Between Risk and Credit

in Galileo's Instruments of Credit

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226045610
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226045634 | DOI:
Between Risk and Credit

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This chapter highlights the nexus between discoveries, their pictorial representations, and credit. It does so by looking at a dispute that flared up in 1612 between Galileo and the Jesuit astronomer Christoph Scheiner around the discovery of sunspots. Reflecting their different institutional affiliations, the two held different investments in the cosmological implications of this new discovery, as well as different views about the proper relationship between astronomy and natural philosophy. Galileo thought of natural philosophy as symbiotically connected to mixed mathematics and therefore alien to Aristotelian natural philosophy. Scheiner accepted the basic Thomistic framework that placed natural philosophy above mixed mathematics, but did so reluctantly, showing his eagerness to expand the domain of mathematics at the expense of philosophy. But if Scheiner and Galileo were both philosophically heterodox, their brands of heterodoxy were not compatible, or at least they became incompatible during this dispute. Both saw the new telescopic discoveries as prime material for the expansion of the mathematicians' domain, and were very keen to claim priority over the discovery of sunspots.

Keywords: sunspots; Galileo; Christoph Scheiner; natural philosophy

Chapter.  33343 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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