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The Significance of Kepler’s Laws

  • Micheal John Petry
Chapter
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 136)

Abstract

Hegel’s treatment of Kepler’s laws is first and foremost the outcome of his purely systematic approach to the celestial mechanics of his own day. It is not intended to be an essay in historical thinking, and there is therefore little point in criticizing it as such. Its shortcomings as history are in any case obvious enough. There is no denying that in certain important respects it misrepresents Kepler’s conception of his own work, that it fails to bring out the full significance of the way in which the laws are interpreted in Newton’s Principia, and that it gives evidence of a curious unwillingness to distinguish between the views of Newton himself and those of his would-be followers. Once we distinguish between writing history and thinking systematically, however, once the way in which Hegel praises Kepler and criticizes Newton is seen as part of a purely systematic approach to the celestial mechanics of the early nineteenth century, it soon becomes apparent that what he has to say makes very good sense indeed. It is certainly a fact of some significance, that despite the vehemence with which he inveighs against Newton on this particular issue, practically every one of the positive points he makes, in both the Dissertation and the Encyclopedia, is in complete accordance with Newton’s own interpretation of Kepler’s laws as expounded in the Principia.

Keywords

Conic Section Centripetal Force Planetary Motion Universal Gravitation Heavenly Body 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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