MYSTICISM AND REASON IN THE ASTRONOMICAL SYSTEM OF THE MAHARAL OF PRAGUE
A widely prevalent view holds that the Maharal of Prague was an astrologer with no valid knowledge of astronomy. This article seeks to refute this mistaken opinion and to underline an indubitable fact: the Maharal vigorously rejected astrology; he displayed vast knowledge of astronomy, and was an authentic scholar in this field. The author relies upon the criteriology as presented in the Maharal's book, Netivot Olam, and in the book of his pupil David Gans, entitled Nehmad Venaim. The latter was associated with Tycho Brahe and Johann Kepler in the well known observatory of Benatek near Prague.
In another book, Beer Haggola, the Maharal introduces an astronomic system which at first sight seems to be related to meta-astronomy rather than to astronomy. However, this is a pattern commonly found in the works of the followers of Copernicus, underlining the typical strife between mysticism and reason characteristic of those times. Kepler displayed the same conflict in his astronomical writings, with specific reference to the Jewish Kabbalah. The polarity between sun and earth, between heaven and man, which is central to the Maharal's astronomic system, seems to be a projection of Tycho Brahe's attempt to reconcile Ptolemy with Copernicus. The scientific discourse between Tycho, Kepler, and David Gans, as related by Gans in his Nehmad Venaim, corroborates this statement.
Répertoire bibliographique / Bibliographic Repertory