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V E N E T I I S , Apud Thomam Baglionum. M DC X. Superiorum Permiffu, & Privilegio.

Galileo Galilei, Sidereus mincius (1610): title page. This little book marks a turning-point in Galileo's life. Here he published his first telescopic discoveries, notably of the mountainous surface of the Moon and the satellites of Jupiter, which he named the Medicean stars after the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Here also he showed a serious commitment to the Gopernican system.





Published by Hambledon Press 1996 102 Gloucester Avenue, London NW1 8HX (UK) PO Box 102, Rio Grande, Ohio 45674 (USA) ISBN 1 85285 067 1 Alistair Cameron Crombie 1996 A description of this book is available from the British Library and from the Library of Congress

Printed on acid-free paper and bound in Great Britain by Cambridge University Press


Acknowledgements Illustrations Preface Further Bibliography of A.C. Crombie 1 Designed in the Mind: Western visions of Science, Nature and Humankind 2 The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity 3 Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science 4 Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168-1253) 5 Roger Bacon (c. 1219-1292) [with J.D. North] 6 Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature: A Medieval Speculation 7 Experimental Science and the Rational Artist in Early Modern Europe 8 Mathematics and Platonism in the Sixteenth-Century Italian Universities and in Jesuit Educational Policy 9 Sources of Galileo Galilei's Early Natural Philosophy 10 The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and of Nature [with A. Carugo] 11 Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric [with A. Carugo] 12 Galileo Galilei: A Philosophical Symbol 13 Alexandre Koyr and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne 14 Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language 15 Le Corps la Renaissance: Theories of Perceiver and Perceived in Hearing 16 Expectation, Modelling and Assent in the History of Optics: i, Alhazen and the Medieval Tradition; ii, Kepler and Descartes 17 Contingent Expectation and Uncertain Choice: Historical Contexts of Arguments from Probabilities 18 P.-L. Moreau de Maupertuis, F.R.S. (1698-1759): Prcurseur du Transformisme 19 The Public and Private Faces of Charles Darwin 20 The Language of Science

vii ix xi xiii

1 13 31 39 51 67 89 115 149 165 231 257 263 275 291 301 357 407 429 439


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought 443 451 465

21 Some Historical Questions about Disease 22 Historians and the Scientific Revolution 23 The Origins of Western Science

Appendix to Chapter 10: 479 (a) Sources and Dates of Galileos Writings [with A. Carugo] (b) Pietro Redondi, Galileo eretico (Torino, 1983) [with A. Carugo] (c) Mario Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier (Chicago, 1993) Corrections to Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought (1990) 495 Index 497


The articles reprinted here first appeared in the following places and are reprinted by kind permission of the original publishers. 1 2 History of Science, xxvi (1988), pp. 1-12. Proceedings of the 3rd International Humanistic Symposium 1975: The Case of Objectivity (Athenai: Hellenistic Society for Humanistic Studies, 1977), pp. 428-55. In Italian in Federico II e le Scienze: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Frederick II and the Mediterranean World (1990), a cura di A. Paravicini Bagliani (Palermo: Sellerio, 1995). Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ed. C.C. Gillispie, v (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1972), pp. 548-54. Ibid., i (1970), pp. 377-85. L'infinito nella scienza, a cura di G. Toraldo di Francia (Roma: Enciclopedia Italiana, 1987), pp. 223-43. Daedalus, cxv (1986), pp. 49-74. Prismata: Naturwissenschaftsgeschichtliche Studien: Festchrift fur Willy Hartner, hrsg. Y. Maeyama aund W.G. Salzer (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH, 1977), pp. 63-94. Reason, Experiment and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, ed. M.L. Righini Bonelli and W.R. Shea (New York: Science History Publications, 1975), pp. 157-75.

4 5 6 7 8

10 Annali dell' Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, viii.2 (1983), pp. 1-68. 11 Nouvelles de la rpublique des lettres (1988) ii, pp. 7-31. 12 Actes du VIIle Congrs International d'Histoire des Sciences (Florence, 1956), pp. 1089-95.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

13 The Renaissance of a History: Proceedings of the International Conference Alexandre Koyr, Paris, 1986, ed. P Redondi: History and Technology, iv (London, 1987), pp. 81-92. 14 In French in Nature, histoire, socit: Essais en hommage Jacques Roger, d. C. Blanckaert, J.-L. Fischer, R. Rey (Paris: Editions Klincksieck, 1995); Appendix: The Times Literary Supplement, 2 October 1992, p. 23. 15 Le Corps la Renaissance: Actes du XXXe Colloque de Tours 1987, sous la direction de J. Card, M.M. Fontaine, J.-C. Margolin (Paris: Aux Amateurs de Livres, 1990), pp. 379-87. 16 Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, xxi (1990), pp. 605-32, xxii (1991), pp. 89-115. 17 The Rational Arts of Living, ed. A.C. Crombie and N.G. Siraisi, Smith College Studies in History, vol. 50 (Northampton, Mass., 1987), pp. 53101; first version published in French in Mdecine et Probabilits: Actes de la Journe d'Etudes du 15 December 1979, d. A. Fagot (Paris: I'Universit Paris-Val de Marne, 1982). 18 Revue de synthse, lxxviii (1957), pp. 35-56. 19 First published as 'Darwin's Scientific Method' in Actes du IXe Congrs International d'Histoire des Sciences, Barcelona-Madrid 1959 (Barcelona/ Paris, 1960), pp. 354-62; reprinted in The Listener (London: B.B.C., November 1959). 20 Presented at the Forum de la communication scientifique et technique: Quelles langues pour la science?, organise a l'initiative du Ministre de la Francophonie; published in French in Alliage: Culture - Science Technique, no. 4 (Et, 1990), pp. 39-42. 21 Sida: Epidmies et socits, 20 et 21 juin 1987, d. C. Mrieux (Lyon, 1987), pp. 115-21. 22 Physis, xi (1969), pp. 167-80. 23 Metascience, n.s.ii (1993), pp. 1-16.


Galileo Galilei, Sidereus nuncius (1610): title page Figure illustrating Roger Bacon's fifth rule Galileo Galilei, from // Saggiatore (1623) : frontispiece The beginning of Galileo's autograph Disputationes Autograph page of Galileo's Tractatio de Caelo Watermark showing a backward-looking lamb Diagram of the Copernican system, with the Sun in the centre, from Galileo's Dialogo (1632) Pope Urban VIII facing Galileo Galileo Galilei by Mario Leoni (1624) Galileo Galilei, Dialogo (1632): title page Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo della musica antica (1581): title page Rene Descartes, by an unknown artist Euclid: the geometry of vision Euclidian vision: from Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi. . . historia: Microcosmus (Oppenheim, 1618) The anatomy of the eye (1572) Diagram of the eye, from Roger Bacon, Opus Majus Light rays and the eye, from Roger Bacon, Opus Majus Alberti's grid (1435) A painting of a cross-section of the visual pyramid: from Fludd (1618)

ii 56 88 152 154 157 164 165 230 256 274 300 302 303 306 307 312 318 318

Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought 321 322 323 333 337 340

Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, f. 337, illustrating his comparison of the eye with a camera obscura Leonardo da Vinci, Codex D, f. 3v Observing a solar eclipse in a camera obscura (1545) Kepler, Ad Vitellionem paralipomena (Frankfurt, 1604), after Plater, De corporis humani structura et usu (Basel, 1583) Descartes, La dioptrique (Leiden, 1637), illustrating Kepler's ocular dioptrics Kepler, Ad Vitellionem paralipomena (Frankfurt, 1604), vol. 3, prop, xxiii Scheiner, Rosa ursina (Bracciani, 1630), comparing the eye and a camera obscura with a lens system, and the effects on each of using further lenses Descartes, La dioptrique (Leiden, 1637), illustrating the transmission of light Scheiner, Oculus (Oeniponti, 1619), showing the structure of the eye

346 351 353


This second volume of essays forms a coherent set of studies like the first volume Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought published in 1990. Both volumes complement my books Augustine to Galileo: Medieval and Early Modern Science and Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science 1100-1700 and lead into my Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition: The History of Argument and Explanation Especially in the Mathematical and Biomedical Sciences and Arts (3 volumes, published by Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd, London, 1994), and forthcoming Galileo's Arguments and Disputes in Natural Philosophy (with the collaboration of Adriano Carugo), and Marin Mersenne: Science, Music and Language. The history of Western science is the history of a vision and an argument, initiated by the ancient Greeks in their search for principles at once of nature and of argument itself. This scientific vision, explored and controlled by argument, and the diversification of both vision and argument by scientific experience and by interaction with the wider contexts of intellectual culture, constitute the long history of European scientific thought. Underlying that development have been specific commitments to conceptions of nature and of science with its intellectual and moral assumptions, accompanied by a recurrent critique. Their diversification has generated a series of different styles of scientific thinking and of making theoretical and practical decisions. These styles are described and analysed in the opening chapter and exemplified in more detail in those that follow. These deal with scientific objectivity, the historiography of medieval science, Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon (Chapter 5 in collaboration with John North), the medieval conception of laws of nature, and the historical relation between rational design in scientific experimentation and in the arts exemplified especially by perspective painting. After a chapter on the place of mathematics in sixteenthcentury Italian universities and in Jesuit educational policy, there are five substantial studies of Galileo and his ideals of scientific demonstration and experimentation, of his use of rhetoric, and of his reputation. Two of them, Chapters 10 and 11, were written in collaboration with my colleague Adriano Carugo. Central to them are our discoveries of the use by Galileo of works by Jesuit philosophers at the Collegio Romano or associated therewith, which


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

have thrown an entirely new and very influential light on Galileo's intellectual biography. These chapters contain the original and authentic account of these discoveries. Next come studies of Mersenne and the origins of language, and of the role of hypothetical modelling in the investigation of hearing and more particularly of vision, with a detailed analysis of the theories and researches of Alhazen, Kepler and Descartes. These complement and bring up to date my long monograph on the subject (1967) republished in Science, Optics and Music. There is a further substantial analysis of historical contexts of arguments from probabilities, from the qualitative treatment found in ancient medicine, ethics and law, through the quantification of probabilities initiated with insurance and commerce in fifteenth-century Italy, given mathematical elegance especially by Pascal, Huygens and Leibniz, developed further in the fields of demography and economics, and applied to a form of evolution by natural selection in the eighteenth century by Maupertuis and finally in crucial detail by Darwin. Concluding chapters deal with scientific language, conceptions of disease, and the historiography of science. Some of the papers included in this volume (chs. 3,10 appendix (a), 14, 20) have not been published in English before. The others have been left as they were first printed except for minor corrections. Thus they record stages in the process of discovery and interpretation, as in the chapters on Galileo, especially when dealing with problems of dating, many of them still unsolved. They have been reprinted with continuous pagination, with footnotes at the bottom of the page, and with appropriate revision of internal references. Immediately relevant further bibliography has been added as required at the ends of chapters. An extensive bibliography for the whole subject is included in my Styles of Scientific Thinking. Additions to my own publications, beyond those included in the bibliography of my writings in Science, Optics and Music, are listed below. Finally, once again it is a pleasure to thank all those who provided the occasions for these papers, in Belagio, Athens, Erice, Rome, Cambridge, Mass., Capri, Florence, Paris, Tours, Smith College, Barcelona and Annecy. A.C. Crombie 30 November 1994 Trinity College, Oxford

Further Bibliography of A.C. Crombie

Acknowledgements should have been made in Science, Optics and Music to the bibliography published in The Light of Nature: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science Presented to A.C. Crombie, ed. J.D. North and J.J. Roche. Dordrecht, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1985.
(a) Books on the History of Science


Stili di pensiero scientifico agli inizi dell' Europa moderna. Napoli, Bibliopolis. Spanish translation by J.L. Barona, Valencia, 1994. Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition: The History of Argument and Explanation Especially in the Mathematical and Biomedical Sciences and Arts, 3 vols. London, Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1994.
(b) Papers on the History of Science



'Le corps a la Renaissance: Theories of Perceiver and Perceived in Hearing' in Le Corps a la Renaissance: Actes du xxxe Colloque de Tours 1987, sous la direction de J. Card, M.M. Fontaine, J.-C. Margolin. Paris, Aux Amateurs de Livres, pp. 379-87. 'Expectation and Assent in Seventeenth-Century Scientific Argument: Galileo and Others' (Banfi Lecture, 1989), Istituto Antonio Banfi Annali, iii (1989-90), pp. 11-54 'La Langue maternelle de la science', Alliage: Culture - Science Technique, no. 4 (Et, 1990), pp. 39-42. Review of E. Grant and J.E. Murdoch (ed.), Mathematics and its Applications to Science and Natural Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1987) in English Historical Review, cv (1990), pp. 1007-8.

1990/91 'Expectation, Modelling and Assent in the History of Optics, i: Alhazen and the Medieval Tradition; ii: Kepler and Descartes',


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, xxi (1990), pp. 605-32, xxii (1991), pp. 89-115


Review of Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Lettres Claude Saumaise et son entourage (1620-1637), d. Agnes Bresson. Firenze, Leo S. Olschki, 1992, Times Literary Supplement, 2 October 1992, p. 23. The Origins of Western Science', Metascience, n.s. ii, pp. 1-16. Presentation of Lessico filosofico dei secoli xvii e xviii, Sezione latina, a cura di Marta Fattori con la collaborazione di M.L. Bianchi, fasc.i (Roma, 1992) at the Warburg Institute, London, 3 May 1993, in Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, (1993)-ii, 102-4. Reviews of Elspeth Whitney, Paradise Restored: The Mechanical Arts from Antiquity through the Thirteenth Century (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, Transactions lxxx.1, 1990) and Georges Minois, L'Eglise et la Science: Histoire d'un malentendu. De Saint Augustine a Galilee (Paris, 1990) in English Historical Review, cix (1994), pp. 136-8; and of Guiseppe Olmi, L'inventario del mondo: Catalogazione della natura a luoghi delsapere nella prima et moderna (Bologna, 1992) in Journal of the History of Collections, forthcoming. 'The Greek Origins of European Scientific Styles', Ad familiares: The journal of the Friends of Classics, vii (1994), pp. xii-xiv. 'The History of European Science', New European: European Business Review, xciv (1994), pp. ii-v. 'Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science' in Federico II e le Scienze: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Frederick II and the Mediterranean World, a cura di A. Paravicini Bagliani. Palermo, Sellerio, pp. 15-24. 'Marin Mersenne et les origines du langage' in Nature, histoire, socit: Essais en hommage a Jacques Roger, prs. par C. Blanckaert, J.-L. Fischer, J. Rey. Paris, Editions Klincksieck, pp. 35-46. 'Boundaries of normality' in Malatia i cultura: Seminari d'Estudis sobre la Cincia, ed. J.L. Barona (Valencia, 1995), pp. 11-17. 'Per una antropologia histrica del saber cientfic', interview by Marc Borrs in Mtode: Revista de difusi de la investigaci de la Universitat de Valncia, ix (1995), pp. 14-17. 'Commitments and Styles of European Scientific Thinking' in History of Science, xxiii (1995), pp. 225-38.




'Univers' (with J.D. North) in Les caractres originaux de I'Occident medieval, d. J. Le Goff, J.-C. Schmitt. Paris, Librairie Arthme Fayard, forthcoming.



"Philosophical Commitments and Scientific Progress" in The Idea of Progress (Academia Europea conference 1994), forthcoming. (c) Editorships Editor, 1949-54 of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Joint founder and editor of History of Science: A Review of Literature, Research and Teaching, Cambridge, W. Heffer and Sons, 1962-72; Science History Publications 1973- . (d) Scientific Papers Papers on (i) interspecific competition (an experimental and mathematical analysis on some aspects of ecology and natural selection) and (ii) the physiology of the chemical sense-organs in insects. 1941 On Oviposition, Olfactory Conditioning and Host Selection in Rhizopertha dominica Fab. (Insecta, coleoptera)', Journal of Experimental Biology, 18, pp. 62-79. 'The Effect of Crowding upon the Oviposition of Grain-Infesting Insects',/. Exp. Biol., 19, pp. 311-40. 'The Effect of Crowding upon the Natality of Grain-Infesting Insects', Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, A, 113, pp. 77-98. 'On Intraspecific and Interspecific Competition in Larvae of Graminivorous Insects', 7. Exp. BioL, 20, pp. 135-51. 'On the Measurement and Modification of the Olfactory Responses of Blow-Flies', /. Exp. BioL, 20, pp. 159-66. 'Sensillae of the Adults and larvae of the Beetle Rhizopertha dominica Fab. (Bostrichidae)', Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London A, 19, pp. 131-2. 1945 1946 1947 'On Competition between Different Species of Graminivorous Insects', Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 132, pp. 362-95. 'Further Experiments on Insect Competition', Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 133, pp. 76-109. 'The Behaviour of Wireworms in Response to Chemical Stimulation' [with W.H. Thorpe, R. Hill and J.H. Darrah], /. Exp. BioL, 23, pp. 234-66. 'The Chemoreceptors of the Wire worm (Agriotes spp.) and the Relation of Activity to Chemical Composition' [with J.H. Darrah], J. Exp. Biol. 24, pp. 95-109. 'Interspecific Competition', Journal of Animal Ecology, 16, pp. 44-73.

1942 1943 1944

In nature's infinite book of secrecy A little I can read. (Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra i.l 1)

Designed in the Mind: Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind
When we speak today of natural science we mean a specific vision created within Western culture, at once of knowledge and of the object of that knowledge, a vision at once of natural science and of nature.1 We may trace the characteristically Western tradition of rational science and philosophy to the commitment of the ancient Greeks, for whatever reason, to the decision of questions by argument and evidence, as distinct from custom, edict, authority, revelation, rule-of-thumb, on some other principle or practice. They developed thereby the notion of a problem as distinct from a doctrine, and the consequent habit of envisaging thought and action in all situations as the perception and solving of problems. By deciding at the same time that among many possible worlds as envisaged in other cultures, the one world that existed was a world of exclusively self-consistent and discoverable rational causality, the Greek philosophers, mathematicians and medical men committed their scientific successors exclusively to this effective direction of thinking. They closed for Western scientific vision the elsewhere open questions of what kind of world people found themselves inhabiting and so of what methods they should use to explore and explain and control it. They introduced in this way the conception of a rational scientific system, a system in which formal reasoning matched natural causation, so that natural events must follow exactly from scientific principles, just as logical and mathematical conclusions must follow from their premises. Thus they introduced, in parallel with their conception of causal demonstration, the equally fundamental conception of formal proof. From these two conceptions all the essential character and style of Western philosophy, mathematics and natural science have followed. The exclusive rationality so defined supplied the presuppositions and came to supply the methods of reasoning alike in purely formal discourse and in the experiential exploration of nature. Hence it offered rational control of subjectmatters of all kinds, from mathematical to material, from ideas to things. A similar characteristic style is evident over the whole range of Western intellectual and practical enterprise. We have then in Western scientific culture, as an object of study to which we its students at the same time inextricably belong, a highly intellectualized and integrated whole, designed in

Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

the mind like a work of art, not all at once but over many generations of interaction between creative thinking and testing, between programmes and their realization or modification or rejection. But if we insist upon the cultural specificity of the Western scientific tradition in its origins and initial development, and upon its enduring identity in diffusion to other cultures, we do not have to look far below the surface of scientific inquiry and its immediate results to see that the whole historical process has gone on in a context of intellectual and moral commitments, expectations, dispositions and memories that have varied greatly with different periods, societies and also individuals. These have affected both the problems perceived and the solutions found acceptable, and also the evaluations of desirable or undesirable ends and their motivations. The whole historical experience of scientific thinking is an invitation to treat the history of science, both in its development in the West and in its complex diffusion through other cultures, as a kind of comparative historical anthropology of thought. An historical anthropology of science must be concerned before all with people and their vision. The scientific movement offers an invitation to examine the,identity of natural science within an intellectual culture, to distinguishrihat from the identities of other intellectual and practical activities in the arts, scholarship, philosophy, law, government, commerce and so on, and to relate them all in a taxonomy of styles. It is an invitation to analyse the various elements that make up an intellectual style in the study and treatment of nature: conceptions of nature and of science, methods of scientific inquiry and demonstration diversified according to the subject-matter, evaluations of scientific goals with consequent motivations, and intellectual and moral commitments and expectations generating attitudes to innovation and change. The scientific thinking found in a particular period or society or individual gets its vision and style from different but closely related intellectual or moral commitments or dispositions. We may distinguish three. (1) First there have been conceptions of nature within the general scheme of existence and of its knowability to man. These in turn have been conditioned by language. The original Greek commitment entailed the replacement of conceptions of nature as an arbitrary sociological order maintained by personified agents, found in all ancient cosmologies and cosmogonies, with the conception of an inevitable order established by an exclusive natural causality. In the succession competing for dominance in subsequent Western thought, nature has been conceived as a product of divine economy or art with appropriate characteristics of simplicity and harmony, as a consequence of atomic chance, as a causal continuum, as a workshop of active substantial powers, as a passive system of mechanisms, as an evolutionary generation of novelty, as a manifestation of probabilities.

Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind

Any language itself embodies a theory of meaning, a logic, a classification of experience in names, a conception of both perceiver and perceived and their relation, and of relations in space and time. Philology can be an indispensable guide to theoretical ideas and real actions. The expression of a system of science in a language may not entail an immediate critique of the fundamental structure of that language, yet its vocabulary and syntax may have to be modified to provide for the conceptual and technical precision required by the science developing within it. Thus a new terminology had to be devised in medieval and early modern Latin to accommodate the new kinematic and dynamic conceptions, especially of functions, of instantaneous change and of rates of change, which could scarcely be expressed in the classical logic and syntax of subject and predicate. Terminology may have had to be revised to detach its specific scientific meaning from its source in common but inadequate or misleading analogies. "The word current", wrote Michael Faraday,2 "is so expressive in common language that when applied in the consideration of electrical phenomena, we can hardly divest it sufficiently of its meaning, or prevent our minds from being prejudiced by it". For the same reason he replaced "pole", inconveniently suggesting attraction, with the neutral "electrode", in a new terminology devised with the aid of William Whewell to fit the precise context of electro-chemistry. John Tyndall3 in his attractive account of Faraday as a discoverer exemplified a familiar historical process when he described how, in this new science, "prompted by certain analogies we ascribe electrical phenomena to the action of a peculiar fluid, sometimes flowing, sometimes at rest. Such conceptions have their advantages and their disadvantages; they afford peaceful lodging to the intellect for a time, but they also circumscribe it, and by-and-by, when the mind has grown too large for its lodging, it often finds difficulty in breaking down the walls of what has become its prison instead of its home." Thus a radically new technical language may be made up, precisely symbolized as first for mathematics and music and later for many other sciences and arts. The result may be a special language fundamentally different in intention from that implicit in the common language of the society from which it originated, but still a language that may be learned and understood in any society and may convey to it objectively communicable knowledge. Must science in different linguistic cultures always acquire differences of logical form, and must the grammatical structure of a language always impose its ontological presuppositions on the science developing within it? While the technical language of science has often been developed partly to escape from just such impositions, philology can be an accurate guide to implicit or explicit intellectual commitments of this kind and to their changes. The West learnt from the Greeks to look for causal continuity in events both physical and moral, and this has structured its natural and moral philosophy

Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

alike and its whole tradition of dramatic literature and music since Antiquity. Japanese thinking, now in exemplary possession of Western science and music, seems traditionally by contrast to have accepted events in their individual existential discontinuity, impressionistically unrelated to before and after, with no general abstract term for nature, but each thing the subject of personal knowledge and companionship, not of mastery either by thought or action. The whole question might throw an interesting light in our philosophical anthropology upon a question central to the whole Western debate: that of distinguishing the argument giving rational control of subject-matter from an implication of the existence of entities appearing in the language used, or, more generally, that of distinguishing a rational structure of nature from that of the organizing human mind. (2) A second kind of intellectual commitment affecting scientific style has been to a conception of science and of the organization of scientific inquiry. Two different traditions of scientific organization and method began in Antiquity. The dominant Greek mathematicians saw as their goal the reduction of every scientific field to the axiomatic model of their most powerful intellectual invention, geometry. At once alternative and complementary to this was the much older medical and technological practice of exploring and recording by piecemeal observation, measurement and trial. The medieval and early modern experimental natural philosophers combined both traditions, to transform the geometrical pattern by an increasing preoccupation with quantitative experimental analysis of causal connections and functional relations. Yet a different pattern came from intellectual satisfaction in mathematical harmonies rather than causal processes. Other modes of intellectual organization assimilated analysis for scientific investigation to that for artistic construction, or looked for probabilities or for genetic origins and derivations. All generated scientific systems made up of theories and laws and statements of observations, providing particular explanations and solutions of problems within the framework of a general conception of nature and science, along with scientific methods diversified by the diversity both of general commitments and of particular subject-matters of varying complexity. The commitments of a period or group or individual to general beliefs about nature and about science, combined with the technical possibilities available, have regulated the problems seen, the questions put to nature, and the acceptability of both questions and answers. Such commitments have directed research towards certain types of problem and towards certain types of discovery and explanation, but away from others. They have both guided inquiry and supplied its ultimate irreducible explanatory principles. By taking us beneath the surface of immediate scientific results, they help us to identify the conceptual and technical conditions, frontiers and horizons making certain discoveries possible and explanations acceptable to a generation or group, but

Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind

others not, and the same not to others. More specifically a discovery or a theory or even a presentation of research may open fresh horizons but at the same time close others hitherto held possible. Dominant intellectual commitments have made certain kinds of question appear cogent and given certain kinds of explanation their power to convince, and excluded others. They established, in anticipation of any particular research, the kind of world that was supposed to exist and the appropriate methods of inquiry. Such beliefs, taken from the more general intellectual context of natural science, have regulated the expectations both of questions and of answers, the form of theories and the kinds of explanatory entities taken into them, and the acceptability of the explanations they offered. They established in advance the kind of explanation that would give satisfaction when the supposedly discoverable had been discovered. They have been challenged not usually by observation, but by re-examining the metaphysics or theology or other general beliefs assumed. In this process the cogency of such worlds might change from generation to generation as each nevertheless added to enduringly valid scientific knowledge. (3) A third kind of intellectual and moral commitment has concerned what could and should be done. This in its diverse modes has followed from diverse evaluations of the nature and purpose of existence and hence of right human action. It has been linked with dispositions generating an habitual response to events, both internally within scientific thinking itself, and externally in the responses of society: dispositions to expect to master or to be mastered by or simply to contemplate events, to change or to resist change, to anticipate innovation or conservation, to be ready or not to reject theories and to rethink accepted beliefs and to alter habits. Such dispositions have been both psychological and social. They may be specified by habitual styles and methods both of opposition and of acceptance. They may characterize a society over the whole range of its intellectual and moral behaviour, of which its natural science is simply a part. The primary focus, for example, of medieval and early modern Christian as of Islamic culture and society on the teaching and preservation of theological truth could scarcely fail to condition all human inquiries. Sensitive implications of natural philosophical and metaphysical questions and doctrines placed the whole of intellectual life within the political framework and control of a moral cosmology.The medieval Christian theological hierarchy of dignity within that cosmology, as also Islamic attitudes to the visual representation of natural objects, took that control as far as aesthetic style. Given the dual source of human knowledge in the divine gifts of true reason and of undeniable revelation, the whole enterprise made an urgent issue then of error, of the possibility of error in good faith, of the attitude to be taken to

Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

unpersuadable infidels and irredeemable heretics, of the commitments and expectations of disagreement as well as agreement. In all this, and in the whole scientific movement considered in the context of society and of communication, persuasion has been as important as proof. The use of persuasive arguments to reinforce or to create the power of ideas to convince, especially when the ideas were new and the audience uncertain or unsympathetic, has been well understood by some of the greatest scientific innovators. Galileo and Descartes were both masters of the current rhetorical techniques of persuasion. Galileo devoted at least as much energy to trying to establish the identity of natural science within contemporary intellectual culture as to solving particular physical problems. He conducted all his controversies at two levels: one was concerned with the particular physical problem in question; the other was concerned with an eloquent advocacy of his conception of natural science as an enterprise in solving problems and finding scientific explanations distinct from the philosophical or theological exegesis of authorities and texts, from a literary exercise, from a commercial or legal negotiation, from magic, and so on. His test of a general explanation was its ability to incorporate the solution of particular problems. Descartes argued likewise at two levels, and this indeed was a general necessity in a period when the intellectual identity of the contemporary scientific movement was still open to misunderstanding by the learned world at large and when its methods and accepted styles of reasoning were still to some extent being established. Again, Charles Lyell, himself a lawyer, set out like a skilful lawyer to present his uniformitarian conception of geology as the only acceptable one and to discredit its hitherto accepted catastrophic rival. Charles Darwin similarly set out his argument in the Origin of species for evolution by natural selection like a legal brief: marshalling the evidence, demolishing rival explanations, proposing his own solution, raising difficulties against it, meeting them one by one, and finally concluding that his was the only plausible and acceptable explanation that could account for all the various categories of fact that had to be considered. By presenting his arguments in the wake of the statistical analysis of human economics which provided the persuasive analogy, Darwin was able to establish at one and the same time his scientific explanation by natural selection and a statistical conception of the economy of nature which belief in providential design had hitherto made widely unacceptable in biology. Persuasion has obviously been aimed at the diffusion of scientific ideas, both at the sophisticated level of the scientific community and also among the general public. Change in ideas has come about more easily in some scientific situations, periods and societies than in others. It has been easier to reject particular theories within an accepted system of general doctrine than to take the drastic step of rejecting the whole doctrine. The disposition to change, which has been

Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind

so marked a characteristic of the whole modern history of the West, became within the same culture an essential part of the scientific movement over a period when innovation and improvement were also becoming the intellectual habit in art, theology, philosophy, law, government, commerce and many other activities. It was a matter of individual as well as collective behaviour: Kepler, for example, contrasts notably with some of his contemporaries and opponents in controversy by his readiness to sacrifice a favourite theory to contrary evidence. The conscious cultivation and reward of a disposition towards innovation began in Western society perhaps first in the technical arts and philosophy, but it has been transmitted elsewhere mainly with Western commerce and science. A comprehensive historical inquiry into the sciences and arts mediating man's experience of nature as perceiver and knower and agent would include questions at different levels, in part given by nature, in part made by man. These correspond to the three kinds of commitment. Thus at the level of nature there is historical ecology: the reconstruction of the physical and biomedical environment and of what people made of it. The sources and problems of historical ecology, both human and physical, range from those of archaeology and palaeopathology to those of the history of climate, technology, medicine, agriculture, travel and art. Historical problems at all levels require scientific and linguistic knowledge to control the view of any present recorded through the eyes and language of those who saw it. They may require also historical knowledge of religion and of artistic style, economic theory, and other analytical disciplines. At all levels comparative historical studies of the intellectual and social commitments, dispositions and habits, and of the material conditions, that might make scientific activity and its practical applications intellectually or socially or materially easy for one society, but difficult or impossible for another, have an immediate relevance for the diverse cultures brought into contact with the science, medicine, technology and commerce of our contemporary world. It is only comparatively recently, and only in highly industrialized societies, that science and technology have risen to a dominant position among the vastly various concerns and interests that throughout history have moved men to thought and action. What have been the numbers, social position, education, occupations, institutions, private and public habits, motives, opportunities, persuasions and means of communication of the individuals taking part in scientific activities in different periods and societies? What critical audience has there been to be convinced by, use, transmit, develop, revise or reject their arguments? Where scientific and analogous inquiries have interested only a scattered minority, what opportunities have existed for establishing agreement on principles and methods, or even continuity between generations? How, for example, were these maintained in the ancient Mediterranean, or in China or

Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

India? In comparison, what intellectual or moral or practical commitments motivated the teaching and learned institutions of medieval Islam and of medieval and early modern Christendom, and came in the last to establish effective conditions of education and research for an explicit scientific community? How have the conditions for science and for technology differed? What intellectual needs or habits or intentions or social pressures have there been within different philosophical or scientific or technical groups to bring about a consensus of opinion in favour of innovation or of conservation? How have scientific ideas and activities been located within the values of society at large? What has been the intellectual or moral or practical value given to science in different societies, within a range of interests so divergent as those indicated, for example, by a predominant concern with a theological scheme of human responsibility and destiny, by the cultivation of the arts or of literary learning or of logic and philosophy, by the pressures and expediencies of politics, by the needs of war, trade, industry, transport or medicine? What has been the appeal of pure intellectual curiosity and philosophical satisfaction, of a religious search for God in nature, of a desire for intellectual or moral or social or political reform, of utility in the senses either of the material improvement of the human condition or of industrial or commercial or political or military power or gain? What social or commercial or political interests have promoted or resisted scientific research and technical innovation, and the diffusion and application of ideas, discoveries and inventions? To what extent does innovation breed innovation? What was the costeffectiveness of the inventions described in histories of technology, who used them, and with what consequences? It would be relevant to compare the criteria of evidence and decision used in science or in medical diagnosis and prognosis with those used in commerce and industry, in law courts, and in choice of policies by governments. Relevant also are mentalities indicated by philosophical and social programmes and responses in relation to their social, economic and sometimes military context. So too are the intellectual and social responses of society at large to making man an object of scientific inquiry and treatment. Likewise what external pressures and internal dispositions have operated in the intellectual and practical responses of one culture to another, of Islam to Greek thought, of medieval Western Christendom to Islam and to farther Asia, of early modern Europe to China and Japan and India and the New World, of Japan in its early history to China and in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries to the West, of China throughout its history to any other culture, of the so-called developing countries now to the industrially developed? The essence of effective scientific thinking has been the advancement of knowledge through the identification of soluble problems. What have been the

Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind

sources of new intellectual perceptions? How have the intellectual commitments or dispositions or habits or the technical potentialities of an individual or a group or period either promoted or discouraged creative discovery and technical invention? How have these interacted with the conditions for intellectual change or conservation in the philosophical, technical, social and materal ambience of science? To what extent has the internal logic of science taken over from features of this ambience, accidental analogies, or suggestions for new hypotheses or styles of thinking? What has been the part played in the initiation of progress by breaches of conceptual frontiers leading to asking new questions, seeing new problems, accepting new criteria of valid demonstration and cogent, satisfactory explanation? Scientific thinking has commonly progressed through periods of critical analysis bringing novel forms of speculation about the discoverable in nature in anticipation of technical inquiry. Obvious examples are the critique of the Aristotelian doctrine of qualities and causation preceding the new science of motion established from Galileo to Newton, the atomic speculations preceding the quantitative atomic theory promoted by John Dalton, and the evolutionary speculations preceding the scientific organization of the evidence and theory finally achieved by Charles Darwin. The older conceptions were discarded and the new first entertained by rethinking; but the new ideas became established as scientific knowledge only by technical scientific research. Only after that were their speculative precursors given a retrospective scientific significance. Of the essence of the Western scientific tradition, and of the evidence for its history, have been the self-conscious assessments of its presuppositions, performance and prospects that have continued through many changes of context from Archytas and Aristotle down to the latest disputes among scientists, philosophers and historians. The critical historiography of science has been an integral part of the scientific movement itself. Such assessments both of current science and of the history of science have had various purposes. Those made in medieval and early modern Europe aimed usually to monitor the identity and intellectual orientation of the contemporary scientific movement and to define its methods and criteria of acceptability of questions and answers. They were made during a long period when increasing scientific experience, historical scholarship, and awareness of other contemporary cultures enabled Europeans to measure their own scientific orientations and potentialities against those of diverse earlier and contemporary societies. The range of modern assessments points to the range of sources for an interpretation. The radical variations in contemporary assessments and their changes with time and context and individual disposition provide unique and indispensable primary evidence in historically taking the measure of the intellectual and technical and moral equipment available in any scientific situation. An habitual search during this period at once for the best form of


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

science, and for its best ancient model, projected the earlier into the contemporary tradition but with extended power. Through the variations of the scientific movement there has run a consistency of development in conceptions of explanation and method. The growth of particular scientific knowledge has carried in its wake a growth of general understanding of scientific thinking and its varieties. This consistency clarifies the historical variety of accepted explanations and methods diversified by intellectual commitments and subject-matters. Both in the perception and solution of problems within the theoretical and technical possibilities available, and in the justification of the enterprise whether intellectual or practical or moral, the history of science has been the history of argument. Scientific argument forms the substance of the scientific movement, a discourse using experiment and observation, instruments and apparatus, mathematical reasoning and calculation, but with significance always in relation to the argument. The scientific movement brought together in its common restriction to answerable questions a variety of scientific methods, or styles of scientific inquiry and demonstration, diversified by their subject-matters, by general conceptions of nature, by presuppositions about scientific validity, and by scientific experience of the interaction of programmes with realizations. Throughout, methods of yielding accurately reproducible results were required equally by the practical commitment of technology and the arts to the control of materials, and by the theoretical commitment of science to establishing regularities or causal connections within a common form of demonstration. An historian needs to ask both what theories of scientific method contributed to science, and what methods were used by scientists. We may distinguish in the classical scientific movement six styles of scientific thinking, or methods of scientific inquiry and demonstration. Three styles or methods were developed in the investigation of individual regularities, and three in the investigation of the regularities of populations ordered in space and in time. Each arose in a context in which an assembly of cognate subject-matters was united under a common form of argument. Thus (i) the simple method of postulation exemplified by the Greek mathematical sciences originated within the common Greek search for the rational principles alike of the perceptible world and of human reasoning. This was the primary ancient model, uniting all the mathematical sciences and dependent arts, from optics and music to mechanics, astronomy and cartography, (ii) The deployment of experiment, both to control postulation and to explore by observation and measurement, was required by the scientific search for principles in the observable relations of more complex subject-matters. Starting with the Greeks, the strategy of experimental argument was elaborated in medieval and early modern Europe as a form of reasoning by analysis

Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind


and synthesis in which the point at which experiment was brought into the argument, either for control or for exploration, was precisely defined. Moves towards quantification in all sciences may be traced to the general European growth both of mathematics and of the habits of measurement and recording and calculation arising from need in some special sciences, as in astronomy, and in the practical and commercial arts, where new systems of weights and measures and of arithmetical calculation were first developed. The scientific experimental method derived from the union of these practical habits with the logic of controls, with further quantification through new techniques of instrumentation and mathematical calculation. The rational experimenter was the rational artist of scientific) inquiry, (iii) Hypothetical modelling was developed in a sophisticated form first in application to early modern perspective painting and to engineering, and was then transposed from art into science as likewise a method of analysis and synthesis by the construction of analogies. The recognition that/in the constructive arts theoretical design must precede material realization anticipated the scientific hypothetical model. Each proceeding to a different end, artist and scientist shared a common style. The imitation of nature by art then became an art of inquisition; rational design for construction became rational modelling for inquisitorial trial, (iv) Taxonomy emerged first in Greek thought as a logical method of ordering variety in any subject-matter by comparison and difference. The elaboration of taxonomic methods and of their theoretical foundations may be attributed to the need to accommodate the vast expansion of known varieties of plants and animals and diseases following European exploration overseas, with attempts to relate diagnostic signs and symptoms to their causes and to discover the natural system that would express real affinities, (v) The statistical and probabilistic analysis of expectation and choice developed in early modern Europe again took the same forms whether in estimating the outcome of a disease, of a legal process, of a commercial enterprise, or natural selection, or the reasonableness of assent to a scientific theory. The subject-matter of probability and statistics came to be recognized through attempts to accommodate within the context of ancient and medieval logic situations of contingent expectation and uncertain choice, followed by the early modern discovery of the phenomenon of statistical regularities in adequately numerous populations of economic and medical and other events. Thus uncertainty was mastered by reason and stabilized in a calculus of probability, (vi) The method of historical derivation, or the analysis and synthesis of genetic development, was developed originally by the Greeks and then in early modern Europe first in application to languages and more generally to human cultures, and afterwards to geological history and to the evolution of living organisms. The subject-matter of historical derivation was defined by the diagnosis, from the


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

common characteristics of diverse existing things, of a common source earlier in time, followed by the postulation of causes to account for the diversification from that source. Clearly all this scientific diversity can be understood only within the diversity and the changes of thought in the whole historical context. The history of science is the history of argument: an argument initiated in the West by ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians and physicians in their search for principles at once of nature and of argument itself. Of its essence have been its genuine continuity, even after long breaks, based on the study by any generation of texts written by its predecessors, its progress equally in scientific knowledge and in the analysis of scientific argument, and its recurrent critique of its moral justification. A subtle question is what continued and what changed through different historical contexts, in the scientific argument and in the cultural vision through which experience is mediated, when education and experience itself could furnish options for a different future. Styles of thinking and making decisions, established with the commitments with which they began, habitually endure as long as these remain. Hence the structural differences between different civilizations and societies and the persistence in each despite change of a specific identity. Hence the need for historical analysis in the scientific movement of both continuity and change. These like most human behaviour begin in the mind, and we its historians who belong at the same time to its history must look in a true intellectual anthropology at once with and into the eye of its beholder.

