Talk:Galileo Galilei

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Former featured article Galileo Galilei is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Good article Galileo Galilei has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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November 4, 2003 Featured article candidate Promoted
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Current status: Former featured article, current good article
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'Scientific Methods' section[edit]

The second half of this section contains statements that are based on interpretation rather than fact (e.g. "He displayed a peculiar ability to ignore established authorities..."), and is lacking in citations.

Since the page is semi-protected, and I made an account specifically because I happened across this issue, I can't delete or edit the section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bparkhu2 (talkcontribs) 05:14, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

You are quite right. The peacock verbiage in that section should never have been put into the article. If you make another nine edits and wait for four days, you can edit this semi-protected article yourself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PojuZabludowiczcontractor (talkcontribs) 10:19, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
Peacock wording is too vague to have any citations, anyway. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PojuZabludowiczcontractor (talkcontribs) 10:39, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

To be added to "In artistic and popular media" subsection in "Legacy" section. (Semi-protected edit request on 26 October 2014)[edit]

Galileo is the subject of the opera Galileo Galilei , composed by Philip Glass and premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2002. Jlapsjlaps (talk) 16:30, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

The section is already too long and possibly should be deleted altogether. Tkuvho (talk) 16:39, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Glass's Opera contains many untrue statements on points of fact, science and history. This is only to be expected, in fiction of any sort, musical or not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by FinnishPoju (talkcontribs) 12:39, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Renaissance era[edit]

Since Galileo was listed on the List of Renaissance figures, I decided to add a link to the Renaissance page to note that his work was done during this era. -- Orduin T 01:14, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

As Galileo said, he was reviving the ideas of Pythagoras, who lived much earlier. Copernicus said much the same thing about his own ideas.
In general, it is not wise to mention any era, especially in science.

Recantation of Heliocentrism Before Death[edit]

I added a quote from a private letter signed by Galileo where he recanted Heliocentrism. A user then reverted by change, with the only comment being something like: "gives false impression this was really his view at death" "this is like your Einstein edit, remember?"

I have a couple problems with this. First, I merely cited Galileo himself rejecting Heliocentrism a year before his death. If that gives the impression Galileo died with his rejection of Heliocentrism, well, there is nothing wrong with that. If some Wiki user doesn't like the impression, he is free to add any other information to this page to support his opposite point of view and provide a more balanced perspective on the issue. However, one cannot sweep hard evidence under the rug just because it contradicts one's idealized version of Galileo.

Second, saying it's "like my Einstein edit" isn't helpful at all. I admitted my Einstein edit was inappropriate. For those who aren't aware, I had added to Einstein's page that his personal doctor diagnosed the cause of death was syphilis. However, a friendly user informed me that his personal doctor made this diagnosis when he hadn't been Einstein's doctor for over 20 years. So, that's helpful. But the wiki user who reverted the change I made to Galileo's page is not being helpful.

I'm not reverting the revert just yet. I'd like to see any responses first. Looking forward to them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GarretKadeDupre (talkcontribs) 13:53, 17 November 2014

