An extraordinary history of humanity’s changing vision of the universe. In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between. Arthur Koestler. The Sleepwalkers. A History of Man’s changing vision of the Universe. With an Introduction by. Herbert Butterfield. 1. Awakening. We can add to. ovelist, essayist and political man of action, Arthur Koestler emerges in this book as a historian of the sciences. He traces, with a comic writer’s eye and a.

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Yet the decisions coming out of free will can be heavily influenced by larger forces: Koestler describes the creators of the history of cosmic theories as obsessive and schizophrenic, with acts of insight imitating a sleepwalker, rather than a great universal thinker.

Inspired by Your Browsing History. There is some solace here for us teachers sleepwalkees give a youngster a book with a pretty obviously untenable or at least way overdone message, and she or he may well prove capable, not only of picking up its saner aspects, but also of being inspired by that very message to the point of turning in due time toward more solid scholarship and more responsible okestler visions.

The intention of Arthur Koestler’s The Sleepwalkers is to provide a comprehensive survey of arthue ideas about the universe which encompasses him.

The reactionary response to this limitation is shown by Arthhr to be extremism in the other direction, to the benefit of technological development but at the risk of complete annihilation of the species in both the physical and the spiritual sense.

The Sleepwalkers

It traces the history of Western cosmology from ancient Mesopotamia to Isaac Newton. Scientists have been at their best when they allowed themselves to behave as “sleepwalkers,” instead of trying too earnestly to ratiocinate.

Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. A puppet of the Gods is a tragic figure, a puppet suspended on his chromosomes is merely grotesque.

I believe his theory has much to recommend it – but even if you don’t hold to koestper occasionally eccentric views, The Sleepwalkers is a fantastic admixture of biography and history on a subject that has proven endlessly fascinating. In the sixth century B. In turn, Koestler warns science of its own lack of transcendence “It is therefore a perverse mistake to identify the religious need solely with intuition and emotion, science solely with the logical and rational” He was methodical, and well read, and preferred solitude.


For example, Platonist always …more Plato is obssessed with the idea that everything can be constructed from the above, by centralization and theorization. In Part 2 the character kooestler the following 16 centuries when science made no progress, and even went backwards. Galileo trying to sell the Church a faulty system he barely understood while Kepler tried, in his fulsome way, to improve and reduce it to the core elegance of physical reality.

Kepler came from a family on the lower rung of Germany’s societal hierarchy who were known to be recalcitrant, unruly, and insane.

The Road to Great Discovery Is Itself a Thing of Wonder

It has sparked my interest to read more about the subject. Despite this, Kepler emerged as a true giant of science, and his two immutable laws of astronomy paved the way for modern astronomy.

Koestler explores how these seemingly contradictory threads existed harmoniously in many of the greatest intellectuals of the West. I have learned so many interesting stuff about the pioneers of the astronomy Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. Up to then, his output consisted in pamphlets, tracts, manuscripts circulated privately, and oral persuasion — all of it except the Star Messenger polemical, ironically aggressive, spiced with arguments ad hominem.

What unites all thinkers and their ideas which the author cites? Of course there is prurient interest in reading about how difficult it was for Copernicus and his fellow canons to get rid of their mistresses during the Chruch’s reform movement in the mid 16th century, but one wonders what such alleys of social history add to any deeper understanding of ‘man’s changing view of the universe’ – it’s always been difficult to get girlfriends to leave your house; nothing new there.

Isaac Newton is mentioned only briefly – certainly compared to the more detailed accounts about Corpernicus, Kepler, and Galileo – and mainly his findings and further explorations are discussed.

On Rereading Arthur Koestler’s Sleepwalkers

In part the title is meant to convey the idea that there is much more to the creative act than can be accounted for in a rationally reconstructible, linear sort of step-by-step account. In arthud joined the Communist Party of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it in and in published a devastating anti-Communist novel, Darkness at Noonwhich propelled him to instant international fame.

Well he could not!

It may wait a hundred years for a reader, since God has also waited six thousand years for a witness It hit the sweet spot in prose, content and more so in clarity. To further his thesis on which the book draws its title from, the idea of the early universe ‘fathers’ making cancelling errors which somehow resulted into the right thing, Koestler told us about their lives and in great detail.


In summary, A very koesttler and entertaining read, despite some of the quotation written at the time, which can be heavy going. But also how Galileo saw himself as THE chosen one with regards to the cosmos, how he claimed to have found the solution to problem x or y, while it were other researches who had done all the work, which Galileo never thought of examining and continued stubbornly his own work.

Extremism presents itself in the form of scriptural interpretation vs. I’m lengthening this review today by giving the table of contents. The emphasis now shifts from the evolution of ideas to the individuals responsible for it, beginning in Part 3 with Copernicus. Kepler’s difficult path to the three laws is detailed in full, especially the breakthrough sleepwapkers the first law which is not often described elsewhere.

On Rereading Arthur Koestler’s Sleepwalkers – Shells and Pebbles

History, too, but again, circumstances weren’t always favourable. Astronomy was an interest of mine, but without all the mathematics and what not. Feb 07, Szplug rated it really liked it. Until the end he had no fortress in the form of a speepwalkers and solid magnum opus to fall back upon. Behold, I have cast the dice, and I am writing a book either for my contemporaries, or for posterity.

artuur Since the divorce of religion and science, this fact has been conveniently ignored resulting into a one sided story. Return to Book Page. In other words, the book left a lasting imprint, and in what follows I shall give arhtur few examples of how, and in what respects, it did.

The problem for Galileo was that he couldn’t prove that the heliocentric universe was true. The same accusation could be made of Galileo in his early years.