Galileo: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192854568

Stillman Drake
160 Pages
113 x 179 mm
Pub date
Feb 2001
Very Short Introductions


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  • Galileo is the best known figure in the history of astronomy — known for his insistence that the sun, rather than the earth, is the centre of the solar system, and for being the first person to use a telescope to observe the heavens
  • His work was also of huge importance in providing the basis for modern physics
  • Stillman Drake was one of the most important authorities on Galileo's work, and translated many of his scientific writings
  • Controversial views about the causes of Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition

In a startling reinterpretation of the evidence, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church, but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers.

Galileo's own beautifully lucid arguments are used to show how his scientific method was utterly divorced from the Aristotelian approach to physics in that it was based on a search not for causes but for laws. Galileo's method was of overwhelming significance for the development of modern physics, and led to a final parting of the ways between science and philosophy. 


List of illustrations

1: The background
2: Galileo's early years
3: Conflicts with philosophers
4: Conflicts with astronomers and theologians
5: The Dialogue and the Inquisition
6: The final years
Reading list

About the author: 

Stillman Drake, FRSC, formerly Professor of the History of Science, University of Toronto, and author of Galileo: His Scientific Biography (1978). His translations of Galileo's scientific works include Cause, Experiment, and Science (1981) and Telescopes, Tides, and Tactics (1983).

stimulating and very convincing. - Theology

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