Rational Versus Non Rational: A Look At Kepler

2221 words - 9 pages

In philosophy, there are thinkers who attempt to construct or discover a systematic order in the universe. They tend to believe the power of reason can completely uncover and comprehend the laws of nature. Order and balance are their tools using observation and the scientific method. ?It is an ability or capacity to solve problems, anticipate consequences and understand the reasons or causes of events? (Lewis 10). By distancing oneself from the mystery and using one?s head and not their heart, a researcher will be able to use the scientific method to arrive at a solution that works.In the different readings about Johannes Kepler, there was some disagreement at to whether he was used rational or non-rational processes in his scientific activity. In Sleepwalkers, by Arthur Koestler, the author took the stance that Kepler?s were non-rational, using his battle with Mars as an example. Others, however, look at Kepler?s extensive and successful use of mathematics as proof that he was indeed a rational man. After taking both side of the argument into consideration, I come to the belief that this was a complex man who, though was rational in most respects, also had a healthy dose of non-rationality mixed in his persona that influenced how he looked at the universe.Mathematics is a field that is rational by its very nature, and for Kepler, nature itself was formed according to mathematical laws. In order for him to be so intoxicated with idea of a mathematical worldview he would have to have a rational and critical mind. He used mathematics, and in particular, geometry, to search for and understand the structure of the universe. In Kepler?s time, the idea that the planets orbited in circles or combinations of circles was considered to an almost universal accepted fact. However, he found that the idea did not work. Using geometry as his focal point, Kepler tried noncircular paths until he found a solution that worked: Mars revolves in an orbit with the Sun occupying one of its focuses. For the rational mind, the ?more mathematical a phenomenon, the more intelligible it is, the more open to human inquiry. Curtis Wilson proposes a similar view when he writes of Kepler as presenting a ?new way of seeing the world as a connected system. This invisible connection between bodies, the radiations of light and heat, and motive force, with Kepler became quantifiable, and in this respect alone, he believes, graspable by man?" (Kezhamthadam 56).One of the fundamental principles by which Kepler lived by was that of realism. He believed that our ?world of experience? is real and not a figment of our imagination; certainly not any less real that the ?world of ideas? help by Platonists. Because of this belief, it is meaningful to study the structure of the universe and how it operates and to look for real causes of natural phenomena. From Kepler?s viewpoint, that any understanding he gained through rathional reflection would also correspond to the structure and operation...

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