Do we have a reliable source for Galileo's letter? Tkuvho (talk) 15:19, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
Certainly. The letter appears in the National Edition of Galileo's works vol XVIII, pp.314–316. However, there are at least two problems with GarretKadeDupre's proposed edit.
First, his interpretation of the passage quoted ignores the rest of the letter from which it has been plucked, and it disagrees with those of at least two "reliable sources" that I'm aware of. In Galileo: Decisive Innovator (p.205) Michael Sharratt, after briefly describing both the passage quoted by GarretKadeDupre and some subsequent passages, concludes:
"It is evident both that Galileo had not changed his mind and that he had resigned himself to the fact that his own part in the campaign to establish Copernicanism was over."
The second source, unfortunately whose identity I cannot now remember, considered that Galileo was obviously being sarcastic in the passage quoted by GarretKadeDupre. Personally, I can't see any sarcasm there myself, and[Withdrawn. See P.S. below] it would have been extremely dangerous for Galileo to commit any such sarcasm to writing at that time. Nevertheless, for the purposes of determining what goes into the article, I wouldn't be permitted to prefer my own opinion over that of an acknowledged expert (assuming that I could eventually track down the source).
The second problem with the proposed edit is the relevance of the quoted passage to Galileo's behaviour immediately after the conclusion of his trial, which is a connection it appears to be trying to make. The quoted letter was written in March 1641, nearly 8 years after the conclusion of his trial, so even if Galileo had by then given up his belief in heliocentrism, it seems to me that that would have very little bearing on whether he had already done so immediately after his trial.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 01:16, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
P.S. On further consideration, it seems to me that if Galileo really was still committed to heliocentrism when he wrote this letter, as Sharratt maintains, then his following words could hardly be interpreted as anything other than possibly be interpreted as sarcasm:
"... havendo la inrefragabile autorità delle Scritture Sacre, interpretate da i maestri sommi in teologia, il concorde assenso de` quali ci rende certi della stabilità della terra, posta nel centro, e della mobilità del sole intorno ad essa."
Fr. Brian Harrison's translation, as quoted by GarretKadeDupre: "... since we have the unshakeable authority of the Sacred Scripture, interpreted by the most erudite theologians, whose consensus gives us certainty regarding the stability of the Earth, situated in the center, and the motion of the sun around the Earth."
A crucial point here is that rather than making "the unshakeable authority of the Sacred Scripture" the subject of " ... gives us certainty ... ", as would have been more natural if he was simply giving a straightforward literal statement of his true opinion, Galileo instead chooses to make it the "consensus" of "the most erudite theologians".
David Wilson (talk · cont) 08:36, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
What is the point of the proposed edit? What meaning does it have? If the meaning is a significant change from previous views, then it needs strong support from secondary sources. The only comment given to justify the revert seems very adequate. Johnuniq (talk) 22:52, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

Galileo's comment is interesting precisely because it admits of multiple interpretations:

The falsity of the Copernican system should not in any way be called into question, above all, not by Catholics, since we have the unshakeable authority of the Sacred Scripture, interpreted by the most erudite theologians, whose consensus gives us certainty regarding the stability of the Earth, situated in the center, and the motion of the sun around the Earth.

