Rational versus Non-Rational: A Look at Kepler

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In philosophy, there are thinkers who attempt to construct or discover a systematic order in the universe. They tend to believe the power of reason can completely uncover and comprehend the laws of nature. Order and balance are their tools using observation and the scientific method. ?It is an ability or capacity to solve problems, anticipate consequences and understand the reasons or causes of events? (Lewis 10). By distancing oneself from the mystery and using one?s head and not their heart, a researcher will be able to use the scientific method to arrive at a solution that works.

In the different readings about Johannes Kepler, there was some disagreement at to whether he was used rational or non-rational processes in his scientific activity. In Sleepwalkers, by Arthur Koestler, the author took the stance that Kepler?s were non-rational, using his battle with Mars as an example. Others, however, look at Kepler?s extensive and successful use of mathematics as proof that he was indeed a rational man.

After taking both side of the argument into consideration, I come to the belief that this was a complex man who, though was rational in most respects, also had a healthy dose of non-rationality mixed in his persona that influenced how he looked at the universe.

Mathematics is a field that is rational by its very nature, and for Kepler, nature itself was formed according to mathematical laws. In order for him to be so intoxicated with idea of a mathematical worldview he would have to have a rational and critical mind. He used mathematics, and in particular, geometry, to search for and understand the structure of the universe. In Kepler?s time, the idea that the planets orbited in circles or combinations of circles was considered to an almost universal accepted fact. However,