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Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican [Paperback]

Galileo
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Book Description

1 July 1992
This 1967 edition of the "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is a revision of a 1953 edition. It includes a foreword by Albert Einstein, which is presented in en face German and English versions. The translation itself is based on the definitive National Edition prepared under the direction of Antonio Favaro and published at Florence in 1897. The material specifically added to the text by Galileo himself after publication of the first edition (1632) has been included as well. In addition, the margins of the book include translations of Galileo's own postils (running notes), placed as nearly as possible beside their textual references.


Product details

  • Paperback: 495 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520004507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520004504
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,039,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant translation of a wonderful work 9 Jan 2010
By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
It's not the most alluring of titles, I admit, and even though most people have heard of Galileo and many know enough of his achievements to admire him, I suspect few people would consider reading a book by him. However, I urge you very strongly to buy this book and at least give it a try. It's a wonderful work, full of fascinating and brilliant insights and Stillman Drake's superlative translation makes it extremely readable. It gives a fascinating insight into what Galileo *really* did to annoy the Inquisition and shows his often brilliantly witty and occasionally dangerously sarcastic style. Even to dip into, this book is a monumental pleasure.

Try this, the first few lines of the Introduction - To The Discerning Reader:
"Several years ago there was published in Rome a salutary edict which, in order to obviate the dangerous tendencies of our present age, imposed a seasonable silence upon the Pythagorean opinion that the Earth moves. There were those who impudently asserted that this decree had its origin not in judicious inquiry, but in passion none too well informed. Complaints were to be heard that advisers who were totally unskilled in astronomical observations ought not to clip the wings of reflective intellects by means of rash prohibitions. Upon hearing such carping insolence, my zeal could not be contained..."

I first read that while studying History of Science over thirty years ago, laughed out loud, and read the rest of the book with immense pleasure. It is written in the form of dialogues presided over by Sagredo ("wise man") and conducted between Salviati (really Galileo himself) and the person representing the Church's orthodoxy, whom Galileo christened Simplicio.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A deep insight into the past 27 Nov 2011
By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER
"The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" ("Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo"), a 1632 book by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), comparing the Copernican with the traditional Ptolemaic system, was translated from Italian to Latin as "Systema cosmicum" in 1635 by Bernegger. It was dedicated to Galileo's patron, Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

According to Stephen Hawking, "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science". Praise does not come more fulsome than this or from more elevated people.

Under great pressure and extreme censure concerning his writing, it was published after lengthy discussions with the Inquisition which was trying to quash his views of the movement of the celestial bodies. It is a discussion between Sagredo, the wise man, Salviati (Galileo himself) and Simplicio, the religious traditionalist who has humorous rings run around him throughout the dialogues (obviously contingent on one's point of view).

Salviati is Galileo himself, Sagredo is named after Francesco Sagredo (1571-1620) a close friend and Venetian mathematician and Simplicio, the dedicated follower of old fashions, Ptolemy and Aristotle, promulgates the traditional church view.

This book shows not only that Galileo was genius and a brilliant scientist (although the word "scientist" did not exist), he was also good writer able to convey his astronomical ideas very effectively (and a wide range of other scientific issues), even if he was not always diplomatic, prudent or politically astute.

