Talk:Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Physics / Publications  (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Physics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Physics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
This article is supported by Publications Taskforce.
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Astronomy (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is within the scope of WikiProject Astronomy, which collaborates on articles related to Astronomy on Wikipedia.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.


"Some of this is to show what Galileo considered good science, such as the discussion of William Gilbert's work on magnetism." The point of the section on magnetism is to show that there are bodies in nature that have two natural motions -- in the case of the magnet, weight and magnetism. This is a refutation of the Aristotelian argument that bodies can only have one natural motion (such as downwards, or circular), which would disallow the double motion of the Earth (rotation and revolution). Thus, this section is by no means a digression from astronomy. (I think this was pointed out by Finocchiaro, but I don't have the reference handy.) 02:19, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

It is not clear to me why the popularity of Tycho's system in the Church is especially relevant. The Church, after all, was not the only group with a vested interest in non-Copernican ideas.

It is relevant because it makes the story of Galileo versus the Church less good and evil than the popular rendition.

It's fine for the fight not to be Martyr Galileo versus the Evil Church Empire; but if the idea is that Galileo was attacking the Church and being dishonest with the issues, I've already argued against that point. Those points. The concept that Galileo was not launching an assault on the Church deserves a better hearing than it has got from either "side" since White's time; the possibility that he meant what he said can explain a lot. Dandrake 21:07 25 Jul 2003 (UTC) Gack! Did I fail to sign my original posting? Mea culpa,

BTW I've heard many times the statement that the Church had moved from Ptolemy to Tycho by that time, but it seems always to have been people citing each other or giving no citation at all. I wouldn't mind seeing a development of this claim based on primary sources, or a citation of a good secondary source as distinct from all the tertiary and n-ary sources. And null-ary source, if I may say so.

In any case, I don't know of any strong Tychonic tendencies among the academic philosophers. Theories that Simplicio was a taunt at the Pope should not distract us from the fact that his role in the Dialogue is that of a conservative philosopher, follower of Simplicius, and not a churchman at all. Colombe and Cremonini, the real-life models for Simplicio, appear to have been much concerned with the Aristotelean perfection of the Heavens, which the Tychonian system tends to disrupt. In fact, Simplicio quotes many times, with approval, a philosopher who was no fan of Tycho: Scipio Chiaramonte, author of the Anti-Tycho.

Galileo's directing no arguments directly at Tycho's system can be thought a sort of intellectual dishonesty, a straw-man approach, if his purpose was to attack the Church. It's another matter if, as the text pretty clearly indicates, he was aiming at fuddy-duddy philosophers who insisted on the inerrancy of Aristotle. (And see the paragraph I'm about to add to the main entry.)

By the way, during the entire difficulty process of negotiating a license for publication of the book, did any Church authority whatever raise any problem about its supposedly treating the Church unfairly by omitting Tycho's system? I've never run into evidence of that, but I could be wrong.

If not, then the whole idea that G omitted T's system in order to make the Church look bad (I think that's the idea) looks like a red herring. It's not as if the problem, if it were one, could have been overlooked because nobody thought of Tycho; the "T" section of an index to the Dialogue will confirm this.
Dandrake 21:19 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Adding the pointer to on-line text was a well-intentioned idea, but that page appears to be a copyright violation; specifically, it's lifted from Dartmouth, which I think has a license to use the text privately, but not to post it or let it be posted publicly. Zapped it pending clarification. Dandrake 22:45, Jul 24, 2004 (UTC)

Does it state how long it took Galileo to write it? VLCMSTNHXXXC 10:26, Nov 26, 2006

Written in Italian, not Latin[edit]

Shouldn't there be a mention that the book was written in Italian, which the general population could read? Had it been written in Latin, the norm for scholarly work of the period, I believe , the general population would not have been able to read it. This was supposed to have been a particular irritation to the Church. SagredoDiscussione? 18:22, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Who did the supposing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:25, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
I believe I have seen something like this claim made in print, but—as far as I can recall—not in any source I would regard as authoritative. In all the surviving documents from Galileo's trial, there is only one brief comment about his having written the Dialogue in Italian. This was in the report of Melchior Inchofer, one of the theologians tasked with providing an opinion on the orthodoxy of its contents. Inchofer argued that by using Italian Galileo showed that he had written the Dialogue not to appeal either to foreigners, as he had stated in his preface, nor to other learned men, but to induce the common people to adopt the Copernican opinion.
I agree that the article should mention the fact that the Dialogue was written in Italian. Just at the moment, though, I can't see any obviously natural place to slot it in. I'll therefore put off doing it until either someone else beats me to it, or I can come up with a wording that will smoothly fit somewhere into the article.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:00, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Note 6[edit]

The site given in Note 6 omits anything that puts Galileo or Einstein in a poor light. The original Preface should be consulted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Note 6 has now become Note 14.

