- Series: California Studies in the History of Science (Book 1)
- Paperback: 398 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press (May 19, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520066626
- ISBN-13: 978-0520066625
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (California Studies in the History of Science)
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"Based on the Antonio Favaro Italian editions of 1890-1909 and the original text of 1632, this new masterpiece focuses on the Copernican controversy and surrounding scientific and philosophical issues." --"Renaissance Quarterly
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Book arrived just as described, and the seller was prompt in replying!
But more than that, Finocchiaro in his "Introduction" to the book, deals with both sides of the affair, of those against Galileo, and of those in his favor. He then tries to make a very accurate interpretation about what really happened them, and pointing to both groups' flaws about their interpretation of history. Certainly the Galileo Affair was not just a case where the Inquisition was absolutely right, but also it is far beyond the statement that the Inquisition wanted him silenced to prevent the advance of science. The Galileo Affair is much more complex than that, and Finnochiaro takes into account the scientific, philosophical, theological and political realities of the time.
The documents in the book include correspondence, Inquisition documents, fragments of Galileo's writings, among others. You MUST have this book if you want to understand more accurately the Galileo Affair.
One minor complaint: The correspondences, depositions and minutes of the Holy Office are not placed in precise chronological order in the book. I wanted to read them that way and so I was forced to flip around using the exquisitely detailed time-line provided at the end of the book. As the reading progressed, a clear story unfolded and all the historical characters took on traits that were more human than what you can get reading historical accounts.
There were several very interesting parts to this story. I was intrigued by the apparently deliberate "mis-copying" of Galileo's letter to Benedetto Castelli. I was impressed by Galileo's ability to infer (from complaints about him) that a corrupted letter had been circulating. This had cased Galileo's first set of headaches around 1614-1615. It's also telling that all of the complaints against him were drawn from exactly these corrupted passages. I enjoyed - in a darker way - watching Galileo try to B.S. his way past his inquisitors during his second deposition by pretending to believe that he had thought his Dialog was a pro-Ptolemaic work - and acting shocked that, when upon rereading it, he discovered Lo! This DOES sound like I'm defending Copernicus! The Holy Office had placed him in a position where he was forced say what they wanted him to say, but to do it in a way that passed as honest. Ouch! I was also pleased with the author's explanation of what "hypothesis" (ex hypothesi) meant to Galileo and his contemporaries and how the meaning is different from how we understand it today. This was a crucial idea for understanding what happened in Rome.
This book is a great narrative couched in personal and institutional correspondences. On the other hand, if what you want - as the reviewer from April 7, 2009 wanted - is an "exhaustive" history of the Galileo affair that consists of "no more than a dozen pages" of unpacked "points", then all you need to do is copy-and-paste his review into a word processor and increase the font size to about 48.