Lecture — Dr. William H. Donahue

03/15/2013 7:30 pm

Title:“Kepler’s Radical Aristotelianism”

Dr. William H. Donahue is the director of laboratories at St. John's College in Santa Fe, N.M.,  and the co-director and technical manager of Green Lion Press. He received his B.A. from St. John's College, Annapolis, in 1967, and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England, in 1973. His dissertation, The Dissolution of the Celestial Spheres, 1595-1650, was published by Arno Press in 1981.

From 1973-1976, he taught in the great books curriculum at St. John's College in Santa Fe, leading seminars and tutorials in ancient, medieval, and modern literature and philosophy; ancient Greek; music; classical physics; and Kepler's astronomy. For this last, he translated substantial selections from Kepler's Astronomia nova. In 1976, he left St. John's to organize and teach mathematics and the sciences at the New School of Santa Fe, a completely individualized primary and secondary school. While at the New School, he organized and directed New Mexico's most extensive school outdoor program, including rock climbing, cross-country skiing, whitewater kayaking and rafting, and wilderness survival skills.

In 1981 he left the New School and obtained an individual grant award from the National Science Foundation to complete the translation of Kepler's Astronomia nova, which he had begun while at St. John's (the translation was published by Cambridge University Press in 1992). Subsequently he received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a guided study of Kepler's Astronomia nova and for the first English translation of Kepler's Optics (the latter now published by Green Lion), and from the American Philosophical Society for study of the Kepler manuscripts in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has published numerous articles on Kepler in the Journal for the History of Astronomy and the British Journal for the History of Science. His 1988 JHA article, "Kepler's fabricated figures: covering up the mess in the New Astronomy," was featured in the New York Times Science Section, and was reported in the media worldwide.

In 2005, Dr. Donahue was appointed Director of Laboratories at St. John's College, Santa Fe. In this capacity, he administers the college's historically based science program, required of all undergraduates. Topics covered include origins and development of life sciences; physical sciences from ancient and medieval statics; and mechanics through the 17th century scientific revolution and Faraday and Maxwell's electrodynamics to relativity theory and quantum mechanics; elements of chemistry (including development of atomic theory); and a developmental approach to evolution and modern genetics.

Lectures take place in St. Joseph Commons and are open to the public, free of charge

St. Vincent de Paul

Part of the St. Vincent de Paul Lecture and Concert Series, endowed by Barbara and Paul Henkels


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Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Catholic Education