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Reading Nature’s Book

Galileo and the Birth of Modern Philosophy


Fred Ablondi

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) is widely recognized as one of the greatest scientific thinkers in history. Intriguingly, when offered a place in the Medici court in 1610, he requested the title of «Philosopher and Chief Mathematician.» Reading Nature’s Book: Galileo and the Birth of Modern Philosophy is the first book-length study written with undergraduates in mind that examines the philosophical implications (both theoretical and historical) of Galileo’s scientific discoveries, including many matters that were later taken up by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophers. This close analysis of Galileo’s philosophical insights demonstrates the prominent place his thought should have in the history of early modern philosophy.
Reading Nature’s Book provides contextual material for college and university students enrolled in modern philosophy courses, introducing them to ideas and concepts that dominated philosophical discussion during the era. Furthermore, students and scholars interested in the history of philosophy of science will also benefit from a decidedly philosophical approach to such a leading scientific figure. Many of the topics explored by Galileo continue to be of philosophical interest today, including scientific methodology and the relation between science and religion.
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← viii | ix →Acknowledgments


Work on this book was made possible by a Hendrix College Odyssey Professorship established by Morriss and Ann Henry. My thanks to both the Henrys and Hendrix. In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to the Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy for supporting my research.

I would also like to recognize and thank several people who helped me while I was writing this book. Lance Richey and Chris Campolo each read an early draft of Chapter One and encouraged me to undertake this project. Aaron Simmons read and commented on drafts of Chapters One through Five. John Sanders did the same with Chapters Four and Five. Zvi Biener and David Marshall Miller were both very kind to provide invaluable suggestions and corrections on Chapters One, Seven, and Eight. Michelle Salyga and Jackie Pavlovic at Peter Lang were wonderful to work with. And on several occasions, Damon Spayde was kind enough to take the time to answer my physics questions.

My colleague in the Physics Department at Hendrix, Ann Wright, has been both a conversation partner and teaching partner regarding all things Galileo. I would also like to thank the students in my Galileo seminar in the fall of 2012, especially Ashley Lyman.

← ix | x →Parts of Chapters Four and Five appeared in “Heretics Everywhere: On the Continuing Relevance of Galileo to the Philosophy of Religion,” Philosophy and Theology 22 (Spring–Summer 2010): 49–76....

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