REFERENCES 1. This paper is based on the historiographical introduction to my book, Styles of scientific thinking in the European tradition (Gerald Duckworth, London, 1994), which contains full documentation and bibliography; cf. also A. C. Crombie, "Science and the arts in the Renaissance: The search for truth and certainty, old and new", History of science, xviii (1980), 233-46; idem, "Historical commitments of European science", Annali del' Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, vii, part 2 (1982), 29-51; idem, "What is the history of science?", History of European ideas, vii (1986), 21-31; idem, "Experimental science and the rational artist in early modern Europe", Daedalus, cxv (1986), 49-74; idem, "Contingent expectation and uncertain choice: Historical contexts of arguments from probabilities" in The rational arts of living, ed. by A. C. Crombie and N. G. Siraisi (Northampton, Mass.: Smith College studies in history, 1987): the first three of these papers are included in A. C. Crombie, Science, optics and music in medieval and early modern thought (Hambledon Press, London, 1990). 2. Michael Faraday, Experimental researches in electricity, i (London, 1839), 515; cf. pp. 195 ff. 3. John Tyndall, Faraday as a discoverer (London, 1868), 53-55.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity *

At a depressing period of the Pelopennesian War, Thucydides included in his famous account of the moral disintegration of society in revolution two points of immediate relevance to a discussion of the European experience of scientific objectivity. Revolution had brought many and terrible sufferings upon the Greek cities. Unscrupulous mendacity and opportunist treachery masqueraded as superior cleverness, the sweeter if a rival trusting a pledge of reconciliation were taken off his guard. Anyone who excelled in evil and anyone who prompted to evil someone who had never thought of it were alike commended*. Conspirators used fair words for guilty ends with cynical confidence that others would hypocritically welcome them as cover for their own moral cowardice or indifference. United only through complicity in crime, greed and envy against the moderate and the honest, neither had any regard for true piety, yet those who could carry through an odious deed under the cloak of a specious phrase received the higher praise. 1 Among all this violence against both truth and person he noted interestingly : Words had to change their ordinary meaning in relation to things and to take that which men thought fit*. And, he argued, these calamities of behaviour have occurred and always will occur as long as the nature of mankind remains the same. For human nature, always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed itself ungoverned in passion, setting gain above justice and revenge above religion : For surely no man would put revenge above religion, and gain before innocence of wrong, had not envy swayed him with her blighting power 2 . It was the same in the plague of Athens. Strong and weak were swept indifferently away, victims with unquench* 'H (ivaxotvoxjis aveYV<J>a6y) UTT& TOU xaOvj^ToO ERWIN SCUEUCU, 8i6n 6 et<rifjY)T7)<; x<oXu6(jievo^ 8&v ^8uv/)0yj vA TrapaaTfj. 'Q? x Toii-rou, dTcdvTO? TOO elcnqyi')TOU, 8&V iTttfJXOXoiiGlJCS au)f)TY)(ItS.

1. Peloponnesian War, iii.82. 2. Ibid, iii.84.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

able thirst drank much or little with common failure of relief, physicians could find no remedy and perished themselves, prayers and other measures all proved equally futile and were given up, and men thus bereft of fear of any law divine or human now coolly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner*1. Yet from those who had suffered and recovered from the plague, the sick and dying received help and compassion. Influenced by medical thought, Thucydides looked for the causes of social as of individual disorders in a theory of human nature, expressing in stable language the dependability of natural law. He offered a commitment to reasoned beliefs and actions against which to measure the motivation of behaviour. This may suitably introduce the subject of my brief contribution to this discussion of objectivity and culture, which is the interaction of reason, belief and motive in the history of science, medicine and technology. I shall argue that in order to understand our culture, we are not only advised but obliged to study the intellecutal attitudes and achievements of societies that have formed its history remote in time and seemingly remote in character from the immediate present. Yesterday's events can be the least relevant to educated understanding. In the spirit of a symposium evidently based on the belief that one main reason for studying history is to throw light upon ourselves, a belief which I fully share, there are various ways of doing this in the history of science, medicine and technology. It hardly now needs saying that in this field, as mutatis mutandis in all intellectual and social history whether of philosophy, law, theology or whatever, the particular thinking found in any period can be properly understood by us only by relating it to the categories in which nature, and man as a participant in and student of nature, were understood in the societies and by the individuals with which we are concerned. We can study the history of science as a kind of intellectual anthropology. We can make a natural history of intellectual and moral behaviour in situations presenting questions for decision. The enlightenment that we may derive from this kind of historical experience is like that we get from foreign travel, especially outside the areas of Western culture. We expose ourselves to the surprise of discovering that thinkers so effective in solving problems which we seem to be able to recognize should be able to do so within the context of such a variety of aims, categories and presuppositions, mostly very different from our own. We encounter also societies and individuals who find
1. Ibid, ii.54.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity 15


intellectual satisfaction in categories of thought and explanation not aimed at solving scientific or technical problems at all but expressing some quite different purpose. Yet in looking for a comparative history or anthropology of approaches to nature, putting ourselves into the minds of those we are studying and trying to understand their questions, we need to control relativity by the contrasting light of the objective continuity of cultural tradition. Science has developed in the characteristically rational Western tradition as an approach to nature effectively competent to solve problems. Before the general direction towards scientific knowledge had been decided, either in antiquity or in early modern times, two essential general questions remained open. It was an open question what kind of world men found themselves inhabiting, and so it was also an open question what methods they should use to explore, explain and control it. The characteristically Western tradition of rational science and philosophy can be dated from the ancient Greek commitment to the decision of questions by argument and evidence, as distinct from custom, edict, authority, revelation, or some other source. The Greek philosophers and mathematicians at the same time committed the Western tradition to the belief that among many possible worlds, the world that exists is a world of exclusively self-consistent and discoverable rationality. In this way they introduced the fundamental conception of a scientific system, separately for each category of nature and collectively for every category. Pride in self-reliant intelligence, in skill of mind and hand which gave man mastery of earth and sea, of other living creatures, and of such difficult arts and sciences as writing, mathematics, astronomy and medicine, appears with the first Greek achievements in these fields in the fifth century B.C., notably in the Prometheus of Aeschylus. In the grasp and technical development of the logic of proof and decision by the ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians and medics we may see the origins of our scientific tradition. They introduced decision into speculations about nature. The one world that actually exists did so in one discoverable way, which excluded others. Scientific thinking has proceeded and scientific knowledge has progressed ever since by such a logic of either or, by decisions both about the general nature of the world and about particular questions each of which has committed the future towards one line of theory and away from others. Science has been recognized since Aristotle and Archimedes as a cumulative progress of knowledge, even through periods of the darkest gloom about the


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

moral regress of mankind. 1 These rational commitments applied moreover as much to decisions about moral values and principles showing what ought or ought not to be done, as to the decisions of science about what was or was not the case. Aristotle meant his ethics to be derived as systematically from a theory of human nature as his physics was from a theory of matter and causation. To understand any historical culture we must then study its intellectual orientation and re-orientations through long tradition. The recovery of our own scientific culture after periods of external disaster or internal confusion has been the recovery of rational decision. In such a process we may see the origins of modern science in the rediscovery, exegesis and elaboration of the Greek model by medieval and early modern Europe. The rediscovery was made by a new society, with a different view of man and his place in nature and his destiny, a different theology and a different economy, but it was seen first, in the twelfth century, as a continuation of the ancient scientific movement. Nothing is difficult unless you despair..., wrote the Englishman ADELARD OF BATH, translator into Latin of Euclid's Elements of Geometry and author of two works presenting his vision of natural philosophy early in that century; Therefore hope and you will find the capability. For I shall be the more able to shed light on the matter, from the assumption of the constancy and certainty of principle*.2 Looking forward from the shoulders of giant predecessors,3 ADELARD and his contemporaries saw unlimited potentialities for the elaboration of scientific knowledge long before these were actually discovered in application to any of the numerous and diverse new problems and subject matters which we can now look back on. ADELARD'S countryman ROGER
1. Cf. E. R. DODDS, The Ancient Concept of Progress (Oxford, 1973) 1 sqq.; A. G. GROMBIE, Some attitudes to scientific progress : ancient, medieval and early modern, History of Science, xiii (1975) 213 sqq., and also for the argument above Scientific Change, Introduction (London, 1963) 1 sqq., Historical commitments of biology, The Britsh Journal for the History of Science, iii (1966) 97 sqq. 2. ADELARDUS VON BATH Quaestiones naturales, ed. M. MULLER (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, xxxi.2; Minister, 1934) 58; cf. T. STIEFEL, The heresy of science : a twelfth-century conceptual revolution*, Isis , ixviii (1977) 347 sqq. 3. Cf. CROMBIE, Some attitudes... (1975) 220, Historians and the scientific revolution*, Physis, xi (1969), and also The relevance of the middle ages to the scientific movement)) in Perspectives in Medieval History, ed. K.F. DREW and F. S. LEAR (Chicago, 1963) 35 sqq.; citing myself here and elsewhere for ease of reference and further bibliography.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


BACON in the next century likewise looked to the recovery of a greater past as the first step towards a happier future, and this remained the common outlook of Christendom until some four hundred years later when modern scientific discovery had got confidently under way. Programmes for intellectual reform such as those of ROGER BACON and FRANCIS BACON, DESCARTES and others before and many since throw a special light on an essential characteristic of the Western scientific tradition : its persistent attention to the definition of norms of rational thought, applying to every kind of subject-matter and every aspect of life. The light may be as special as the reforming vision and historians are well advised to combine it with that of established contemporary practices. Together they illuminate the beliefs and motives arising from the whole intellectual and social ambience, as well as the scientific experience, which have given diversity to definitions of the rational, the possible, the desirable and the acceptable. ROGER BACON'S vision of rational human happiness and dignity foresaw the restoration of one true wisdom founded on the Scriptures equally with rational science as he conceived it. * Visions of happiness, of science and of BACON himself have all since changed selectively with human expectations. Discussions of the discoverable and the discovered as well as of the reputations of predecessors show how the commitments at a particular time of an individual or a society to general beliefs about nature, man and science can make certain kinds of question appear cogent and give certain kinds of explanation their power to convince, and exclude others, because they establish, in anticipation of any particular research, the kind of world that is supposed to exist. They give satisfaction because the supposedly discoverable has been discoverer and they point to what to do in research. The comparative historical study of the intellectual and social commitments that may make certain kinds of scientific understanding, discovery or practical application intellectually and socially possible in one society, but difficult or impossible in another, has an immediate relevance for the diverse cultures brought into contact with the science of our contemporary world. Its matching relevance to our understanding of ourselves may be illustrated by trying to identify some very general characteristics of our continuing rational tradition. After the medieval West had received its first intellectual impetus from antiquity with the recovery of Euclidean geometry and of Ari1. Gf. CROMBIE, Some attitudes... (1975) 221-2.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

stotelian logic and later of natural philosophy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the philosophical community of the universities may be credited with two major achievements : the grasp and elaboration of the construction of a deductive explanatory system, whether in logic, mathematics, cosmology or physiology; and the grasp and elaboration of logical precision in the use of evidence in deciding an argument, including decision by experiment. Characteristic of this intellectual inheritance, at least as it was received, was a geometrical or mathematical rationalism which is evident, for example, in Euclid's two fundamental treatises on optics and on music. * Each demonstrated a stable relation between perceiver and perceived by postulating in the one linear rays of vision and in the other motions propagated from a sounding body, from whose specified angles or speeds were demonstrated what specific sizes and shapes must be seen or pitches and intervals heard. Reaching the West first mainly through Boethius and then through Arabic compendia (Euclid's texts became known only in the sixteenth century), these theories were made in the twelfth century part of philosophical programmes for the sciences which included also : The science of engines (scientia ingeniis)... which taught the ways of contriving and finding out how natural bodies may be fitted together by some artifice according to number, so that the use we are looking for may come from them. 2 A programme is not an achievement but we are looking for mental attitudes, and it seems to me that we find already expressed in such words that urge towards rational analysis and ingenious contrivance for the mastery of nature, which was to be expressed in action by the artists, engineer-architects and musicians who from the fourteenth century were to give such an impressive practical demonstration of their theoretical control of visual space, material construction and instrumented sound. These groups introduced a new style of rationality into Western culture, adding to the logical control of argument and

1. Cf. CROMBIE, The mechanistic hypothesis and the scientific study of vision*, Proceedings of the Royal Microscopical Society, ii (1967) 3 sqq., Mathematics, music and medical science*, Actes du XHe Congres international d'histoire des sciences 1968, i.B (Paris, 1971) 295 sqq., and for full discussion Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition (Gerald Duckworth, London, 1994). 2. DOMINICUS GUNDISSALINUS, De divisione philosophiae, ed. L. BA.UR (Beitrage. .., iv. 2-3; Miinster, 1903) 122; cf. LYNN WHITE j r., Medieval engineering and the sociology of knowledge*, Pacific Historical Review, xliv (1975) 1 sqq.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


calculation achieved by the academic philosophers and mathematicians a matching control of materials. All these arts and sciences, LEONARDO DE VINCI insisted were born of experience, mother of all certainty*,1 designed in the mind and issued through the hands. Typically of his period, he saw the art of design and the science of nature both as expressions of the rational necessary laws laid down by the art of Deus naturae artifex.* There is a parallel artistic rationalism in his philosophical contemporary MARSILIO FICINO'S vision of man acting like nature from rational principles within but freely and inventively, coming through his intellectual and material constructions to know by imitation God's creations, and becoming no longer nature's slave but rival. The goals of the arts should not be confused with those of philosophy and the sciences, but it does not seem difficult to recognize both the early modern arts and the early modern sciences as typical products of the same society. In both, experience of nature was mediated through the style and interests of a tradition. They were linked through their common foundation on rational and quantitative theory and also on knowledge of instruments and machines. Some historians8 have suggested that a Western disposition to base not only these, but activities of many different kinds, on a common foundation of reason and calculation may offer a possible explanation of the unique development of modern science in the West. Other examples are the rational quantification of time in the calendar and the abstract units of the mechanical clock; the introduction of mathematical cartography related to astronomical navigation; and the methods of book-keeping, commerce and fiscal administration, beginning in thirteenth-century Italy, operated by the calculation of exchanges and obligations in increasingly standardized abstract units. Can it be supposed that the habits of reason and calculation growing up through Western society in all these diverse activities provided an efficacious condition for the rise of mathematical and experimental science, that for example the habit of weighing, measuring and accounting in each of these activities encouraged the
1. Treatise on Painting : Codex Urbinas Latinus 1270, i.19, transl. A. P. McMahon, i (Princeton, 1956) 11; cf. CROMBIE, .Styles... 2. MARSILIUS FICINUS, Theologica Platonica, xiii.3 (Opera, Basileae, 1576) 295-7; Crombie, ibid. 3. Gf. especially MAX WEBER'S famous Introduction (1920) to The Protestant Ethic, transl. T. PARSONS (New York, 1958); also CROMBIE, Quantification in medieval physics*, Isis, Hi (1961) 143 sqq.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

same habit in the others. The possible connection between methods of numerical recording in commerce and in theoretical and practical sciences is just one specific question for research. Does this all indicate a mental and social disposition, a dedication of will as much as of intelligence towards enlightenment and power, that provided a uniquely favourable set of circumstances enabling the West to exploit the intellectual opportunities offered by the recovery of Greek science, with an energy and purpose found in no other society. However these large questions of intellectual sociology are to be answered, dedication to quantity and logic did eventually lead to decisions on the fundamental question of identity both of science and of nature. During the sixteenth century the kind of physical world men thought themselves to inhabit, what they should ask about it, the appropriate methods of investigating it, what constituted a satisfactory explanation of it, and what could be known about it for certain, still remained in varying degrees open questions for the philosophical and scientific community at large. Dissatisfaction with the Aristotelianism established in the universities as the common basis for all education was encouraged by the arrival of other philosophies in credibly systematic form. The debates touched on natural philosophy sometimes at length, but within the consideration of general problems of knowledge and existence. They promoted not so much the accumulation of the technical content of science from one generation to the next, as the specificity of their intellectual outlook, commitment and expectation. As much part of this specificity, as of that of any intellectual reorientation, and at least as much its engine as the achievement of objectively successful scientific progress, was the style and method of opposition, of disagreement as well as agreement, of dealing with tension over the whole range of culture. The style of intellectual and moral behaviour in natural philosophy, in the individual and social processes by which discoveries and inventions have been made and have come to be accepted, may be illuminated as much by that in religion, law or art as by the natural philosophy itself. This evident, for example, in the styles of the thirteenth-century attempts to combine the newly translated Aristotelian philosophy with the theology of an omnipotent and providential creator, of the challenges made by the new Platonism of the fifteenth century and by the new scepticism of the sixteenth, and of GALILEO'S quantitative science as simply the latest in a succession of old and new philosophies. In some areas of natural philosophy as well as of religious, legal and

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


artistic theory and practice, old and new remained in uncertain competition long after GALILEO was dead. It was nevertheless the generations of GALILEO and DESCARTES who finally clarified and defined science as a mode of rational thinking in the modern world and who gave it a recognizable and enduring identity in relation to other fields of inquiry and decision. The first half of the seventeenth century is then a genuine turning-point in the potentialities of Western culture, throwing light on what came both before and after. From that time a scientific community has come into existence with conditions of education and communication providing for both agreement and disagreement by a specific kind of rationality, and now globally providing standards which even if not always realized are a normal requirement for objective scientific success. Of immediate relevance for us all is the relation of this specific rationality to beliefs about man's moral nature and true end. This side of paradise, moral tension sacred or profane must accompany any framework of thought or society that gives meaning to existence. An obvious characteristic of the Western scientific tradition is that it has been from the beginning a moral enterprise as much as a means of solving physical problems. One form of this was the view established in different ways by Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and other ancient philosophers of nature as at once a deductive system and a moral order, a view that has profoundly affected both the specifib intellectual character and the political role of science in Western culture. Plato's vision of knowledge producing virtue, and of the rational progress of human knowledge through mathematical abstraction to the eternal truths expressing the morally as well as intellectually normative economy and harmony of the real world, has deeply influenced the whole history of scientific explanation and education. It was used to justify the systematic introduction of mathematics into modern university teaching in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.1 The conception of the world as a work of divine art, whether in its Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic or Christian versions highly charged with moral values of economy, proportion and fitness, has provided an enduring model and sufficient reason for physical behaviour : from the perfect circles of ancient cosmology and the perfect ancient consonant ratios between low numbers, to KEPLER'S planetary intervals, the eighteenth-century principle of least action and practically the whole theory of biological adaptation
1. GROMBIE, Styles. . .


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

before CHARLES DARWIN. Matching this in Christian thinking was the conception of a benevolent Creator inviting man to use his gifts of reason and the senses to uncover the designs in nature towards his providential end and to teach and use his knowledge for the good of all mankind. The tensions generated by morally charged cosmology have come from its encounters with other sources of belief or with original thought. The moral charge quickly becomes a political charge. Some historians have seen the deepest consequences for the potentialities of scientific thinking in Western culture in encounters at the level of theology, most dramatically in that brought about in the thirteenth century by the introduction into the Latin West of the Aristotelian theory of the world as a necessary and eternal emanation from the First Cause. This carried with it the powerful belief that men could discover not only how the world was constructed, but also the necessary reasons in the First Cause why it must be so, was best so and could not be otherwise; a belief which Christian theologians and philosophers quickly rejected in defence of the freedom and responsibility of both God and men. It has been argued that by maintaining the fundamental revelation of God's creative freedom, they maintained also the liberty of man's inquiring mind; for man was then free to explore hypothetically the possible worlds which God might have created had he chosen.1 Whatever the historical cogency of this particular argument, the rejection then or later of any form of rigid historical determinism is by definition an essential condition for belief in free inquiry. Moreover even so qualified a secularization of the world must surely have been a liberation for both theology and natural science, a liberation to be extended when such divine attributes as economy were converted into variational principles of nature or regulative principles of science. But when one remembers some aspects of the extended cosmological debate, continuing through GALILEO'S Copernican controversies, the concern for the providential government of the world raised by geology and then by Darwinian evolution, and the agonies over man's alleged devaluation in our own century, one must admit that the meaning of this separation of categories is not one which our society has hastily sought. It may be argued that it was above all GALILEO who showed how to disembarrass nature of its moral charge, and who through his in1. Cf. especially PIERRE DUHEM, Etudes sur Leonard de Vinci ii (Paris, 1909) 411 sqq.; also CROMBIE, The relevance . . . (1963) 40 sqq.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


dividual thinking, public controversies and personal tragedy focussed the Western scientific tradition as a moral enterprise of freedom for the inquiring mind. GALILEO'S assumption of the right to intellectual freedom and truth represents perhaps the greatest moral contribution of science to the humane conception of a responsible, rational man. In defining the identity of natural science within contemporary intellectual culture, he distinguished both nature and science objectively from human wishes. In nature man was not the measure of all things. Engineers who attempted the impossible as if with their engines they could cheat nature* and her ((inviolable laws x cheated only themselves and their employers. For Nature, deaf and inexorable to our entreaties, will not alter or change the course of her effects .2 Nature could not be exploited in the spirit of magic or commerce, interrogated in the style of a legal hearing, or made the subject of mere academic disputation or literary search for philosophical or theological concordance. He himself, being used to study in the book of nature, where things are written in only one way, would not be able to dispute any problem ad utranque partem or to maintain any conclusion not first believed or known to be true.3 To all attributions of moral design in nature he replied : We must not ask nature to accommodate herself to what might seem to us the best disposition and order, but we must adapt our intellect to what she has made, certain that such is the best and not something else.4 He begged theologians, in his argument for the true moral agreement between the true cosmology and theology but in categories which logically did not meet, that they would consider with all care the difference that there is between opinable and demonstrative doctrines; so that, having clearly in front of their minds with what force necessary inferences bind, they might the better ascertain themselves that it is not in the power of professors of demonstrative sciences to change opinions at their wish, applying themselves now on one side and now on the other; and that there is a great difference between commanding a mathematician or a philosopher and directing a merchant or a lawyer; and that the demonstrated conclusions about the things of nature and of the heavens cannot be changed with the same ease as
1. GALILEO, Le mecaniche (c. 1593; Le opere, ed. naz.., ii, Firenze, 1968) 155; GROMBIE AND CARUGO , Styles . . . 2. GALILEO, Terza Lettera delle macchie del Sole* (1612; Le opere, v) 218; GROMBIE, ibid. 3. GALILEO in 1612 (Le opere, iv) 248; GROMBIE, ibid. 4. GALILEO in 1612 (Le opere, xi) 344; GROMBIE, ibid.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

opinions about what is lawful or not in a contract, rent or exchange.1 The issues over which GALILEO felt obliged to make his stand, paralleled before and since whenever reason has seemed to challenge other sources giving meaning to existence, have made him from his own lifetime an historical symbol of the conflict of loyalties that can take place both within the minds of individuals, and externally in the relation of free inquiry to the habits of society and its institutions. GALILEO asserted the right to the truth as a moral norm for all men, the unavoidable objective truth. He claimed freedom to find and state the truth as an established right with precedence in all policy, and in the long run essential for all good policy. He knew the price of his political failure, writing to a friend in 1635 from his perpetual house-arrest at Arcetri: I do not hope for any relief, because I have not committed any crime. I could hope for and obtain mercy and pardon if I had erred, for faults are matters upon which a prince can exert mercies and dispensations, whereas upon someone who has been innocently condemned it is convenient to be rigorous, so that it seems that it has been done according to the law.2 But, he continued, his conscience was clear, and his hope for the acceptance of truth remained undiminished as he went on to produce what became his most distinguished contribution to science. Some private notes he wrote during that last Copernican campaign have an obvious application to many later situations : In the matter of introducing novelties. Who doubts that the novelty just introduced, of wanting minds created free by God to become slaves to the will of others, is going to give birth to very grave scandals? And that to want other people to deny their own senses and to prefer to them the judgement of others, and to allow people utterly ignorant of a science or an art to become judges over intelligent men and to have power to turn them round at their will by virtue of the authority granted to them-these are the novelties with power to ruin republics and overthrow states... Be careful, theologians, that, if you want to make the propositions concerning the movement and the rest of the Sun and of the Earth a matter of faith, you will expose yourselves to the risk of being in need of condemning perhaps in the long run as heretical those who asserted that the Earth stays at rest and the Sun moves from one
1. GALILEO, Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena (1615; Le opere, v) 326; CROMBIE, ibid., and Sources of Galileo's early natural philosophy;* in Reason, Experiment, and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, ed. M.L. RIGHINI Bonelli and W.R. Shea (New York, 1975) 157 sqq. 2. GALILEO, Le opere, xvi., 215; CROMBIE, Styles. . .

