May 06, 2021
The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe
Posted by Arthur Koestler Herbert Butterfield

An extraordinary history of humanity s changing vision of the universe In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between sciences and humanities to bring to life the whole history of cosmology from the Babylonians to Newton He shows how the tragic split between science and religion arose and how, in particular, the modern world An extraordinary history of humanity s changing vision of the universe In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between sciences and humanities to bring to life the whole history of cosmology from the Babylonians to Newton He shows how the tragic split between science and religion arose and how, in particular, the modern world view replaced the medieval world view in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century He also provides vivid and judicious pen portraits of a string of great scientists and makes clear the role that political bias and unconscious prejudice played in their creativity.

  • Title: The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe
  • Author: Arthur Koestler Herbert Butterfield
  • ISBN: 9780140192469
  • Page: 210
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Sleepwalkers A History of Man s Changing Vision of the Universe An extraordinary history of humanity s changing vision of the universe In this masterly synthesis Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between sciences and humanities to bring to life


    Koestler s book presents a rather good history of cosmology from ancient times until the late 17th century There are four main sections, respectively devoted to the classical world view i.e before the 15th century , Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo, and in each one I was surprised to see just how ignorant I was In the first section, I had not appreciated to what extent scientific progress can go backwards as well as forwards Koestler describes the Pythagorean school like Penrose, a modern disciple [...]


    I ve never managed to get into Darkness At Noon Poeple give it to me and they say ooooh and you must and you ll love and maybe one day I will, but so far I haven t And that annoys me on some level because everywhere I go I run into Koestler references It s in V for Vendetta, it s everywhere in the kind of books I enjoy reading Plus, on the face of it, it s a book I really should enjoy I completely see why everyone expects me to have read it or to flip out when I do.But I don t.But.But THIS book, [...]


    Koestler brings a true passion to his cosmographical history, detailing man s theorizations and beliefs on the nature of the universe from ancient Mesopotamia through to the enforced recantation by Galileo of his heliocentric confirmations and the synthesis of his predecessor s pioneering work by Newton to establish the basis of modern science Though all of his in depth portrayals of the principal Renaissance cosmographic entrepreneurs Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo are delightful and informat [...]


    Throughout this highly detailed work by Koestler there is a pendulum swing that might be said to center on a balanced integration of the mystical with the rational From a certain perspective, we could say that the force which causes the pendulum to swing is human free will and the ability we have to view the world from numerous perspectives Yet the decisions coming out of free will can be heavily influenced by larger forces the cosmology of a given age is not the result of a unilinear, scientifi [...]


    A heavy subject, but very interesting A mixture of history, cosmology astronomy, and physics I never was good at physics back in school, due to whatever reason mainly the way the teachers explained it, I guess Astronomy was an interest of mine, but without all the mathematics and what not History, too, but again, circumstances weren t always favourable Or, in other words, once out of school, I became interested in certain subjects at which I wasn t always successful in school.In any case, this [...]


    Great on Kepler and the Galileo trial, far too light on ancients and Newton Kepler s difficult path to the three laws is detailed in full, especially the breakthrough to the first law which is not often described elsewhere Galileo s opponents were not the nitwits we believed them to be But ancient science was a much interesting phenomenon than Koestler realizes He mouths the same old criticisms of Plato and Aristotle, essentially blaming them for the beliefs of their later followers In particul [...]


    This is wonderfully readable and interesting account of the history of astronomy, and to some extent cosmology, up to and including Newton Of particular interest are the biographical sketches of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler.


    I loved spending time with Koestler s strange and vigorous mind Super engrossing book An excellent in depth story about the development of astronomy and the people who made the measurements and interpreted the results I have learned so many interesting stuff about the pioneers of the astronomy Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo Below, a few paragraphs that have caught my attention The progress of Science is generally regarded as a kind of clean, rational advance along a straight ascending line in fa [...]