It is not our role as wiki editors to resolve the issue of whether Galileo's comment involves sarcasm or not. The fact that there are secondary sources citing this, as David J. Wilson documented, shows that this comment is notable. It is certainly advisable to provide whatever context is needed so this wouldn't be misleading, but summarily to dismiss this edit because it is allegedly similar to an unrelated edit at the Albert Einstein page is untenable. Tkuvho (talk) 12:59, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy requires that primary sources, such as Galileo's letter, should be used with caution as it is too easy to slide into original research. Since secondary sources disagree on the interpretation of this passage, we cannot expect "any educated person" to unravel the meaning of this passage. If it is significant enough to be included, it should only be presented accompanied by interpretations found in reliable secondary sources. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 17:16, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi Steve, I agree with including the Galileo passage, obviously without interpretive editorial comments by wiki editors, and with the main interpretations found in secondary sources. Tkuvho (talk) 19:13, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
Having now read through the coverage of this issue in all the reliable secondary sources I could find, as well as that in several sources I would regard as very far from reliable, I have to disagree. Its relatively meagre coverage in reliable sources suggests to me that it's not sufficiently important to warrant being mentioned in the article. In this connection, I'll point out that, in Wikipedia jargon, "notability", raised by edtor Tkuvho above, is a criterion for deciding whether it's justified for a topic to have the whole of a separate Wikipedia article dedicated to it. In fact, the policy on "notability" explicitly rules itself out as a criterion for determining the contents of any existing article, which it specifies as being "due weight and other content policies." "Notability" of a topic, as defined by Wikipedia, seems to me to be neither necessary nor sufficient by itself to justify that topic's being included or mentioned in a Wikipedia article.
In determining what can justifiably be included in Wikipedia's article on Galileo you need to keep in mind that the scholarly literature on the topic is enormous, while Wikipedia's article amounts to only about thirty printed pages, and therefore it's simply not possible for it to include every single item of information that has at most a page or two of coverage in each of half a dozen or so out of the hundred or more scholarly books published on the topic. My judgement that Galileo's letter to Rinuccini does not warrant coverage is based on comparing the amount of its coverage in the scholarly literature with those of other topics which are currently not mentioned at all in Wikipedia's article. Off the top of my head I can immediately name three which receive more such coverage than the Rinuccini correspondence—Galileo's latin notebooks, on which a whole book has been written, his prosecution of Baldassare Capra for plagiarising his military compass, and his correspondence with Monsignor Piero Dini during the 1615 prelude to the condemnation of Copernicanism—and I expect there are many more.
On the other hand, I do believe the coverage of the Rinuccini correspondence in reliable secondary sources is sufficient to justify a separate article on it. Once this has been written, I think a short mention, of one or two sentences, in the article Galileo affair, would be warranted, with a footnote directing the reader to the separate article for more information. Here are the references I've found which I would consider unequivocally reliable:
  • Drake, Stillman (1978). Galileo At Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 417–8. ISBN 0-226-16226-5.  Contains a translation of most of Galileo's letter.
  • Drake, Stillman (1980). Galileo: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 167.  There are several different editions of this work, whose paginations may be different.
  • Galilei, Galileo; Albèri, Eugenio (1859), Commercio epistolare di Galileo Galilei 2, p. 361  The secondary source here is Albèri's commentary on the letter, contained in a heading and footnote.
  • Galilei, Galileo; Albèri, Eugenio (1872), Epistolario di Galileo Galilei 2, p. 229-30  Again, the secondary source here is Albèri's commentary on the letter, slightly different to the one in the immediately preceding reference.
  • Heilbron, John L. (2010). Galileo. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 354–5. ISBN 978-0-19-958352-2. 
  • Pedersen, Olaf (1985), Galileo's Religion (in The Galileo affair: A meeting of faith and science, Proceedings of the Cracow Conference, May 24-27, 1984, Citta del Vaticano: Specola Vaticana, 1985, edited by Coyne, G.V., pp.75–102), pp. 80–1 
  • Sharratt, Michael (1994). Galileo: Decisive Innovator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 205. ISBN 0-521-56671-1.  As cited in my comment above.
  • Speller, Jules (2008). Galileo's Inquisition Trial Revisited. Frankfurt am Main: Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften. pp. 367ff. ISBN 978-3-631-56229-1.  Speller's coverage is by far the most thorough of all the references I've seen. It would have to constitute the chief source for any Wikipedia article on the topic.
Contrary to Steve McCluskey's comment above, there doesn't seem to me to be all that much disagreement amongst these authors on the interpretation of the opening passage of Galileo's letter. With the possible exception of Drake—who rather conspicuously avoids expressing a clear opinion on the matter—and the probable exception of Pedersen—who nevertheless seems to me to contradict himself—all the above authors unequivocally consider the passage to be a subterfuge on Galileo's part, that did not reflect his true attitude to heliocentrism at the time.
I have made an initial contribution to a proposed Wikipedia article on Galileo's correspondence with Rinuccini by making my own translation of it, which can be found here.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:14, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

A Rather Hypocritical Account of Galileo...[edit]

I couldn't help noticing, while reading this article, about the hypocritical tone in which this historical figure is being presented to the readers. I'm no expert on Galileo, but I do know and understand about the impact of some of his ideas and views about the world in which we live in. My main bit of criticism has to do with the way you are presenting the 'quarrel' between him and the Church. I don't think the person writing this bit does an honest account of things. You haven't really explained, for example, the reasons for the Church's annoyance at him and its further actions. So what if he came up with a different view of the world: it doesn't follow from this that you'll be vetoed and taken to the highest courts to defend yourself under the threat of being imprissoned for life if you do not change your opinion on the subject. Why did the Church do this: no explanation. I mean, it is disturbing that an act of bigotry and arrogance, and narrow-mindedness of this sort from the part of the authorities back then, the Church, passes almost unquestioned, unscrutinized, and unmentioned by those writing about the life of a person, a renowned scientist, who was victim of such regime for attempting to disseminate his findings. What was it that pissed the Church off so much about this new view of Galileo's? Writing down the reasons for this, here, in this open encyclopedia, which anyone, anywhere in the world can access, wont make the Church look so good, evidently, even though almost 400 years have passed since this and other many incidents of this kind (they needed to shut him up, and if he didn't shut up, you know what would've happened ----yes, these were the methods of the Church back then against those who thought differently). But the article 'naively' limits itself to indicate that his views were controversial (for whom were they controversial, and why exactly), and that the Roman Inquisition investigated the issue (why did the Roman Inquisition took up the issue? What did they care about the way the stars and our planet are arranged in the sky? What do they have to say in matters of astronomy? No explanation): the Why's and How's are left in the dark here and, as a result, we end up with a vague account of this aspect of Galileo's life and his struggle against an institution that very much prefered having people plunged in the depths of ignorance, so they could rather be aligned and ready to do as they said, either by way of myths, false promises or punishment. All for the 'glory' of the Church (not yours, even less for God's). This is Wikipedia people, a place where knowledge is shared, not hidden. This indirect propaganda your doing here is not very benefitial, and very much in opposition to Wikipedia's spirit of sharing and openness.


Some more detailed issues and criticisms of the article.

(1) At the beginning of the article, in the third paragraph, and later at 'Controversy over heliocentrism' (2.3 at the index) it said that Galileo's heliocentrism was controversial. Why was it controversial, exactly? Why was it controversial to have a different view to that of the Church? This is not discussed in any detail. (1.1) Was the Roman Inquisition formed by a panel of astronomical experts? (1.2) If not, why is Galileo forced to answer to them. (1.3) Why is the Roman Inquisition interested in his or any works and opinions on astronomical issues?

(2) In that same third paragraph, Galileo is said to have seemingly attacked the Pope and Jesuits: did he or did he not; (2.1) then he was tried by the Holy Office. Why? Why was it that he was tried by the Holy Office; (2.2) and after he was forced to recant and condemned to be arrested for life by this Holy Office, are you suggesting that it was because of this life inprisonment that he wrote his best books?


Concerning his theory of heliocentrism and its reception, take a look at the particular facts of Galileo's life that were selected for the readers to read in this same third opening paragraph: new theory... controversial... astronomers opposing him... Roman Inquisition investigating him... new theory = 'false'... his book is banned... he gets vetoed... then he attacks his 'old friends' and 'supporters' (the Pope, the Jesuits) through another book... the Holy Office charges him with being 'vehemently suspect of heresy'... so he is forced to recant... he gets arrested for life... but he writes his best books, though, when under arrest (Apparently, the Church did him a much needed favor when locking him up for life?). Kinda scary, huh? You bet. Your new theory of heliocentrism is unanimously condemned by the intellectuals of your time (for no (weird) positive reception seems to have been registered of an event of this sort; not according to Wikipedia, at least), and, what's even more serious an offense, you refuse to understand that your little theory about the skies and the Earth is not welcomed at all by the people from The Church, yet you insist on keep going on with it anyway. This guy, Galileo, was beyond salvation don't you think? He so deserved being persecuted... ----


(3) It is strange that no quotes from Galileo's works on heliocentrism are available throughout the article's text (there are no quotes from any of his works), yet many quotations from The Church's position on it, which is no authority on astronomical issues, are there anyway, as well as their negative opinions (or the Bible's 'expert' testimony on the validity of geocentrism, or even references to The Church's most beloved theologians or Popes ----there is even a link, in the middle of the article, to the resolution of the Inquisition regarding Galileo's issue----). This is an article about Galileo Galilei, the scientist, considered by many as the father of modern science (an opinion Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking seem to share); it is not, on the other hand, an article about The Church's position on his theories.


