Essay Preview: Galileo Galilei
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Galileo Galilei is well known by many, but it is hard to pin point the exact reason behind this apparent fame, he became famous in terms of early empirical science late on in his life, when he wrote his text on the dynamics of rigid bodies Ð- ÐDialogues concerning the Two New Sciences which is a forerunner of Isaac Newtons Laws of Motion. However this branch of science was not his passion or what he spent most of his life arguing and theorising about. Galileo was interested in the Copernican theory of a Heliocentric system, however Galileo lived in a time when the Catholic Church was very powerful and controlled a large amount of Europe, Galileo fought for his beliefs for twenty years (1613-1633) but was branded guilty of suspicion of heresy by the inquisition. A heretic is someone who believes in or publicises heresy, which is an opinion contrary to what is normally accepted, in this case by the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
In writing this essay I intend to analyse the reasoning why the Catholic Church found such a verdict, I will look into whether the Church just had a fundamental disregard for all scientific research, maybe due to the problems of the lack of unity of the Catholic Church. Were the Church right to find such a verdict in view of the times they were living in? This should then lead me on to look at the effects of the negative spin put onto the Copernican system by the Catholics.
Galileo never finished his university education due to the costs involved however he did manage to become a lecturer at Pisa, where apparently he performed his famous velocity experiment of dropping to differently weighted object off the Leaning Tower showing that they land at the same time, disproving Aristotles theory. He later takes a post at the University of Padua which he won instead of Giordano Bruno, who was later executed (1600) as a heritic for his belief in the Copernican System , Galileo stayed in Padua for eighteen years. Whilst there Galileo develops the telescope, which he points towards the Sky, as well as selling it to the Venetian Senate for military purposes at the small cost of a lifetime professorship at Padua at double his salary! Galileo later leaves Padua to work for the Duke of Tuscany; he is even at one point received by the Jesuit astronomers of Rome; however this can only last so long, four years later Galileo is ordered to cease his support of Heliocentricity by a Cardinal Bellarmine.
Was Galileo really charged because his Science was wrong, rather than misunderstood? If we look at his idea of the Heliocentric system, this would have defied all types of common sense of the time, how many years would people have believed that the Earth is at the Centre of the universe? Probably at least two millennia since the time of Aristotle, it is impossible to change deep seated Ðfact within peoples minds overnight. When Kepler sent Galileo a copy of the Cosmic Mystery in 1597, Galileo replied stating that he believed in the Heliocentric system too but Ðhe would not risk publishing such views so long as the public consists of dangerous fools who have no concept of the pursuit of truth and who might ridicule and perhaps even persecute those who have.
The church werent ignorant of the possibility that Galileo maybe right they just wanted some proof, which is a fair point, this can be seen in a letter sent by the Chief of the inquisition and the head of the Jesuits, Cardinal Bellarmine, on 12th April 1615.
ÐThird, I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun is at the centre of the world and the earth is the third heaven, and that the sun does not circle the Earth but the Earth circles the Sun, then one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary, and say rather that we do not understand them than that what is demonstrated is false. But I will not believe that there is such a demonstration, until it is shown to me.
This seems like a good point from Bellarmine, why should he refute what he believes and has been taught all his life? Galileo is very unscientific in his assumption of the earth moving and the easy acceptance of the Copernican system at a time when the Catholic Church was very much in charge. Galileo does not present a logical proof for the existence of a geokinetic system. Later he tries to attempt to theorise about a tidal theory claiming there was only one tide per day, even though this obviously wasnt the case! We see a ridiculous proof lifted from the Bible in a letter to Don Benedetto Castelli, defending himself against the questioning of Grand Duchess Christina. He examines a passage of Joshua ÐSo the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. Galileo argues that the sun has two direction of motion both the Ðannual motion from west to east and with the diurnal motion in the opposite direction from east to west
Galileo refutes the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic ideas of having a ÐPrime mover which spins around an axis every twenty four hours dragging all the other heavenly bodies around with it, in Aristotelian metaphysics this prime mover would have been God. Galileo goes on making a more and more untenable argument considering that he had researched the concept of rigid bodies for more than thirty years and can be credited for much research into the concept of inertia. Why has he chosen to defend Copernicanism at this point in his life with arguments he knows are fundamentally flawed? A true empiricist would have issued his data or findings in support of his conclusions; Galileo is almost hypothesising rather than using experimentation to create a correlated set of results. This leads him down the road of a nearly Aristotelian method; Aristotle used logic and reason to justify his theory, rather than experimentation.
Galileo was helped in his problems with the inquisition in 1616 by a Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, who did not want Galileo directly condemned or the Copernican system dismissed as heresy. In 1623 Cardinal Barberini became the renaissance Pope Urban VIII, he granted Galileo six audiences with him, Galileo even dedicated his book ÐThe Assayer to Urban VIII, this proves that they got on and were probably friends. In 1624 ÐGalileo was proclaimed by the pope to be his devout son There is no evidence for what was said in the audiences but it is understood that Urban VIII didnt believe the Copernican System to be heresy.
ÐHe interpreted the decree of the Index to mean that the earths