Talk:Athanasius Kircher

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Former featured article Athanasius Kircher is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on November 26, 2004.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 20, 2004 Featured article candidate Promoted
March 13, 2008 Featured article review Demoted
Current status: Former featured article

Brittanica[edit]

From the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica

KIRCHER, ATHANASIUS (1601-1680), German scholar and mathematician, was born on the 2nd of May 1601, at Geisa near Fulda. He was educated at the Jesuit college of Fulda, and entered upon his noviciate in that order at Mainz in 1618. He became professor of philosophy, mathematics, and Oriental languages at Wurzburg, whence he was driven (1631) by the troubles of the Thirty Years War to Avignon. Through the influence of Cardinal Barberini he next (I635) settled in Rome, where for eight years he taught mathematics in the Collegio Romano, but ultimately resigned this appointment to study hieroglyphics and other archaeological subjects. He died on the 28th of November 1680.

Kircher was a man of wide and varied learning, but singularly devoid of judgment and critical discernment.

This sentence FROM THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA 1911 EDITION is clearly what Wikidouches would call "non-encyclopedic". WD's take note.

His voluminous writings in philology, natural history, physics and mathematics often accordingly have a good deal of the historical interest which attaches to pioneering work, however imperfectly performed; otherwise they now take rank as curiosities of literature merely. They include Ars Magnesia (1631); Magnes, sive de arte magnetica opus tripartitum (1641); and Magneticum naturae regnum (1667); Prodro,nus Coptus (1636); Lingua Aegyptiaca restituta (1643); Obeliscus Pam philius (1650); and Oedipus Aegyptiacus, hoc est universalis doctrinae hieroglyphicae instauratio (1652-1655)works which may claim the merit of having first called attention to Egyptian hieroglyphics; Ars magna lucis et umbrae in mundo (1645-1646); Musurgia universalis, sive ars magna consoni et dissoni (1650); Polygraphia, seu artificium tin guarum quo cum omnibus mundi populis potent quis respondere (1663); Mundus subterraneus, quo subterrestris mundi opificium, universae denique naturae divitiae, abditorum effectuum causae demonstrantur (1665-1678); China illustrata (1667); Ars magna sciendi (1669) ; and Latium (1669), a work which may still be consulted with advantage. The Specula Melitensis Encyclica (1638) gives an account ofakindof calculating machine of his invention. The valuable collection of antiquities which he bequeathed to the Collegio Romano has been described by Buonanni (Musaeum Kircherianum, 1709; republished by Battara in 1773).

Seems much more thorough and list all his major works and dates.


There seems to be some doubt as to whether he's Kircher or Kirchner, and whether he was born in 1601 or 1602; in both cases I've gone with the Catholic Encyclopedia, since it's the word of God. Markalexander100 09:35, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Athanasius Kircher's "deciphering" hieroglyphics[edit]

"His work on Egyptian hieroglyphics anticipated the decisive work of Champollion," This is tongue-in-cheek I suppose. His work was gobbledy-gook. Famously. Wetman 07:41, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No. As the article says, Although his approach to deciphering the texts was flawed, he did pioneer serious study of hieroglyphs, and the data which he collected were later used by Champollion in his successful efforts to decode the script. Markalexander100 09:37, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)
A mixed bag might be a better description. He did a lot of work in gathering copies of inscriptions, but his ideas of how the heiroglyphics worked was both so wrong and so intellectually convoluted that a good number of post-Champollion scholars have argued that it in many ways was an impediment to real progress in understanding Egyptian writing. -- Infrogmation 22:06, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Kircher's approach was based on ideas that they were examples of some kind of 'divine language', and was not investigated in the ways that are considered to be acceptable now. Kircher's system are a fascinating diversion, but that is probably about it. The data-collection aspect sounds feasible though. --Trithemius 00:17, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)
'dd Wsr' should not be translated as 'Osiris says', rather as 'given force', I think.
The translation "Osiris says" for "Dd-wsr" is in every article on the Internet, someone seems to have written it once and all subsequent article writers copied it without verification. "Dd-wsr" may mean several things: "given force" or "stability and force" depending which hieroglyphs have been used. Maybe it is really Osiris (depicted as a throne). But there is nowhere in the internet a picture of what Athanasius actually wrote. Could someone find it? If wrong, this may be a much more interesting thing than just a typo. It is about whether what we find in Wikipedia is true just because nobody corrected it and everybody copied it. This probably faulty citation, with high anecdotic value, has spread like a virus throughout all copies of Wikipedia and the Internet. How could we then ever retract this? Riyadi 13:03, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

At last, I found something sufficiently close to this in Sphinx mystagoga, p. 49 Riyadi (talk) 17:03, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Athanasius Kircher's weather forcaster & Leibniz's characteristica universalis[edit]

In 1940 P.P.Weiner wrote that a weather-forecaster invented by Athanasius Kirchner, "interested Leibniz in connection with his own attempts to invent a universal language" (1940).

