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Stillman Drake

Galileo: A very short introduction

The surpression of Galileo's work by the church is often seen as a classic case of Science versus Religion. In Galileo: A very short introduction, Stillman Drake argues that it isn't quite that simple.

Drake tells of how Galileo had the support of the Catholic Church for much of time he was working. He had the odd warning, but nothing that seemed to be a problem. His real target was the Aristotelian philosophers, who had their own ideas of how the universe worked, and didn't like it when Galileo's observations contradicted them. Drake argues that Galileo was trying to prevent the Church going down the dead end of making Aristotelian philosophy into dogma. It seemed that he was succeeding, - his telescopic observing sessions were popular with a great number of people, including churchmen. Somehow, though, the Aristotelian's managed to gain influence, making it look like Galileo was flouting the warnings he had been given, and the result was Galileo's house arrest.

It's an interesting book, but I felt that it has a major flaw. Drake talks of modern day critics of Galileo, implying that there are still counterparts of the Aristotelian philosophers. He may well be right, but he doesn't say who they are, and so it looks too much like a strawman argument.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews