Kepler’s optics without hypotheses

Synthese 185 (3):501-525 (2012)

Abstract
This paper argues that Kepler considered his work in optics as part of natural philosophy and that, consequently, he aimed at change within natural philosophy. Back-to-back with John Schuster’s claim that Descartes’ optics should be considered as a natural philosophical appropriation of innovative results in the tradition of practical and mixed mathematics the central claim of my paper is that Kepler’s theory of optical imagery, developed in his Paralipomena ad Vitellionem (1604), was the result of a move similar to Descartes’ by Kepler. My argument consists of three parts. First, Kepler borrowed a geometrical model and experiment of optical imagery from the mélange of mixed and practical mathematics provided in the works of the sixteenth-century mathematicians Ettore Ausonio and Giovanni Battista Della Porta. Second, Kepler criticized the Aristotelian theory of light and he developed his own alternative metaphysics. Third, Kepler used his natural philosophical assumptions about the nature of light to re-interpret the model of image formation taken from Della Porta’s work. Taken together, I portray Kepler’s theory of optical imagery as a natural philosophical appropriation of an innovative model of image formation developed in a sixteenth-century practical and mixed mathematical tradition which was not interested in questioning philosophical assumptions on the nature of light
Keywords Kepler  Natural philosophy  Practical mathematics  Image theory  Seventeenth century
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9977-6
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Method and Mathematics: Peter Ramus's Histories of the Sciences.Robert Goulding - 2006 - Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (1):63-85.
Kepler's Geometrical Cosmology.J. V. Field & M. E. Bowden - 1988 - Annals of Science 51 (1):95-97.

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