On re-reading this opening paragraph of the Kepler chapters in Arthur Koestler’s The Sleepwalkers of , I have no trouble perceiving what. Arthur Koestler. The Sleepwalkers. A History of Man’s changing vision of the Universe. With an Introduction by. Herbert Butterfield. 1. Awakening. We can add to. An extraordinary history of humanity’s changing vision of the universe. In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile.

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The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler | : Books

It traces the history of Western cosmology from ancient Mesopotamia to Isaac Newton. The idea of the universe with walls can be traced to the Bible, similar to the idea that heavenly bodies having ladders and pulleys The first half, on whose strength this rating is based, was a masterpiece.

Koestler’s book is by no means perfect. The book ends with a modern epilogue which briefly details the state of science and religion today. Koestler’s anti-Galileo arguments also tend to be a bit blunt and partisan.

The best part of his life was spent in these skirmishes. Since the divorce of religion and science, this fact has been conveniently ignored resulting into a one sided story.

The idea that Galileo’s quarter-century diversion into astronomy was actually a waste of his time that could have been devoted to his real forte — dynamics — is provocative and mainly credible though it gives short shift to Galileo’s calculations of the periods of the Jupiter moons, which the literally-myopic Kepler thought impossible.

This blindness to the fact that moving bodies tend to persist in their movement unless stopped or deflected, prevented the emergence of a true science of physics until Galileo. Thus, by the end of the second century B. The idea that the “past determines action” is an example of a implicit dogma which needs to be questioned for major breakthroughs to be made.

Nov 27, Denisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Quotes from The Sleepwalkers I was slefpwalkers forward to his epilogue, but it was quite dated. View all 8 comments. The Earth Adrift 4. The advancements of this promising time period are nearly forgotten with the coming of the “Dark Ages” and its repression of science.


Behold, I have cast the dice, and I am writing a book either for my contemporaries, or for posterity. The idea that the Copernican model was a beautiful idea rendered useless as science or physics by the sleepwalkfrs medieval mind sleepwalkera its adapter casts a totally different light on the developments of the century that followed. The problem for Galileo was that he couldn’t prove that the heliocentric universe was true.

Bruno had already proclaimed that the heliocentric view of Copernicus was correct.

On Rereading Arthur Koestler’s Sleepwalkers

Up to then, his output consisted in pamphlets, tracts, manuscripts circulated privately, and oral persuasion — all of it except the Star Messenger polemical, ironically aggressive, spiced with arguments ad hominem. And worst, Galileo had in fact no evidence at all to support the Copernican system against the Tychonian! LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Slowly, though, science sleepwalkefs religion grew apart coming to a climax with the trial of Galileo and the heliocentric debate.

He was not tortured by the Inquisition, did not languish in its dungeons, did not sleepwqlkers “eppur si muove” and he was not a martyr of science. As a result, man’s destiny was no longer determined from “above” by a superhuman wisdom and will, but from “below” by the sub-human agencies of glands, genes, atoms, or waves of probability.

Arthur Koestler has – or rather, had – a way with words. We, historians of science, deal with all of this: Or, in other words, once out of school, I became more interested in certain subjects at which I wasn’t always successful in school. What turned Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho, and Galileo, but Kepler above all, into of all things sleepwalkers?

I loved spending time with Koestler’s strange koesler vigorous mind. This was the most interesting section for me. I have learned so many interesting stuff about the pioneers of the astronomy Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo.

Koesfler try again later. The contrast between his carelessness about his name and his extreme precision about dates reflects, from the very outset, a mind to whom all ultimate reality, the essence of religion, of truth and beauty, was contained in the language of numbers.


Neither, surprisingly, did the Astronomia Nova, which may have been a good thing if that encouraged Catholic scholars to read it instead of Copernicus’ Revolutionibus. I live in the city. No trivia or quizzes yet.

A very worthwhile synthesis of 2, years of cosmology through European eyes and how man’s view changed massively, thanks to several bright minds, and despite the struggle with the Church. Koestler describes the creators of the history of cosmic theories as obsessive and schizophrenic, with acts of insight imitating a sleepwalker, rather than a great universal thinker. Reading Koestler for the first time, just released, Koestler changed me to a totally different person.

Koestler makes fun of the medieval mind-set, but I wondered what would happen if our own civilization collapsed and science reverted to a much more primitive stage.

Astronomy began simply as sky-geometry, it was not until Kepler that someone attempted to apportion a causality to the movements.

The contrast was not against the traditional Ptolemaic system everything goes round the Earthbut against the much more sophisticated system proposed by Tycho Brahe the Sun and the Moon go round the Earth, all the other planets go round the Sun.

The editorial asides didn’t distract me in the least, in fact I found them quite refreshing. Definitely surpassing much then and now current work in broadly accessible history of science writing, Koestler had quite a good grasp of the literature.

Arstotle and Plato’s ideas about the immutability of the heavens and the variability, and hence inferiority, of the sub-lunar regionthe chain of being down from God to the lowest particle of dirt, with everyone and everything having a place, and that the motion of heavenly bodies is circular and with uniform speed, all become completely accepted into mainstream thought and religion, and hence were dogma.