Galileo: Genius, or Jerk?


Off-Topic Discussions


This is a discussion continue from this thread on Galileo, heliocentrism, and how his being 0.7 MagusJanuses of jerkitude may have cost him his freedom.


NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Especially in Italy. :P


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The or is nonsensical in this case. The two are not mutually exclusive.


That is a good point.


It's his own fault. I've seen the 1989 documentary, and if he was too proud to ask his most excellent friends for help marketing his idea, then it's his own fault. He could have dressed it up in LOLkitteh memes and had NDT present it... boom, +20 to Marketing checks right there.

Edit: Hmmm, the googles reveal Galileo wasn't in the excellent adventure documentary after all. Rats.


It is very hard when you have so much evidence, and the opposition has so little , to nicely say "I am right because of abcd.... xyz and your argument to the contrary is a pile of dross". In fact the less rational the oppositions argument becomes the more vehemently they hold into any idea that lets them keep it.

There's no interpretation where this looks good for the catholic church. You don't have a right to stifle the conversation and the opposition by arresting people.


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I agree that Galileo being a jerk cost him his freedom, but don't agree that it was the only reason. His problem wasn't just that he was a jerk, it was that he was granted a lucky break and he squandered it with jerkitude. The church was already giving him trouble—he'd just gotten a reprieve from the new Pope. But his jerkiness and the church's jerkiness combined into a big pile of idiocy that ended with him getting shut down.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:

It is very hard when you have so much evidence, and the opposition has so little , to nicely say "I am right because of abcd.... xyz and your argument to the contrary is a pile of dross". In fact the less rational the oppositions argument becomes the more vehemently they hold into any idea that lets them keep it.

There's no interpretation where this looks good for the catholic church. You don't have a right to stifle the conversation and the opposition by arresting people.

Actually in those days.... they DID. There was no such thing a s speparation of Church and State, nor any right to free expression. The rights we take for granted, were hard won, and in those days, nonexistent.


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LazarX wrote:


Actually in those days.... they DID. There was no such thing a s speparation of Church and State, nor any right to free expression. The rights we take for granted, were hard won, and in those days, nonexistent.

The ability to do so is not the right to do so.


"Unhappy the land that has no heroes!"

"No, unhappy the land that needs heroes."

Vive le Brecht!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
LazarX wrote:


Actually in those days.... they DID. There was no such thing a s speparation of Church and State, nor any right to free expression. The rights we take for granted, were hard won, and in those days, nonexistent.
The ability to do so is not the right to do so.

You don't seem to understand. they had the ability and the right, they were after all the ones who decided such rights.

If you're going to throw the phrase "the right to do so", it has to be in the context of an agency that grants those rights. In those days, it was the Church itself.


If I recall correctly, they even tried to leave him an escape route by means of having him at least publicly paying lip service to Osiander's Instrumentalism (not sure about the translation); a position that states (roughly translated in modern terms) that picking a reference system over another is just a matter of ease of calculations (that is, if you can explain the orbits of the planets without using all of Ptolemy's deferents and epicycles through heliocentrism, kudos to you!), not a hard, ontological stance about the metaphysical structure of the universe itself (which was the Bible's prerogative).

Incidentally, this approach closely resembles that of General Relativity in spirit. Newton himself stumbled upon a similar problem when he had to justify the 'particularity' of inertial reference systems – he had no other choice but to postulate the concept of 'absolute time and space' (which was made to coincide with an immanent God), in respect to which every other inertial system was moving in a constant, rectilinear motion.

Galileo refused (a couple of years earlier, Giordano Bruno had also called this position 'asinine'). So let's say that, even though they were both martyrs of free speech, they also tried very hard to achieve that status. Bruno gets bonus points for having been actually burned on the stake – but then again, unlike Galileo he was more jerk than genius.


LazarX wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
LazarX wrote:


Actually in those days.... they DID. There was no such thing a s speparation of Church and State, nor any right to free expression. The rights we take for granted, were hard won, and in those days, nonexistent.
The ability to do so is not the right to do so.

You don't seem to understand. they had the ability and the right, they were after all the ones who decided such rights.

If you're going to throw the phrase "the right to do so", it has to be in the context of an agency that grants those rights. In those days, it was the Church itself.

Chaotic good is a thing you know.


Well, yeah, Galileo was trolling the pope. Of course, ideally, it would have been okay to troll the Pope.


It seems to me like the church prefered the old, philosophical proofs that could arrive at both a geocentric earth and their faith. The new scientific way of proving things by gaining more information rather than working from known postulates and philosophically working from there. The method has to be at least as worrying as the conclussion.