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


place to another : I say in the long run, when it has been demonstrated by the senses or by necessity that the Earth moves and the Sun stays fixed... Your doctrines are the new ones that harm, as you want... to force the mind and the senses not to understand and not to see... With novelties you cause great ruins in religion.1 The generations of GALILEO and DESCARTES established the specific rationality of modern science and gave confidence to its methods of research and criteria of acceptability by defining it as the art of the soluble. The act of definition required first a restriction, the delimitation of the questions as well as of the answers to be admitted. The questions had to be answerable by acceptable means, eventually if not immediately. These generations came to see experimental science as a deliberate union of the theoretical search for reduction to common forms of explanation and logical mastery of argument achieved by philosophy, with the practical demand for accurately reproduceable results required by technology. Later came an expansion of the initial restriction to exclusively answerable questions in all realms of experience and thought, with a development and diversification of methods along with that of subject-matter and theory. Modern science has developed its power to solve problems by its selectivity and by its programme of reduction of more and more classes of phenomena to increasingly general theories. From this it has eliminated all values except truth and the aesthetic economy of theories which must also pass the test of truth, and all questions of motive and of the meaning of existence. To all other values and to all such questions its clear logic has made it explicitly neutral. Yet natural science has emerged as the rational norm in the Western search for universally and exclusively true principles in all regions of thougth and action. This has made it a notable source first of conflicting certitudes and then of disquiet in Western societies, and a notable solvent of the confidence of other cultures to which the West has brought not simply its science, medicine and technology but its questioning of the meaning men give to existence as a whole and to human life, decision and disease within it. The paradoxical culmination of reasoned decision in our time has been an increasing magnification of means with a matching neutralization of ends. The paradox lies in a contradiction between the powerful logic of science and the notion of a responsible individual, the notion that created science, if man's moral nature it held to be confined within that
1. GALILEO, Le opere, vii, 540 541, 544; CROMBIE, ibid.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

logic. In trying to understand human nature itself, by its programme of selection and reduction science inevitably eliminates all data irrelevant to its current problems and theories, but these may be the most relevant to existence and experience outside a particular scientific scheme. There are many examples of this in the study of perception.1 The scientific understanding of human nature built up from biological, neuropsychological and psychiatric theory inevitably falls into the pattern of any general system, which must logically eliminate from consideration each individual's unique consciousness of attention, intention, thinking, anticipation, logical and moral choice, decision, purpose, responsibility. These are irreducible, yet they belong to our experience. Some people seem to have found in our scientific culture a need to use the discovered regularities of human psychology and social behaviour to deny individual responsibility, to treat all human acts as caused, all sins as sickness,2 all social injustices and all crimes as products of the system. But this does not follow from evident experience, it lacks the commonsense of proportion supplied by humour, and it contradicts the possibility of reasoned science on which it is presumably based. If the logic of science must eliminate meaning from the individual who yet remains paradoxically responsible for it, the organization of modern industrial society is likewise neutral to all values except its own logic and yet imposes what we have learnt to call its own quality of life. It is as if our whole society were in the grip of a vast theory, a reflection of the specific rationality of science, obliged by necessity to gear its programme of selection and reduction to one end alone, the mindless competitive acquisition of material advantage and power. It is no accident that rational science and rational power have arisen together in the experience of nature. But must we accept the committal of our society whatever the political system, Western or Communist, developed or developing, towards this single goal? The specific rationality of science, mirrored in industrial society, has indeed obliged us now to recover and retain for the quality of life the responsible decisions from which the individual is eliminated by faceless organization, and by obsession with power and achievement which is only one expression of science. Thus science which as the truest available account of nature can yet offer us no moral values, yet also obliges us if we
1. Gf. R. L. GREGORY, Eye and Brain, (London, 1966) 122 sqq. 2. Gf. P. LAIN ENTRALGO, Mind and Body (London, 1955)

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


are to remain civilized to seek reasons for restraint. Science can show us as individuals and as societies the consequences our actions may have for our well-being or our survival. The greatest gift of scientific reason to the practical arts of civilization has surely been to provide mankind with both a true guide for our actions and the material capability of choice. Through our scientific tradition, we have liberated ourselves both from ignorance and from a purely biological regime of existence. Science has given us responsible information and practical power for making the difficult decisions between combinations of good with bad in medical practice, in legal pleading of diminished responsibility (in a society concerned for its own welfare a persistent disposition or intention to lie must presamably disqualify from responsibility whether psychiatric, criminal or political in motivation), in the use of the environment and of natural resources, or in military need. But what reasons can be offered to restrain the powerful from doing whatever they have power to do for their own selfish advantage, against nature, against rivals, or against the weak? Why should those with the power not feel entitled to exploit all opportunities? It is a question as bleak for us as it was for Thucydides, in which the weak are restrained more than the strong only by their weakness. One answer of course would be to find agreement on the true moral nature and end of man. That belongs to paradise, to some extent perhaps to a paradise lost. The Christian view of cosmological and human history, inherited from Hebrew theology, was elaborated by St. Augustine as the fulfilling through an extended time of the providential purpose of the creation. This conception of the benevolent destiny provided for responsible man had already by the thirteenth century, for example in ROGER BACON, x given that evangelical flavour, that desire to discover and spread true knowledge, which has characterised the Western sense of mission in science as in religion. The geologists, biologists and mechanistic philosophers, both social and natural, whose thinking notably from the eighteenth century dismissed design from time and history, inevitably gave the mission of science a rather different flavour. If the order of nature and of society were simply sequences through time of states of statistical equilibrium, if time and history were merely a meaningless, open-ended, interminable succession, and if something like that was the whole truth about existence,
1. Cf. CROMBIE, Some attitudes... (1975) 222, and Styles. . .


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

it could be argued that moral values could be regarded only with profound frivolity or profound despair. 1 Yet if the paradise of providence has been lost, Western scientific culture retains its sense of mission if only because, in a plural human society, it offers pragmatic agreement on specific limited ends. It offers also something deeper. Reasoned truth from which these gifts have come is hard to find and hard for fallen man to keep. It is hardest of all when truth is made ambiguous policy. The authors of an analysis published thirty years ago of the Soviet genetical disputes of that period distinguished among the modes of argument used what they felicitously called alogical discourse, which intermixed with logical argument appeals to authority, heresy, practical utility and attributed motives. In the last especially it seems that the Marxist geneticists were following a procedure much favoured by LENIN. 2 The procedure has been well illustrated by C.S. LEWIS through the fictitious character of EZEKIALBULVER, who should perhaps be better known and who used to attribute his formula for political power to a dispute between his parents overheard at the age of three. His father was routed in an attempt to prove to his mother that the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is two right angles by her finally defeating reply, that he said that only because he was a man. Hence our word bulverism. The suggestio falsi intended in this procedure may take various forms. Bulver learnt from his mother that it was much more effective in dispute not to meet the reasoning of your opponent, but rather to fix him in a category of motivation from which all his reasoning and behaviour was made to follow. Whether the category was false or irrelevant did not matter. Another common version has the logical form of the vulgar : Why doesn't he stop beating his wife? I once had the pleasure of seeing Senator JOSEPH MCCARTHY routed by a witness who with clear head simply unpacked the innuendos loaded into the questions put to him. The procedure is of course political, its goal not truth but advantage, and its motives, to quote locally from another context, needed to have very little to do with the arguments in which they were expressed. Whatever its form or context, in result : ((Technically it was a smear; but it was also a myth, and,
1. Gf. GROMBIE, Some attitudes...)) (1975) 225; also Lettres incites de John Stuart Mill a Auguste Comte, publics avec les rgponses de Comte, ed. L. LEVY-BRUHL (Paris, 1899), especially Mill to Comte on 3 April 1844. 2. P.S. HUDSON and R.H. RICHENS, The New Genetics of the Soviet Union (Imperial Bureau of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cambridge, 1946) 23 sqq.

The Western Experience of Scientific Objectivity


like all powerful myths, it retained its potency even when its credibility had gone*.1 To meet reasons with attributions of motive, to make words mean what you choose, may be thought an insult to human intelligence. To promote in the open innuendos started in malicious corners, in corners of universities as of wider worlds, may be thought an insult at least to common sense. Such forms of violence against both truth and person have become too obviously part of the disreputable procedure for political advantage in our time. Mean spirited, naively cynical and usually transparent, its impudent mendacity is calculated on the assumption that enough even of our ostensibly honest fellow men prefer almost any formula for self-delusion, hypocrisy or sanctimonious betrayal to facing an uncomfortable truth or an indisputable lie. Paradoxically, an attempt to persuade by means of something less than the truth need not be criminal. It is essential to legal defence when justice assumes innocence until guilt is proven. And in the following appraisal by a military correspondent there is a disturbingly inverted kinship with pastoral care for virtue : In the communist world the truth or falsehood of a statement is much less important than its effect. The aim is not primarily to convey information but to induce a response*.2 Those who accept persuasion from the devil need a long spoon and when dealing with smaller monsters at least to cease to be naive. But nature cannot be cheated. Nor need men. Effective science demands standards of truth beyond treachery, and even of the treacherous. Its criteria offer a political warning, and a moral therapy. I have tried then to sketch how the intellectual and moral history of science, medicine and technology, looking back with unavoidable impressionism to the orientations of our culture, can illuminate the continuity as well as the mutations of the Western tradition of scientific objectivity which has now, whether in welcome or reluctance, become the property of most of the world. As intellectual history indeed, as scientific thinking studied through the reconstruction of its cultural ambience, this subject has been developed during two decades and more in my own university of Oxford, with enough momentum now to continue in that style, linked equally and necessarily with the sciences, the various other histories and philosophy. This does not of course
1. The Spectator (London, 15 March 1975) 306. 2. The Times (London, 10 September 1975) 14.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

preclude other lines of study, even those most peripheral to the central subject of scientific thought. A wish to impose a narrow view must surely reflect an immature conception of history, indeed an immature character, just as a pretence that history has been other than it has may reflect some more disreputable calculation.

Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science

Quanta juniores, tanto perspicaciores. William of Conches in his gloss on this phrase of Priscian epitomised the earliest perception of medieval science by those bright generations of secular scholars who effectively launched the modern scientific movement in the first half of the twelfth century. Their outlook was at once dependent and optimistic. For if 'the moderns are able to see better than the ancients', this was because 'the ancients had only the writings which they composed themselves, but we have all their writings and all those as well which were composed from the beginning up to our time. Hence we see more, but we do not know more'. He repeated the famous image of Bernard of Chartres: 'We are like a dwarf put on the shoulder of a giant. He sees farther than the giant not from his own size but from the size of his support'.1 So placed they saw a way to independence. They had witnessed, together with an intellectual revival, also the beginnings of a modest but pregnant technological revolution. They possessed, as a fundamentally essential assumption of all rational thinking, a strong belief in the dignity and intelligibility of man and nature and of the relations of God with his creation. 'The human mind was made', runs another phrase attributed to William of Conches, 'With the capacity to know all things . . . This is its greatest worth'.2 Likewise Adelard of Bath: Those who are now called authorities gained their first credence among those less adept only because they followed reason'. He demanded reason independent of authority, even if only to exchange authorities, for: 'Nothing is difficult unless you despair. Therefore hope, and you will find the capability'.3 The way to knowledge of nature was through training in the mathematical quadrivium, as Thierry of Chartres insisted in offering from Plato's Timaeus a rational exegesis of the cosmogony of Genesis.
1 E. Jeauneau, ' "Nani gigantum humeris insidentes": essai d'interpretation de Bernard de Chartres', Vivarium, v (1967) 79-99, see p. 84; cf. for a full treatment of the subject of this paper A.C. Crombie, Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition (London, 1994), and also Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought (London, 1990). 2 C. Ottaviano, Un brano inedito delta 'Philosophia' di Guglielmo di Conches (Naples, 1935) 19; cf. R.W. Southern, Medieval Humanism and Other Studies (Oxford, 1970) 39 sqq. 3 Adelard of Bath, Quaestiones naturales, hrg. von M. Miiller (Beitrdge zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, iv.l; Minister, 1923), 12, 58.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Thierry, according to his epitaph, could see through all the perplexities of the seven liberal arts, and 'he made quite clear to everyone what was hidden in obscurity for Plato and Socrates'.4 This he could seem to do by a perspective of superior science, enriched by the new translations into Latin such as Adelard's version of Euclid's Elements from the Arabic. The history of science is the history of vision explored and controlled by argument: a vision and an argument initiated in the West by the ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians and physicians in their search for principles at once of nature and of argument itself. Argument has been deployed in different styles, in different periods and contexts and in different subjectmatters, to justify a vision of the nature of things able to solve specific problems. Of the essence of the scientific movement have been its genuine continuity, even after long breaks, based on the study by any generation of texts written by its predecessors; its progress equally in scientific knowledge and in the analysis of scientific argument; and its recurrent critique, varying considerably in different historical contexts, of its presuppositions about nature, about scientific cogency and validity, and about the intellectual, practical and moral justification of the whole enterprise. A subtle question is what continued and what changed through different historical circumstances, in scientific argument and its criteria of cogency and validity, and in the cultural vision through which experience is mediated, when education and practice could furnish options for a different future. Styles of thinking and making both intellectual and practical decisions, established with the intellectual and moral commitments with which they began, are maintained by habit and education as long as these remain. From such commitments come the specific identities of cultures and the structural differences between different cultures and societies whose enduring persistence have become in our present world daily more evident. Vectorial treatment is of the essence of historiography, yet there can be therapy in viewing the still life of a present moment unrelated to past or future. We, then, the historians of the scientific movement, who belong at the same time to its history, must look in a true intellectual anthropology at once with and into the eye of its beholder. Historical perceptions of the scientific movement in the middle ages have from the start been mediated through interpretations of the past and present motivated by expectations of a desirable future, interpretations that have varied with visions of the nature of human existence and with degrees of historical knowledge, prejudice or ignorance. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the texts translated from the Greek and the Arabic, and the new compositions written in their light, were of two different kinds: those concerned primarily with general questions of knowledge and existence, and those concerned with specific problems in the mathematical and natural

A. Vernet, 'Une epitaphe inedite de Thierry de Chartres' in Recueil de travaux offert a C. Brunei, ii (Paris, 1955) 670; cf. Southern, Medieval Humanism.

Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science


sciences. There could of course be mixtures of the two. In a philosophical community sharing a common education in all these subjects, both were seen to belong to an integrated intellectual whole. The first provided a general programme for investigating the nature of things, the second provided specific advances of knowledge. The interactions of programmes with realisations, and within those of episteme with techne, scientia with ars, have been central to the whole subsequent dynamics of the scientific movement. Medieval perceptions of the history of science (as distinct from perceptions of scientific problems as such) focused primarily on the programme of man's relation to God and to nature as his creation. The context of human existence was defined by the scheme of providential history presented by Augustine. Thus Hugh of St Victor, the most systematically historical of the early twelfthcentury scholars, in an universal history written on Augustinian lines, traced the restoration of the divine likeness in fallen man by the development of the arts and sciences. The arts and sciences, invented under the spur of practical necessity and reduced to rule by reason, had been brought to perfection before Christ. It was their fulfilment in the return of man to God's grace that was promised for the future. For this 'entire sensible world is like a sort of book written by the finger of God';5 and in the contemporary image of Bernard Silvestris: There, marked down by the finger of the Supreme Scribe, can be read the text of time, the fated march of events, the disposition made of the ages'.6 Roger Bacon with much greater knowledge a century and a half later likewise looked first to the recovery of a wiser past as an essential step towards a happier future. Again from Augustine, he remodelled the historical belief that God had revealed to the Hebrew patriarchs and prophets, long before the Greek philosophers, the plenitude of wisdom entirely adequate for human needs and the source of all the arts and sciences and of untold powers over nature. This had been lost in ages of sin and foolishness and revived by virtue, and it could be recovered again in man's long return from divine alienation only by keeping to true belief and moral law. Hence, in his analysis of the 'causes of error'7 and of scientific stagnation in contemporary Christendom, the moral emphasis on the habits of prejudice and vanity as well as ignorance making obstacles to truth, for it was the paramount duty of Christians to grasp the truth and spread it to all the world. When Bacon sketched his programme for the restoration of experimental and mathematical science, with the invention of flying machines and submarines and so forth, he was describing

Hugh of St Victor, Didascalicon, de studio legendi vii.4, ed. J.P. Migne, Patrologia Latino, clxxvi (Paris, 1854) 814; cf. ed. C.J. Buttimer (Washington, D.C., 1939), transl. J. Taylor (New York, 1961). 6 Bernard Silvestris, De mundi universitate, hrg. C.S. Barach und J. Wrobel (Innsbruck, 1986) 13; cf. M.D. Chenu, La theologie au douzieme siecle (Paris, 1957, 1976) 170. 7 Roger Bacon, Opus maius i.l sqq., 14, ii.9, iii.i, ed. J.H. Bridges, i (Oxford, 1897), iii (London, 1900).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

what he believed had been known already to the ancients. He cited with approval Seneca's respect alike for ancient wisdom and for intellectual progress of the elite who alone among foolish mankind would not misuse it, and he insisted that 'the study of wisdom can always increase in this life, because nothing is perfect in human discoveries. Hence we of a later age should supply what the ancients lacked, because we have entered into their labours, by which, unless we are asses, we can be aroused to better things; since it is wretched to be always using and never making discoveries. Christians should . . . complete the paths of the unbelieving philosophers, not only because we are of a later age and should add to their works, but also in order that we may bend their labours to our own ends'.8 He saw the recent and future progress of scientific knowledge as the product as much of the recovery of ancient texts, and the discovery by the learned elite of their true hidden meaning, as of the direct investigation of nature. Hence his vision of the reform of education and knowledge within a theological scheme of man's providential destiny in the fulfilment of time to the end of the world. Such theological interpretations of the history of the arts and sciences persisted in various forms and contexts for several centuries after Bacon, but a different style of historical orientation came to be offered by the humanist scholars and philosophers who from the fourteenth century established so much of the basic methods and conceptions of modern historiography. The pedagogic function of history, the effectiveness of interpretations of the past that carried with them formulae for present action, was well understood in antiquity. The Italian scholars who introduced the threefold division of European history into ancient, medieval and modern gave to these periods an evaluation beyond mere chronology. It seems to have been Petrarch who first used the term medius tempus with the sense of a dark age lasting for a thousand years until his own time, when Latin poetry was revived and Italian vernacular poetry reborn (renatum).9 He was offering a programme. The image of medieval darkness was repeated at the end of the fourteenth century by the Florentine historian Filippo Villani, who described certain events as happening 'in ancient, medieval and modern times (priscis, mediis, modernisque temporibusy. When Dante revived the art of poetry he 'recalled it as from an abyss of shadows into the light', just as painting was raised again to life in modern times first by Cimabue, who 'began to recall it to the imitation of nature', and then by Giotto, 'who not only can be compared with the illustrious

Ibid, ii.15, vol. iii. Cf. T. Mommsen, 'Petrarch's Conception of the Dark Ages', Speculum, xvii (1942) 226-42; W.K. Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Perspective (Boston, Mass., 1948); D. Hay, 'Historians and the Renaissance During the Last 25 Years' in The Renaissance (London, 1982) 132; M.L. McLaughlin, 'Humanist Concepts of Renaissance and Middle Ages in the Tre- and Quattrocento', Renaissance Studies, ii (1988) 131-42 with further references.

Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science


painters of antiquity, but surpassed them all in skill and genius'.10 (It is a pity that he was unaware of the lively and accurate naturalistic illustrations of Frederick IPs Art of Falconry and of many others made in Italy, France, the Netherlands and England during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.) That the modern arts had come to revive (rinascere) and to surpass ancient models, and the historical term media tempestas,11 became commonplaces in the fifteenth century. Some scholars maintained that philosophy had flourished without interruption through the scholastic period and needed no revival.12 But in general the humanists gave to the medieval term a sense of total darkness, in order to promote the enlightenment they saw coming from ancient models of all kinds, whether in politics, Latin style or painting and sculpture. On similar lines philosophical historians like Machiavelli and Jean Bodin, looking for the causes of the progress or regress of civilisation in different periods, could project their historical analyses into programmes for present advantage or reform and future advance, or perhaps into diagnoses of decline. They studied history in order to manage or at least to anticipate its course. Hence the search for the best ancient models, and the successive proposals for true methods, whether for philosophy or science or art or theology or government, which were so evident in Western intellectual culture from the age of Roger Bacon to that of Francis Bacon and Descartes. Hence also the recurrent claims to novelty: to have discovered like the sixteenth-century Neoplatonist Francesco Patrizi the 'new, true, complete philosophy of the universe', ambitiously so 'proved with divine oracles, geometrical necessities, philosophical reasons and the clearest experiments'13 or other fashionably convincing criteria; or more realistically the claims to be practising like William Gilbert a 'new sort of philosophising',14 or to have invented like Francis Bacon a novum organum or like Galileo 'new sciences'.15 Reforming visions may show us the intellectual tradition of European science in varied and peculiar lights, as necessary for a true historical anthropology as the solving of problems and related contemporary practices. They show us the historical diversity of conceptions of the rational, the possible, the desirable and the acceptable. These may change with changing

10 Filippo Villani, Liber de civitatis Florentinae famosis civibus, ii.2, 7, iii.7, ed. G.C. Galletti (Florence, 1847). 11 Cf. Hay, 'Historians and the Renaissance'; McLaughlin, 'Humanist Concepts'; P. Lehmann, Vom Mittelalter und von der Lateinischen Philologie des Mittelalters (Quellen und Untersuchungen zur Lateinischen Philologie des Mittelalters, v.l; Munich, 1914). 12 E.g. Alamanno Rinuccini, Lettere ed orazione, a cura di V.R. Giustiniani (Florence, 1953) 106-7; cf. McLaughlin, 'Historians and the Renaissance'. 13 Francesco Patrizi, Nova de universis philosophia, 'Panurgia' i (Ferrara, 1591) f.l r . 14 William Gilbert, De magnete, Praefatio (London, 1600). 15 Galileo Galilei, Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (Leiden, 1638).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

human expectations, or they may persist as definitions of norms of rational thought for every kind of subject-matter and every aspect of life, or as a specified intellectual competence to solve problems, or as a deep moral commitment to discover and spread true and useful knowledge. The critical question is whether the vision casting its objects in this reforming light can stand the light of historical evidence. To the historiography of a political and literary and artistic renaissance centred in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy, Erasmus added a further European element with his conception of close causal connection between the decline or revival of learning and those of religion. The renaissance of religion then came to be identified in Protestant historiography with the fortunes of the Protestant reformation. Science was brought into the historiography of a renaissance at this time first by such philosophical reformers as Peter Ramus16 and Francis Bacon, using the warning of past stagnation to promote their new optimism for mathematical and experimental methods, and later when in the dispute of the Ancients and Moderns the recent scientific triumphs replaced antiquity with progress as a guiding vision. An exemplary linking of the revival of classical learning, the Protestant reformation and the rise of the new philosophy as stages in the liberation of the inquiring mind was set out in the Dictionnaire historique (1697) by Pierre Bayle.17 Put together over two centuries through a series of disparate issues in politics, religion, literature, art, science and technology, this scheme has had its full influence on that large part of the historiography of science developed since the sixteenth century in which it has been assumed, in Walter Ralegh's phrase, that is was 'the end and scope of all historic, to teach by example of times past, such wisdome as may guide our desires and actions'.18 Historiography of science was an evaluation entailing a programme. Whatever wisdom history may teach us, the obvious disadvantage of a periodisation in evaluative terms like dark ages or renaissance, or like reformation or scientific revolution or enlightenment, as also the obvious disadvantage of simply assuming a linkage of apparently separate issues whether in the pursuit of some view of the human condition or even of truth or liberty, or in some causal series, is that these can cloud factual investigations. They tell us more about the periods in which they were invented than about those to which they referred. It is a curious fact that in the course of the successive controversies over the arts, religion and science the period of medieval darkness was moved forward to the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Such terms distract attention from the apprehension of an intellectual culture in its historical context and in its own terms. They obstruct the analysis of connections of reason and motive both manifest and hidden, and the interaction of internal

16 17 18

Petrus Ramus, Scholarum mathematicarum . . . (Basel, 1569). Vol. ii (Rotterdam, 1697) 1123. Ralegh, History of the World, Preface and ii.21.6 (London, 1614) 537.

Historical Perceptions of Medieval Science


intellectual needs with external social pressures evident in complex societies. Antecedent assumptions in historical as in scientific investigations may indeed direct our attention to questions otherwise overlooked, as likewise away from other questions indicated by other assumptions. Human historiography, like natural science, must proceed by means of a body of theory. Suitably distanced by time and experience, we can recognise fairly easily the theoretical assumptions generated in early modern historiography by the diverse disputes in which the innovating parties needed to define their position in relation to their immediate predecessors and current opponents.19 They used history in an exercise of persuasion to influence present attitudes and actions. This has been done by no means only on one side, nor despite its obvious dangers does it necessarily produce bad scholarship. European interest in medieval history, powerfully stimulated by Romanticism, led on the Continent during the nineteenth century to the methodical study of medieval thought and to some exemplary, especially German, technical studies of medieval philosophy and science. A little later that great man Pierre Duhem, under the pressure of opposition from French academic positivists, embarked on his magisterial exposition of medieval scientific thinkers and their relation to their early modern successors. Duhem was explicitly making a point with more than medieval historical relevance, and he has been justly criticised for certain historical distortions that have come from it. Yet all subsequent historians of medieval science, however much we may criticise and object, are to some extent his disciples. It was he beyond all others whose heroic vision of medieval natural philosophy and cosmology projected bright shafts of understanding through the cloudy darkness of academic prejudice. He gave fresh excitement to medieval science, and in consequence this gave academic careers to generations of young scholars. Yet on many details and perhaps on much of the whole vision we must criticise and differ. When we read a text in the history of science we need to identify the questions to which the text was directed and to which it offered answers. The questions may be explicit or they may be implied by the answers given. Aristotle, the first historian of science, assumed that his predecessors had been asking the same questions as himself but had not answered them so well. Our historical perceptions now make it clear that the questions, whether explicit or implied, can change so much as to be scarcely the same questions at all. The most fundamental changes, often obscured by the inertia of language and terminology, are those brought about by changes in the conceptions of nature
19 Ample evidence of the continuing interest in medieval natural philosophy during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries is provided by the printed editions recorded e.g. by G. Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, 3 vol. (Baltimore, Md., 1927-47); cf. also A.C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science (Oxford, 1953,1971) 278-9; A. Pacchi, Convenzione e ipotesi nella formazione della filosofia naturale di Thomas Hobbes (Florence, 1965), 'Ruggero Bacone e Roberto Grossatesta in un inedito hobbesiano del 1634', Rivista critica di storia della filosofia, xx (1965) 499-502.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

and of science presupposed by the questions being posed. Such changes can alter both the way in which particular scientific problems are formulated and the criteria for an acceptable scientific explanation. It is clear that the questions put or presupposed in the answers given by medieval natural philosophers were not identical with those put or presupposed in the seventeenth century. Structural changes in scientific thinking such as occurred over this period make the whole subject of predecessors extremely tricky, and it is tricky not only for the medieval predecessors dear to Duhem, but likewise for those of Darwin in the theory of evolution and equally throughout the history of science. We need to examine continuity and change at all the levels involved, from those of factual discovery and mathematical formulation to those of scientific demonstration and causal explanation. In the famous case of inertial motion, for example, the seventeenth-century concept was basically different from that formulated in the fourteenth century on the Aristotelian principle that, since every effect requires a cause, every motion requires a mover. Again, the analysis of the rainbow by Descartes starting from a general quantitative law was structurally different from that of Theodoric of Freiberg, whose sophisticated experiments with models were designed to discover the particular causal conditions for particular phenomenon. Yet again, Kepler came to make a structural break from his own first approach to the analysis of optical physiology, based on the assumption inherited from the Greeks that the process by which vision is effected through the living eye must yield an immediate explanation of visual perception. This had been accepted by Alhazen in his brilliant geometrical model of the eye and by all his successors. It led to insoluble problems like that of the inversion and reversal of the image. Kepler generalised the subject by treating the eye as a physical optical instrument like any other, as in fact a camera obscura, and thus he could separate its optical operation for analysis independently of the problem of perception. The question changed because the presuppositions generating them changed. Valuable light can be thrown on all this by the study of scientific and philosophical terminology, but here also there are dangers. Language can misrepresent or lag behind practice. It takes great care to interpret such important terms as lex naturae, resolutiva et compositiva, ratio, machina, experimentum and scientia experimental. So then: quanta juniores, tanto perspicaciores, sed caveat emptor.

Robert Grossteste (c. 1168-1253)

Grosseteste was the central figure in England in the intellectual movement of the first half of the thirteenth century, yet the only evidence for his life before he became bishop of Lincoln in 1235 is to be found in fragmentary references by Matthew Paris and other chroniclers, by Roger Bacon, and occasionally in charters, deeds and other records.1 His birth has been variously dated between 1168 and 1175, but since he is described as 'Magister Robertus Grosteste' (the first appearance of his name) in a charter of Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, of probably 1186-1190, the earlier date is the more likely. Tradition places his birth in Suffolk, of humble parentage. He may have been educated first at Lincoln, then at Oxford, and was in the household of William de Vere, bishop of Hereford, by 1198, when a reference by Gerald of Wales suggests that he may have had some knowledge of both law and medicine. After that it seems likely that he taught at Oxford in the arts school until the dispersion of masters and scholars during 1209-1214. He must have taken his mastership in theology, probably at Paris, during this period, some time before his appointment as chancellor of the University of Oxford, although with the title magisterscholarum, probably about 1214-1221, when he must have lectured on theology. Grosseteste was given a number of ecclesiastical preferments and sinecures, including the arch-deaconry of Leicester in 1229; but in 1232 he resigned them all except for a prebend at Lincoln, writing to his sister, a nun: 'If I am poorer by my own choice, I am made richer in virtues.'2 From 1229 or 1230 until 1235 he was first lecturer in theology to the Franciscans, who had come to Oxford in 1224. His influence there was profound and continued after he left Oxford in 1235 for the see of Lincoln, within the jurisdiction of which Oxford and its schools came. He contributed largely to directing the interests of the English Franciscans toward the study of the Bible, languages, and mathematics and natural science. Indispensable sources for this later period of his life are his own letters and those of his Franciscan friend Adam Marsh.

1 2

See D.A. Callus, ed., Robert Grosseteste. Epistolae, H.R. Luard, ed., p. 44.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Grosseteste's career thus falls into two main parts, the first that of a university scholar and teacher and the second that of a bishop and ecclesiastical statesman. His writings fall roughly into the same periods: to the former belong his commentaries on Aristotle and on the Bible and the bulk of a number of independent treatises, and to the latter his translations from the Greek. Living at a time when the intellectual horizons of Latin Christendom were being greatly extended by the translations into that language of Greek and Arabic philosophical and scientific writings, he took a leading part in introducing this new learning into university teaching. His commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics was one of the first and most influential of the medieval commentaries on this fundamental work. Other important writings belonging to the first period are his commentary on Aristotle's Physics, likewise one of the first; independent treatises on astronomy and cosmology, the calendar (with intelligent proposals for the reform of the inaccurate calendar then in use), sound, comets, heat, optics (including lenses and the rainbow), and other scientific subjects; and his scriptural commentaries, especially the Moralitates in evangelica, De cessatione legalium, Hexaemeron and commentaries on the Pauline epistles and the psalms. Having begun to study Greek in 1230-1231, he used his learning fruitfully during the period of his episcopate by making Latin translations of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and De caelo (with Simplicius' commentary), of the Defide orthodoxe of John of Damascus, of Pseudo-Dionysius and of other theological writings. For this work he brought to Lincoln assistants who knew Greek; he also arranged for a translation of the psalms to be made from the Hebrew and seems to have learned something of this language. Although in content a somewhat eclectic blend of Aristotelian and Neoplatonic ideas, Grosseteste's philosophical thinking shows a strong intellect curious about natural things and searching for a consistently rational scheme of things both natural and divine. His search for rational explanations was conducted within the framework of the Aristotelian distinction between 'the fact' (quid) and 'the reason for the fact' (propter quid). Essential for the latter in natural philosophy was mathematics, to which Grosseteste gave a role based specifically on his theory, expounded in De luce seu de inchoatione formarum and De motu corporali et luce, that the fundamental corporeal substance was light (lux). He held that light was the first form to be created in prime matter, propagating itself from an original point into a sphere and thus giving rise to spatial dimensions and all else according to immanent laws. Hence his conception of optics as the basis for natural science. Lux was a instrument by which God produced the macrocosm of the universe and also the instrument mediating the interaction between soul and body and the bodily senses in the microcosm of man.3 Grosseteste's rational scheme included

E.G., Hexaemeron, British Museum MS Royal 6.E.V (14 cent.), fols 147v-150v; L. Baur, 'Das Licht in der Naturphilosophie des Robert Grosseteste' in Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete

Robert Grosseteste


revelation as well as reason, and he was one of the first medieval thinkers to attempt to deal with the conflict between the Scriptures and the new Aristotle. Especially interesting are his discussions of the problems of the eternity or creation of the world, of the relation of will to intellect, of angelology, of divine knowledge of particulars, and of the use of allegorical interpretations of Scripture. Grosseteste's public life as bishop of Lincoln was informed by both his outlook on the universe as a scholar and his conception of his duties as a prelate dedicated to the salvation of souls. Analogous to corporeal illumination was the divine illumination of the soul with truth. He extended the luminous analogy to illustrate the relationship between the persons of the Trinity, the operation of divine grace through free will like light shining through a coloured glass,4 and the relation of pope to prelates and of bishops to clergy: as a mirror reflects light into dark places, he said in asserting his episcopal rights against the cathedral chapter of Lincoln, so a bishop reflects power to the clergy.5 In practice Grosseteste was governed by three principles: a belief in the supreme importance of the cure of souls; a highly centralised and hierarchical conception of the church, in which the papacy, under God, was the centre and source of spiritual life and energy; and a belief in the superiority of the church over the state because its function, the salvation of souls, was more vital. Such views were widely accepted, but Grosseteste was unique in the ruthlessness and thoroughness with which he applied them, for example, in opposing the widespread use of ecclesiastical benefices to endow officials in the service of the crown or the papacy. As a bishop he had attended the First Council of Lyons in 1245, and in a memorandum presented to the pope there in 1250 he expounded his views on the unsuitability of such appointments while accepting the papal right to dispose of all benefices. Likewise, his opposition to the obstruction of the disciplinary work of the church by any ecclesiastical corporation or secular authority brought him into conflict both with his own Lincoln chapter and with the crown over royal writs of prohibition when secular law clashed with church law and when churchmen were employed as judges or in other secular offices. Grosseteste was a close friend of Simon de Montfort and took charge of the education of his sons, but the degree to which he shared in or influenced Montfort's political ideals has probably been exaggerated. Above all he was a bishop with an ideal, an outstanding example of the new type of ecclesiastic trained in the universities.

der Philosophic und ihrer Geschichte. Eine Festgabe zum 70. Geburtstag Georg Freiherrn von Herding (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1913), pp. 41-55. 4 De libero arbitrio, caps. 8 and 10, in L. Baur, Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, pp. 179, 202. 5 Epistolae, pp. 360, 364, 389.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Scientific Thought
Some of Grosseteste's scientific writings can be dated with reasonable certainty, and most of the others can be related to these in an order based on internal references and on the assumption that the more elaborated version of a common topic is the later.6 From the evidence for his method of making notes on his reading and thoughts to be worked up into finished essays and commentaries,7 and from these writing themselves, it may be assumed that many of them arose out of his teaching in the schools. Gerald of Wales's description of Grosseteste at Hereford as a young clerk with a manifold learning 'built upon the sure foundation of the liberal arts and an abundant knowledge of literature'8 is borne out by what is probably his earliest work, De artibus liberalibus. In this attractive introduction he described how the seven liberal arts at once acted as apurgatio erroris and gave direction to the gaze and inclination of the mind (mentis aspectus et affectus). Of particular interest is hi treatment of music, of which his love became proverbial, and of astronomy. As for Boethius, music for him comprised the proportion and harmony not only of sounds produced by the human voice and by instruments but also of the movements and times of the celestial bodies and of the composition of bodies made of the four terrestrial elements - hence the power of music to mould human conduct and restore health by restoring the harmony between soul and body and between the bodily elements, and the related power of astronomy through its indication of the appropriate times for such operations and for the transmutation of metals. Related to this essay was his phonetical treatise De generatione sonorum, which he introduced with an account of sound as a vibratory motion propagated from the sounding body through the air to the ear, from the motion of which arose a sensation in the soul. Grosseteste developed his mature natural philosophy through a logic of science based on Aristotle and through his fundamental theory of light. In their present form most of the works concerned were almost certainly written between about 1220 and 1235. De luce and De motu corporali et luce, with his cosmogony and cosmology of light, seem to date from early in this period. The structure of the universe generated by the original point of lux was determined, first, by the supposition that there was a constant proportion between the diffusion or 'multiplication' of lux, corresponding to the infinite series of natural numbers, and the quantity of matter given cubic dimensions, corresponding to some finite part of that series. Second, the intensity of this
6 For the basic works on this question, see Baur, Die philosophischen Werke; and S.H. Thomson, The Writings of Robert Grosseteste - with the revisions by Callus, The Oxford Career of Robert Grosseteste' in Robert Grosseteste; A.C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science (1953, 1971); and R.C. Dales, 'Robert Grosseteste's Scientific Works,' Commentarius in viii libros. 7 From William of Alnwick, as first noticed by A. Pelzer. See Callus, The Oxford Career of Robert Grosseteste,' pp. 45-47. 8 Giraldus Cambrensis, Opera, J.S. Brewer, ed., I (London, 1861), 249.

