Syllabus [SciRev Fall 2008]

For the Week of 9/24/08

Assignment 4

Late Kepler and Cardano and Demonology

Albrecht Dürer – Engraving – ca. 1500

Look at this scale graphic of our solar system.  Scroll through the whole thing. You’ll notice why Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were not seen by the pre-moderns.

Scale Solar System


Here is another site with the same idea:

Scale Solar System updated

Read pp. 304-404 in Koestler.


    Look at over these extracts from Kepler’s Harmonice mundi (1619).  Just look this stuff over and find some of the parts I identify. I’ll explain it further in class.  But I want you to see how he presents his three laws of planetary motion.  The first two laws were derived in Astronomia nova, his second major astronomical work, but are mentioned only once in this book.  The third law, the big deal from Harmonice mundi, doesn’t even get its own chapter heading.  It is just something he figured out while working out the cosmic music.


-From Book II [Kepler-H.m.LiberIIExcerptssm-1.7MB.pdf] look the pretty pictures of geometric cutouts and drawings and read over the elemental characteristics of the Platonic solids on pp. 114-115.


-From Book III [Kepler-H.m.LiberIIIExtract-1.7MB.pdf ] look over p. 129 and look over the part on Pythagoras and his discovery of mathematical-musical consonance on pp. 131-134.


-From the final book, Book V Kepler-H.m.LiberVexcerpts-2.5MB.pdf] look at the following pages:

Read over the Table of contents on p. 393.  This is his ultimate agenda.

Notice on pp. 395-405 all of the references to ideas developed in Mysterium Cosmographicum.

Locate the 2nd and 3rd laws of planetary motion on p. 408.

Read the 3rd law at the bottom of p. 411.

Read Kepler’s side bar on the music of the earth on p. 440.  …a rather dismal worldview.


Read this court document from 1472 about a witch named Giovanna (a.k.a. Caterina).  Be aware that another person frequently mentioned in this text is a fellow named Giovanni.  The names are slightly confusing if you don’t pay close attention.


Read this selection of things on and by Girolamo Cardano:


…or here is a somewhat smaller, lower resolution version…



-pp. ix-xviii (The “Introduction” by Grafton),

-pp. 5-7 (“My Nativity)

-pp. 20-24 (“Concerning My Health”)

-pp. 91-104 (“Perils, Accidents, and …Treacheries”)

-optionally look over other parts of this PDF.  There are all sorts of interesting passages. Might make a nice addition to a souped-up homework.


Look at these: If you thought witchcraft was just a problem for 17th-century women. Think again…

 Woman Sentenced to Death in Saudi Arabia-CNN-2008 - video


Penis Theft Panic in Congo - 2008  [alternate link here]

Write up something that relates to these readings.  If you want to do a souped-up homework, there are tons of sources to choose from below.  Go nuts!  Email me if you have any questions.  Also email me if you want to do something with witches or demonology.  I might be able to supply you with some more materials for a souped up homework.


Here are citations to the readings for this week and last week along with some additional sources that could be used for a souped-up homework.  Please feel free to use sources not listed in this bibliography. This is by no means complete.  References in bold are available in the eLibrary.  A few of these sources have direct links.  Some of these seem by their titles to be unrelated to the topic at hand.  There is a relationship, don’t worry.  Don’t be afraid to delve into one of these that seems off in left field.  I also advise you to consider getting a souped-up homework (a long version) done asap, as this selection of souped-up material is livelier than most.  Souped-up assignments take longer to do, so if you are not quite done with one by Thursday, I will probably allow a little more time.


Bellhouse, David. "The Role of Roguery in the History of Probability." Statistical Science 8, no. 4 (1993): 410-420.  This looks good.  Bellhouse_RogueryProbability-2.1MB.pdf


Boner, Patrick J. "Kepler’s Living Cosmology: Bridging the Celestial and Terrestrial Realms." Centaurus 48 (2006): pp. 32-39. Boner_KeplersLivingCosmos-60KB.pdf


Cardano, Girolamo, and Anthony Grafton. The Book of My Life  (De Vita Propria Liber). Translated by Tranlated from the Latin by Jean Stoner. New York: New York Review Books, 2002, written in the 1570s. Cardano-Book_of_My_Life-excerpts-100dpi-9.2MB.pdf


Christianson, Gale E. "Kepler's Somnium: Science Fiction and the Renaissance Scientist." Science Fiction Studies 8, no. 1 (1976).


