This is Galileo’s argument from “The Assayer,” which I encountered in both my history survey of modern philosophy and in metaphysics. Galileo. Galileo Galilei; Il Saggiatore (The Assayer); Rome, This quietly polemical text puts the case for a pared-down scientific conception of matter and a. Il saggiatore (The assayer) by Galileo Galilei (–) is the final and most significant work in the polemic regarding the characteristics of.

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Galileo proceeds by explaining the senses and their relation to elements.

Galileo, Selections from The Assayer

You, Sarsi, must show us that an interposed flame would not suffice to hide the stars. In a word, Sarsi has created an incomplete dichotomy as logicians call this error when he divided visible objects into “far” and “near” without assigning limits and boundaries between these. Or take a ball of musk and carry it with you for a fortnight; it will fill with odor a thousand rooms and streets which cannot happen without some diminution of mate rial; yet you will find none by weighing it.

Now let a slight breeze spring up and ruffle the surface of the water, when you will see the image of the sun begin to break up into many pieces and extend into a wider area.

Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities asssyer be wiped away and annihilated. The material contained therein ought to have opened to the minds eye much room for admirable speculation; instead it met with scorn and derision. What I say is not entirely improbable, or merely a refuge which will leave the adversary some trouble in refuting it.

This extra rotation, opposite in direction to all other celestial motions, appeared to many a most improbable thing, and one that upset the whole Copernican system. To discover the true cause I reason as follows: Mario Guiducci would be allowed to lecture in his Academy, carrying out the duties of his office there, and even to publish his Discourse on Comets without “Lothario Sarsi” a person never heard of before, jumping upon me for this.

I believe that in a way all shapes are ancient and noble; or, to put it better, that none of them are noble and perfect, or ignoble and imperfect, except in so far as for building walls a square shape is more perfect than the circular, and for wagon wheels the circle is more perfect than the triangle.

But poor as I am in courage and power, I am at least upright. But if that is what Aristotle meant, why didn’t he say “friction”?

The sense of touch is more material than the other senses; and, as it arises from the solidity of matter, it seems to be related to the earthly element.

To put aside hints and speak plainly, and dealing with science as a method of demonstration and reasoning capable [p.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 3, Volume 15, Astronomy: The Assayer

Still, since I like to see mysterious things brought to light, and since I wish to discover the truth, I shall consider his argument; and for a clearer understanding let gali,eo first reduce it to as few words as possible. I think he will not. That is what I asserted, and you see it is very different from what Sarsi relates. But sometimes they are gentlemen who, thus unknown, forgo the respectful decorum attending their rank and assume as is the custom in many Italian cities the liberty of speaking freely about any subject with anyone, taking whatever pleasure there may be in this discourteous raillery and strife.


Now, since the comet was enlarged little more than Mercury and much less than the moon he saysit might be very reasonably concluded that it was not much farther from the sun than Mercury is, and very much closer to the sun than to the moon.

Now who is so simple-minded as not to understand that if we call a profit of one thousand ducats on a capital of one hundred ‘large,” and not “nil,” and the same upon a capital of ten “very large,” and not “nil,” then the acquisition of one thousand upon no capital at all should be called “infinite” rather than “nil”? We merely do not believe that a cold arrow shot from a bow can take fire in the air; rather, we think that ff an arrow were shot when afire, it would cool down more quickly than it would if it were held still.

Next I concede to him that this comes about from the very nature of the instrument, which must be made longer for observing nearby objects and shorter for those that are more distant. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Since the presence of fire-corpuscles alone does not suffice to excite heat, but their motion is needed also, it seems to me that one may very reasonably say that motion is the cause of beat. Consequently the more perfect it is the less attractive it will be, and the fewer its followers.

This happens because the skin on the ball of the finger is not smooth, but is marked with certain twisted lines which we use in sensing the slightest irregularity of objects by touch. I myself believe that the light of a comet may be so weak and its material so thin and rare that if anyone could get close enough to it he would completely lose it [p.

So when Sarsi brings in this multitude of authors it appears to me that instead of strengthening i g his conclusion he merely ennobles our case by showing that we have outreasoned many men of great reputation. The invention is, of course, contested in favor of several other men about this time. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Such air, being high, would send some reflection of light to the sailors’ eyes while they, being low and far off, would be unable to catch the primary reflection from that part of the sea that is already being ruffled by a wind some twenty or thirty miles away.

From these conditions I cannot separate such a substance by any stretch of my imagination. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one wanders about in a dark labyrinth. Well, if he succeeds I shall be the more obliged to him, as in the future I shall have one less theory to worry about when I set my mind to philosophizing on such matters.


Shoot ten arrows, or a hundred; and if it ever happens that on one of them the feathers so much as slightly tan-let alone its shaft taking fire or its steel tip melting- I shall not only concede the argument but forfeit your respect, which I regard so highly. This experiment, and perhaps others, may have induced someone who was present at our discussions to attribute to me what Sarsi mentions nextthat is, a certain natural talent of mine for explaining by means of simple and obvious things others which are more difficult and abstruse.

Others, not wanting to agree with my ideas, advanced ridiculous and impossible opinions against me; and some, overwhelmed and convinced by my arguments, attempted to rob me of that glory which was mine, pretending not to have seen my writings and trying to represent themselves as the original discoverers of these impressive marvels.

And apart from what we see, what we smell is a clear sip that some sulfurous or bituminous parts may be ascending which remain invisible but make themselves known by their odor. In a word, a comet is more like a toy planet than the real thing. This makes Sarsi’s quibble apparent. Why should I believe blindly and stupidly what I wish to believe, and subject the freedom of my intellect to someone else who is just as liable to error as I am?

Yet though I believe the number of disciples of the best philosophical may be quite small, I do not conclude conversely that tge opinions and doctrines are necessarily perfect which have few followers, for I know well enough that some men hold opinions so galleo as to be rejected by everyone else. That is an I said, and it has been told in several places by Guiducci.

He argues that heat is caused by tiny corpuscles moving at such a speed that they penetrate our bodies and that when they pass through us, the touch we feel is the heat. Now to add what I can to so astounding a galildo, I shall set forth some trifling questions which arose in me as Sarsi proceeded. It cannot consist of one glass alone, because the shape of this would have to be convex that is, thicker in the middle than at the edges or concave that is, thinner in the middleor bounded by parallel surfaces.

I am aware that this name Lothario Sarsi, unheard of in the world, serves as a mask for someone who wants to remain unknown.