Robert Grosseteste


activity of lux varied directly with distance from the primordial source. The result was a sphere denser and more opaque toward the centre. Then from the outermost boundary of the sphere lumen emanated inward to produce another sphere inside it, then another, and so on, until all the celestial and elementary spheres of Aristotelian cosmology were complete. Another seemingly early work in this series, De generatione stellarum, shows Grosseteste dependent on Aristotle in many things but not in all, for he argued that the stars were composed of the four terrestrial elements. Later, in his commentary on the Physics, he contrasted the imprecise and arbitrary way man must measure spaces and times with God's absolute measures through aggregates of infinities. In all these writings Grosseteste made it clear that by lux and lumen he meant not simply the visible light which was one of its manifestations, but a fundamental power (virtus, species) varying in its manifestation according to the source from which it was propagated or multiplied and in its effect according to its recipient. Thus he showed in De impressionibus elementorum how solar radiation effected the transformation of one of the four terrestrial elements into another and later, in De natura locorum, how it caused differences in climate. An explanation of the tides begun in De accessione et recessione maris or De fluxu et refluxu maris (if this work is by him)9 was completed in De natura locorum, in which he argued that the rays of the rising moon released vapours from the depth of the sea which pushed up the tide until the moon's strength increased so much that it drew the vapours through the water, at which time the tide fell again. The second, smaller monthly tide was caused by the weaker lunar rays reflected back to the opposite side of the earth from the stellar sphere. In De cometis et causis ipsarum Grosseteste gave a good example of his method of falsification in arguing that comets were 'sublimated fire' separated from their terrestrial nature by celestial power descending from the stars or planets and drawing up the 'fire' as a magnet drew iron. Later, in De calore solis (c. 1230-1235), he produced perhaps his most elegant exercise in analysis by reduction to conclusions falsified either by observation or by disagreement with accepted theory, finally leaving a verified explanation. He concluded that all hot bodies generated heat by the scattering of their matter and that the sun generated heat on the earth in direct proportion to the amount of matter incorporated from the transparent medium (air) into its rays. Grosseteste set out and exemplified the formal structure of his mature scientific method in his Commentaria in libros posteriorum Aristotelis, his Commentarius in viii libros physicorum Aristotelis,10 and four related essays

9 See R.C. Dales, The Authorship of the Questio de fluxu et refluxu maris Attributed to Robert Grosseteste,' in Speculum, 37 (1962), 582-588. 10 See the ed. by Dales. Grosseteste wrote probably about 1230 a summary of Aristotle's views in his Summa super octo libros physicorum Aristotelis.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

giving a geometrical analysis of the natural propagation of power and light. It seems likely that he began the commentary on the Posterior Analytics when he was still a master of arts, that is, before 1209, and completed it over a long period, finishing after 1220 and probably nearer the end of the decade. The commentary on the Physics was written later, likewise certainly over a period of years, probably around 1230. It has striking parallels with some of the scientific topics of the Hexaemeron but shows less than even the limited knowledge of Greek found in this work, suggesting that it just precedes it. For Grosseteste, as for Aristotle, a scientific inquiry began with an experienced fact (quid), usually a composite phenomenon. The aim of the inquiry was to discover the reason for the fact (propter quid), the proximate cause or natural agent from which the phenomenon could be demonstrated:
Every thing that is to be produced is already described and formed in some way in the agent, whence nature as an agent has the natural things that are to be produced in some way described and formed within itself, so that this description and form itself, in the very nature of things to be produced before they are produced, is called knowledge of nature.11

His method of discovering the causal agent was to make first a resolutio, or analysis of the complex phenomenon into its principles, and then a compositio, or reconstruction and deduction of the phenomenon from hypotheses derived from the discovered principles. He verified or falsified these hypotheses by observation or by theory already verified by observation. Besides this double method, Grosseteste used in the analysis of the causal agent as the starting-point of demonstration another Aristotelian procedure, that of the subordination of some sciences to others, for example, of astronomy and optics to geometry and of music to arithmetic, in the sense that 'the superior science provides the propter quid for that thing of which the inferior science provides the quia.'12 But mathematics provided only the formal cause; the material and efficient causes were provided by the physical sciences. Thus 'the cause of the equality of the two angles made on a mirror by the incident ray and the reflected ray is not a middle term taken from geometry, but is the nature of the radiation generating itself in a straight path . . . '13 The echo belonged formally to the same genus as the reflection of light, but the material and efficient cause of the propagation of sound had to be sought in its fundamental substance: 'the substance of sound is lux incorporated in the most subtle air . . . '14 This introduced a fundamental addition to

11 12 13 14

Commentarius in viiiphysicorum Aristotelis, lib. I, Dales, ed. pp. 3-4. Commentaria in libros posteriorum Aristotelis, I, 12 (1494), fols. llr-12r. Ibid., I, 8, fol. 8r. 7Wd.,II,4,fol. 29v.

Robert Grosseteste


the very similar discussion of the propagation of sound in De artibus liberalibus and De generatione sonorum. Grosseteste developed his geometrical analysis of the powers propagated from natural agents in the four related essays written most probably in the period 1231-1235. He said in the first, De lineis, angulis et figuris seu fractionibus et reflexionibus radiorum: 'All causes of natural effects have to be expressed by means of lines, angles and figures, for otherwise it would be impossible to have knowledge propter quid concerning them.'15 The same power produced a physical effect in an inanimate body and a sensation in a animate one. He established rules for the operation of powers: for example, the power was greater the shorter and straighter the line, the smaller the incident angle, the shorter the three-dimensional pyramid or cone; every agent multiplied its power spherically. Grosseteste discussed the laws of reflection and refraction (evidently taken from Ptolemy) and their causes, and went on in De natura locorum to use Ptolemy's rules and construction with plane surfaces to explain refraction by a spherical burning glass. 'Hence,' he resumed, 'these rules and principles and fundamentals having been given by the power of geometry, the careful observer of natural things can give the causes of all natural effects by this method.' This was clear 'first in natural action upon matter and later upon the senses. . . . '16 An example of the analysis of a power producing sensation is provided by Grosseteste's De colore. The resolutio identified the constituent principles: colour was light incorporated by a transparent medium; transparent media varied in degree of purity from earthy matter; light varied in brightness and in the multitude of its rays. In the compositio he asserted that the sixteen colours ranging from white (bright light, multitudinous rays, in a pure medium) to black were produced by the 'intension and remission' of these three variable principles. 'That the essence of colour and a multitude of the same behaves in the said way,' he concluded, 'is manifest not only by reason but also by experiment, to those who know the principles of natural science and of optics deeply and inwardly. . . . They can show every kind of colour they wish to visibly, by art [per artificium].'11 The last of these four essays, De iride seu de iride et speculo, is the most complete example of Grosseteste's method and his most important contribution to optics. The resolutio proceeds through a summary of the principle of subordination and its relation to demonstration propter quid into a discussion of the division of optics into the science of direct visual rays, of reflected rays, and of refracted rays, in order to decide to which part the study of the rainbow belonged. It was subordinate to the third part, 'untouched and unknown

15 16 17

De lineis angulis et figuris, in Baur, Die philosophischen Werke, pp. 59-60. De natura locorum, ibid., pp. 65-66. De colore, ibid., pp. 78-79.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

among us until the present time';18 and it is his treatment of refraction that has the greatest interest.
This part of optics [perspectiva], when well understood, shows us how we may make things a very long distance off appear to be placed very close, and large near things appear very small, and how we may make small things placed at a distance appear as large as we want, so that it is possible for us to read the smallest letters at an incredible distance, or to count sand, or grain, or seeds, or any sort of minute objects.19

The reason, as he had learned from Euclid and Ptolemy, was 'that the size, position and arrangement according to which a thing is seen depends on the size of the angle through which it is seen and the position and arrangement of the rays, and that a thing is made invisible not by great distance, except by accident, but by the smallness of the angle of vision.' Hence 'it is perfectly clear from geometrical reasons how, by means of a transparent medium of known size and shape placed at a known distance from the eye, a thing of known distance and known size and position will appear according to place, size and position.'20 Grosseteste followed this account of magnification and diminution by refracting media with an apparently original law of refraction, according to which the refracted ray, on entering a denser medium, bisected the angle between the projection of the incident ray and the perpendicular to the interface. 'That the size of the angle in the refraction of a ray may be determined in this way,' he concluded, 'is shown us by experiments similar to those by which we discovered that the reflection of a ray upon a mirror takes place at the angle equal to the angle of incidence.'21 It was also evident from the principle that nature always acts in the best and shortest way. Grosseteste went on to use a construction of Ptolemy's to show how to locate the refracted image, claiming again that this 'is made clear to us by the same experiment and similar reasonings'22 as those used in a similar construction for locating the reflected image. The first of these references to experimental verification, since it would have been so inaccurate, may throw doubt on all such references by Grosseteste. As was true for a great many medieval natural philosophers, most of these references came from books or from everyday experiences. Clearly his interest was directed primarily towards theory. Yet he advocated and was guided by the principle of experiment and developed its logic. Besides these works related to optics, Grosseteste wrote important treatises on astronomical subjects. In De sphaera, of uncertain date between perhaps
De irlde, ibid., p. 73. See L. Baur, Die Philosophic des Robert Grosseteste, pp. 117-118; Crombie, Robert Grosseteste (1971), pp. 117-124. 19 De iride, in Baur, Die philosophischen Werke, p. 74. 20 Ibid., p. 75. 21 Ibid., pp. 74-75. 22 Ibid., p. 75.

Robert Grosseteste


1215 and 1230, and De motu supercaelestium, possibly after 1230, he expounded elements of both Aristotelian and Ptolemaic theoretical astronomy. In a later work, De impressionibus aeris seu deprognosticatione, dating apparently from 1249, he discussed astrological influences and, again, his mature explanation of the tides. More original were Grosseteste's four separate treatises on the calendar: Canon in kalendarium and Compotus; correcting these, Compotus correctorius, probably between 1215 and 1219; and Compotus minor, with further corrections in 1244. He showed that with the system long in use, according to which nineteen solar years were considered equal to 235 lunar months, in every 304 years the moon would be one day, six minutes and forty seconds older than the calendar indicated. He pointed out in the Compotus correctorius (cap. 10) that by his time the moon was never full when the calendar said it should be and that this was especially obvious during an eclipse. The error in the reckoning of Easter came from the inaccuracy both of the year of 365.25 days and of the nineteen-year lunar cycle. Grosseteste's plan for reforming the calendar was threefold. First, he said that an accurate measure must be made of the length of the solar year. He knew of three estimates of this: that of Hipparchus and Ptolemy, accepted by the Latin computists; that of al-Battani; and that of Thabit ibn Qurra. He discussed in detail the systems of adjustments that would have to be made in each case to make the solstice and equinox occur in the calendar at the times they were observed. Al-Battani's estimate, he said in the Compotus correctorius (cap. 1), 'agrees best with what we find by observation on the advance of the solstice in our time.' The next stage of the reform was to calculate the relation between this and the mean lunar month. For the new-moon tables of the Kalendarium, Grosseteste had used a multiple nineteen-year cycle of seventy-six years. In the Compotus correctorius he calculated the error this involved and proposed the novel idea of using a much more accurate cycle of thirty Arab lunar years, each of twelve equal months, the whole occupying 10,631 days. This was the shortest time in which the cycle of whole lunations came back to the start. Grosseteste gave a method of combining this Arab cycle with the Christian solar calendar and of calculating true lunations. The third stage of the reform was to use these results for an accurate reckoning of Easter. In the Compotus correctorius (cap. 10), he said that, even without an accurate measure of the length of the solar year, the spring equinox, on which the date of Easter depended, could be discovered 'by observation with instruments or from verified astronomical tables.'23 And with Grosseteste's optics, it was Roger Bacon who first took up his work on the calendar; and Albertus Magnus first made serious use of his commentary on the Posterior Analytics, as did John Duns Scotus of that on the Physics. These attentions marked the beginning of a European reputation that


Compotus, R. Steele, ed., pp. 215, 259.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

continued into the early printing of his writings at Venice, the collecting of his scientific manuscripts by John Dee, and interest in them by Thomas Hobbes.24

i. ORIGINAL WORKS. The earliest dated printed ed. of a work by Grosseteste is Commentaria in librosposteriorum Aristotelis (Venice, 1494; 8th ed., 1552). It was followed by his Summa super octo librosphysicorum Aristotelis (Venice, 1498; 9th ed., 1637); Libellus dephisicis lineis angulis etfigurisper quas omnes actiones naturales complentur (Nuremburg, 1503); De sphaera, pub. as Sphaeraecompendium (Venice, 1508; 5th ed., 1531); and Compotus correctorius (Venice, 1518). His Opuscula (Venice, 1514; London, 1690) includes De artibus liberalibus, De generatione sonorum, De calore solis, De generatione stellarum, De colore, De impressionibus elementorum, De motu corporali, De finitate motus et temporis (appearing first as the concluding section of his commentary on the Physics), De lineis, angulis etfiguris, De natura locorum, De luce, De motu supercaelestium, and De differentiis localibus. All these essays, with De sphaera and the hitherto unprinted De cometis, De impressionibus aeris and De iride, were published by L. Baur in Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste (see below). For further modern texts see Canon in Kalendarium, ed. by A. Lindhagen as 'Die Neumondtafel des Robertus Lincolniensis,' in Archiv for matematik, astronomi och fysik (Uppsala)., 11 no. 2 (1916); Compotus, factus and correctionem communis kalendarii nostri, R. Steele, ed., in Roger Bacon, Opera hactenus inedita, VI (Oxford, 1926), 212 ff.; S.H. Thomson, The Text of Grosseteste's De cometis,' in Isis, 19 (1933), 19-25; and "Grosseteste's Questio de calore, de cometis and De operacionibussolis,' in Medievalia ethumanistica, 11 (1957), 34-43; Commentarius in viii libros physicorum Aristotelis . . . , R.C. Dales, ed. (Boulder, Colo., 1963); and R.C. Dales, The Text of Robert Grosseteste's Questio defluxu de refluxu maris with an English Translation,' in Isis, 57 (1966), 455-474. See also Roberti Grosseteste episcopi quondam Lincolniensis epistolae. H.R. Luard, ed. (London, 1861). II. SECONDARY LITERATURE. For the fundamental work of identifying and listing Grosseteste's writing see L. Baur, Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, Bishop von Lincoln, vol. IX of Beitrdge zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters (Miinster, 1912); and S.H. Thomson, The Writings of Robert Grosseteste Bishop of Lincoln 1235-1253 (Cambridge, 1940). For further discussions of his scientific writings with reference to additional items, see D.A. Callus, The Oxford Career of Robert Grosseteste,'

24 See Crombie, Robert Grosseteste (1971); A. Pacchi, 'Ruggero Bacone e Roberto Grossetesta in un inedito hobbesiano del. 1634,' in Rivista critica distoria dellafilosofia 20 (1965), 499-502; and Convenzione e Ipotesi nella formazione dellafilosofia naturale di Thomas Hobbes (Florence, 1965).

Robert Grosseteste


in Oxoniensia, 10 (1945), 42-72; D.A. Callus, ed., Robert Grosseteste, Scholar and Bishop (Oxford, 1955); A.C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (Oxford, 1953; 3rd ed., 1971) and the comprehensive bibliography therein; and R.C. Dales, 'Robert Grosseteste's Scientific Works,' in Isis, 52 (1961), 381-402. The first modern biography was F.S. Stevenson, Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (London, 1899), while Callus, Robert Grosseteste, judiciously sums up more recent scholarship. The pioneering account of his scientific thought is L. Baur, Die Philosophic des Robert Grosseteste, Bischofs von Lincoln, XVIII, nos. 4-6 of Beitrdge zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters (Miinster, 1917).

Further References
See A.C. Crombie, Science, Optics and Music. . ., ch. 6 (1990) 137; J.D. North, Stars, Minds and Fate (London, 1989) 119-33; R. W. Southern, Robert Grosseteste, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1992), the basic biography; with Robert Grosseteste, Hexaemeron, ed. R.C. Dales and S. Gieben (London, 1982); Metafisica delta luce: Opuscolifilosofici e scientific!, introduzione, traduzione e note di Pietro Rossi (Milano, 1986).

All science requires mathematices. . . . But only in mathematics . . . are what are known to us and what are known in nature, or known simply, the same. (Roger Bacon, Opus maius iv. 1.3)

Roger Bacon (c. 1219-1292)

[with J.D. North]
Apart from some brief references in various chronicles, the only materials for Robert Bacon's biography are his own writings. The date 1214 for his birth was calculated by Charles, followed by Little, from his statements in the Opus tertium (1267) that it was forty years since he had learned the alphabet and that for all but two of these he had been 'in studio.'1 Taking this to refer to the years since he entered the university - the usual age was then about thirteen - they concluded that in 1267 Bacon was fifty-three and thus was born in 1214. But Crowley has argued that his statements more probably refer to his earliest education, beginning about the age of seven or eight, which would place his birth about 1219 or 1220. Of his family the only good evidence comes again from Bacon himself. He wrote in the Opus tertium that they had been impoverished as a result of their support of Henry III against the baronial party, and therefore could not respond to his appeal for funds for his work in 1266.2 After early instruction in Latin classics, among which the works of Seneca and Cicero left a deep impression, Bacon seems to have acquired an interest in natural philosophy and mathematics at Oxford, where lectures were given from the first decade of the thirteenth century on the 'new' logic (especially Sophistici Elenchi and Posterior Analytics) and libri naturales of Aristotle as well as on the mathematical quadrivium. He took his M. A. either at Oxford or at Paris, probably about 1240. Probably between 1241 and 1246 he lectured in the Faculty of Arts at Paris on various parts of the Aristotelian corpus, including the Physics and Metaphysics, and the pseudo-Aristotelian De vegetabilibus (or Deplantis) and the De causis, coincident with the Aristotelian revival there. In arguing later in his Compendium studii philosophic for the necessity of knowledge of languages,3 he was to use an incident in which his Spanish students laughed at him for mistaking a Spanish word for an Arabic word while he was lecturing on De vegetabilibus. He was in Paris at the same

1 2 3

Opus tertium, Brewer ed., p. 65. Ibid., p. 16. Compendium studii philosophic, Brewer ed., pp. 467-468.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

time as Albertus Magnus, Alexander of Hales (d. 1245)4 and William of Auvergne (d. 1249).5 The radical intellectual change following Bacon's introduction to Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168-1253) and his friend Adam Marsh on his return to Oxford about 1247 is indicated by a famous passage in the Opus tertium: For, during the twenty years in which I have laboured specially in the study of wisdom, after disregarding the common way of thinking [neglecto sensu vulgi], I have put down more than two thousand pounds for secret books and various experiments [experientie], and languages and instruments and tables and other things; as well as for searching out the friendships of the wise, and for instructing assistants in languages, in figures, in numbers, and tables and instruments and many other things. Grosseteste's influence is evident in Bacon's particular borrowings, especially in his optical writings, but above all in the devotion of the rest of his life to the promotion of languages and of mathematics, optics (perspectiva), and scientia experimentalis as the essential sciences. He was in Paris again in 1251, where he says in the Opus maius1 that he saw the leader of the Pastoreaux rebels. This story and some later works place him there for long periods as a Franciscan. He entered the Franciscan order about 1257 and, soon afterwards, he also entered a period of distrust and suspicion probably arising from the decree of the chapter of Narbonne, presided over by Bonaventura as master general in 1260, which prohibited the publication of works outside the order without prior approval. Bonaventura had no time for studies not directly related to theology, and on two important questions, astrology and alchemy, he was diametrically opposed to Bacon. He held that only things dependent solely on the motions of the heavenly bodies, such as eclipses of the sun and moon and sometimes the weather, could be foretold with certainty. Bacon agreed with the accepted view that predictions of human affairs could establish neither certainty nor necessity over the free actions of individuals, but he held that nevertheless astrology could throw light on the future by discovering general tendencies in the influence of the stars, acting through the body, on human dispositions, as well as on nature at large. In alchemy Bonaventura was also sceptical about converting base metals into gold and silver, which Bacon thought possible. Whatever the particular reasons for Bacon's troubles within the order, he felt it necessary to make certain proposals to a clerk attached to Cardinal Guy de Foulques; as a result, the cardinal, soon to be elected Pope Clement IV (February 1265), asked him for a copy of his philosophical writings. The
4 Opus minus, Brewer ed., p. 325; Opus tertium, Brewer ed., p. 30; Compendium studii philosophic, p. 425. 5 Opus tertium, Brewer ed. pp. 74-75. 6 Ibid., p. 59. 7 Opus maius (1266-1267), Bridges ed., I, 401.

