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Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
 
 

Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Stillman Drake

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Review

"An interesting and stimulating introduction to the life and works of Galileo by the doyen of Galilean studies. The author studies the interplay of mathematical reasoning and physical experimentation in the genesis of the law of free fall and in the employment of Galileo's methodology."--Mathematical Reviews

Product Description

In a startling reinterpretation of the evidence, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church, but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers.

Galileo's own beautifully lucid arguments are used to show how his scientific method was utterly divorced from the Aristotelian approach to physics in that it was based on a search not for causes but for laws. Galileo's method was of overwhelming significance for the development of modern physics, and led to a final parting of the ways between science and philosophy.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 738 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (22 Feb 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005EXD2VC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #149,366 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Informative Introduction to Galileo 15 Jan 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Galileo Galilei is the sixteenth and seventeenth century Italian physicist, astronomer, philosopher and mathematician who is largely credited for being the founding figure of the modern science. He is also considered to be at the center of the greatest controversy that concerned the relationship between religion and science, the so-called "Galileo Affair."

This short introduction aims to give a concise and representative view of Galileo's life, his important scientific discoveries, the popularization of science that he engaged in, and the controversies that all of his scientific activities had engendered. The book is written with an interested non-expert in mind, but it is neither simplistic nor does it skim over any of the most important historical or scientific facts.

It is hard for the modern reader to truly appreciate how much about the motion, the world and our place in it we take for granted. Galileo has paved the way for many of the most fundamental concepts that have become cornerstone of the scientific worldview. He helped define and place on a solid experimental and conceptual foundation things like velocity, acceleration, gravity, and many others. This short book describes many of the experiments and observations that Galileo engaged over throughout his lifetime. Of particular importance is his invention of the astronomical telescope and the important discoveries that it enabled him to achieve, such as the mountains on Moon, satellites of Jupiter, and rings of Saturn.

Over the centuries there has been a lot of scholarly (and not so scholarly) writing dedicated to the "Galileo Affair." There has not been a clear consensus reached on even what really transpired at the actual trial, little less on the motivations of various actors and the impact that the Galileo's sentence has had on either Galileo himself or the relation between science and religion in general. It doesn't help that this incident has been appropriated over the centuries by all sorts of partisan viewpoints, and therefore it becomes almost impossible to take a dispassionate and objective view of the situation. A few things, however, are quite clear. The original opposition to Galileo's pro-Copernican viewpoints and the new astronomical discoveries that seemed to have supported it primarily came from philosophers and astronomers. Furthermore, even when the Catholic Church's authorities started to look into the controversy, the subjugation of science to religion had never been an issue. Anyone familiar with the Catholic Theology or many Catholic scientists and astronomers that either preceded or followed Galileo would admit as much. In fact, Stillman Drake argues in this short book that Galileo acted in the way he did precisely out of concern to put Catholic Theology beyond any present or future conflict with scientific discoveries. This is not a widespread opinion of Galileo's true motivations, and is certainly not something that could be claimed based on the written evidence alone, but Drake presents a very persuasive case. This viewpoint helps make sense of a few facts surrounding Galileo's trial that otherwise remain puzzling, such as Galileo's very cautious and gradual approach to the Copernican ideas and the close lifelong personal relations that he had with various bishops and cardinals. At the very least these are not the characteristics of an anti-religious zealot.

Galileo is one of the most important figures in the history of science. He is also someone who has been for almost four centuries at the focus of a lot of controversy and misinformation. This little book goes a long way in clearing some of the misconceptions about Galileo and introducing the reader to the seminal achievements of this great man.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacrificed to Aristotle and the Gods of Philosopohy 25 May 2004
By Rodney J. Szasz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this slim volume is packed the central thesis of one of the foremost students of Galileo:
1) that Galileo was not a victim of the inquisition but rather the Aristotelean method of reasoning particulars of Science from theoretical ideas. Galileo thought that experience, measurability and prediction should be the guide. Grand ideas he left to the Church and philosophers. Perhaps he was a little too naive in assuming that the inquisition would leave him alone. But it was in the defence of Aristotle that the inquisition indicted him. Not mere religious intolerance (which of course there was plenty).
The other observation was the in-fighting and jockeying inside the academic community for political and religious favour -- the competition for well-paying university seats was intense and Galileo was a direct victim of academics who ruthlessly pilloried him to gain favour.
2) Galileo was no crusader directly challenging the power of the church. He in fact had many freinds as high-archbishops and even a was a personal friend of the Pope. His desire was never to challenge the church and the church only very reluctantly charged him with "teaching" the doctrine of Copernicus and Kepler.
This is a great jumping off point for further studies on Galileo. I love this series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My visit to science in the 1600's! 29 July 2013
By Frank Domiano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The experience of this Very Short Introduction is positive in meeting my want of a concise biography of an individual i find very interesting and significant in science history.There are many stories of Galileo,and this book does not give in to easy acceptance,instead explores the real events with original source material and not conjuncture.Plus,it makes the science aspects understandable,while placing his work in the historical context required.As a bonus i experienced being in 17th century Florence and Rome.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Information Packed Introduction 27 Dec 2011
By David Milliern - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is not easy to write a better, very short introduction that Stillman Drake has done, here. While being absolutely packed with loads of information, Drake makes it accessible. This book will be intimidating to someone familiar with the watered-down nature of other introductions, but, having read half of Oxford's series, I think that the idea is that these books are intended to be scholarly approaches to introductions of the material. To put it simply, as an academic who is not familiar with many other disciplines, I have found Oxford's series to be quite useful. At any rate, Drake's work, presented in this book, I think, is so accessible that, even for the non-academic, a brief introduction to Galileo, such as the graphic novel variety, would suffice in one's preparation for reading this. That is to say, though a step up on difficulty, Galileo: A Very Short Introduction serves as a fantastic introduction to a subject, especially, in cases where the reader wants to know if the subject is one worth reading more into. As for me, not only will I be reading more into the subject, I have found it rather obvious that Stillman Drake is probably among the top, if not the top, scholar on Galileo.

One thing definitely worth noting about this book is its interdisciplinary style. Drake does a wonderful job of conveying the science that is relevant to the history of science discussion, as it pertains to Galileo. Moreover, Drake does well to explain the importance of various philosophical aspects that impacted Galileo's science.

Finally, I think the book was just well written. Drake has a definite writing style, and he has a flare, which really brings interest to his subject matter. He writes with clarity, and he writes in such a way that provokes thought. Probably, the best part of his writing is the way in which he words his thoughts, which is brilliant, in that he says so much in such a small book; not a sentence is wasted.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice! 4 April 2013
By Alexandre Tort - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Professor Drake is a well-known specialist on Galileo scientific achievements. This little book is a nice short ntroduction to the this subject.
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