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22. Galileo


Subject Philosophy

People Galileo

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00025.x


Galileo Galilei was born at Pisa in Italy on 18 February 1564 and died at Arcetri, near Florence, on 8 January 1642. He excelled in observational and theoretical astronomy, natural philosophy, and applied science. An outstanding theoretical and experimental physicist, he is perhaps best known for his defense of the Copernican heliocentric theory in astronomy, and for his humiliating treatment at the hands of the Catholic Inquisition, following the papal condemnation (23 February 1616) of heliocentrism as heretical and at odds with biblical teaching. Forced to recant his Copernican convictions, Galileo spent the last years of his life under house arrest in Arcetri. Even though completely blind and continually harassed by his enemies, in his last years he completed his Discorsi e Dimonstrazioni matematiche intorno a due nouve scienze (1638), a work that created modern mechanics. The philosophical importance of Galileo's science rests largely upon the following closely related achievements: (1) his stunningly successful arguments against Aristotelian science; (2) his proofs that mathematics is applicable to the real world; (3) his conceptually powerful use of experiments, both actual and employed regulatively; (4) his treatment of causality, replacing appeal to hypothesized natural ends with a quest for efficient causes; and (5) his unwavering confidence in the new style of theorizing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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