Roger Bacon


request was repeated in the form of a papal mandate of 22 June 1266.8 Bacon eventually replied with his three famous works, Opus maius, Opus minus, and Opus tertium, the last two prefaced with explanatory epistole in which he set out his proposals for the reform of learning and the welfare of the Church. It is reasonable to suppose that after twenty years of preparation he composed these scripture preambule to an unwritten Scriptum principale between the receipt of the papal mandate and the end of 1267. In that year he sent to the pope, by his pupil John, the Opus maius with some supplements, including De speciebus et virtutibus agentium in two versions9 and De scientiaperspectiva,10 followed (before the pope died in November 1268) by the Opus minus and Opus tertium as resumes, corrections, and additions to it. The pope left no recorded opinion of Bacon's proposals. Perhaps at this time Bacon wrote his Communia naturalium and Communia mathematica^ mature expressions of many of his theories. These were followed in 1271 or 1272 by the Compendium studii philosophic, of which only the first part on languages remains and in which he abused all classes of society, and particularly the Franciscan and Dominican orders for their educational practices. Sometime between 1277 and 1279 he was condemned and imprisoned in Paris by his order for an undetermined period and for obscure reasons possibly related to the censure, which included heretical Averroist propositions, by the bishop of Paris, Stephen Tempier, in 1277. The last known date in his troubled life is 1292, when he wrote the Compendium studii theologii.11

Scientific Thought
The Opus maius and accompanying works sent to the pope by Bacon as a persuasio contain the essence of his conception of natural philosophy and consequential proposals for educational reform. He identified four chief obstacles to the grasping of truth: frail and unsuitable authority, long custom, uninstructed popular opinion, and the concealment of one's own ignorance in a display of apparent wisdom. There was only one wisdom, given to us by the authority of the Holy Scriptures; but this, as he explained in an interesting history of philosophy, had to be developed by reason, and reason on its part was insecure if not confirmed by experience. There were two kinds of experience, one obtained through interior mystical inspiration and the other through the exterior senses, aided by instruments and made precise by

8 9 10 11

Brewer, p. 1. Cf. Opus maius, Bridges ed., pt IV, dist. ii-iv; and De multiplicatione specierum, Bridges ed. Cf. Opus maius, pt. V. Rashdall, pp. 3, 34.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

mathematics.12 Natural science would lead through knowledge of the nature and properties of things to knowledge of their Creator, the whole of knowledge forming a unity in the service and under the guidance of theology. The necessary sciences for this programme were languages, mathematics, optics, scientia experimentalis and alchemy, followed by metaphysics and mortal philosophy. Bacon leaves no doubt that he regarded himself as having struck a highly personal attitude to most of the intellectual matters with which he dealt, but his writings are not as unusual as the legends growing about him might suggest. They have, on the whole, the virtues rather than the vices of Scholasticism, which at its best involved the sifting of evidence and the balancing of authority against authority. Bacon was conscious of the dangers of reliance on authority: Rashdall draws attention to the irony of his argument against authority consisting chiefly of a series of citations. Most of the content of his writings was derived from Latin translations of Greek and Arabic authors. He insisted on the need for accurate translations. When it was that he learned Greek himself is not certain, but his Greek grammar may be placed after 1267, since in it he corrected a philological mistake in the Opus tertium. He also wrote a Hebrew grammar to help in the understanding of Scripture. One of the most interesting and attractive aspects of Bacon is he awareness of the small place of Christendom in a world largely occupied by unbelievers, 'and there is no one to show them the truth.'13 He recommended that Christians study and distinguish different beliefs and try to discover common ground in monotheism with Judaism and Islam, and he insisted that the truth must be shown not by force but by argument and example. The resistance of conquered people to forcible conversion, such as practised by the Teutonic knights, was 'against violation, not to the arguments of a better sect.'14 Hence the need to understand philosophy not only in itself but 'considering how it is useful to the Church of God and is useful and necessary for directing the republic of the faithful, and how far it is effective for the conversion of infidels; and how those who cannot be converted may be kept in check no less by the works of wisdom than the labour of war.'15 Science would strengthen the defences of Christendom both against the external threat of Islam and the Tartars and against the methods of 'fascination' that he believed had been used in the Children's Crusade and the revolt of the Pastoreaux, and would be used by the Antichrist. Bacon's mathematics included, on the one hand, astronomy and astrology (discussed later) and, on the other, a geometrical theory of physical causation related to his optics. His assertions that 'in the things of the world, as regards

12 13 14 15

Opus maius, VI, 1. Ibid., Bridges ed., Ill, 122. Ibid., II, 377. Opus tertium, Brewer ed., pp. 3-4.

Roger Bacon


their efficient and generating causes, nothing can be known without the power of geometry' and that 'it is necessary to verify the matter of the world by demonstration set forth in geometrical lines'16 came straight from Grosseteste's theory of multiplicatio specierum, or propagation of power (of which light and heat were examples), and his account of the 'common corporeity' that gave form and dimensions to all material substances. 'Every multiplication is either according to lines, or angles, of figures.'17 This theory provided the efficient cause of every occurrence in the universe, in the celestial and terrestrial regions, in matter and the senses, and in animate and inanimate things. In thus trying to reduce different phenomena to the same terms, Grosseteste and Bacon showed a sound physical insight even though their technical performance remained for the most part weak. These conceptions made optics the fundamental physical science, and it is in his treatment of this subject that Bacon appears most effective. Besides Grosseteste his main optical sources were Euclid, Ptolemy, al-Kindi, and Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen). He followed Grosseteste in emphasising the use of lenses not only for burning but for magnification, to aid natural vision. He seems to have made an original advance by giving constructions, based on those of Ptolemy for plane surfaces and of Ibn al-Haytham for convex refracting surfaces, providing eight rules (canones) classifying the properties of convex and concave spherical surfaces with the eye in various relationships to the refracting media. He wrote: If a man looks at letters and other minute objects through the medium of a crystal or of glass or of some other transparent body placed upon the letters, and this is the smaller part of a sphere whose convexity is towards the eye, and the eye is in the air, he will see the letters much better and they will appear larger to him. For in accordance with the truth of the fifth rule [Fig. 1] about a spherical medium beneath which is the object or on this side of its centre, and whose convexity is towards the eye, everything agrees towards magnification [ad magnitudinem], because the angle is large under which it is seen, and the image is larger, and the position of the image is nearer, because the object is between the eye and the centre. And therefore this instrument is useful for the aged and for those with weak eyes. For they can see a letter, no matter how small, at sufficient magnitude.18 According to the fifth rule,19 if the rays leaving the object, AB, and refracted at the convex surface of the lens meet at the eye, E, placed at their focus, a magnified image, MN, will be seen at the intersections of the diameters passing from the centre of curvature, C, through AB to this surface and the projections of the rays entering the eye. As he did not seem to envisage the use of
Opus mains, Bridges ed., I, 143-144. Ibid., p. 112. 18 Ibid., V.iii.ii.4 (Bridges ed., II, 157). 19 Figure I is redrawn and relettered from Opus maius, V.iii.ii.3, British Museum MS Royal V.f.viii, 13th cent., f. 93r.
17 16


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought


Fig. 1
combinations of lenses, Bacon got no further than Grosseteste in speculating about magnifications such that 'from an incredible distance we may read the minutest letters and may number the particles of dust and sand, because of the magnitude of the angle under which we may see them.'20 But he did make an important contribution to the history of physiological optics in the West by his exposition of Ibn al-Haytham's account of the eye as an image-forming device, basing his ocular anatomy on Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Ibn Sma. In doing so, he seems to have introduced a new concept of laws of nature (a term found in Lucretius and numerous other authors more widely read, such as St Basil) by his reference to the 'laws of reflection and refraction' as leges communes nature.21 His meaning is clarified by his discussion elsewhere of a lex nature universalis22 requiring the continuity of bodies and thus giving a positive explanation, in place of the negative horror vacui, which he rejected, of such phenomena as water remaining in a clepsydra so long as its upper opening remained closed - an explanation comparable to one found in Adelard of Bath's Natural Questions. Universal nature constituted from these common laws, including those de multiplication specierum, was superimposed on the system of particular natures making up the Aristotelian universe - not yet the seventeenth-century concept but perhaps a step toward it. 'Having laid down the roots of wisdom of the Latins as regards languages and mathematics and perspective,' Bacon began Part VI of the Opus maius, 'I wish now to unfold the roots on the part of scientia experimental, because without experience [experientia] nothing can be known sufficiently.23 This science, 'wholly unknown to the general run of students,' had 'three great

Ibid., Bridges ed., II, 165. Opus tertium, Duhem ed., pp. 78, 90; Opus maius, Bridges ed., II, 49. 22 Ibid., 1,151; De multiplicationespecierum, ibid., II, 453; Communia naturalium, Steele ed., fasc. 3, pp. 220, 224. 23 Opus maius, Bridges ed., II, 167.


Roger Bacon


prerogatives with respect to the other sciences.'24 The first was to certify the conclusions of deductive reasoning in existing speculative sciences, including mathematics. As an example he gave an investigation of the shape and colours of the rainbow involving both theoretical reasoning and the collection of instances of related phenomena in order to discover their common cause. The second prerogative was to add to existing sciences new knowledge that they could not discover by deduction. Examples were the discovery of the properties of the magnet, the prolonging of human life by observing what plants produced this effect naturally in animals, and the purification of gold beyond the present achievements of alchemy. The third prerogative was to investigate the secrets of nature outside the bounds of existing sciences, opening up knowledge of the past and future and the possibility of marvelous inventions, such as ever-burning lamps and explosive powders. It is clear that Bacon's scientia experimentalis was not exactly what this term might now suggest, but belonged equally to 'natural magic' aimed at producing astonishing as well as practically useful effects by harnessing the hidden powers of nature. His approach had been profoundly influenced by the pseudoAristotelian Secretum secretorum, of which he had produced an annotated edition variously dated between 1243 and sometime before 1257, but he also insisted that his new science would expose the frauds of magicians by revealing the natural causes of effects. The 'dominus experimentorum' of the Opus tertium25 who may have been Pierre de Maricourt, the pioneer investigator of magnetism, is praised for understanding all these essential characteristics. In the Opus minus,26 Bacon described possibly original experiments of his own with a lodestone held above and below a floating magnet, and argued that it was not the Nautical (Pole) Star that caused its orientation, or simply the north part of the heavens, but all four parts equally. It was in this work, and in the Opus tertium27 that he inserted his main discussion of alchemy, including the conversion of base metals into gold and silver. There is a further discussion in the Communia naturalium,28 together with sketches of the sciences of medicine and agriculture. In the Communia mathematical and the Epistola de secretis operibus artis et naturae et de nullitate magiae,30 he described more wonderful machines for flying, lifting weights, and driving carriages, ships and submarines, and so on, which he believed had been made in antiquity and could be made again. Despite his occasional references to them, Bacon in his accredited writings deals with neither instruments nor mathematical tables in any but a superficial
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Ibid., p. 172. Brewer ed., pp. 46-47. Ibid., pp. 383-384. Little ed., pp. 80-89. Steeleed.,fasc. 2, pp. 6-8. Steele ed., fasc, 16, pp. 42-44. Brewer ed., p. 533.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

way. For this reason it is hard to measure his stature by comparison with that of his contemporaries whom we should call astronomers and mathematicians. We are not encouraged to set great store by the stories that while in Paris he constructed astronomical tables and supplied the new masters with geometrical problems that none of their audiences could solve.31 His mathematics and astronomy were in fact almost wholly derivative, and he was not always a good judge of competence, preferring, for instance, al-Bitruji to Ptolemy. Bacon is often held to have achieved a deep and novel insight in regard to the role of mathematics in science, an insight that to the modern mind is almost platitudinous. In this connection it is easy to forget the large numbers of astronomers of antiquity and the middle ages for whom mathematics was an essential part of the science, and the smaller numbers of natural philosophers who had made use of simpler mathematical techniques than those of astronomy. It is more to the point to notice that Bacon argues for the usefulness of mathematics in almost every realm of academic activity. Part IV of the Opus maius is devoted to the usefulness of mathematics (1) in human affairs (this section was published separately as the Specula mathematica); (2) in divine affairs, such as chronology, the fixing of feasts, natural phenomena, arithmetic and music; (3) in ecclesiastical affairs, such as the certification of faith and the emendation of the calendar; and (4) in affairs of state, under which heading are included geography and astrology. When Bacon sang the praises of mathematics, 'the first of the sciences,' 'the door and key of the sciences,' 'the alphabet of philosophy,' it has to be remembered that he used the word in an unusually wide sense. Bacon seemed to fear that mathematics would be dismissed as one of the blacker arts, as when arithmetic was applied to geomancy. He sought 'per vias mathematics verificare omnia que in naturalibus scientias sunt necessaria', and yet in the last resort, experience was still necessary, and in a sense supreme.32 So loud and long were Bacon's praises of the mathematics that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that his love of the subject was unrequited. He could compose his De communibus mathematice and mention, in geometry, nothing beyond definitions, axioms, and methods. Apart from mathematically trivial results in such practical contexts as engineering, optics, astronomy and the like, his works apparently contain not a single proof, not a single theorem; and we must take on trust the story of the difficult problem he devised for the young Paris masters. As for his analytical skills and his views on the citation of authority, rather than try to resolve the geometrical paradox of the doctrine of atomism - that it can make the hypotenuse and side of a square commensurable - he preferred simply to dismiss it as being contrary to Euclid. The standard discussion of ratios in Euclid, Book V, did not include a numerical treatment of the subject, for which the standard medieval authority

31 32

Opus tertium, Brewer ed., pp. 7, 36, 38. See, e.g., Opus maius, Bridges ed., II, 172-173.

Roger Bacon


was the Arithmetica of Boethius. There the different species of ratio are tediously listed and subdivided, and the absence of a similar logical division of ratio in Euclid was complained of by Bacon in Communia mathematical3 He was not to carry out the programme at which he might seem to have hinted, and not until Bradwardine's Geometria speculativa did the Schoolmen make any progress toward a numerical description of irrational ratios, except perhaps in some halting attempts to elucidate Proposition III of Archimedes' De mensura circuit. As for the relation of logic to mathematics, Bacon inverted, in a sense, the logistic thesis of our own century: without mathematics, for instance, the categories were unintelligible.34 Mathematics alone gave absolute certainty. Bacon was unusual in that he generally named his sources, citing such authors as Theodosius, Euclid, Ptolemy, al-Farabi, and - among modern writers Jordanus de Nemore (De triangulis and Arithmetica} and Adelard. Despite his criticism of Jordanus, by any reckoning a better mathematician than Bacon, he had praise for 'the only two perfect mathematicians' (of his time), John of London and Pierre de Maricourt. He also condescended to praise Campanus of Novara and a 'Master Nicholas,' teacher of Amauri, son of Simon de Montfort. In the last analysis, almost everything Bacon wrote under the title of mathematics is best regarded as being at a metaphysical level. His view that in mathematics we have perfect demonstration reinforced his theory of natural action. His philosophy of science, however, was inherently empiricist: rational argument may cause us to dismiss a question, but it neither gives us proof nor removes doubt. It was held in the Opus maius that a more accurate knowledge of the latitudes and longitudes of placed was needed for (1) knowledge of mankind and the natural world; (2) facilitation of the spiritual government of the world - missionaries, for example, would be saved from danger and from much wasted labour; (3) knowledge of the whereabouts of the ten tribes and even of the Antichrist. His geography was nevertheless a compilation of works on descriptive geography (in which he gave, as it were, an extended verbal map of the world) by such writers as Ptolemy and al-Farghani, supplemented by the reports of Franciscan travellers, especially to the East. In the Opus maius35 he stated the possibility of voyaging from Spain to India. The passage was inserted, without reference to its source, in the Imago mundi36 of Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly (d. 1420). Humboldt argued that this passage, quoted by Columbus in a letter of 1498 to Ferdinand and Isabella, was more important in the discovery of America than the Toscanelli letters. Thorndike suggests that Columbus probably did not read the vital work until

33 34 35 36

Steeleed.,fasc. 16, p. 80. Opus maius, Bridges ed., I, 102; cf. Communia mathematica, Steele ed., fasc. 16, p. 16. Bridges ed., I, 290 ff. Imago mundi was first published at Louvain in 1480 or 1487.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

his return from the first voyage of 1492.37 It is immaterial, as Thorndike points out, whether Bacon was merely optimistically citing Aristotle, Seneca, Nero, and Pliny on the distance of Spain from India. In fact Bacon argued as cogently from such longitudes and latitudes as were available in the Toledan tables as he did from classical authors. For the radius of the earth Bacon took a figure of 3,245 miles (al-Farghani). He stated that the earth's surface was less than three-quarters water. In both cases he selected good figures from a great many authoritative but bad ones. It is clear, nevertheless, from his repetition of the method of determining the size of the earth - a method he took from al-Farghani - that he had no appreciation whatsoever of the practical difficulties it involved. Bacon appears to have sent a map to the pope with his Opus mains. Although it is now lost, from the description he gave it appears to have included the better known towns of the world plotted by their latitudes and longitudes as found in many contemporaneous lists.38 We have no knowledge of the projection adopted, but the description is compatible with the use of a rectangular co-ordinate system. Bacon used the words 'astronomia' and 'astrologia' in a typically ambiguous manner, but there is no doubt that he believed in the reasonableness of what we would call astrology. In the Opus tertium he spoke of astrology as the most important part of mathematics, dividing it into a speculative, or theoretical, part, presumably of the sort included in Sacrobosco's Sphere, and a practical part, 'que dicitur astronomia,'39 concerned with the design of instruments and tables.40 A remark in the Opus maius,41 written in 1267, confirms a similar remark made four years later by Robertus Anglicus,42 to the effect that conscious efforts were being made to drive what amounts to a clock (in Bacon's example the spherical astrolabe was to be driven) at a constant rate. This seems to confirm approximately the terminus ante quern non previously determined for the mechanical clock. On many occasions Bacon emphasised at length that the two sorts of 'astrology' were essential if man was to learn of the celestial influences on which terrestrial happenings depended. By reference to Ptolemy, Haly Ibn Sina, Abu Ma'shar, Messahala, and others, he showed that the best astrologers had not held that the influence of the stars subjugated the human will, and that the Fathers who objected to astrology on these grounds had

A History of Magic and Experimental Science, II, 645. Bridges ed., I, 300. 39 Cf. Communia mathematica, Steele ed., fasc. 16, p. 49. 40 Brewer ed., p. 106. Since in ch. XII of the same work he seems to have used the word 'tables' to refer primarily to almanacs, i.e., ephemerides, and to have spoken of instruments only as a means of verifying tables, it is probable that here he meant to refer only to the astrolabe and the equatorium. 41 Bridges ed., II, 202-203. 42 See L. Thorndike, The Sphere ofSacrobosco and Its Commentators (Chicago, 1949), p. 72.


Roger Bacon


never denied that astrology could throw light on future events. It was possible to predict human behaviour statistically but not with certainty in individual cases. Astrology might strengthen faith in the stability of the Church and foretell the fall of Islam and the coming of the Antichrist; and all these things 'ut auctores docent et experiencia certificat.'43 On occasion he likened astrological influence to the influence of a magnet over iron. In his main works Bacon did not discuss the technicalities of astronomy or astrology, but in both of the works ascribed to him with the title De diebus creticis44 the standard medical astrology of the time is rehearsed. These works are not merely compilations of older authorities. Although technically they are in no sense new, they have a rational cast and even include the testimony of medical men of the time. The first of these two works is interesting because it incorporates the whole of the De impressione aeris attributed to Grosseteste and printed among his works by Baur. Little45 suggests that Grosseteste (d. 1253) collaborated with Bacon. Internal evidence suggests a date of composition of about 1249. Some planetary positions quoted for that year are sufficiently inaccurate to suggest that the work was written before 1249 rather than after, and that the author was by no means as skilled as the best astronomers of the time. The Speculum astronomic, of doubtful authorship (see below), is inconsistent with certain of Bacon's accredited writings. It is essentially a criticism of Stephen Tempier's decree of 1277 attacking 219 errors, several involving a belief in astrology. As already seen, Bacon's prison sentence was probably related to the bishop's decrees. Bacon's astronomical influence was slight in all respects, although through Paul of Middleburg he is said to have influenced Copernicus.46 His writings on the calendar were frequently cited.47 Theologians treated the calendar with a respect it did not deserve, regarding it as a product of astronomy, while astronomers would have treated it with more disdain had they been detached enough to perceive it in a historical context. Here Bacon's scepticism was useful, and whatever the depth of his astronomical knowledge, he wrote on calendar reform with as much insight as anyone before Regiomontanus Nicholas of Cusa notwithstanding. In discussing the errors of the Julian calendar, he asserted that the length of the Julian year (365 1A days) was in excess of the truth by about one day in 130 years, later changing this to one day in 125 years. The length of the (tropical) year implied was better than

Opus maius, I, 385. Steele ed., fasc. p, appendices ii and iii, ed. Little. 45 Little, ibid., p. xxx. 46 Bridges ed., I, xxxiii, 292. 47 See bibliography. Note that the same passage occurs, word for word, in Opus tertium, Brewer ed., pp. 271-292; and in Opus maius, Bridges ed., I, 281. Notice, however, that the Computus, written 1263-1265, does not contain any passage from either of these works, and that it acknowledges Arabic, rather than paying lip service to Hebrew, sources.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Ptolemy's, and indeed better than that accepted in the Alphonsine tables compiled a few years after the Opus maius. (The correct figure for Bacon's time was one day in a little over 129 years.) The Alphonsine tables imply that the Julian error is one day in about 134 years. There is no reason whatsoever to suppose, as many have done following Augustus De Morgan, that Bacon's data were his own. Thabit ibn Qurra made the length of the year shorter than the Julian year by almost exactly one day in 130 years, and according to a curious passage in the Communia naturalium Thabit was 'maximus Christianorum astronomus.' In the Computus, however, Thabit is grouped with alBattanl and others who are said to have argued for one day in 106 years, while Asophus ('Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar al-Sufi) appears to have been the most probable source of influence, with his one day in 131 years.48 As a means of reforming the calendar, Bacon seems finally to have recommended the removal of one day in 125 years (cf. the Gregorian method of ignoring three leap years in four centuries), and in connection with Easter, since the nineteen-year cycle is in error, the astronomical calculation of the feast; otherwise a lunisolar year like that of the eastern nations should be adopted. (Grosseteste had previously made this proposal.) He tempered this rash suggestion with the pious qualification that if an astronomical calculation of Easter was to be adopted, Hebrew astronomical tables should be used. His proposals may be compared with the much less radical ones of Nicholas of Cusa, who in his Reparatio calendarii (pre-1437?) merely suggested a temporary patching up of the calendar, eliminating a number of days to alter the equinox suitably (Gregorian reform, supervised by Clavius, took the same superfluous step) and changing the 'golden number' so as to make the ecclesiastical moon correspond for a time with reality. These solutions were inferior to Bacon's, including fewer safeguards against a future state of affairs in which Church usage and the ordinances of the Fathers might differ appreciably. It is worth noting that Stoffler proposed to omit one day in 134 years (an obviously Alphonsine parameter), while Pierre d'Ailly followed Bacon explicitly in advocating a lunisolar cycle. Again, in connection with a proposal for calendar reform in England, we find that in 1582 John Dee commended Bacon to Queen Elizabeth as one who had 'instructed and admonished' the 'Romane Bishopp,' who was now 'contented to follow so neare the footsteps of veritye.'49 Judging by the speed of English legislation in the matter of calendar reform, it seems that Bacon was a little less than five centuries ahead of most of his countrymen. Little wrote in 1914, The extant manuscripts of Bacon's works show that the "Doctor mirabilis never wanted admirers,"'50 and cited as evidence the

48 49 50

Steele ed., fasc. 6, pp. 12-18. Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS C. 254, f. 161r. Pp. 30-31.