Limnen_euron wrote:


Incidentally, this approach closely resembles that of General Relativity in spirit. Newton himself stumbled upon a similar problem when he had to justify the 'particularity' of inertial reference systems – he had no other choice but to postulate the concept of 'absolute time and space' (which was made to coincide with an immanent God), in respect to which every other inertial system was moving in a constant, rectilinear motion.

There is a difference between a planet moving in a circle around a central point and one stopping in mid air and corkscrewing backwards only to go forwards again- which is what you have if you you try to follow a model where the earth is at the center. The correct model is what allowed gravity as it pertained to heavenly bodies to be understood at all.

Liberty's Edge

Also, both the Ptolemaic and Tychonian systems required assuming special materials (aether) exist.

The Copernican system didn't and was far simpler in every way, and explained every observed issue.

Interestingly though, it wasn't the Catholics who objected most stridently to the Copernican system, it was the Lutherans and Calvinists.


Gaileo was generally described as pretty pretentious. While his "trolling the Pope" wasn't all that bad a deed, objectively speaking, it was symptomatic of a general jerkiness he possessed.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Krensky wrote:

Also, both the Ptolemaic and Tychonian systems required assuming special materials (aether) exist.

The Copernican system didn't and was far simpler in every way, and explained every observed issue.

Interestingly though, it wasn't the Catholics who objected most stridently to the Copernican system, it was the Lutherans and Calvinists.

Actually the Copernican system DID have major problems because of the assumption that all orbits were circular (circles being a Platonic ideal form), whereas the true case is that all orbits were elliptical, and the explanation for how such orbits would work would wait until Kepler's work.


See what happens when you listen to philosophers?

ow ow ow ow ow ....

Liberty's Edge

And Kepler's work predates Gallieo (even though he ignored it) and Kepler still called it Copernican.

The only real issue with Copernican model at the time (which included Kepler's adjustments) was that it required stars to be two AUs in diameter to jive with Tycho Brahe's observations due to the misunderstanding of what Brahe and other astronomers knew (or rather didn't know) about optics, particularly diffraction and the Airey disk. The Tychonic model required aether and wacky pretzel physics to use Kepler's term.

But yes, it wasn't until Newton thew Gallieo, Kepler, Descartes, and a few others into a sack of apples that it all came together into a completely accurate model that didn't require weird materials, pretzel logic and physics, or fairies.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Limnen_euron wrote:


Incidentally, this approach closely resembles that of General Relativity in spirit. Newton himself stumbled upon a similar problem when he had to justify the 'particularity' of inertial reference systems – he had no other choice but to postulate the concept of 'absolute time and space' (which was made to coincide with an immanent God), in respect to which every other inertial system was moving in a constant, rectilinear motion.

There is a difference between a planet moving in a circle around a central point and one stopping in mid air and corkscrewing backwards only to go forwards again- which is what you have if you you try to follow a model where the earth is at the center. The correct model is what allowed gravity as it pertained to heavenly bodies to be understood at all.

There's a difference, but only in the choice of the reference system. Ptolemy's description of the motion of celestial bodies matched empirical observations pretty consistently, and, the tangled mess that it was, nonetheless was imbued with predictive power. Indeed, solve Newton's equations in a geocentric reference frame and you'll see planets stopping in mid-air and corkscrewing backwards.

Inferring an inverse-square universal law of gravitational attraction in such a frame would be counter-intuitive, but it'd still explain Ptolemaic convoluted orbits, just as it explains the (much simpler) Kepler's laws in a heliocentric frame. The ockhamist claim that the frame where physical laws appear in their simplest form is also the 'correct' one absolutely stands from a methodological point of view, but when turned into an ontological statement (i.e. the sun is at the center of the universe) it means one is starting to dip his toes in the metaphysical pool.

Which was the Church's playground at the time (and give or take a bunch of philosophers, it still is, only they can't prosecute people for holding heretical views anymore, just excommunicate them), and since Galileo would not step back, they slammed him down.


Limnen_euron wrote:


There's a difference, but only in the choice of the reference system.

Horsefeathers. By setting a mobile point as your reference system you make an object that is, in objective reality, acting one way appear to be acting in a completely different manner. The motion makes absolutely no sense and is inconsistant for itself and in comparison to other objects. Its not merely a matter of how you see it, its how it is.

The distances between the planets also get screwy

Quote:
Ptolemy's description of the motion of celestial bodies matched empirical observations pretty consistently, and, the tangled mess that it was, nonetheless was imbued with predictive power.

