Galileo's Battle For The Future Of Natural Philosophy

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In the 16th and 17th century, a war was being fought for the future of natural philosophy. On one side was Galileo Galilei and his followers. They wanted natural philosophy to be based on the results of math and direct experience. On the other were the Aristotelian natural philosophers, who wanted to maintain the separation theoretical knowledge, such as theology, and practical knowledge, such as math and astronomy, and base natural philosophy on only theoretical knowledge. While Galileo was winning the battle in redefining natural philosophy, his biggest challenge did not come until the debate over sunspots. Galileo’s argument that sunspots were actual spots on the sun would imply that the heavens were not the pure, unchanging plane that Aristotelian …show more content…
Galileo continued to further his argument with evidence of observable comets and supernovas, which show that the sunspots are not an isolated event, and that many imperfection can be observed with new the new tools of his time. Galileo also points out that the sunspots are a recurring phenomenon. This makes them constant proof of the imperfect of the sun itself, which should be the most perfect body in the heavens. Additionally, their recurring behavior makes it so that people can observe it in the future, and everyone can eventually see that the sunspots are imperfections on the sun. During the time of the sunspot debate, many people were skeptical of the new instruments Galileo was using to make observations about the heavens. But because of the vast evidence the instruments produced, particularly the extremely detailed pictures Galileo created through the camera obscura, that the sunspots were real imperfections on the sun, instruments began to gain credibility as a means for not only observing the earth but also observing the …show more content…
In the history of natural philosophy, one could rarely completely diverge from the stance of founding figures of the current paradigm, such as Aristotle and Ptolemy. However, it was possible to actually use the stances of founding figures to add credibility to one’s new paradigm, despite contradicting them. We even see this in Copernicus’s argument for a heliocentric universe, as in Book 1 of On the Revolutions Of the Heavenly Spheres, Copernicus relies on Ptolemy’s research, and uses the statements of figures such as Philolaus the Pythagorean to support his argument. Galileo was also able to achieve this by showing, through his examination of Aristotle’s beliefs, that though he was opposing Aristotle’s claim that the heavens are pure, his stance is actually the more Aristotelian stance, because Aristotle believed that direct experience came first in forming conclusions. Thus, Galileo was more of a natural philosopher and Aristotelian than the Aristotelian philosophers arguing against him. Additionally, Galileo’s supplementary evidence of the heaven’s imperfection through comets and supernovas observed through telescopes, and images of sunspots captured through the camera obscura strengthened not only his arguments but the role of instruments in making observations in natural philosophy. Soon after this debate, instruments began to become a

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