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Il saggiatore (The assayer) by Galileo Galilei (–) is the final and most significant work in the polemic regarding the characteristics of. 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.

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

On the other band magnificent titles and many grandiose promises attract the natural curiosity of men and hold them forever involved in fallacies and chimeras, without ever offering them one single sample of that sharpness of true proof by which the taste may be awakened to know how insipid is the ordinary fare of philosophy. How greatly it was esteemed by him, and with what admiration it was received, is testified by ducal letters still in my possession.

You, Sarsi, must show us that an interposed flame would not suffice to hide the stars. Sarsi says that abundant arguments have been supplied by me for proving the roughness of the interior surface of the sky, since I will have it that the moon and other planets -bodies which are also celestial, and even more noble and perfect than the sky itself-are mountainous and rough. Now cut away some of the lighter parts and leave the knotty portions; the former, being of less specific gravity than the water, gave some support to the entire mass.

When a man can say definitely what he means by using a simple and appropriate word, why employ an inappropriate one that requires qualification and ultimately becomes transformed into something quite different? And why should I speak of the comet as shining like a planet? For once we have observed a circle through a telescope at a distance of one mile and found it to be thirty times as large as when viewed with the naked eye, we need only find a tower that is magnified ten times and we may be sure that it is three miles distant.

I say I do not wish to be counted as an ignoramus and an ingrate toward Nature and toward God; for if they have given me my senses and my reason, why should I defer such great gifts to the errors of some man?

But the reason cited above was so cogent that I galikei myself merely with the opinion and judgment of a few gentlemen, my real friends, to whom I communicated my thoughts. The context of the essay was to reply to the treatise Libra astronomica ac philosophica of by Orazio Grassia Jesuit mathematician at the Collegio Romanowhich used the pseudonym of Lotario Sarsi Sigensano.

Nor would this be the only proposition that is inherently true but is understood by the Peripatetics in a false sense. Next Sarsi patches together an argument out of various fragments of propositions designed to prove that the comet was situated between the moon and the sun. Once upon a time, in a very lonely place, there lived a man endowed by nature with extraordinary curiosity and a very penetrating mind.


But since Sarsi wants it so, let it be; meanwhile let Guiducci accept my defense of his treatise in return for the honor he did me. I considered remaining perfectly silent in order to save myself any occasion for being the unhappy target of such sharpshooting, and to remove from others any material capable of exciting these reprehensible talents.

I cannot help being astonished that Sarsi and his teacher, thinking it to be true, should have regarded it less highly than their others-which, if I may say so, are not fit to hold a candle to this one. How many men attacked my Letters on Sunspots, and under what disguises! 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.

Not only may any distance on earth be measured from a single place, but the distances of the heavenly bodies may also be established exactly.

It was then that I would have had us set to work with our slings, eggs, bows, muskets, and cannons so that we might clear up this matter for ourselves. Well, Sarsi, that is not how matters stand. Thus Sarsi may see that insensible reductions of weight do occur from consumption over a period of months on end, let alone the few minutes he may have persisted in hammering away at his bit of copper.

There I wrote that in Venice, where I happened to be at the time, news arrived that a Fleming had presented to Count Maurice [of Nassau] a glass by means of which distant objects might be seen as distinctly as if they were nearby. Guiducci wrote that “people who wish to determine the location of a comet by means of parallax must first establish that the comet is a fixed and real object and not a mere appearance, since reasoning by parallax is indeed conclusive for real things but not for apparent ones.

Irregular lines are those which have no determinacy whatever, but are indefinite and casual and hence undefinable; no property of such lines can be demonstrated, and in a word nothing can be assayfr about them.

I speak of Simon Mayr of Guntzenhausen. We did say they are false, but so far as authority is concerned assaer alone is as effective as an army’s in rendering the events true or false. Few indeed are they who really know some part of it, and only One knows all.

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. In this way he observed the resulting effect and thus discovered the instrument. Galileo mistakenly believed assayre comets are an optical illusion.


Guiducci was often present, and one day he told me that he had thought of speaking on comets before the Academy; if I liked, he would include what he had heard from me along with things he had gathered from other authors or had thought himself.

Next with the tip of your finger take a small quantity of any oily material that will adhere to the glass, and spread a thin coating where the image appears, dimming the surface a little. 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.

Shoot ghe 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. Now four years after my Starry Messenger appeared, this same fellow in the habit of trying to ornament himself with other people’s works unblushingly made himself the author of the things I bad discovered and printed in that book.

And under this pretense, asswyer the least shame for his disrespect, he robs those men of their reputations in order to cover up a slight oversight of his teacher’s.

Galileo, Selections from The Assayer

For an answer to this let him put down whatever it is that he would reply to a man who argued that the surface of the ocean should be bony and scaly, since the fish which inhabit it are. And as these four senses are related to the four elements, so I believe that vision, the sense eminent above all others in the proportion of the finite to the infinite, the temporal to the instantaneous, the quantitative to the indivisible, the illuminated to the obscure–that vision, I say, is related to light itself.

This book was edited and published by members of the Lynx. The book was dedicated to the new pope.

If you rub across this again, the ray will be led off in another direction. From such waves, as from many mirrors extending over a wide area, would result a much brighter reflection of the sunlight than would occur if the sea were calm. De Motu Antiquiorapub. But if you fail, I ask no more from you than silence, by which an end will be put to this dispute.

The Assayer is a milestone in the history of science: Sarsi has seen it proved in my Starry Messenger that the earth itself shines more brightly than the moon. I do not [p.