Italian mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei played an incredibly vital role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, especially through the publication of Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems). This work rigorously examines the astronomical observations of Copernicus and Ptolemy and seeks to answer the question of the true position of Earth amongst other celestial bodies in the universe – fixed at the center, or orbiting elliptically around the sun.
Although we take for granted that the latter has become established as the best-supported astronomical model for our solar system today, Galileo’s defense of heliocentric theory during the Roman Inquisition was met by enormous opposition from the Catholic Church and the papal administration. Found “vehemently suspect of heresy” for his Dialogue critiquing the geocentric view held by the Church via literal interpretation of the Holy Scripture, Galileo was forced to recant his support for heliocentric theory and condemned to house arrest for the remainder of his life.
However, his trial catalyzed an enormous scientific movement, which grew to champion empirical observation and experimentation in the pursuit of new knowledge, abandoning blind faith in the philosophies and idealizations of Greek and Roman antiquity.
The dialogue features an impassioned debate between three fictionalized characters as they critically analyze the merits and shortcomings of both hypotheses, providing diagrams, calculations, marginal notes, and an enormous wealth of conversational rhetoric to support their respective views.
Join the Dialogue by coming to Rauner to thumb through Galileo’s prose! Ask for Val 520 G133d.
Posted for Jerrel Catlett '18.