Full text?[edit]

Sorry, I know Wikipedia is not a forum but still, where can I find the full text of the Dialogue? "Acceptable" languages for me would be German, English or Russian.-- (talk) 11:22, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

The reference desks—either humanities or science in this case—are the proper places to ask questions like this. I have copied your question to a new section at the humanities reference desk and answered it there.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:45, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
The full text would be appropriate content for Wikisource, at which point, an infobox template could be added to this article which links to it. That'd be rather nice actually. -Verdatum (talk) 20:08, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
A copy of the original Italian text is available on the Italian wikisource. Please feel free to add an infobox with a link to it.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 09:48, 25 April 2009 (UTC)


A recent edit added text which maintained that Galileo's argument in favour of Copernicus's system from the apparent motion of sunspots "is wrong, as the relative motions of sunspots are the same whether in both the Ptolemaic and Copernican system". No source was provided for this assertion, and it is contradicted by numerous modern reliable sources. I have therefore provided three such sources and rewritten the relevant passage to conform to what is contained in those sources.

It does seem to me to be true—if I may be permitted to peddle a modest piece of original reseach of my own—that the explanation of the apparent motion of sunspots in geostatic systems doesn't need to be quite as complicated as the cited sources appear to make out. It could be accounted for by having the Sun's axis of rotation precess uniformly about another axis, parallel to the Earth's, with a period of precisely one sidereal day. However, this is still rather more implausible than the simple explanation available in Copernicus's system, and, in any case, I don't see how it can be included in the article until someone has found a reliable source which contains it.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 18:19, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Galileo was convicted of "grave suspicion of heresy" based on the book[edit]

If I remember it well, what was concerned was not the conclusions of Galileo himself (as at the time, and because nobody had thought about the yet to come Foucault pendulum experiment, both systems could be seen as functionally identical, one of them allowing just much easier computations as Copernic had signalled it), but the fact that he explained the reasons to consider geocentrism as superior were "irrelevant". They were, but that statement seemed at the time an insult towards Aristotes and the university teachers (as well as a blasphemy, for the Church). Galileo, overestimating the intelligence of his peers, has already irritated most university professors at the time by showing Aristote's affirmation that heaviest objects always fell faster was incorrect (by dropping weights from the tower of Pisa). (talk) 16:17, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Origin of the Name "Simplicio"[edit]

The origin given in the article for the "Simplicio" character appears to be contrary to the one Galileo gave in the prologue of the Dialogue itself.

The Dialogue's prologue (I'm using the English translation by Stillman Drake, which can be found at various places on the Net) has this to say:

I often talked with these two [Sagredo & Salviati] of such matters in the presence of a certain Peripatetic philosopher whose greatest obstacle in apprehending the truth seemed to be the reputation he had acquired by his interpretations of Aristotle.

A little further on it adds (parenthetically):

Nor shall the good Peripatetic lack a place; because of his excessive affection toward the Commentaries of Simplicius, I have thought fit to leave him under the name of the author he so much revered, without mentioning his own.

In other words ALL THREE characters derive from real individuals, not just Sagredo & Salviati. In the case of "Simplicio", however, Galileo chose to conceal the name of the real individual behind a nom-de-guerre, doubtless for good reason!

So what does the article have to say? First of all it does not state that the origin of all of three names (let alone Simplicio's) is given by Galileo himself in the Dialogue.

Bearing that failure in mind, it makes the following claims:

He is supposedly named after Simplicius of Cilicia, a sixth-century commentator on Aristotle, but it was suspected the name was a double entendre, as the Italian for "simple" (as in "simple minded") is "semplice".

That word "supposedly" conveys doubt as to the truth of the origin of that name. Had Galileo been cited as the origin of the name, that word would have conveyed doubt as to the truth of Galileo's account. However, since Galileo has not been mentioned in that context it instead carries the imputation that the Simplicius origin is a mere hypothesis by some OTHER individual trying to work out where Galileo got these names from--which in turn would make the double entendre alternative a competing hypothesis by yet another individual.

All of which is kind of weird given that the statement in the article which follows would appear to itself be an hypothesis despite being presented as undisputed fact:

Simplicio is modeled on two contemporary conservative philosophers, Ludovico delle Colombe (1565-1616?), Galileo's fiercest detractor, and Cesare Cremonini (1550–1631), a Paduan colleague who had refused to look through the telescope. Colombe was the leader of a group of Florentine opponents of Galileo's, which some of the latter's friends referred to as "the pigeon league".

So instead of Galileo's one anonymous individual masquerading as "Simplicio" we now have an amalgam of two!

So who do we believe? Galileo or the hypothesizers?

I have no idea and the article is itself short on details as to why Colombe and Cremonini are suspected to be Simplicio.

For my own part I can't argue one way or the other, nor do I want to. I merely point out that on such matters the article would seem to be deficient and misleading and needs to be modified. -- (talk) 11:19, 29 September 2011 (UTC)


About four passages have been omitted from Einstein's remarks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

There is no actual deception, as the word "condensed" is used. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Even the word "condensed" is deceptive, as it gives the impression that the effort was to save time only, when it is actually for ideological reasons. The ommissions are made to put Einstein and Galileo in a good light. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:38, 24 July 2013 (UTC)


Prince Cesi's letter to Galileo was written in 1612. This mentioned Kepler's two laws of 1609 as common knowledge, at that time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:46, 20 August 2014 (UTC)