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The Kepler Fludd controversy

Pauli's essay: “The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler,”4 analyses in detail the conflict between Kepler and Fludd – the Rosicrucian alchemist of the turn of the 16th century, whom HPB called the grand master of the mediaeval “Fire” philosophers.9 Pauli sees here the start of a trend which continues till today, in which science looses its universal character and focusses more on separate details, with its consequences for our way of thinking and being. Incidentally the Prince of Whales traces the same historical development in a slightly different way in his book “Harmony.”10

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is best known for his astronomical research, though astrology also had its place in Kepler’s conception. Pauli writes:

“With Kepler a separation emerged between physics, religion and social sciences. That separation found its summit in classical physics, in which even God has been made redundant. Science had isolated itself and had nothing to do any more with life. This one-sidedness is not good. We have to search again for the relation between exact science, religion and philosophy.”

This rational, separative method was completely unacceptable to the more intuitive, mystical Robert Fludd (1574-1637), for whom the indivisible wholeness was of paramount importance. The discussion between Kepler and Fludd could become very heated. Nevertheless in both views God was of fundamental importance. Kepler, more influenced by Christianity, expressed this in terms of the Trinity, whereas Fludd consistently used the Quaternary – the tetraktys, for example.

Pauli writes:

“What is the nature of the bridge between the sense perceptions and the concepts? All logical thinkers have arrived at the conclusion that pure logic is fundamentally incapable of constructing such a link. It seems most satisfactory to introduce at this point the postulate of a cosmic order independent of our choice and distinct from the world of phenomena.” This refers of course to Plato. Kepler himself speaks of primary images as being “archetypal” [archetypalis], and Pauli develops a detailed correspondence with Jung's archetypes. Pauli writes: “the view of the universe was not as yet split into a religious one and a scientific one.” Indeed subjects of physics, religion, mathematics and physiology are all found in one single book of Kepler.11

Thanks to detailed experimental observations of Tycho Brahe, Kepler discovered the laws governing the motion of the planets. Yet that was not what he was seeking: “He was fascinated by the old Pythagorean idea of the music of the spheres (which, incidentally, also played no small part in contemporary alchemy) and was trying to find in the movement of the planets the same proportions that appear in the harmonious sounds of tones and in the regular polyhedra...."Geometria est archetypus pulchritudinis mundi"12.” In Kepler's view the planets are still living entities endowed with individual souls.

"The image of the triune God is in the spherical surface: the Father's in the centre, the Son in the outer surface and the Holy Ghost in the equality of relation between point and circumference.”13

For Kepler the Triad was fundamental and although he as written extensively on the tetraktys14 the number 4 had no symbolical value to him.

J. Kepler, Harmonices mundi, Harmony of the Worlds, 1619.
Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.
J. Kepler, Ad Vitellionem paralipomena.
HRH The Prince of Wales, T. Juniper, I. Skelly, Harmony, A New Way of Looking at our World, 2010,
London, Harper Collins.
H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, III, p338, B. de Zirkoff, Theosophical Publishing House.
W. Pauli, The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler, 1955, Routledge &
Kegan Paul, London. Originally: Naturerklärung und Psyche, 1952, Rascher Verlag, Zürich.