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Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, Second Revised edition Paperback – August 1, 1962

ISBN-13: 978-0520004504 ISBN-10: 0520004507 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 495 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Second Edition edition (August 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520004507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520004504
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,511,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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This book is worth the read for its place in history.
John
This edition has copious, interesting notes, too, which make the adventure an even more colorful and full one.
Glenn Becker
It's wonderfully enjoyable and hugely rewarding, and I recommend it very highly indeed.
Sid Nuncius

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John on December 14, 2002
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Becker on April 11, 2003
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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.
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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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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By eric zazie on April 14, 2001
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.
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