Chapter

The Supplemental Economy of Galileo's Book of Nature

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226045634.003.0005
The Supplemental Economy of Galileo's Book of Nature

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Although the understanding of nature remained exceedingly complex and laborious, it was not a hermeneutical process. Since the late medieval period, nature had been represented as a book which, like the scripture, had signs, meanings, and secrets for the reader to interpret. In 1623, Galileo turned this topos on its head, stating that the understanding of the book of nature required reading, but not interpretation. One did not need to understand the meaning of words and sentences, but only to recognize the characters through which they were composed. The book of nature was open and transparent to anyone with a specific linguistic competence: geometry. To those with such skills, truth would present itself, unmediated and immediately, in the things themselves. Probably the most quoted passage from Galileo's oeuvre, the image of book of nature has come to characterize his methodology and mathematical realism.

Keywords: book of nature; genealogy; theology; astronomy; Galileo

Chapter.  19377 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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