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The Pursuit of Harmony

Kepler on Cosmos, Confession, and Community

Aviva Rothman

The Pursuit of Harmony

Aviva Rothman

336 pages | 18 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226496979 Published November 2017
E-book $55.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226497020 Published November 2017
A committed Lutheran excommunicated from his own church, a friend to Catholics and Calvinists alike, a layman who called himself a “priest of God,” a Copernican in a world where Ptolemy still reigned, a man who argued at the same time for the superiority of one truth and the need for many truths to coexist—German astronomer Johannes Kepler was, to say the least, a complicated figure. With The Pursuit of Harmony, Aviva Rothman offers a new view of him and his achievements, one that presents them as a story of Kepler’s attempts to bring different, even opposing ideas and circumstances into harmony.
 
Harmony, Rothman shows, was both the intellectual bedrock for and the primary goal of Kepler’s disparate endeavors. But it was also an elusive goal amid the deteriorating conditions of his world, as the political order crumbled and religious war raged. In the face of that devastation, Kepler’s hopes for his theories changed: whereas he had originally looked for a unifying approach to truth, he began instead to emphasize harmony as the peaceful coexistence of different views, one that could be fueled by the fundamentally nonpartisan discipline of mathematics. 
 
Contents
On Kepler’s Works and Translations
Introduction: Kepler and the Harmonic Ideal
1 “The Study of Divine Things”: Kepler as Astronomer-Priest
2 “Matters of Conscience”: Kepler and the Lutheran Church
3 “Of God and His Community”: Kepler and the Catholic Church
4 “An Ally in the Search for Truth”: Kepler and Galileo
5 “Political Digression(s)”: Kepler and the Harmony of the State
6 “The Christian Resolution of the Calendar”: Kepler as Impartial Mathematician
Conclusion: Perspective, Perception, and Pluralism
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Anthony T. Grafton, University of Princeton
"Scholars have always known that harmony mattered to Johannes Kepler. But Aviva Rothman shows, for the first time, that Kepler understood harmony--as he practiced astronomy--in his own, individual way. He prized dissonance in music, believed that disagreements on theology need not disrupt a church and envisioned harmony itself not as unity, but as diversity. Rothman's elegantly argued book not only sheds new light on Kepler as a student of nature but also reveals him as the advocate, in the midst of religious war, of a limited but impressive cosmopolitanism."
Ulinka Rublack, author of The Astronomer & the Witch
"Johannes Kepler is commonly remembered as a champion of harmony in a deeply troubled world. Rothman's illuminating book is the first to brilliantly demonstrate how his thinking provided a pathway for a new world order based on respect for different perspectives and religious views in ways which remain inspiring for today. Harmony was not an empty ideal, but turned into politics interlinked with pioneering scientific practices."
Nicholas Jardine, University of Cambridge
"This is a splendid piece of work: a highly original, important, scholarly, persuasive and engaging investigation of the astronomer Johannes Kepler's lifelong pursuit of harmony in a time of conflict."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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