    I would devide my life to before and after reading Koestler Reading Koestler for the first time, just released, Koestler changed me to a totally different person He was a man of a generation who witnessed final disaster of civil war in Spain and descending and demolishing of hope by communism in Soviet, while confronting the invasion of Fashism in Europe He explained his generation s pain and frustration as a most brave looser, not sophisticated but very simple The best description of the time i [...]

    Esteban del Mal

    Read this for a graduate course in rationalism 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 In the middle of the all the gory religious persecution of medieval Europe, a guy figured out that the planets move in an elliptical, as opposed to a circular, orbit around the sun Koestler takes the reader through the stages of Kepler s thinking, with a wink and a nod to the intuitions that would [...]

    Michael Cayley

    An extremely readable account of the history of some key developments in human understanding of the universe This is a book I read a long time ago, but which has stayed vividly in my memory.


    I think I read 2 of Koestler s bks This must ve been one of them b c I remember the subject matter but I reckon it s possible that there s another Koestler bk w a long section on Kepler as this one has Anyway, in some respects, this must ve been an important bk to me b c it wd ve been one of the 1st I wd ve read on heretics ie people persecuted by Christian Gangstas for having a mind using it for something other than Christian hegemony Alas, this is the only bk I ve read in my astronomy section [...]


    I d forgotten how much I liked this book s old fashioned criticism at its best, intensely readable and deeply humanist While I don t think it s a provocative book any as Sir Bernard Lovell claimed 40 years ago , it s a wonderful re tangling of the humanities and sciences and a great way to get a quick understanding of how the major scientific discoveries of the last few millennia unfolded as well as a sense for the scientists and movements that made them.

    Thomas A Wiebe

    Sleepwalking amid new ideas Arthur Koestler was a lesser known, but nonetheless brilliant, 20th century literary phenomenon, at ease equally with politics, philosophy, literature and science, and his breadth informs this capable history of early modern cosmology His account emphasizes the intellectual confusion that necessarily accompanies new ideas As Koestler describes it, these cosmologists of the 16th and 17th centuries did not fully recognize what they had found, or valued their discoveries [...]

    Frank Z.

    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.Thoroughly researched, incredibly well written, and Koestler s insights into these men s lives seems uncannily spot on He wasn t exactly flattered by Copernicus or Galileo, and though he clearly respected Kepler s genius, he also portrayed him as a distracted genius who either by accident or through distraction i [...]

    Wendy Capron

    Another wide ranging history from the Great Chain of Being to Newton but mainly focused on math and science The title is based on the way Kepler and Tycho de Brahe got together to pool their talents It also applies to Kepler s tendency to make a serious error in his calculations that is subsequently cancelled out by another error, allowing him to sleepwalk to the correct answer And describing Newton s theories on gravity one is able to realize the enormous courage or sleepwalker s assurance that [...]

    Diana Carbajal López

    M s all de todo lo dicho en otras rese as acerca del contenido de este libro, la historia de la cosmolog a que presenta Koestler en Los Son mbulos, es divulgativa en cuanto a que nos invita a recorrer los pasajes y rutas creativas que han recorrido los creadores de la cosmolog a moderna para comprender la g nesis del conocimiento actual Es tambi n de car cter filos fico y reflexivo, puesto que muestra la dualidad en el pensamiento cient fico y espiritual que pose an los adalides de la revoluci n [...]

    Dave Summers

    Brilliant Amazing context historic, scientific, religious, moral, but above all human given to the subject of how the universe works The editorial asides didn t distract me in the least, in fact I found them quite refreshing Highest recommendation

    Pejman Norouzi


    Totally addictive introduction to the history of cosmology A must read if you care about this stuff A few criticisms occasionally the work which started as a straight up Kepler biography and was then expanded seems a bit patched together to the point where the great men of history overshadow everything and are presented without enough era specific context for the lay reader like me Also, Koestler downplays the Newtonian synthesis in particular what did Newton of whom the common view is that he c [...]