Does anyone have any familiarity with A) Kircher's weather-forecater, and B) it's connection ot Leibniz's universal language? Sholto Maud 06:15, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

Date of death[edit]

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica [1] and Catholic Encyclopedia [2] say 28th November, the "Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon" [3] and my 1905 Brockhaus Enzyklopädie say 27 November. Is there a reliable source that tells us the date exactly, or explains the discrepancy? Kusma (討論) 09:04, 26 November 2006 (UTC)


properties of sound[edit]

Didn't he perform an early bell&vacuum experiemnt, before Robert Boyle? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 129.2.42.105 (talk) 15:39, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

Kircher Society[edit]

I find it difficult to see how having any link to the Kircher Society can be justified in this article except perhaps as a note with respect to popular culture appearance. There is very very little about Athanasius Kircher at the Kircher Society site and it is either far from authoritative or is secondary material from some of the other sources cited in this article anyway. The manner by which Kircher Society is linked (three times) in this article gives an undue imprimatur from wikipedia that their site will add actual factual benefit to readers. This is clearly not the case to anyone who has researched Athanasius Kircher at all and seen the Kircher Society site. I suggest both links be removed. {nb. wikipedia quotes the Society as saying they were charged with continuing the mission of Athanasius Kircher (or the somesuch) - this is just advertising / self promotion. That statement has no value whatsoever to this article and in fact leads one to question to the quality of the rest of the article. Peacay 12:33, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree, and cleaned up the references, leaving just a single line under influences dm 12:46, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

The remaining inference from the following statement is that an official organisation was convened with respect to academic or quasi-academic intentions or practices: The Athanasius Kircher Society was chartered to perpetuate the spirit and sensibilities of the late Athanasius Kircher. The alternative view would be to see this as a blog about ephemera having attached itself to a 17th century polymath in the hopes of establishing credibility (even if it is in a near admitted jocular fashion) and self promoting at the same time. But the whole thing is this: it's not real!

If I was to describe my blog as a musical expedition in the Beethoven tradition and call it the Beethoven Symphony and then trudge out entries that are vaguely about music, do you think it would then justify an entry using my own description of my blog as a linked addition to the official wikipedia article on Beethoven?? I would suggest that the wording be changed to: The Athanasius Kircher Society is a weblog that displays unusual ephemera which very occasionally relates to Athanasius Kircher, the 17th century polymath. (Peacay 14:18, 16 July 2007 (UTC))

The society seems to have joined the Norwegian Blue at some point between the above exchange and now. Jackiespeel (talk) 17:05, 20 October 2016 (UTC)

I recommend...[edit]

...someone nominate this thing to be delisted. It's BLATANTLY obviously NOT a "Featured Articel"; it's riddled with citation signals! 68.39.174.238 19:36, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Pronunciation of his name??[edit]

The pronunciation for Kircher's name should be removed, or else it should be qualified with a comment. Kircher's name is not pronounced consistently among English-speaking scholars, and the most common pronunciations for the "ch" in his last name are as an "sh" or as a "k", thus making variants like "Keer-sher" "Keer-ker" or "Kir-ker" (with a short "i"). Arguably, these two options are more correct from a historical standpoint, since Kircher was from Fulda and would have pronounced the "ch" as an "sh" -- NOT as a hochdeutsch "soft ch" (as in the pronunciation recorded here). Kircher also spent most of his life in Rome, where the "ch" was pronounced as a "k," as it still is by modern Italian scholars (and many English-speaking scholars). Moreover, seventeenth-century sources refer to him by his Latin name at times, misspelling it in ways making clear that the "ch" was confused with a "k" (in spelling, so therefore likely in pronunciation too).

As far as I know, Kircher never spent significant time in the part of (modern) Germany that would have pronounced his name the way it is recorded here. Nor is it the way that English speakers generally pronounce his name. So... it's not correct historically, and it's not correct for English speakers today. A Google search for "Kircher pronounce" also gives a couple hits that give suggested pronunciations in English, none of which agrees with the one on this page.

It should be removed, alternatives should be added, or at least it should be noted that is anachronistic hochdeutsch imposed on a historical figure (since many German scholars would pronounce his name as it is given here). 24.147.122.22 (talk) 03:17, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

The journal[edit]

A part of the journal of Athanasius Kircher was published for subscribers of MAKE magazine as a gift. It's a fascinating read. Maybe it should be included here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.121.65.80 (talk) 17:12, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Giants[edit]

not to be a bother, but I've read Mundus Sub. recently... I will go back to the library later this week and recheck the relevant passages, but I seem to recall reading that Kircher (while featuring a picture of a giant in his book) actually refuted the notion that they could actually exist, because their stature would make them collapse...am I just imaging that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 165.134.168.190 (talk) 22:44, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Consider the Square-cube law and its application to the possible sizes of animals.--DThomsen8 (talk) 02:48, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Copy of the Voynich manuscript?[edit]

The article as currently written says that Kircher had a copy of the Voynich Manuscript. I was under the impression that he had the manuscript itself. Which is correct? JoshuaZ (talk) 21:13, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

Altered - the issue, I think, is that it is not absolutely certain whether the document under discussion was the VM. Jackiespeel (talk) 10:35, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Athanasius Kircher/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

needs inline citations --plange 21:58, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Last edited at 21:58, 24 September 2006 (UTC). Substituted at 08:31, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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