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.

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Paperback 152 pages  
ISBN: 0192854569
Salesrank: 526512
Weight:0.3 lbs
Published: 2001 Oxford University Press
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 160 pages  
ISBN: 0192854569
Salesrank: 252695
Weight:0.3 lbs
Published: 2001 Oxford University Press, USA
Amazon price £4.99
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 160 pages  
ISBN: 0192854569
Salesrank: 284960
Weight:0.3 lbs
Published: 2001 Oxford Paperbacks
Amazon price CDN$ 4.67
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 4.67:Used from CDN$ 7.57
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Product Description
In a startling reinterpretation of Galileo's trial, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's prosecution 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 in this volume to show how his scientific method was utterly divorced from the Aristotelian approach to physics; it was based on a search not for causes but for laws. Galileo's methods had an overwhelming significance for the development of modern physics, and they led to a final parting of the ways between science and philosophy. Now, in this extraordinary and concise introduction, Drake provides a stimulating view of Galileo's life and works, providing a fresh perspective on Galileo's methodology and his final incrimination.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.