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Why was Galileo unable to defend himself?

by greswd
Tags: defend, galileo, unable
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NemoReally
#19
Jan23-13, 10:07 AM
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Quote Quote by Permanence View Post
So after the papal admonition, he went ahead and published Dialogue on the two main world systems (1632). In the book he pretended to be bringing light to both sides of the argument, but essentially he was writing to say Ptolemy was wrong.

By numbers I meant proofs and anything logical in nature. He had brought up some major points, that were scientific in nature, while arguing for Copernicus. I'm not too familiar with the entire trial, but I was getting at the idea that he couldn't expect to go into that trial and say here is the logic and reasoning behind my notions, I'll be on my way.
No, he couldn't - Galileo wasn't the only one using logic and reasoning. There were a number of valid arguments against the Copernican model and both alternative explanations for some observations and lack of explanation for others in the Copernican model. Several of the people examining Galileo's arguments would likely have been as well versed as Galileo in logic and reasoning, but they would have been arguing from the POV that the Bible and the Ptolemaic system were valid (ie, they provided their axiomatic base) - it's fairly standard to assume the validity of the status quo and for arguments against it to carry the burden of proof.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Earth-centric, epicyclic model was capable of giving good agreement with observation and could, in principle, be refined to give more exact agreement.
BobG
#20
Jan23-13, 06:33 PM
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Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
Actually, Galileo did not incur the wrath of the church until 1632 when he published 'Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems', which included a gratuitous slap at his former friend Pope Urban VIII. This led to his trial for suspicion of heresy. He had been investigated by the inquistion in 1615, but absolved of any wrongdoing in that case.
This was the selling point. This was in the preface introducing the points that Galileo intended to discuss. In actuality, claiming this was intended as an insult to the Pope was pretty thin, but if enough people believed it was an insult, then the Pope had to act on it, whether he believed it to be an insult or not. The Pope had problems of his own and standing up for Galileo would have just made his own problems worse. In other words, the church really did do Galileo wrong.

Who knows what the motivation for persecuting him was. Different members of the church had different views on celestial mechanics - a Copernican model, a Ptolemaic model, and Tycho Brahe's model (that said the Sun and Moon orbited the Earth, while the planets orbited the Sun). There were legitimate arguments for and against each at the time, but the arguments tended to be as much personal attacks on people holding opposing view points as they were logical discussions.

In any event, the actual offense Galileo was found guilty of wasn't as important as finding him guilty of something, with his advocacy of the Copernican model being only one of his offenses.

Defending himself with physical evidence or logic really would have been inadequate for his era. He really needed his allies to mount more substantial personal attacks on his enemies and that involved risk. Personal attacks were not only decided by reputation, but winning these helped a person's reputation while losing these damaged a person's reputation. It wasn't an age dominated by science.
AnTiFreeze3
#21
Jan23-13, 07:20 PM
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Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
... which included a gratuitous slap at his former friend Pope Urban VIII ...
I'm glad someone mentioned this; Pope Urban VIII admired Galileo, and the two even had dinner semi-frequently. Galileo was given permission to write about the Copernican Theory, so long as he treated it as a hypothesis, and didn't try to make any bold claims. However, in Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, he included an argument promoted by a character named Simplicio (which can be translated to "simple minded"). The argument was one for the omnipotence of God, which Galileo then dismantled and more or less destroyed in the rest of his book.

This argument was personally introduced to Galileo by Pope Urban VIII himself. As you can probably tell, the Pope no longer felt too inclined to defend Galileo. Thus the persecution.

The lesson for today is that it all comes down to who you know, and how well you treat them
greswd
#22
Feb6-13, 10:44 AM
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Quote Quote by NemoReally View Post
Have a look at page 43 of Longair's book http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=b...page&q&f=false . In fact, buy a copy of his book! There were some reasonable (for the time) scientific arguments against the heliocentric model ...
that sounds quite interesting.
lpetrich
#23
Sep25-13, 07:36 AM
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Quote Quote by bahamagreen View Post
I know an attorney who works overseas. He was trained in the idea that a solid logical argument should prevail. What he found was that there are places where the winner of an argument is the one who keeps talking, says the most words, and has the last word.
That reminds me of this joke about what a lawyer is to do:

If the law is on your side, pound on the law.
If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.
If neither is on your side, pound on the table.

So bahamagreen's friend may have expected to win by pounding on the facts and the law, while in those places, one wins by pounding on the table.


Back to Galileo and what he might have argued. I think that he had laid out many of the arguments that he could, both scientific and theological. Yes, theological. Some of his opponents charged that heliocentrism was contrary to the Bible, noting geocentrist parts of the Bible. The best-known of these is where Joshua told the Sun and the Moon to stop moving and not the Earth when he wanted to win one of his battles (Joshua 10:12-13).

