Athanasius Kircher  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Kircher)
Jump to: navigation, search

"In 1650, Athanasius Kircher, in his Musurgia Universalis (I, 14-15), is interested in the sounds uttered by the various animals." --From the Tree to the Labyrinth — Umberto Eco

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner; 2 May 1602 – 28 November 1680) was a German scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works, most notably in the fields of comparative religion, geology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to fellow Jesuit Roger Boscovich and to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests, and has been honoured with the title "Master of a Hundred Arts". He taught for more than forty years at the Roman College, where he set up a wunderkammer. A resurgence of interest in Kircher has occurred within the scholarly community in recent decades.

Kircher claimed to have deciphered the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient Egyptian language, but most of his assumptions and translations in this field were later found to be incorrect. He did, however, correctly establish the link between the ancient Egyptian and the Coptic languages, and some commentators regard him as the founder of Egyptology. Kircher was also fascinated with Sinology and wrote an encyclopedia of China, in which he noted the early presence there of Nestorian Christians while also attempting to establish links with Egypt and Christianity.

Kircher's work in geology included studies of volcanoes and fossils. One of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope, Kircher was ahead of his time in proposing that the plague was caused by an infectious microorganism and in suggesting effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Kircher also displayed a keen interest in technology and mechanical inventions; inventions attributed to him include a magnetic clock, various automatons and the first megaphone. The invention of the magic lantern is often misattributed to Kircher, although he did conduct a study of the principles involved in his Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae.

A scientific star in his day, towards the end of his life he was eclipsed by the rationalism of René Descartes and others. In the late 20th century, however, the aesthetic qualities of his work again began to be appreciated. One modern scholar, Alan Cutler, described Kircher as "a giant among seventeenth-century scholars", and "one of the last thinkers who could rightfully claim all knowledge as his domain". Another scholar, Edward W. Schmidt, referred to Kircher as "the last Renaissance man". In A Man of Misconceptions, his 2012 book about Kircher, John Glassie writes that while "many of Kircher's actual ideas today seem wildly off-base, if not simply bizarre," he was "a champion of wonder, a man of awe-inspiring erudition and inventiveness," whose work was read "by the smartest minds of the time."

In Phonurgia Nova (1673) Kircher considered the possibilities of transmitting music to remote places.

Bibliography

Kircher's principal works, in chronological order, are:

Year Title Link
1631 Ars Magnesia
1635 Primitiae gnomoniciae catroptricae
1636 Prodromus coptus sive aegyptiacus
1637 Specula Melitensis encyclica, hoc est syntagma novum instrumentorum physico- mathematicorum
1641 Magnes sive de arte magnetica 1643 edition (second ed.)
1643 Lingua aegyptiaca restituta
1645–1646 Ars Magna Lucis et umbrae 1646 edition
1650 Obeliscus Pamphilius: hoc est, Interpretatio noua & Hucusque Intentata Obelisci Hieroglyphici 1650 edition
1650 Musurgia universalis, sive ars magna consoni et dissoni Volumes I and II, 1650
1652–1655 Oedipus Aegyptiacus
1654 Magnes sive (third, expanded edition)
1656 Itinerarium extaticum s. opificium coeleste
1657 Iter extaticum secundum, mundi subterranei prodromus
1658 Scrutinium Physico-Medicum Contagiosae Luis, quae dicitur Pestis
1660 Pantometrum Kircherianum ... explicatum a G. Schotto
1661 Diatribe de prodigiosis crucibus
1663 Polygraphia, seu artificium linguarium quo cum omnibus mundi populis poterit quis respondere
1664–1678 Mundus subterraneus, quo universae denique naturae divitiae Tomus II , 1678
1665 Historia Eustachio-Mariana 1665 edition
1665 Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs 1665 edition
1666 Obelisci Aegyptiaci ... interpretatio hieroglyphica
1667 China monumentis, qua sacris qua profanis, nec non variis naturae and artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerum memorabilium argumentis illustrata Latin edition (1667) (pages with illustrations only); La Chine, 1670 (French, 1670); Modern English translation
1667 Magneticum naturae regnum sive disceptatio physiologica
1668 Organum mathematicum
1669 Principis Cristiani archetypon politicum 1672 edition
1669 Latium 1671 edition
1669 Ars magna sciendi sive combinatorica 1669 edition
1673 Phonurgia nova, sive conjugium mechanico-physicum artis & natvrae paranympha phonosophia concinnatum 1763 edition
1675 Arca Noe
1676 Sphinx mystagoga: sive Diatribe hieroglyphica, qua Mumiae, ex Memphiticis Pyramidum Adytis Erutae… 1676 edition
1676 Obelisci Aegyptiaci
1679 Musaeum Collegii Romani Societatis Jesu
1679 Turris Babel, Sive Archontologia Qua Primo Priscorum post diluvium hominum vita, mores rerumque gestarum magnitudo, Secundo Turris fabrica civitatumque exstructio, confusio linguarum, & inde gentium transmigrationis, cum principalium inde enatorum idiomatum historia, multiplici eruditione describuntur & explicantur. Amsterdam, Jansson-Waesberge 1679.
1679 Tariffa Kircheriana sive mensa Pathagorica expansa
1680 Physiologia Kircheriana experimentalis 1680 edition

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Athanasius Kircher" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools