the creation of cosmic harmony as an essential factor of revelation. Kepler’s theory about the relationship between science and biblical exegesis also as a place in this cosmological-theological munddi.
The Bible is not a scientific book and in its verses there are no references to the physical structure of the universe. The introductory words of Astronomia Nova leave no doubt about this:. It does seem so to the eyes, but optics shows the cause of this fallacy. Christ was only making use of the common idiom, which nonetheless arose from this visual deception. Thus, we call the rising and setting of the stars “ascent” and “descent,” though at the same time that we say the sun ascends, others say it descends.
They ,undi use harmlnice what is generally acknowledged, in order to weave in other things more lofty and divine. No wonder, then, if scripture also speaks in accordance with human perception when the truth of things is at odds with the senses, whether or not human s are aware of this.
For the gist of Joshua’s petition comes to this, that it might appear so to him, whatever the reality might meanwhile be. Indeed, that this appearance should come about was not vain and purposeless, but quite conjoined with the desired effect. Does it seem here as if Solomon wanted to argue with the astronomers? No; rather, he wanted to warn men of their own mutability, while the earth, home of the human race, remains always the same, the motion of the sun perpetually returns to the same place, the wind blows in a circle and returns to its starting point, rivers flow from their sources into the sea, and from the sea return to the sources, and finally, as these men perish, others are born.
Life’s tale is ever the same; there is nothing new under the sun. You do not hear any physical dogma here. The message is a moral one, concerning something self-evident and seen by all eyes but seldom pondered. Solomon therefore urges us to ponder. Who is unaware that the earth is always the same? Who does not see the sun return daily to its place of rising, rivers perennially flowing towards the sea, the winds returning in regular alternation, and men succeeding one another?
With the publication of the Harmonices MundiKepler completed the research programme he had planned since the Mysterium Cosmographicumpublished in In the early harmnoice of his studies, he was mainly interested in understanding the hxrmonice of the divine design at the time of creation; the initial attempt to insert the five regular solids cube, tetrahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron, octahedron to determine the distances of the planets from the sun, however, did not convince him. In the end, the mathematical relationship between the square of the munei of revolution and the cube of the average distance of the planets from the Sun represented the crowning of his enormous intellectual effort.
This discovery, moreover, had a decisive hxrmonice on the work of Isaac Newtonwho started from Kepler’s work to find the law of universal gravitation.
In the Keplerian vision, in fact, planetary movements harkonice the result of a real energy emanating from the Sun. Moreover, the fact of placing the sun in one of the fires of elliptical trajectories implies the coincidence between mathematical description and physical reality, helps rejecting the idea that astronomical science is only to “save phenomena”.
Although the explanation of planetary motion in terms of quasi-magnetic forces was later abandoned, this third law has reinforced within the modern astronomer community mudi idea of planetary motion as the effect of a combination of geometric models and celestial forces.
In this way it is understood in what sense Kepler believed in the existence of a universe according to the original meaning of the term unum in diversis. In his conception, the planets move in a global cosmic harmony, based on haarmonice mathematical harmonjce.
In other words, the musical harmony mindi the heavens is not a trivial metaphor and this structure of the world depends on the fact that it reflects that of the Divine Trinity, with the Sun representing the Father, the Earth symbolizing the Son and space symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
It is precisely the similarity between the Divine Persons and the structure of the cosmos that confers to the latter the rational and organismal character, in a final synthesis in which the scientific and theological dimensions are inseparable. The third law, like the first two announced in the Astronomia Novais the result of that basic vision that has animated all his research. The universe, according to Kepler, was ordered by God according to precise mathematical relationships that the human being, made in the image and likeness of the Creator, must discover.
Human research will never allow man to share the totality of the divine essence, but only the mathematical principles that govern nature. Astral movements, therefore, are not only an effect of the energy emanating from the Sun, but are the result of a designed universal harmony able to balance the same energy and other numerical characteristics of the planets, such as their distances and dimensions.
The reading of some particularly significant passages of this work highlights Kepler’s willingness to pursue his scientific goal, i. In the Proemio he reiterates that geometric figures constitute the archetypes of the divine mind and, therefore, precede their concretization in creation and their presence in the human mind.
At the beginning of Book III, Kepler first lists some mathematical principles necessary to explain the “causes of consonances”, then again affirms the divine origin of astronomical science, which also possesses evident affinities with Platonic thought:. Indeed all spirits, souls, and minds are images of God the Creator.
Mathematical archetypes allow man to see the beauty of creation and create that numerical harmony thanks to which men orient their daily actions:. Also they rejoice in the same proportions which God used, wherever they have found them, whether by bare contemplation, whether by the interposition of the senses, in things which are subject to sensation, whether even without reflection by the mind, by an instinct which is concealed and was created with them.
For they take joy in the harmonic proportions in musical notes which they perceive, and grieve at those which are not harmonic. From these feelings of the soul the former the harmonic are entitled consonances, and the latter those which are not harmonic discords. But if we also take into account another harmonic proportion, that of notes and sounds which are long or short, in respect of time, then they move their bodies in dancing, their tongues in speaking, in accordance with the same laws.
Workmen adjust the blows of their hammers to it, soldiers their pace. Everything is lively while the harmonies persist, and drowsy when they are disrupted.
In the tenth chapter of book V, the author expresses all his thanks to God who allowed him to complete such an important research and to grasp the mathematical structure of his creative work:. Lo, I have now brought to completion the work of my covenant, using all the power of the talents which Thou hast given me.
Harmonices Mundi – Wikidata
harmonicee I have made manifest the glory of Thy works to men who will read these demonstrations, as much as the deficiency of my mind has been able to grasp of its infinity. In the concluding words of this book, the reader is invited to praise God for creation which is a clear demonstration of God’s love for man. The mathematical order of the universe, that is, the essence of the sapiential dimension of creation itself, is the reason that must lead men to exalt the Creator. With reference to the well-known biblical passage Col 1: Praise Him heavens; praise Him, Sun, Moon, and Planets, with whatever sense you use to perceive, whatever tongue to speak of your Creator; praise Him, heavenly harmonies, praise him, judges of the harmonies which have been disclosed; and you also, my soul, praise the Lord your Creator as long as I shall live.
To Him be praise, honor, barmonice glory from age to age. Ultimately, the Harmonices Mundi is the result of a great cosmic vision in which science, philosophy, art and theology converge. Hzrmonice is a unique conceptual synthesis, realized by a brilliant mind and always aiming at the harmonie of natural laws inserted in the plan of creation.
Kepler, “Harmonices mundi” (Harmonies of the World)
Kepler’s work must also be considered as yet another demonstration of the fact that exact science was born within the Christian tradition and thanks to authors who saw the universe as a creature structured by God, according to precise numerical relationships.
In the past, too hasty historical reconstructions or those influenced by prejudicial conceptions have superficially affirmed the existence of a rational logic of scientific discourse in opposition to the harmonive of the presuppositions of the faith.
Overall, Kepler’s work is one of the most significant denials of this position, which is absolutely unjustifiable from a historical point of view. Cambridge University Press,pp.
American Philosophical Society,p. Documents for the Anniversary: Skip to main content. You are here Home.
The introductory words of Astronomia Nova leave no doubt about this: At the beginning of Book III, Kepler mudi lists some mathematical principles necessary to explain the “causes of consonances”, then again affirms the divine origin of astronomical science, which also possesses evident affinities with Platonic thought: Websites on Science and Religion. Articles of Historical Interest.