The Routledge Guidebook to Galileo's Dialogue

Routledge
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The publication in 1632 of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican marked a crucial moment in the ‘scientific revolution’ and helped Galileo become the ‘father of modern science’. The Dialogue contains Galileo’s mature synthesis of astronomy, physics, and methodology, and a critical confirmation of Copernicus’s hypothesis of the earth’s motion. However, the book also led Galileo to stand trial with the Inquisition, in what became known as ‘the greatest scandal in Christendom’.

In The Routledge Guidebook to Galileo's Dialogue, Maurice A. Finocchiaro introduces and analyzes:
  • the intellectual background and historical context of the Copernican controversy and Inquisition trial;
  • the key arguments and critiques that Galileo presents on both sides of the ‘dialogue’;
  • the Dialogue’s content and significance from three special points of view: science, methodology, and rhetoric;
  • the enduring legacy of the Dialogue and the ongoing application of its approach to other areas.

This is an essential introduction for all students of science, philosophy, history, and religion wanting a useful guide to Galileo’s great classic.

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About the author

Maurice A Finocchiaro is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus; University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has written and translated numerous works on Galileo and the history of science including Galileo on the World Systems: A New Abridged Translation and Guide (1997) and The Essential Galileo (2008).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Jul 31, 2013
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Pages
366
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ISBN
9781136010965
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Religion / Religion & Science
Science / History
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Scientists use concepts and principles that are partly specific for their subject matter, but they also share part of them with colleagues working in different fields. Compare the biological notion of a 'natural kind' with the general notion of 'confirmation' of a hypothesis by certain evidence. Or compare the physical principle of the 'conservation of energy' and the general principle of 'the unity of science'. Scientists agree that all such notions and principles aren't as crystal clear as one might wish.

An important task of the philosophy of the special sciences, such as philosophy of physics, of biology and of economics, to mention only a few of the many flourishing examples, is the clarification of such subject specific concepts and principles. Similarly, an important task of 'general' philosophy of science is the clarification of concepts like 'confirmation' and principles like 'the unity of science'. It is evident that clarfication of concepts and principles only makes sense if one tries to do justice, as much as possible, to the actual use of these notions by scientists, without however following this use slavishly. That is, occasionally a philosopher may have good reasons for suggesting to scientists that they should deviate from a standard use. Frequently, this amounts to a plea for differentiation in order to stop debates at cross-purposes due to the conflation of different meanings.

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Comprehensive coverage of the philosophy of science written by leading philosophers in this fieldClear style of writing for an interdisciplinary audienceNo specific pre-knowledge required
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Born at Kendal near Lake Windermere in the northwest of England into a Quaker background, Eddington attended Owens College, Manchester, and afterward Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won high mathematical honors, including Senior Wrangler. He became Plumian Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge in 1913 and in 1914 Director of the Cambridge Observatory. Eddington was a conscientious objector during the First World War. By the end of his career, he was widely esteemed and had received honorary degrees from many universities. He was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society (1921–1923), and was subsequently elected President of the Physical Society (1930–1932), the Mathematical Association (1932), and the International Astronomical Union (1938–1944). Eddington was knighted in 1930 and received the Order of Merit in 1938. During the 1930s, his popular and more philosophical books made him a well known figure to the general public. Philosophers have found his writings of considerable interest, and have debated his themes for nearly a hundred years.

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In 1633 the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo as a suspected heretic for defending the astronomical theory that the earth moves, and implicitly assuming the theological principle that Scripture is not scientific authority. This controversial event has sent ripples down the centuries, embodying the struggle between a thinker who came to be regarded as the Father of Modern Science, and an institution that is both one of the world's greatest religions and most ancient organizations. The trial has been cited both as a clear demonstration of the incompatibility between science and religion, and also a stunning exemplar of rationality, scientific method, and critical thinking. Much has been written about Galileo's trial, but most works argue from a particular point of view - that of secular science against the Church, or justifying the religious position. Maurice Finocchiaro aims to provide a balanced historical account that draws out the cultural nuances. Unfolding the intriguing narrative of Galileo's trial, he sets it against its contemporary intellectual and philosophical background. In particular, Finocchiaro focuses on the contemporary arguments and evidence for and against the Earth's motion, which were based on astronomical observation, the physics of motion, philosophical principles about the nature of knowledge, and theological principles about the authority and the interpretation of Scripture. Following both sides of the controversy and its far-reaching philosophical impact, Finocchiaro unravels the complex relationship between science and religion, and demonstrates how Galileo came to be recognised as a model of logical reasoning.
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