Galileo Vs Aristotelianism

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Today, the condemnation of Galileo’s advocacy of Copernican heliocentrism is often cited as an example of how the medievals were inherently hostile to science. However, a closer examination of two factors of the Galileo controversy shows that the modern conception is incorrect. First, the history: Galileo had enjoyed the pope’s support until Galileo attacked the pope personally, and even once convicted, Galileo did not suffer under substantial persecution from the church. Second, it is necessary to understand the philosophical component of the controversy: The reason that the medievals resisted Galileo was because his claims did not have good empirical evidence, because they contradicted the empirical data of the time, and because they contradicted …show more content…
Aristotelianism The third reason that people resisted Galileo is not simply because of the claim of heliocentrism itself, but because accepting heliocentrism would defy the established authority of Aristotle. Today, we know that what much of Aristotle said was wrong. However, for the medieval and Renaissance people, Aristotle offered an explanation of the natural world that was comprehensive, systematic, and coherent. This compelling and comprehensive description of reality, plus the fact that Aristotle’s theories were based in the common experience of the pre-modern world, made Aristotelianism the bedrock of natural philosophy.8 Of course, Aristotle’s teachings included geocentrism, which was later mathematically refined by Ptolemy. Historian of science James Hannam points out that when Galileo’s claims were at odds with Aristotle, it would have been “impossible to tinker with Aristotle’s natural philosophy at the edges.”9 Instead, rejecting any significant part of Aristotle’s “complete theory of reality… would cause the whole edifice to collapse.”10 Indeed, the “language of philosophy was the language of Aristotle,” meaning that to explicitly reject Aristotle was to perform an intellectual coup d 'etat on Aristotle’s centuries-long reign in explaining philosophy, physics, and the rest of the universe. No wonder the contemporaries of Galileo resisted his

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