An extraordinary history of humanity’s changing vision of the universe. In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between. 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. ovelist, essayist and political man of action, Arthur Koestler emerges in this book as a historian of the sciences. He traces, with a comic writer’s eye and a.

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The Sleepwalkers

The third and final subtopic of the book is concerned with the psychological aspects of the contributors to the history of cosmology. His ‘earth slespwalkers work was practically unreadable.

Galileo didn’t read or correspond much outside of Italy and it was fully in keeping with his style, during his astronomical discovery phaseto seek out Kepler’s opinion through the Imperial Court rather than through more intimate letter-writing. Return to Book Page. History, too, but again, circumstances weren’t always favourable. View all 8 comments. Koestler attempts to accomplish this by not presenting Copernicus or Galileo as legends, but by describing them as people, brilliant, yet fallible.

I was particularly impressed by the section dedicated to Kepler, who, I am reminded, essentially wrote the first piece of science fiction waaaay back when.

Next Post Next The worms crawl in, and the worms crawl out: For example, Platonist always …more Plato is obssessed with the idea that everything can be constructed from the above, by centralization and theorization. Also, Koestler downplays the Newtonian synthesis We, historians of science, deal with all of this: Nov 27, Denisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: We are given letter correspondences in verbatim, dozens of letters, book excerpts are quoted in great detail, copies of Galileo’s judgement are quoted, large chunks in verbatim!

The book skeepwalkers tells how at some point in history, the perception was better – more accurate – than it was several centuries later, when the Church or religion was very adamant about Holy Scripture and how one could not go against that. Computing a Bride How imaginative but now taken in the negative connotation of the word I did not care to find out.


This article about an astronomy -related book is a stub.

After nearly dense pages on the various non-entities surrounding Copernicus, a man who seems to have spent most of his life avoiding real work and contributed nothing really new by the way of astronomy or scientific thought, one wonders what exactly motivated Koestler to write this book.

In Great on Kepler and the Galileo trial, far too light on ancients and Newton. However I arthr amazed, for example, at the decades of work that Kepler spent in figuring out how the solar system is really put together pre-Newton and pre-Einstein cs. In he joined the Communist Sleepsalkers of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it koestlsr and in published a devastating anti-Communist novel, Darkness at Noonwhich propelled him to instant international fame.

The Road to Great Discovery Is Itself a Thing of Wonder

Throughout the book, this last thought could be expanded into a central theme. The new masters of destiny were placed lower in the scale than the being they controlled; they could determine his fate, but could provide him with no moral guidance, no values and meaning.

Kepler and Galileo 9. Also, it bears noting that Koestler’s misogyny is really off putting, even when writing about a misogynistic age. Hence the importance of Augustine, who was not only the most influential churchman of the earlier Middle Ages, the chief promoter of the Papacy as a supranational authority, and the originator of the rules of monastic life; but above all the living symbol of continuity between the vanished ancient, and the emerging new civilization.

Koestler included an often ignored line of thought; how religion influenced early understanding of the universe.

No trivia or quizzes yet. But Kepler felt he could do better, junked the solution, and spent several more years messing with the data until he derived his First and Second Laws. Koestled 4 is the largest section and deals principally with Kepler, but als The five parts of this book interested me to varying degrees.


The key idea of the book is that revolutionary scientists are not purely rational super-beings, but that their actions, and thoughts, like everybody else, were influenced by contemporary social conditions and Dogma. And worst, Galileo had in fact no evidence at all atthur support the Copernican system against the Tychonian! After the fall of Roman civilization, even this was lost, and by the sixth century A.

In arthir opinion, the strongest and most convincing section of Sleepwalkers is the story of, and hatchet job on, Copernicus.

The particular tragedy of Galileo was that his two major works were only published after his seventieth year.

A series of well researched essays on Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, and how they stumbled, or in Koestler’s words – sleepwalked, their way through their eponymous works and discoveries. An excellent in depth story about the development of astronomy and the people who made the measurements and interpreted the results. I believe his theory has much to recommend it – but even if you don’t hold to his occasionally eccentric views, The Sleepwalkers is a fantastic admixture of biography and history on a subject that has proven endlessly fascinating.

Also, long-winded and detailed passages concerning the movements and eating habits of his scientist-heros fail to add anything significant to Koestler’s arguments. Want to Read saving…. I have learned so many interesting stuff about the pioneers of the astronomy Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo.