Hardcover | $44.95 Trade | £30.95 | ISBN: 9780942299601 | 367 pp. | 6 x 9 in | June 1990 Paperback |$28.95 Trade | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780942299618 | 367 pp. | 6 x 9 in | May 1993

The Poetic Structure of the World

Copernicus and Kepler

Overview

The Poetic Structure of the World is a major reconsideration of a crucial turning point in Western thought and culture: the heliocentric revolution of Copernicus and Kepler. Fernand Hallyn treats the work of these two figures not simply in terms of the history of science or astronomy, but as events embedded in a wider field of images, symbols, texts, and practices. These new representations of the universe, he insists, cannot be explained by recourse to explanations of "genius" or "intuition."

Instead, Hallyn investigates the problem of how new scientific hypotheses are actually formed and the complex way in which certain facts and not others are selected to support a particular theory. He contends that the scientific imagination is not fundamentally different from a mythic or poetic imagination and that the work of Copernicus and Kepler must be examined on the level of rhetorical structure. Hallyn shows the sun-centered universe to be inseparable from the aesthetic, epistemological, theological, and social imperatives of both neoplatonism and mannerism in the sixteenth century

Fernand Hallyn is a Professor in the Department of French Literature at the University of Ghent. Distributed for Zone Books.

Endorsements

"Confronted with a scientific text, the historian of science tries to define its signification, the epistemologist its theoretical status. 'Poetics'. . . proposes another approach. It studies the work of a scientist as an event embedded in a wider field of images, symbols, texts and practices. Scientific imagination is not fundamentally different from a mythic or poetic imagination.... Closely related notions of harmony, symmetry and proportion inform cosmology as well as music and painting. This book offers the first comprehensive, full-scale study of these relations."
—The Philosopher's index