Clark, Stuart. Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Clark_ThinkingWD_Intro_Pt.2Sciencewitchcraft-9.6MB.pdf


Connor, James A. Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2004. Connor_KeplersWitchCh1-2.7MB.pdf [Highly recommended]


Darnton, Robert. "Workers Revolt: The Great Cat Massacre of the Rue Saint-Séverin." In The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, pp. 74-104. New York: Basic Books, 1984. Darnton_CatMassacrechapter120-3.9MB.pdf [Highly recommended]


Field, Judith V. "Astrology in Kepler's Cosmology." In Astrology, Science and Society: Historical Essays, ed. Patrick Curry, 143-170. Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1987. (Also in this PDF is an interesting article on how to astrologically read the forehead by A. Clarke.) Field-and-Clarke-Curry,ed._AstrologyScienceSociety-9.8MB.pdf


Field, Judith V. "Kepler's Rejection of Numerology." In Occult and Scientific Mentalities in the Renaissance, ed. Brian Vickers, pp. 273-296. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Field_KeplersRejectionOfNumerology-4.2MB.pdf


Field, J. V. Kepler's Geometrical Cosmology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.


Findlen, Paula. "Jokes of Nature and Jokes of Knowledge: The Playfulness of Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Europe." Renaissance Quarterly 43, no. 2 (1990): 292-331. Findlen_JokesNatureKnowledge-4.7MB.pdf


Grafton, Anthony. "Kepler as Reader." Journal of the History of Ideas 53, no. 4 (1992): 561-572. [1.4 MB] Grafton_KeplerAsReader-1.4MB.pdf


Grafton, Anthony. "Girolamo Cardano and the Tradition of Classical Astrology the Rothschild Lecture, 1995." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 142, no. 3 (1998): 323-354.  Grafton is Mr. Cardano scholar. Grafton_CardanoClassicalAstrologyLecture-860KB.pdf


Gouk, Penelope. "The Role of Harmonics in the Scientific Revolution." In The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, ed. Thomas Street Christensen, pp. 223-245. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.  Gouk_HarmonicsInSciRev-2.6MB.pdf


Johnson, Francis R. "[review of Ore’s Cardano: The Gambling Scholar]." Isis 44, no. 4 (1953): 385-387.  Johnson_revsOreCardanoGamblingScholar-512KB.pdf


Kepler, Johannes, and Edward Rosen. Kepler's Somnium; the Dream, or Posthumous Work on Lunar Astronomy. Madison,: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967. [Available on  This is Kepler’s science fiction story about a trip to the moon.]


Kepler, Johannes, and E. J. Aiton. The Secret of the Universe (Mysterium Cosmographicum). Translated by A.M. Duncan and with introduction and commentary by E.J. Aiton and a preface by I. Bernard Cohen. New York: Abaris Books, 1981. Excerpts of this are contained in this PDF: Kepler_MystCosmoExcerptsSm-OCRd-imaged-5.9MB.pdf


Kepler, Johannes. The Harmony of the World (Harmonice Mundi). Translated by and commentary by E. J. Aiton, A. M. Duncan and J. V. Field. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1997, first Latin ed. 1618.  See links above.  


Kepler, Johannes. The Six-Cornered Snowflake. Oxford,: Clarendon P., 1966.


Kepler, Johannes, and William H. Donahue. Optics: Paralipomena to Witelo & Optical Part of Astronomy. Santa Fe, N.M.: Green Lion Press, 2000.


Koestler, Arthur. The Sleepwalkers : A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe. New York: Macmillan, 1959.


Levack, Brian P. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. London ; New York: Longman, 1987.  Levack_WitchHunt-5MB.pdf [excerpts]


Lindberg, David C. "The Beginnings of Western Science : The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. To A.D. 1450." 220. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.