    Alan Wightman

    The book maps out the advances in astronomical thought, from the walled in earth centred universe of antiquity to the modern solar system 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 Koestler s findings that I found notable included Astronomy began simply as sky geometry, it was not until Kepler that someone attempted to apporti [...]

    Mark Bowles

    THE SLEEPWALKERSBY ARTHUR KOESTLER INTRODUCTION Man has always existed under the heavens, and man has always had a tendency to dream and gaze wondrously at the countless nighttime points of light The intention of Arthur Koestler s The Sleepwalkers is to provide a comprehensive survey of man s ideas about the universe which encompasses him The beginning of this journey starts in Babylonia and ends with Newton In between is not a continuous stream of cosmological evolution, but a rapid, initial ad [...]

    Alan Clark

    The five parts of this book interested me to varying degrees Part 1 deals with the ancient Greeks and their strange ideas This was okay,but no .In Part 2 the character covers the following 16 centuries when science made no progress, and even went backwards I found this rather interesting.The emphasis now shifts from the evolution of ideas to the individuals responsible for it, beginning in Part 3 with Copernicus.Part 4 is the largest section and deals principally with Kepler, but also with Tych [...]

    Rob Shurmer

    I take issue with some of the sources Koestler used here, most of which are secondary sources And quoting from Encyclopedia Britannica is no way to earn accolades from critical historians 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 WE get, for example, over 20 pages describing the hand off of Copurnicus manuscript Book of Revolutions to his protege Rheticus, and another 10 or so [...]


    Arthur Koestler combines impressive scholarship and beautiful prose with a generous helping of metaphysical and psychological insight to present a captivating retelling of our changing vision of the universe It is a fantastic history of science, spanning Babylonian mystical speculation to the Newtonian synthesis.It would be a mistake to treat this book merely as a history of science, however It ends up being a sort of verbal tapestry of the human imagination woven from the threads of science, ph [...]

    A. J. McMahon

    This is a deeply flawed, highly readable, profoundly informative account of the history of cosmology Koestler starts from the earliest accounts of humankind s attempt to explain the universe in which we live, such as the Sumerians and Babylonians, and goes on to the Middle Ages, where there is a fascinating portrayal of Kepler and his achievements, and then on to the modern era.The flaws of Koestler s approach have to do with the largely science centric approach he takes The belief in the zodiac [...]

    Stephan Frank

    For a book on a topic dear to my heart written almost 6 decades ago, this gem of Arthur Koestler is probably almost as enjoyable as it has ever been.Admitting readily that I have picked up this classic mostly for the purpose of preparing for teaching a class, I am nonetheless stunned by the skills of Koestler to vividly capture the mindsets of the key players involved.Particularly the descriptions of the Heroic Greek Period, and the struggles of Johannes Kepler trying to finally find the Harmony [...]

    Annie Weatherly-Barton

    If you need a book that will give you an overview of science and philosophy over time then this is probably the one to get For those trying to get their teeth into this field of study, Koestler will give you a kick start He starts with how the Babylonians viewed the world in which they lived and the Egyptians and then moves on to the Greeks the foundation of our philosophy and science and how our view of the world changes quite dramatically from pre and Greek geocentric world to the heliocentric [...]

    Celeste Chia

    A philosophy professor recommended this book, and it accompanied me on my days in Paris and insomniac nights in Singapore His revelations were eye opening Copernicus personality, Kepler s charming idiosyncrasies I can identify with, Galileo s intransigence Debunking the popular narratives tracing the development of cosmology While I m not a big fan of his writing style though he aims to simplify the language for layman readers like myself I don t deny he writes descriptively and lyrically for su [...]

    Joseph Voelbel

    This book, a detour from what was originally conceived of as a chapter, serves as a rational overview to the history of man s alternating conception of the universe Basically it is three biographies Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo In addition to showing how these men came to their conclusions that shaped the world, we find in their discoveries a sense of the marvelous and stupid The revolutions of thought which shape the basic outlook of an age are not disseminated through text books they spread [...]

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