Johannes Kepler and the Renaissance RelationshipJune 27, 2021
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who followed the path opened by Copernicus, established an important place in the history of science with the laws he discovered regarding the shape and velocities of planetary orbits. He assisted Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), also an important astronomer, and benefited greatly from the systematically cataloged data of his years of astronomical observations.
Yet the discovery or formulation of the laws named after him is undoubtedly his own intellectual achievement. He was one of the first to accept the heliocentric theory proposed by Copernicus. However, Brahe’s observation data did not confirm that the orbits of the planets were circular as Copernicus had suggested. For this reason, he continued his studies and finally put forward his three laws that brought innovation in this field. Also, feeling that it was necessary to express plain observation in an objective language, he succeeded in expressing these laws with mathematical formulary maps. According to the first of these, the path followed by the planets as they move around the central sun, that is, their orbits, is elliptical. According to the second law, each planet leaves behind the same length in its orbit around the sun. On this basis, the speed of the planets increases as they get closer to the Sun, and their speed decreases as they move away from the Sun. “The third law, on the rotation of the Planets: teaches that the square of the rotation time is proportional to the cube of the planet’s mean distance from the Sun” (Russell, 1997: 278). These discoveries were indeed the most realistic signs that modern natural science was on the right track. The contemporary understanding of the universe, paved by Copernicus, was taken one step further. The replacement of circles by ellipses as orbits also ended the aesthetic universe understanding that had been going on since Pythagoras, and was replaced by the mechanical universe understanding. Galileo Galilei will have the last word in this area.
Kepler’s Laws: 1. The orbits of planets are elliptical. 2. Each planet leaves behind the same length in its orbit around the sun at the same time. 3. The square of the rotation time of the planets is proportional to the cube of the planet’s average distance from the sun.
Kepler was actually a thinker influenced by Pythagoras. According to Pythagoras and Pythagoreans, the building blocks of the universe are numbers. The universe is a system knitted with numbers and proportions between numbers. Therefore, everything in the universe is proportionally compatible with each other; This compatibility brings about being aesthetic, that is, being beautiful as a result. However, spiritual and spiritual elements are also included in this teaching, because Pythagoreanism also presents a religious teaching. For this reason, the Pythagoreans added many mystical elements to their universe teachings. Kepler not only adopted the numerical texture of this system, but also tried to support this system with his experiments and observations, while succeeding in leaving out the mystical elements completely.
According to Kepler, the structure of nature conforms to mathematical language; The relations between things and phenomena can be explained by quantitative ratios and proportions. The mechanical structure of nature cannot be explained by some spiritual forces, secrets and mysteries. “As a result of his observations, Kepler believed that he had discovered the general structure of the arrangement of the celestial bodies by showing that there were simple geometric proportions, especially in the solar system. This is a mathematical, geometrical structure, which is simple, clear, and suitable to be explained with few principles” (Çelik, 2010: 214). Kepler’s real success comes from his first law of planetary orbits. His discovery that planetary orbits are elliptical rather than circular, overturned the centuries-old belief in circular orbits and pioneered a new approach to science.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook