In praise of Kepler
- Galileo Galilei (1564–1642): "Al virtuoso che ella dice, potrà con occasione fare intendere che io ho stimato sempre il Keplero per ingegno libero (e forse troppo) e sottile, ma che il mio filosofare è diversissimo dal suo, e che può essere che scrivendo delle medesime materie, solamente però circa i movimenti celesti, habbiamo talvolta incontrato in qualche concetto simile, se ben pochi […]." (Lettera a Fulgenzio Micanzia, 19. 11. 1634)
- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): „You may let the master of which you speak know, on occasion, that I have always appreciated Kepler as a free – perhaps too free – and subtle spirit, but that my own way of philosophizing is completely different from his. Thus it may well happen that, writing about the same matter, such as the celestial movements, we occasionally encounter each other in similar views, but rarely... (Letter to Fulgenzio Micanzia, 19. 11. 1634)
- Jean Silvain Bailly (1736–1793): "Képler mérite d'être regardé comme l'un des plus grands hommes, qui ait paru sur la terre. […] il a détruit l'édifice des anciens pour en fonder un plus stable & plus élevé. Il est le véritable fondateur de l'astronomie moderne, & c'est un présent que la Germanie a fait à l'Europe." (Histoire de l'astronomie moderne. Nouvelle édition. Tome II. Livre premier. De Képler, § III. Paris 1785).
- Jean Silvain Bailly (1736-1793): "Kepler deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest men that appeared on earth. [...] he destroyed the edifice of the ancient to found a stabler one of higher dimensions. He is the genuine founder of modern astronomy; and that is a gift given from Germany to Europe." (Translated from Histoire de l'astronomie moderne. Nouvelle édition. Tome II. Livre premier. De Képler, § III. Paris 1785).
- Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749–1827): "Kepler […] l'un de ces hommes rares que la nature donne de tems en tems aux sciences, pour en faire éclore les grandes théories préparées par les travaux de plusieurs siècles. […] Avec autant de droits à l'admiration, ce grand homme vécut dans la misère; tandis que l'astrologie judiciaire, par-tout en honneur, était magnifiquement récompensée. Heureusement, la jouissance de la vérité qui se découvre à l'homme de génie, et la perspective de la postérité juste et reconnaissante, le consolent de l'ingratitude de ses contemporains." (Exposition du système du monde, tome II. Livre cinquième. Chapitre IV. De l'astronomie dans l'Europe moderne. Paris [1795/1796])
- Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749-1827), p.308: "Kepler […] was one of those extraordinary men whom nature grants now and then to the sciences, to bring to light those great theories which have been prepared by the labour of many centuries." […] p.318: "With so many claims to admiration, this great man lived in misery, while judicial astrology, every where honored, was magnificently recompensed. […] Fortunately the enjoyment which a man of genius receives from the truths which he discovers, and the prospect of a just and grateful posterity, console him for the ingratitude of his contemporaries." (The System of the World. Translated from the French by J. Pond, F.R.S. Volume II. Book V. Chapter IV. Of Astronomy in modern Europe. London 1809.)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832): „If one compares Kepler's life story with his career and achievements, one is merrily astonished and becomes convinced that true genius overcomes all impediments. The beginning and end of his life are embittered by family affairs, his middle years fell amidst the most troubled era, but his happy nature prevails. The most serious subjects he treats cheerfully, and the most intricately laborious things with ease. [...] Like his spirit, so his expression. Skilled in Greek and Latin, he does not lack knowledge of antiquity, neither in the sense of thoroughness nor in the sense of beauty, and he knows to express himself at will. Sometimes he descends to ignorants, even to imbeciles; sometimes he strives to have a common tone understandable for every one. If he depicts events in nature, he is clear and distinct; but if he is inclined to provoke vivid effects and a greater interest, he does not lack metaphors, allusions and classic quotations. [...] so you remark with pleasure how vivaciously all things are connected to his main business, how intensively he understands to connect to himself all things he encounters.” (Translated from Zur Farbenlehre [Theory of Colours], vol. II. Tübingen 1810. Historical Part. Fifth Division. Johann Keppler.)
- Albert Einstein (1879–1955): "Neither by poverty, nor by incomprehension of the contemporaries who ruled over the conditions of his life and work, did he allow himself to be crippled or discouraged. In addition, he dealt with a field of knowledge that immediately endangered the adherent of religious truth. He belonged, nevertheless, to those few who cannot do otherwise than openly acknowledge their convictions on every subject. […] His life work was possible only when he succeeded in freeing himself to a large extent from the spiritual tradition in which he was born. It was not only a question of religious tradition based on the authority of the Church, but of the general notions about the conditioning of events in the cosmos and in human life, as well as ideas about the relative importance of thought and experience in science." (Johannes Kepler: Life and Letters, by Carola Baumgardt. With an Introduction by Albert Einstein. London 1952)