Incredibly limited predictive power -it can only predict objects that have been tracked for decades- and with absolutely no explanatory power. It would not have been possible, for example, to find a new planet or predict the path of a comet under that model.

Quote:
Inferring an inverse-square universal law of gravitational attraction in such a frame would be counter-intuitive, but it'd still explain Ptolemaic convoluted orbits

It would not. The planets closer to the sun than earth follow completely different rules than the outer ones, for no reason under the geocentric model. The particulars of each planets orbit would also be completely arbitrary.

Do you know darwkwing duck?

Quote:
just as it explains the (much simpler) Kepler's laws in a heliocentric frame. The ockhamist claim that the frame where physical laws appear in their simplest form is also the 'correct' one absolutely stands from a methodological point of view, but when turned into an ontological statement (i.e. the sun is at the center of the universe) it means one is starting to dip his toes in the metaphysical pool.

Horsefeathers. There's nothing metaphysical about statements of fact on where things are. Reality is a thing.

Quote:
Which was the Church's playground at the time (and give or take a bunch of philosophers, it still is, only they can't prosecute people for holding heretical views anymore, just excommunicate them), and since Galileo would not step back, they slammed him down.

Which is a good reason for keeping the church and philosophers out of the reality business.

Grand Lodge

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

See what happens when you listen to philosophers?

ow ow ow ow ow ....

Not nearly as painful as gaming with them.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.

Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.


Oh come on now what did i ever do to you guys!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.
Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.

My point still stands. Someone other than him took the decision to do unto him.


@BigNorseWolf: not even the heliocentric model had any explanation – nor it was in any way useful to find new planets or such. Because they're both cinematic models. You need dynamics for that. You need Newton.

And yes, solving Newton's equations in a geocentric frame would indeed give you those weird Ptolemaic motions - which would then revert to (a reasonable approximation of) well-behaved ellipses once you switch back to heliocentric.

The only objective thing about reality is the (frame-independent) observation of an event, not its (frame, or gauge-dependent if you want to be fancy) description. This statement

BigNorseWolf wrote:
By setting a mobile point as your reference system you make an object that is, in objective reality, acting one way appear to be acting in a completely different manner.

makes very little sense to me. The way an object acts in one reference system is in no way more or less objective than how it behaves in any other. Unless you consider, say, Kepler's Laws a fundamental building block of our reality and thus claim that the only 'right' frame is that which makes them emerge clear and unambiguous for everyone to see. Alas, they are not. They're just a property of the center-of-mass reference frame solution of a two-body system interacting via an attractive, inverse-square force (in and of itself an abstraction).

You might consider geocentricism mystifying as it prevents one observer to extrapolate easy, general equations describing the motions of the planets with a minimal amount of parameters, and you'd be right. But then again, we'd concur on that one: it'd just be a matter of convenience, or 'mathematical elegance' if you prefer.

And there's plenty of metaphysics involved in stating where things are absolutely, instead of relative to other things. Saying that something is at the center of the universe assumes that you're somehow able to watch the universe from the outside and assess its center. The fact that you cannot do it is one of the deeper reasons why the universe (intended as the 'collection of all things') is invariant by translation, that is you can put the origin of your reference system in any given point and you'd still be observing the same physics, with the same rules. By Noether's theorem, this implies the global conservation of momentum, by the way, just as its isotropy, or rotational invariance, implies the conservation of its angular counterpart.

Now: heliocentricism has been been a very fecund idea in that it paved the way for the formulation of the law of universal gravitation, which in turn triggered the greatest scientific advances in the history of mankind. And Galileo's own philosophical ideas about one needing to focus on the quantitative aspects of nature when studying it ('math being the language the book of Nature is written in') are no less to be lauded in that regard. Ultimately, though, the debate between geocentricism and heliocentricism is just one regarding the choice of a particular reference frame. The main advantage of the latter being it provides a very good approximation of the afore-mentioned center-of-mass reference frame of a two-body gravitating system, where Newton's equations are comparatively easy to solve giving conical solutions.


Limnen_euron wrote:
@BigNorseWolf: not even the heliocentric model had any explanation – nor it was in any way useful to find new planets or such. Because they're both cinematic models. You need dynamics for that. You need Newton.

It had a lot of explanation. It explains why some planets appear to corkscrew through the sky and why some look like they're just going backwards. They look like that because we're moving and everything is going around the sun- it gives mercury and venus the appearence of completely different orbits than mars jupiter saturn and neptune.

Not everything goes around the earth also explains the more or less direct observation of moons around jupiter.