Galileo could not have been more obvious in his writings, little secret was made of the various interlocutors and he wrote much of it with great humour. This will surprise many readers but provide them with a very different view of one of the greatest scientist of all time - in his own words. It may not be easy in places, but it is worth the struggle.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Piece of Scientific History 14 Dec 2002
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems has long had its place in the history books. The work consists of a dialogue between three characters, Salviati, Sagredo, and Simplicio. They gather together over the course of four days to discuss the Ptolemaic and Copernican views of the universe. Ptolemy's system is that of an earth centered universe that aligns with the views of Aristotle, the more popular conception. Copernicus's system is heliocentric. This is a radical opinion of the time and incidentally is the correct one. Salviati supports the Copernican system and Simplicio adheres to the Ptolemaic view. These two refute the ideas of the other and argue for their own. Sagredo is somewhat caught in the middle. However, he ultimately aligns with Salviati on every point. The translator, Stillman Drake, in his introduction, goes over the climate and political forces of Galileo's day along with Galileo's reason's for writing this book. As Drake points out, Galileo is appealing to the public here. It seems that this is Galileo getting in the last word on the argument for a heliocentric universe. This book is also what largely does him in with the Vatican. Galileo dose not directly argue against the church in this book but only against the Aristotelian opinion while showing reverence for divine power.
The best was to describe this book is verbose. It fills 465 pages with small print. Because it is written in conversational tone, perhaps Galileo felt that the extra wording was necessary. It does take some time to read. Drake does an excellent job of making important notes throughout the work. Some of these are geared more for an academic study, but others give needed explanation. Just like we do not have all the answers today, Galileo makes some scientific mistakes. These are few and Drake gives explanations for them. This book is worth the read for its place in history. A brief background in astronomy and even Aristotelian philosophy will benefit the reader. I would also recommend Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, also translated and compiled by Drake.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lovely book 11 April 2003
By Glenn Becker - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
To read this book is to see the Western Mind open to light and fresh air after centuries of stale darkness. This is not to snub the monumental work of Aristotle or Ptolemy but to rue the fact that their writings were clung to as doctrine for so long.
Even in translation, Galileo is a lively, robust, even funny writer. His fiery spirit is especially welcome in these troubled opening years of the 21st century: I kept marking pages for later reference. Some parts of this great book will require work on the reader's part, but the work is so eminently worth it. This edition has copious, interesting notes, too, which make the adventure an even more colorful and full one.
This is no "great grey classic" to be endured, but a living bronco of a book: relevant, ferocious, and of great historical and scientific interest.
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant translation of a wonderful work 9 Jan 2010
By Sid Nuncius - Published on Amazon.com
It's not the most alluring of titles, I admit, and even though most people have heard of Galileo and many know enough of his achievements to admire him, I suspect few people would consider reading a book by him. However, I urge you very strongly to buy this book and at least give it a try. It's a wonderful work, full of fascinating and brilliant insights and Stillman Drake's superlative translation makes it extremely readable. It gives a fascinating insight into what Galileo *really* did to annoy the Inquisition and shows his often brilliantly witty and occasionally dangerously sarcastic style. Even to dip into, this book is a monumental pleasure.

Try this, the first few lines of the Introduction - To The Discerning Reader:
"Several years ago there was published in Rome a salutary edict which, in order to obviate the dangerous tendencies of our present age, imposed a seasonable silence upon the Pythagorean opinion that the Earth moves. There were those who impudently asserted that this decree had its origin not in judicious inquiry, but in passion none too well informed. Complaints were to be heard that advisers who were totally unskilled in astronomical observations ought not to clip the wings of reflective intellects by means of rash prohibitions. Upon hearing such carping insolence, my zeal could not be contained..."

I first read that while studying History of Science over thirty years ago, laughed out loud, and read the rest of the book with immense pleasure. It is written in the form of dialogues presided over by Sagredo ("wise man") and conducted between Salviati (really Galileo himself) and the person representing the Church's orthodoxy, whom Galileo christened Simplicio. Tactful, he wasn't, but he was a brilliant physicist and a brilliant author, filling the book with witty and amazingly ingenious arguments resulting in poor Simplicio being confounded at every turn.

