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The Life of Galileo

Uploaded by Ethan on Nov 09, 2002

When Galileo points his telescope to the sky, he is offering a new age of reason to the people, giving them the confidence for “the stars to fly through the sky of their own accord”. The knowledge that he offers is the catalyst of a new age of reason where people will no longer live in ignorance. Galileo threatens to “smash the crystal spheres” but relinquishes his personal responsibility to his findings when threatened by the church. However, the new age of reasons is not lost when Galileo recants – the discorsi offers new hope that reason will prevail.

Galileo offers the people a new way of thinking, encouraging doubt so the truth can eventually be revealed like the “huge mountains, whose peaks gilded by the rising sun” (p23) on the moon. Galileo’s findings contradict the teachings of the church and this frightens those in power who seek to maintain the power structure which gives them power. To many, Galileo’s recantation signals the end of the new age of reason; Galileo himself resigns that “the only truth that gets through is what we force through”. However, Galileo’s secret continuation of his work, and Andrea’s devotion to revealing the truth means that the truth will continue to be forced to the people.

Galileo himself admits his findings “got rid of heaven” (p24) and the new age of reason invites the people to doubt everything they have been told, placing in jeopardy the traditional peasant existence of life-long devotion to God. The church can not allow this to happen; without a God the church leaders would be powerless – “if there were no God we should have to invent one”. When Galileo recants, he does so for the same reason he is being held captive – convenience. He never accepts the Aristotelian view of the universe and denies his findings to “save [his] own skin”. Similarly, the church leaders challenge Galileo because he threatens their political power; it is more ‘convenient’ for Galileo’s findings to be declared heretical than for the church leaders to accept the truth and admit defeat.

The telescope allows Galileo to see the stars and also the injustice of the social and political system, ruled over by the powerful church leaders. The peasants toil relentlessly and accept the system as the ‘will of God’, which cannot and should not be questioned by man. The Pope, a mathematician and intellectual understands the...

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Uploaded by:   Ethan

Date:   11/09/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (506 words)

Views:   1932

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