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Imagination as Self-knowledge: Kepler on Proclus' Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements

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The Neoplatonist Proclus, in his commentary on Euclid's Elements, appears to have been the first to systematically cut imagination's exclusive ties with the sensible realm. According to Proclus, in geometry discursive thinking makes use of innate concepts that are projected on imagination as on a mirror. Despite the crucial role of Proclus' text in early modern epistemology, the concept of a productive imagination seems almost not have been received. It was generally either transplanted into an Aristotelian account of mathematics or simply ignored. In this respect, Johannes Kepler is a remarkable exception. By rejecting the traditional meta-mathematical framework, Kepler was the first to incorporate the productive side of imagination within an early modern philosophy of mathematics. Moreover, by securing imagination's sensory input, he transformed Proclean imagination into a tool for cosmic self-knowledge.

Affiliations: 1: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


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