(4) Throughout the article, the writer seems to be pretty keen on pointing out Galileo's refuted or mistaken theories by later scientists, yet no such thing is seen nor even suggested about the refuted or very mistaken theories of The Church regarding the same or even much more basic issues by later, and previous too, scientists and philosophers.


Why is this, Wikipedians? Don't tell me you don't see what's going on... Unwishful Thinker (talk) 06:48, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

This article was written by about 2,773 editors. Only comment if you want to make a new point of fact or logic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.190.114.57 (talk) 12:12, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
As Galileo said, his opinion was not new and had been put forward by Pythagoras earlier. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.190.114.57 (talk) 12:15, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Unwishful Thinker seems to be on the West Coast of America. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sleuthsleuth616 (talkcontribs) 12:58, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
If you are looking for more detail, try Galileo affair. You say the article is hypocritical, but where is the hypocrisy? Is someone being insincere or making false pretenses? You ask questions like: "Why was it controversial to have a different view to that of the Church?" It seems obvious to me that having a different view is what makes a controversy. So I do not see the problem. But if you have some suggestions on how to make it clearer, please go ahead. Roger (talk) 18:22, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Some quick answers for you, my fellow Christian friends. I know that being a Christian demands of you being in some serious denial about things and yourselves: that gotta be tough. I mean, in order for Christianism to work for you, you gotta lie to yourselves day after day after day at the expense of your own mental health. And that's OK if that's the only way for you to go through. But since Wikipedia is not Christianpedia, I'll say and talk about stuff that you probably wont want to hear, even if it is for the article's sake. I mentioned about the hypocritical tone of Wikipedia Galileo's entry, and pointed out some concrete problems. One of you said that people has to refrain here from any comentary that didn't refer to points of fact or logic. But that's not the only thing that can ruin an article. For I can mention, for example, that Hitler had a tough childhood (fact), that he was interested in politics (fact), that some people didn't agree with his views (fact) and that he put and end to his life by commiting suicide (fact), all of this arranged in a perfectly logically-bound frame, and still make him look as your regular 20th Century citizen. No, points of fact or logic are not the only things that can be improved in an article. Roger, then, says that he cannot really see the problem I'm raising here. He seems to be saying that Galileo's controversy with the Church stems merely from the fact that he had a different opinion than that of the Church. Is that being hypocritical or what? My sister and I also disagree in many respects, yet neither I nor she sent each other to life imprisonment, nor threaten to destroy each other works, or writings, etc. The point is: why was it so important for a mob-like institution like the then Church to shut Galileo up. Nothing of this is said in the article: nothing. Nothing about the Church's petty interests being threatened by this, then new, and much more solidly supported view of the world. Nothing in particular about the reasons why they, the Church, felt threatened by Galileo's work, something that would make much, much clearer this institution's harrasing and far from 'saintly' behavior towards him. In a nutshell, Galileo's work meant the end of the notion that God was somewhere above, looking out for us: it meant the end of heaven ("there is no heaven!"), and, therefore, no God (at least, not in the way they usually sell it to people). But also, Galileo's work, when properly understood, meant the end of the soul hypothesis (the soul: that which gives life to the living): the soul is not that which explains my or your behaviour: the soul does not move a single thing, our bodies (the soul, whatever it is we think it is, is irrelevant; ergo, the soul doesn't exist!). If heaven doesn't exist, and the soul doesn't exist, the Church doesn't exist. But the power-hungry individuals running the Church might have had another opinion regarding this last conclusion: "We're not going anywhere! Take that Galileo guy down, now! It is him or us". And I assume, my dear Wikipedian friends, that you realize that the reasons behind the Church's refusal to get more than justifiably extinguished were not precisely born out of that 'love' of theirs for humanity; that 'burning' love of theirs...Unwishful Thinker (talk) 20:09, 31 January 2015 (UTC)