The Trial of Galileo

Aristotelianism, the "New Cosmology," and the Catholic Church, 1616–1633

By Michael S. Pettersen, Frederick Purnell, Jr., Mark C. Carnes

Approx. 224 pp., 8.5 x 11, 88 halftones, 9 tables, appends

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7081-2
    Published: July 2022
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-7240-3
    Published: July 2022

Reacting to the Past

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In The Trial of Galileo the new science, as brilliantly propounded by Galileo Galilei, collides with the elegant cosmology of Aristotle, Aquinas, and medieval Scholasticism. The game is set in Rome in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Most of the debates occur within the Holy Office, the arm of the papacy that supervises the Roman Inquisition. At times action shifts to the palace of Prince Cesi, founder of the Society of the Lynx-Eyed, which promotes the new science, and to the lecture halls of the Jesuit Collegio Romano. Some students assume roles as faculty of the Collegio Romano and the secular University of Rome, the Sapienza. Others are cardinals who seek to defend the faith from resurgent Protestantism, the imperial ambitions of the Spanish monarch, the schemes of the Medici in Florence, and the crisis of faith throughout Christendom. Some embrace the "new cosmology," some denounce it, and still others are undecided. The issues range from the nature of faith and the meaning of the Bible to the scientific principles and methods as advanced by Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo. Central texts include Aristotle's On the Heavens and Posterior Analytics; Galileo's Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to Grand Duchess Christina (1615) and Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (1632); the declarations of the Council of Trent; and the Bible.

About the Authors

Michael S. Pettersen was Joseph A. Walker Professor and Chair of Physics at Washington and Jefferson College.
For more information about Michael S. Pettersen, visit the Author Page.

Frederick Purnell Jr. was professor of philosophy at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
For more information about Frederick Purnell, Jr., visit the Author Page.

Mark C. Carnes is professor of history at Barnard College.
For more information about Mark C. Carnes, visit the Author Page.