Galileo's response was to argue Biblical geocentrism away as allegorical or metaphorical or phenomenological, as far as I can tell. He argued that the Holy Spirit tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. Arguing away embarrassments as allegorical was already an old practice by then. Theologians who believed in an abstract sort of God had argued away the theological anthropomorphisms in the Bible, and I'm sure that Biblical flat-earthism was also argued away.

Even some pagans did allegorical interpretation. From Plutarch Isis and Osiris (Part*1 of 5):
Therefore, Clea, whenever you hear the traditional tales which the Egyptians tell about the gods, their wanderings, dismemberments, and many experiences of this sort, you must remember what has been already said, and you must not think that any of these tales actually happened in the manner in which they are related.
The authors of the Bible had little interest in cosmology, so one has to infer their beliefs from off-hand remarks here and there. But 1 Enoch, a Hellenistic-era book that did not make the canonical cut, goes into much more detail, and it clarifies the cosmology in the Bible (The Flat-Earth Bible.). The Earth is flat, and the sky an inverted bowl over it. The celestial bodies move on its surface, and travel along the rim of the bowl from the setting places to their rising places. There is a jail for celestial bodies that dawdle.
epenguin
#24
Dec29-13, 04:49 AM
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Defend himself with experimental evidence? I'm not sure you do that in an Inquisitorial system. You have already committed the crime of being accused and you don't want to make things worse for yourself.

"The past is another country, they do things differently there."
Pythagorean
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Dec29-13, 10:12 AM
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I don't know how historically robust Albert Camus' "An Absurd Reasoning" is, but this thread reminded me of something he said:

Quote Quote by Albert Camus
Galileo, who held a scientific truth of great importance, abjured it with the greatest ease as soon as it endangered his life. In a certain sense, he did right. That truth was not worth the stake.
OmCheeto
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Dec29-13, 02:11 PM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
I don't know how historically robust Albert Camus' "An Absurd Reasoning" is, but this thread reminded me of something he said:

Quote Quote by Albert Camus
Galileo, who held a scientific truth of great importance, abjured it with the greatest ease as soon as it endangered his life. In a certain sense, he did right. That truth was not worth the stake.
I can relate with Galileo. Many years ago, I was pointing out things that were wrong at work. The powers that be, would tell me to shut up, as they were in charge, and my ideas were heresy. Later, the powers that be, had apparently dwelled on what I'd said, and would repeat what I'd said, at a future date, claiming it to be their revelation.

I worked the system, after I figured that out.

----------------------------
ps. I'm somewhat illiterate, and have only read Camus' "The Plague".
HallsofIvy
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Dec29-13, 03:50 PM
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There is an interesting article in the latest "Scientific American" titled "The Case against Copernicus". It asserts that it was the scientists of the day who disagreed with Copernicus, not the church. Of course, Galileo's laws of motion were not known at that time and it was believed that some force would have to act on a "massive" body in order to for it to keep moving. So the motion of the planets was presumed to be due to the fact that the planets were made of some "ethereal" matter that did not have mass. But the clearly massive earth could not move.

Copernicus' response to those arguments was that the earth moved through "divine action"!
NemoReally
#28
Dec30-13, 07:08 PM
P: 194
Quote Quote by HallsofIvy View Post
There is an interesting article in the latest "Scientific American" titled "The Case against Copernicus". It asserts that it was the scientists of the day who disagreed with Copernicus, not the church. Of course, Galileo's laws of motion were not known at that time and it was believed that some force would have to act on a "massive" body in order to for it to keep moving. So the motion of the planets was presumed to be due to the fact that the planets were made of some "ethereal" matter that did not have mass. But the clearly massive earth could not move.

Copernicus' response to those arguments was that the earth moved through "divine action"!
One of the things that the history of science has taught me is that things are rarely as clear as they are often portrayed to be. For example, Brahe had proposed an intermediate system in which the Moon and the Sun revolved around the Earth (one of the reasons being the one you gave) and the planets revolved around the Sun. Several Jesuit astronomers had noted Galileo's observations - with disbelief at first until they replicated them (eg, Clavius) - and had turned to the Tychonian system as a good alternative to the Standard Model(!) before Galileo's trial. One of the reasons Kepler turned to elliptical orbits was that a heliocentric circular orbit model wasn't that much better (if at all) than a geocentric circular model in terms of fitting the data. Interestingly, Galileo was aware of Kepler's ideas but stuck to the circular model in the Dialogue (I've only had a quick glance through the Dialogue and I'm more than willing to be corrected on this). In addition, the Dialogue had a different title (Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea) prior to publication - his theory of tides forms Day 4 of the dialogue and is wrong.


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