I cannot say strongly enough what a pleasure this book is. It really isn't just a tome which will sit on your shelf looking impressive, or which you ought to plough through because it will Do You Good. It's wonderfully enjoyable and hugely rewarding, and I recommend it very highly indeed.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Edition 14 April 2001
By eric zazie - Published on Amazon.com
The book is well done, I like the type, the notes are informative, the preface by Einstein is by Einstein, and Drake inserts the Italian phrase at the right moments. The book itself is not read as much as it should be--it is an excellent introduction to the history of science and cosmological thought, and an informative specimen of the rhetoric of science at the very moment that rhetoric is derogated by Galileo. For instance, Galileo borrows the valorization of circular motion from Plato and Aristotle (Galileo sides with Plato against Aristotle) and argues that all motion is circular, even freefall, but not circular precisely, but spiral. He is relying in part on the geometry of spirals by--Apollonius?--a good example, to my mind, of the "geometrization of space." The equation of freefall is also demonstrated geometrically in a way that is very elegant. It should also be noted that Simplicio is hardly the fool that he is made out to be--his objections are far more acute than this reader could come up with on his own. The enormous prestige of physics and science is in my opinion one of the greatest obstacles to thinking, and reading Galileo goes a long way towards an appreciation of what mathematical physics is not.
5.0 out of 5 stars GALILEO'S FAMOUS ARGUMENT FOR A HELIOCENTRIC (SUN-CENTERED) SOLAR SYSTEM 16 July 2014
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher known as the "Father of Modern Science." Some of his "popular" writings are collected in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo. The book is a fictional four-day series of discussions between two philosophers (Salvitri, expressing Galileo's "heliocentric" position; and Sagredo, who is "neutral") and a layman rather insultingly named Simplicio, who represents the Ptolemaic/"geocentric" view endorsed by Pope and the Catholic Church. [NOTE: page numbers refer to a 496-page paperback edition.]

He wrote in his introduction "To the Discerning Reader," that "Three principal headings are treated. First, I shall try to show that all experiments practicable upon the earth are insufficient measures for proving its mobility... Secondly, the celestial phenomena will be examined, strengthening the Copernican hypothesis until it might seem that this must triumph absolutely... In the third place, I shall propose an ingenious speculation. It happens that long ago I said that the unsolved problem of the ocean tides might receive some light from assuming the motion of the earth..." (Pg. 6)

Salvitri says, "The moon certainly agrees with the earth in its shape, which is indubitably spherical. This follows necessarily from its disc being seen perfectly circular, and from the manner of its receiving light from the sun. For if its surface were flat, it would all become covered with light at once, and likewise would all be deprived of light in an instant... as from the earth we see the moon now completely lighted, now half, now more, now less, sometimes sickle-shaped and sometimes completely invisible... just so would the illumination made by the sun on the face of the earth be seen from the moon, with precisely the same period and the same alterations of shape..." (Pg. 62-63) He also suggests, "I consider the moon very different from the earth. Though I fancy to myself that its regions are not idle and dead, still I do not assert that life and motion exist there." (Pg. 99)

He argues, "First, let us consider only the immense bulk of the starry sphere in contrast with the smallness of the territorial globe, which is contained in the former so many millions of times. Now if we think of the velocity of motion required to make a complete rotation in a single day and night, I cannot persuade myself that anyone could be found who would think it the more reasonable and credible thing that it was the celestial sphere which did the turning, and the terrestrial globe which remained fixed." (Pg. 115) Later, he adds in support of the heliocentric view, "we find all the planets closer to the earth at one time and farther from it at another. The differences are so great that Venus, for example, is six times as distant from us at its farthest as at its closest, and Mars soars nearly eight times as high in the one state as in the other. You may thus see whether Aristotle was not some trifle deceived in believing that they were always equally distant from us." (Pg. 321)

He asserts about the ocean tides that "this ebb and flow itself cooperates in confirming the earth's mobility." (Pg. 416) He adds, "since the alterations in the tides at the said times consist of nothing more than changes in their sizes; that is, in the rising and lowering of the water a greater or less amount, and its running with greater or less impetus. Hence it is necessary that whatever the primary cause of the tides is, it should increase or diminish its force at the specific times mentioned." (Pg. 445-446) He points out, "The monthly periodic changes would cease if there were no variation due to the annual motion, and if the additions and subtractions of the diurnal rotation were kept always equal, then the annual periodic alterations would be missing." (Pg. 448) He rejects the notion that that the tides are caused by the motion of the earth: "a simple and uniform motion, such as the simple diurnal motion of the terrestrial globe for instance, does not suffice, and that an uneven motion is required, now accelerated and now retarded. For if the motion of the vessels were uniform, the contained waters would become habituated to it and would never make any mutations." (Pg. 461-462)

This book will be both fascinating and "must reading" for anyone interested in the history of scientific thought.
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