How Galileo's Recurrent Novelties Traveled

Robert S. Westman

in The Copernican Question

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520254817
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948167 | DOI:
How Galileo's Recurrent Novelties Traveled

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Some influential interpreters of his first major printed book, Sidereus Nuncius, have underscored Galileo's straightforward empiricist style in reporting observations and avoiding aggressive, systematic theorizing. An important function of this reading has been to dissociate Galileo from the Copernican convictions that he so clearly expressed in the 1597 letters to Jacopo Mazzoni and Johannes Kepler. Richard Westfall and Mario Biagioli proposed that Galileo's downplaying of cosmology involved a proximate political consideration; in Westfall's words, he “saw the telescope more as an instrument of patronage than as an instrument of astronomy.” This chapter examines how Galileo's telescope and Sidereus Nuncius, together or separately, succeeded first in stabilizing the representations of the heavens that Galileo promoted and how this outcome affected the Copernican question. It also discusses Galileo's return to Florence and his negotiations with the Tuscan court in May 1610, John Wedderburn's “refutation” (confutatio) of Martin Horky's “four problems against the Nuncius Sidereus,” and Galileo's novelties and the Jesuits.

Keywords: Galileo; Sidereus Nuncius; Copernican question; telescope; Johannes Kepler; Tuscan court; John Wedderburn; Martin Horky; Jesuits; astronomy

Chapter.  22523 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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