Quote:
And yes, solving Newton's equations in a geocentric frame would indeed give you those weird Ptolemaic motions - which would then revert to (a reasonable approximation of) well-behaved ellipses once you switch back to heliocentric.

You wouldn't be able to solve the equation at all without assuming that the earth moves anyway, because sometimes the equation is one thing and sometimes its the other depending on where the earth is.

Quote:

The only objective thing about reality is the (frame-independent) observation of an event, not its (frame, or gauge-dependent if you want to be fancy) description. This statement

Quote:
The way an object acts in one reference system is in no way more or less objective than how it behaves in any other.

Horsefeathers. "You are here" with the sun in the center of the solar system and the planets going around it is a hell of a lot more accurate than trying to put the earth in the center and move the planets around. You'd never be able to launch a satellite to another planet under a geocentric system.

Quote:
it'd just be a matter of convenience, or 'mathematical elegance' if you prefer.

And this is why they need to scoot the philosophers even further out of science.

The entire point of science is getting a picture of reality. Not a better jedi truth.

Quote:
And there's plenty of metaphysics involved in stating where things are absolutely, instead of relative to other things.

The sun is in the center of the solar system is a relative description.

Liberty's Edge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Limnen_euron wrote:
@BigNorseWolf: not even the heliocentric model had any explanation – nor it was in any way useful to find new planets or such. Because they're both cinematic models. You need dynamics for that. You need Newton.

It had a lot of explanation. It explains why some planets appear to corkscrew through the sky and why some look like they're just going backwards. They look like that because we're moving and everything is going around the sun- it gives mercury and venus the appearence of completely different orbits than mars jupiter saturn and neptune.

Not everything goes around the earth also explains the more or less direct observation of moons around jupiter.

It also explained the observed solar transits of Mercury and Venus and allowed their prediction.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.
Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.
My point still stands. Someone other than him took the decision to do unto him.

And it's a very short sighted point. What happened to Galileo resulted largely from his conduct and the faults of his personality, not because of a Church pogrom on Heliocentric Theory.


It still doesn't make what the Church did right.


LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.
Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.
My point still stands. Someone other than him took the decision to do unto him.
And it's a very short sighted point. What happened to Galileo resulted largely from his conduct and the faults of his personality, not because of a Church pogrom on Heliocentric Theory.

The biggest cause is that the church decided to set itself up as the arbiter of truth, and censor everything that disagreed with that. You can hardly blame someone for snark under the circumstances, it was well deserved.

Liberty's Edge

LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.
Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.
My point still stands. Someone other than him took the decision to do unto him.
And it's a very short sighted point. What happened to Galileo resulted largely from his conduct and the faults of his personality, not because of a Church pogrom on Heliocentric Theory.

Bull pucky.

The church declared it heretical. They banned all discourse on it that didn't say it was wrong and heresy despite it being a better model than Ptolemy's or Brahe's.

Just because he wasn't tortured as the Inquisition threatened to do doesn't mean they couldn't have. Just because they didn't have him stoned or burnt at the stake doesn't mean they couldn't have. He was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition.

Because he dared to say, admittedly impolitely, that maybe, just maybe modern man could get a better grasp on how the universe works than some bronze age shepherd folk and that the bible wasn't meant to necessarily taken literally (as St Augustine argued).

The church wouldn't lift the ban on his writings until almost 200 years after his death. In 1990 the future Benedict XVI said that despite modern views the church was right to arrest Galileo, threaten him with torture and death, ban his writings, destroy his career and throw him in a tower because of... reasons. Thankfully two years John Paul II did the unthinkable and admitted that the church had erred both in its insistence on geocentrism and it's treatment of Galileo Galilei.


Well, Benedict WAS the head of the inquisition at one point. (not an unusual position to be in to get into the papacy apparently)

Liberty's Edge

The man quoted Feyerabend for pity's sake!

He might has well have just gotten drunk and started vomiting on rational discourse.


Kajehase wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Regardless of the degree of Galileo's jerkiness, unless he tied himself to the stake and set the fire on his own, I'm going to say he wasn't to blame.
Save that he wasn't burned to the stake, only sentenced to house arrest.
My point still stands. Someone other than him took the decision to do unto him.

By that line of reasoning, no one in prison is to blame for their incarceration, either. Someone, probably a judge, took the decision to order the defendant imprisoned for the burglary rap. Someone else, probably a whole bunch of guards, are continuing to take the decision not to let him walk out the front door.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Absolutely. The prisoner is responsible for whatever he did, but the judgd, prosecutor, and prison guards are responsible for him being in prison, which is why they're the one held to account when flaws in the justice or prison systems are discovered.

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