Social Scientist. v 10, no. 112 (Sept 1982) p. 60.


Graphics file for this page
BOOK REVIEW

In the Struggle for Truth

STILLMAN DRAKE, GALILEO, Oxford University Press, pp VlI+lOO, 1.25 pound sterling.

THE unabating interest in the life and work of Galileo is not merely academic. The reconstruction of events leading to his condemnation by the Roman Inquisition in 1633 and a historical interpretation of his work have a direct bearing on the philosophy of science, the history of ideas, the relationship between science and religion not only as it evolved in his time but even contemporaneously. Therefore, an intellectual biography of Galileo, however sketchy, transcends the spatio-temporal nature of the personages involved and acquires an ideological and philosophical significance.

Progressive mankind has always drawn inspiration from Galileo's insistence on scientific truth. To recall only one well-known instance—Dimitrov's famous speech at the Reichstag Trial. Concluding his defence, hurling back the false charges of the fascists, that indomitable fighter for freedom and international leader of the working class, said:

In the seventeenth century the founder of scientific physics, Galileo, was arraigned before the stern court of the Inquisition. ... With profound conviction and determination he exclaimed: Eppur si muove (Nevertheless, it moves). This scientific law later became known to all mankind. No less determined than old Galileo, we communists declare today—Eppur si muove.

It is again a measure of the universal relevance of Galileo that, likewise, the opponents of the scientific approach and mode of thinking—the essence of Galilean thought—find it necessary to twist and interpret Galileo's life and the relationship between his work and the Church, to suit their own arguments. Hence, there has always been a trend which has maintained that while the Church was tolerant enough to allow a plurality of views, it was Galileo's intransigence and intolerance that led to the conflict and subsequent Inquisition.



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page