Show Less
Restricted access

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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter Five: Troubles in Rome: 1615–1616


← 46 | 47 →CHAPTER FIVE

Galileo was a loyal member of the Catholic Church and it never occurred to him to attack the institution to which he belonged. He was eager to be heard within the Church, and he saw the rise of the new science as an opportunity for believers to gain a better insight into the workings of God in nature.


In the preceding chapter it was mentioned that in the midst of the storm set off by Caccini’s sermon, his fellow Dominican brother Niccolò Lorini submitted a copy (one that, as it turned out, contained several inaccuracies) of Galileo’s Letter to Castelli to the Congregation of the Holy Office, also known as the Inquisition. Lorini wanted to know if the letter’s defense of the Copernican system amounted to heresy. Though in his complaint he assures his reader, Cardinal Paolo Sfrondati, that he is “moved by nothing but zeal,” and admits that he regards “all those who are called Galileists as men of goodwill and good Christians” (EN 19: 298; F 169), Lorini begins by documenting all of the troubling claims he finds in the letter itself. Among its controversial propositions, according to Lorini, are “that certain ways of speaking in the Holy Scripture are inappropriate; that in disputes about natural effects the same Scripture holds the last place; that its expositors are often wrong in their interpretations; that the same Scripture must not...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.