Lindberg, David C. "The Genesis of Kepler's Theory of Light: Light Metaphysics from Plotinus to Kepler." Osiris, 2nd Series 2 (1986): 4-42. Lindberg-KeplerTheoryofLight_Plotinus-1.4MB.pdf


Nicolson, Marjorie. "Kepler, the Somnium, and John Donne." Journal of the History of Ideas 1, no. 3 (1940): 259-280. Nicolson_KeplerSomniumDonne-660KB.pdf


Osler, Thomas J. "Cardan Polynomials and the Reduction of Radicals." Mathematics Magazine 74, no. 1 (2001): 26-32.  Osler_CardanPolynomialsReduction-484KB.pdf


Ptolemy. "Harmonics." In Greek Musical Writings II, ed. and trans. Andrew Barker, pp. 270-391. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984, original in Greek, 2nd century A.D.


Rabin, Sheila J. "Kepler's Attitude toward Pico and the Anti-Astrology Polemic." Renaissance Quarterly 50, no. 3 (1997): 750-770. Rabin_KeplerAttitude-PicoAnti-astrology-576KB.pdf


Reis, Elizabeth. "The Devil, the Body, and the Feminine Soul in Puritan New England." The Journal of American History 82, no. 1 (1995): 15-36. Reis_DevilBodyFeminineSoulNewEng-1MB.pdf


Rosen, Edward. "Kepler's Harmonics and His Concept of Inertia." American Journal of Physics 34, no. 7 (1966): 610-613.


Rosen, Edward. "Kepler's Early Writings." Journal of the History of Ideas 46, no. 3 (1985): 449-454. [212 KB] - Rosen_Keplersearlywritings-216KB.pdf


Rosen, Edward. "Kepler's Attitude toward Astrology and Mysticism." In Occult and Scientific Mentalities in the Renaissance, ed. Brian Vickers, pp. 253-272. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Rosen-KeplerAstrology-3.9MB.pdf


Ross, Eric B. "Syphilis, Misogyny, and Witchcraft in 16th-Century Europe." Current Anthropology 36, no. 2 (1995): 333-337. Ross_Syphilis,Misogyny,Witchcraft16thc-1.1MB.pdf


Schneer, Cecil. "Kepler's New Year's Gift of a Snowflake." Isis 51, no. 4 (1960): 531-545. Schneer_KeplerSnowflakeGift-2MB.pdf


Stephens, Walter. Demon Lovers : Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.  Stephens_Demon_LoversExcerpts100-4.8MB.pdf


Stephenson, Bruce. Kepler's Physical Astronomy. Princeton, N.J.: Springer, 1994.


Stephenson, Bruce. The Music of the Heavens : Kepler's Harmonic Astronomy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.


Struik, Dirk Jan. A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200-1800 Source Books in the History of the Sciences. Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard University Press, 1969.  [The section on algebra and Cardano’s (also spelled Cardan) input to this type of math.  See also the Osler article for additional commentary on this sort of stuff.] Struik_SourceBook-Algebra-Cardano.pdf


Trachtenberg, Marvin. "Architecture and Music Reunited: A New Reading of Dufay's Nuper Rosarum Flores and the Cathedral of Florence." Renaissance Quarterly LIV, no. 3 (2001): 741-773. [1.2 MB]


Wright, Craig. "Dufay's "Nuper Rosarum Flores", King Solomon's Temple, and the Veneration of the Virgin." Journal of the American Musicological Society 47, no. 3 (1994): pp. 395-427, 429-441. [1.2 MB]


Wright, Craig. "Reply to Charles Turner." Journal of the American Musicological Society 48, no. 1 (1995): 158.



Walker, Jonathan. "Gambling and Venetian Noblemen C.1500-1700." Past and Present, no. 162 (1999): 28-69. Looks good…  Walker_GamblingVenice-4.1MB.pdf

Warren, Charles W. "Brunelleschi's Dome and Dufay's Motet." The Musical Quarterly 59, no. 1 (1973): pp. 92-105. [404 KB]


News of Note:

DePalma-Weather History- data collection for over a century in Naw Paltz.


Svenvold-Wind-Power_Politics – Wind power and how it meshes with the old boys network.


Angier-Gut_Instinct’s_Surprising_Role_in_Math – Take the circle test 25 times and send me a screen shot of your result and get an extra credit bonus.  I won’t post or show your result.  I just want to get a statistical sample.



Review Material: posted 10/11/08





Here is a link to materials that I used during lecture:




Back to Syllabus [SciRev Fall 2008]


Me –

 Lecture on Kepler’s mother, witchcraft in general, Kepler’s astronomy, Cardano’s luck


Francesco Parmigianino -ca.1530