Roger Bacon


existence of twenty-seven manuscripts of the Perspective?1 alone, dating from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Apart from his proposals for the calendar it was on Bacon's optics that most scientific value was placed, by his contemporary Witelo as well as by Francesco Maurolico, John Dee, Leonard Digges, Hobbes, and the first editors of his works. At the same time his accounts of alchemy and natural magic gave him more dubious fame, varying from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries with current popular prejudices.

i. ORIGINAL WORKS. A number of Baconian problems must remain unsolved until there is a complete critical edition of his works: see the bibliography by Little in Roger Bacon: Essays (Oxford, 1914), pp. 375-426; compare G. Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, II (Baltimore, 1931), 963-967; and L. Thorndike and P. Kibre, A Catalogue oflncipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin (2nd ed., Cambridge, Mass. 1963. The earliest of Bacon's authentic works to be printed was the Epistola de secretis operibus artis et naturae (De mirabili potestate artis et naturae) (Paris, 1542; Basel, 1593); in the Opera, J. Dee, ed. (Hamburg, 1618); in French (Lyons, 1557; Paris, 1612,1629); in English (London, 1597,1659); in German (Eisleben, 1608); and other eds. After this appeared the De retardandis senectutis accidentibus et de sensibus conservandis (Oxford, 1590; in English, London, 1683); and Specula mathematica (part of Opus maius IV); in qua De specierum multiplication earumdemque in inferioribus virtute agitur and Perspectiva (Opus maius V), both ed. J. Combach (Frankfurt, 1614). There were other early eds. of the doubtful Speculum alchemiae (Nuremburg, 1541; in French, 1557; English, 1597; German, 1608; with later reissues) and the collection De arte chymiae scripta (Frankfurt, 1603, 1620). The 1st ed. of the Opus maius was by S. Jebb (London, 1733), followed by an improved ed. (Venice, 1750), both including only pts. I-VI. Pr. VII was included in the new ed. by J.H. Bridges, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1897), with a supp. vol. (Ill) of revisions and additional notes (London, 1900). This ed. was trans, into English by R.B. Burke (Philadelphia, 1928). Pt. VII of the actual MS sent to the pope has been ed. by E. Massa, Rogeri Baconi Moralis philosophia (Zurich, 1953). The eds. of Jebb and Bridges (Vols. II and III, pp. 183-185) both include De multiplication specierum, a separate treatise forming part of a larger work; a further section of this has been ed. with a discussion of its date and associations by F.M. Delorme, 'Le prologue de Roger Bacon a son traite De influentiis agentium,' in Antionianum, 18 (1943), 81-90. The 1st eds. of the Opus minus and the Opus tertium, together with the Compendium studii philosophic and a new ed. of the Epistola de secretis

Opus maius, pt. v.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

operibus, were by J.S. Brewer in Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quaedam hactenus inedita (London, 1859). Further sections of the first two works have been ed. by F. A. Gasquet, 'An Unpublished Fragment of Roger Bacon,' in The English Historical Review, 12 (1897), 494-517, a prefatory letter and other parts of Opus minus; P. Duhem. Un fragment inedit de I'Opus tertium de Roger Bacon (Quaracchi, 1909), on optics, astronomy, and alchemy; and A.G. Little, Part of the Opus tertium of Roger Bacon, British Society of Franciscan Studies, IV (Aberdeen, 1912). The last two items include Bacon's De enigmatibus alkimie. For further parts of the Opus minus, including discussions of alchemy, still unpublished, see A. Pelzer, 'Une source inconnue de Roger Bacon, Alfred de Sareshel, commentateur des Meteorologiques d'Aristote,' in Archivium Frandscanum historicum, 12 (1919), 44-67. Other works have been ed. by E. Nolan and S.A. Hirsch, The Greek Grammar of Roger Bacon, and a Fragment of His Hebrew Grammar (Cambridge, 1902); H. Rashdall, Fratris Rogeri Baconi Compendium studii theologii, British Society of Franciscan Studies, III (Aberdeen, 1911); S.H. Thomson, 'An Unnoticed Treatise of Roger Bacon on Time and Motion,' in Isis, 27 (1937), 219-224; and in Opera hactenus inedita Rogeri Baconi, R. Steele, ed. (unless otherwise stated), 16 fasc. (Oxford, 1905-1940): (1) Metaphysical De viciis contractis in studio theologie (1905); (2-4) Communia naturalium (1905-1913); (5) Secretum secretorum cum glossis et notulis (1920); (6) Computus (1926); (7) Questiones supra undecimum prime philosophic Aristotelis (Metaphysica, XII) (1926); (8) Questiones supra libros quatuor physicorum Aristotelis, F.M. Delorme, ed. (1928); (9) De retardatione accidentium senectutis cum aliis opusculis de rebus medicinalibus, A.G. Little and E. Withington, eds. (1928); (10) Questiones supra libros prime philosophic Aristotelis (Metaphysica, I, II, V-X) (1930); (11) Questiones altere supra libros prime philosophic Aristotelis (Metaphysica, I-IV), Questiones supra de plantis (1932); (12) Questiones supra librum de causis (1935); (13) Questiones supra libros octo physicorum Aristotelis, F.M. Delorme, ed. (1935); (14) Liber de sensu et sensato, Summa de sophismatibus et distinctionibus (1937); (15) Summa grammatica, Sumule dialectices (1940); and (16) Communia mathematica (1940). The Chronica XXIV generalium ordinis minorum (ca. 1370) was pub. inAnalecta Franciscana, 3 (1897). II. SECONDARY LITERATURE. The best critical study of Bacon's life is T. Crowley, Roger Bacon: The Problem of the Soul in His Philosophical Commentaries (Louvain-Dublin, 1950). The pioneering study by E. Charles, Roger Bacon: Sa vie, ses ouvrages, ses doctrines d'apres des textes inedits (Paris, 1861), is now mostly of historical interest. Essential studies are A.G. Little, ed., Roger Bacon: Essays Contributed by Various Writers (Oxford, 1914), especially contributions by Little (life and works), L. Baur (Grosseteste's influence), Hirsch (philology), E. Wiedemann, S. Vogl, and E. Wiirschmidt (optics), Duhem (vacuum), M.M.P. Muir (alchemy), E. Withington (medicine)' and I.E. Sandys (English literature); Little, Franciscan Letters, Papers and Documents (Manchester, 1943); L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and

Roger Bacon


Experimental Science, II (New York, 1929), 616-691; S.C. Easton, Roger Bacon and His Search for a Universal Science (Oxford, 1952), with bibliography; and F. Alessio, Mito e scienza in Ruggero Bacone (Milan, 1957). Studies of particular aspects are E. Schlund, Tetrus Peregrinus von Maricourt: Sein Leben unsd seine Schriften,' in Archivum Fransiscanum historicum, 4 (1911), 445-449, 636-643; L. Baur, 'Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste,' in Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, 9 (1912), 52-63 and 'Die Philosophic des Robert Grosseteste,' ibid., 18 (1917), 92-120; P. Duhem, Le systeme du monde (Paris, 1916-1958), III, 260-277, 411-442, V, 375-411, VIII, 121-168; A. Birkenmajer, 'tudes sur Witelo, i-iv,' in Bulletin international de I'Academie polanaise des sciences et des lettres, Classe d'histoire et de philosophis (1920), 354-360 and 'Robert Grosseteste and Richard Fournival,' in Mediaevalia et humanistica, 5 (1948), 36-41; R. Carton, L'experience physique chez Roger Bacon, L'experience mystique de I 'illumination interieure chez Roger Bacon, La synthese doctrinale de Roger Bacon, nos. 2, 3, 5 in the series Etudes de philosophic medievale (Paris, 1924); C.B. Vandewalle, Roger Bacon dans I'histoire de la philologie (Paris, 1929); G. Meyer, 'En quel sens peut-on parler de "methode scientifique" de Roger Bacon,' in Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique (Toulouse), 53 (1952), 3-25, 77-98; A.C. Crombie, Roger Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science 1100-1700, 3rd imp. (Oxford, 1971), pp. 41, 139-162, 204-207,213-218,278-281, with bibliography and The Mechanistic Hypothesis and the Scientific Study of Vision,' in Proceedings of the Royal Microscopical Society, 2 (1967), 20-30, 43-45; M. Schramm, 'Aristotelianism: Basis and Obstacle to Scientific Progress in the Middle Ages,' in History of Science, 2 (1963), 104-108; and A. Pacchi, 'Ruggero Bacone e Roberto Grossatesta in un inedito hobbesiano del 1634,' in Rivista critica di storia filosofia, 20 (1965), 499-502.

Further References
See A.C. Crombie, Science, Optics and Music . . . (1990) 258, 284, Styles of Scientific Thinking . . . (1994); J.N.G. Hackett, The Meaning of Experimental Science (Scientia experimentalis) in the Philosophy of Roger Bacon (University of Toronto doctoral thesis, 1983), Roger Bacon: An annotated bibliography (New York, forthcoming); D.C. Lindberg, Theories of Vision from AlKindi to Kepler (Chicago, 1976), Studies in the History of Medieval Optics (London, 1983); with Roger Bacon, Philosophy of Nature, a critical ed. with English trans!., introd. and notes of De multiplication specierum and De speculis comburentibus by D.C. Lindberg (Oxford, 1983).

The most customary course of all this nature has certain natural laws of its own according to which both the spirit of life, which is in a creature, has in some way certain settled desires of its own, which even malevolence cannot overcome, and the elements of this corporeal world have their settled power and quality, what any one of them may or may not effect and what may or may not come from what. (St. Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram ix. 17)

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature: A Medieval Speculation

A fundamental problem for any system of thought is the validation of its first principles. This was the problem to which the earliest Greek mathematicians and philosophers had to address themselves in their search for principles which established the characteristically Western style of abstract thinking. They assumed that they were dealing with a stable world, both of thought and of existence, of which the principles had to be found. But what if an even more fundamental principle was postulated on which that Stability depended, a principle of unlimited or infinite power capable of changing the principles of the world? What, further, if this principle was essentially inscrutable? That was the question to which Western philosophers had to address themselves when dealing with the confrontation, during the 13th and 14th centuries, of Greek cosmology and metaphysics (especially of Aristotle) with the accepted Christian doctrine that the world had been created by an omnipotent and utterly undeterminable agent. I want to consider briefly the consequences for natural philosophy of that doctrine. We are familiar with the effects on physical science of fundamental conceptual changes, such as those brought about by using statistical instead of mechanical postulates and by the postulates of relativity. We may look at the effects of this Hebrew-Christian postulate of creation on Greek physics and metaphysics in a similar way, remembering of course that this was not a scientific postulate but one believed to have been handed down to mankind by revelation from the First Principle itself. The postulate of creation obliged medieval natural philosophers to rethink some basic assumptions of the Greek physics and metaphysics, with which they became familiar through the texts and Latin translations made available in Western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. They had to rethink the question of natural necessity involved in the regularities of nature, and the conception of causality both as existing in nature and as knowable by man. Out of these considerations came a new conception of laws of nature, in the form to become a scientific commonplace in the writings of Descartes, Boyle and Newton. So let us look briefly at the history of conceptions of natural necessity, law-like regularities and eventually laws of nature, as they appeared with diverse meanings depending on the context of assumptions about the nature of things. Essentially they were of two kinds: (1) as conceived


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

by Plato, Aristotle, the Greek atomists and the Stoics, intrinsic in the existing world; (2) as conceived in Hebrew and Christian thought, laid down by the external creator of the world. Both involved a comparison between moral laws of mankind and physical laws of nature, a comparison requiring clarification in the course of scientific history. I will first say something briefly about the history of these questions, and then come finally to the effect of the postulate of the infinite power of the creator of nature upon the conception of laws of nature as established by the 17th century. The notion that nature followed inescapable laws or regularities was a fundamental conception introduced by the earliest Greek philosophers in contrast with earlier beliefs. The Babylonian astronomers for example had developed highly sophisticated arithmetical methods of calculating and predicting the movements of the heavenly bodies, within a system of beliefs in which those movements (and indeed everything that happened in the world) were carried out by the arbitrary wills of supernatural beings. The order of things was then a kind of legal or sociological order of arrangements between these beings. By contrast, the Greeks introduced two fundamental and related concepts: that of causality, which allowed for no freedom of action outside an exclusive causal order of things (I pass over the questions of chance and uncertainty which they also discussed); and that of proof from established or assumed first principles. These were related: effects followed from postulated causes just as consequences followed from postulated premises. Related also were the decision of questions by argument and evidence, as distinct from edict, custom, revelation etc., and the introduction of models embodying mathematical necessity and physical causality, such as Eudoxus's cosmological model postulating the celestial spheres. The order of nature so postulated was at once mathematical and physical, and also moral, and this combination was to characterize conceptions of nature (in different ways according to varying contexts of general beliefs) down through the 19th century, and in some respects residually does so still. For Homer and Hesiod nature (physis) was at once a physical and a moral order, in the sense that what was allotted by destiny (tnoira) happened both necessarily and also rightly in the physical world and in human affairs alike. A notion of law as distinct from custom or usage appeared in the meaning given to nomos as the dispensation of Zeus. Nomos then came to signify, beyond the normal processes and habitual behaviour of nature and mankind, the regular and rightful functions that ought to be exercised within the allotted limits of necessity 0). The changing significance of nature, necessity, law and related terms in Greek, Latin and later languages marked the changing contexts and contents of European natural philosophy. When the divine craftsman of the Timaeus

0) Cf. F. M. Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy, Cambridge 1912; Idem, The Laws of Motion in the Ancient World, Cambridge 1931; P. Brunei and A. Mieli, Histoire des sciences: Antiquite, Paris 1935; F. Heinimann, Nomos und Physis, Basel 1935; H. and H. A. Frankfort, J. A. Wilson and T. fakobsen, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, Chicago 1946; B. Snell, The Discovery of the Mind, trans. T. G. Rosenmeyer, Oxford 1953; G. Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Providence, R. I. 19572; W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, 6 vols., Cambridge 1962-81. This paper s based on my discussion of the subject in my: Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition, London 1994, > with full documentation and bibliography.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


fashioned the world by imposing his moral design upon the materials given in the nature of the universe by the laws of destiny (TKXV-CO? qnicnv v6[xou$ TOU<; eifiapfjievou<;) (4IE), the consequence was a mixed results of the combination of necessity and reason. Reason overcame necessity by persuading her to guide the greatest part of the things that become towards what is best (48A). The demiurge could in this way fashion the world, but he did not create it, as did the omnipotent Jehovah in contemporary Hebrew doctrine, out of nothing, with an existence entirely external to and dependent upon himself. In the Latinized and Christianized Plato, this distinction was to be confused, as was the Platonic conception of law as a necessity rather arising from the materials given than laid down by divine decree. Thus Calcidius in the fourth or fifth century A.D. translated Timaeus (4IE) as [...] universae rei naturam spectare iussit kgesque immutabilis decreti docuit ostendens (2). Ficino translated this a millemum later as monstravit universi naturam, at leges fatales edixit, and another phrase contrary to the established use of nature (rcapa TOU? -afc (puae<oc v6|iou$) as ex confronts praeter naturae Ieges (83E) (3). It was their ambiguous use of leges, both for the necessity inherent in the nature of things and for the normal processes of natural things, that confused the issue in Plato, and pointed towards the naturales leges of a different intellectual context in which nature was constituted entirely of laws laid down by an omnipotent and eternal creator and remained entirely dependent upon his will. This conception of nature and of naturales leges was to be established in Latin Christian philosophy by Augustine of Hippo. The alternative atomist conception of laws of nature arising entirely out of the necessity in the nature of matter alone, without any divine lawgiver or provindential design, was set out by Lucretius, following essentially Epicurus. For in the nature given in his title De rerum natura, deliberately recalling many earlier treatises, it stands ordained what all things severally can do by the laws of nature (per foedera natural), and what too they cannot* (I, 586) (4). In the generation of the world from the common first-beginnings of things (primordia rerum) it was of great importance with what others and in what position they are held together and what movements they mutually give and receive*; for the same primordia constituted the sky, earth, sea, living things and other things of all kinds, but only when mingled and moving with different things in different ways. Likewise in his own verses many common letters or many elements (elementa) common to many words gave rise to many differences in both sense and sound: So great is the power of elements by a mere change of order. But the first-beginnings of things can bring more means
(2) Plato, Timaeus, a Calcidio translates commentarioque instructus, ed. J. H. Waszink, London & Leiden 1962; cf. M. B. Foster, The Christian Doctrine of the Creation and the Rise of Modem Natural Science, in Mind, N.S. XLIII (1934), pp. 446-68; Idem, Christian Theology and Modern Science of Nature, ibid., N.S. XLIV (1935), pp. 439-66, and XLV (1936), pp. 1-27; L. Spitzer, Classical and Christian Ideas of World Harmony, in Traditio II (1944), pp. 409-64, and III (1945), pp. 307-64; J. C. M. Van Winden, Chalcidius on Matter, Leiden 1959; J. H. Waszink, Studien zur Timaios Kommentar des Calcidius, Leiden 1964. (3) Plato, Operum a Marsilio Ficino tralatorum tomi quinque..., Lyons 1550, vol. IV, pp. 889, 964. (*) Lucretius, De rerum natura, ed. C. Bailey, 3 vols., Oxford 1947; cf. Virgil, Georgics, I, 60-1; Seneca, Naturales quaestiones, VI, 1, 12; Pliny, Naturalis historia, II, 5, 27 and 27, 97; Epicure, Opere, ed. by G. Arrighetti, Turin 19732; C. Bailey, The Greek Atomists and Epicurus, Oxford 1928; K. Reich, Der historische Ursprung des Naturgesetzbegriffs, in Festschrift Ernst Kapp, Hamburg 1958, pp. 121-134.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

to bear, by which all diverse things may be created* (I, 817-29). But in nature not by design did the first-beginnings of things place themselves each in their order with keen intelligence*, but rather, by trying every kind of motion and union, at length they fall into such dispositions as those of which this created sum of things consists* (I, 1021-2, 1026-8). Thus the bodies of the first-beginnings in the ages past moved with the same motion as now, and hereafter will be borne on forever in the same way; such things as have been wont to come to being will be brought to birth under the same conditions [II, 297-301]. In this endless process neither can the motions of destruction prevail for ever, and bury life in an eternal tomb, nor yet can the motions of creation and increase for ever bring things to birth and preserve them. So war waged from time everlasting is carried on by balanced strife of the first-beginnings. Now here, now there, the vital forces of things conquer and are conquered alike [II, 569-76]. Just as the common letters of the alphabet gave rise to many different words and meanings, so the first-beginnings common to many things* could make up wholes different from one another* (II, 695-8). But just as in living things all are born of fixed seeds and a fixed parent and can as they grow preserve their kind, so always what happened must come about in a fixed way (certa fieri ratione). It was not only living things in their generation that were bound by these laws (teneri legibus hisce), but the same condition (ratio) sets a limit to all things* (II, 707-10, 718-9). We should not then assume purpose in asking by what law (foedus) all things are created, and how they must of necessity abide by it, nor can they break through the firm ordinances of everlasting time (aevi [...] leges) (V, 56-58). By the same laws of nature arose everything attributed to the gods. The world was too imperfect to be of divine origin, so great are the faults with which it stands beset* (199). Thus each of these things comes forth after its own manner, and all preserve their separate marks by a fixed law of nature (foedere naturae certo) (923-4). One should look for such laws in everything, as in the generation of living things, or as one asked by what law of nature it comes about that iron can be attracted by the stone which the Greeks call the magnet, from the name of its native place* (VI, 906-8). Or again one must look similarly for the law that gave rise to language, by which man got the first power to know and see in his mind what he wanted to do* (V, 1049). The first systematic confrontation of Greek thought with the Hebrew theology of creation came in the 1st century B.C. with Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (5). The last great thinker of a line of Hellenized Jews in Alexandria who set out to reformulate Greek philosophy in terms of that theology, Philo in turn came both directly

(') Philo ludaeus, Opera, Geneva 1613; with English translation by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker, 10 vols. with 2 supplements trans. R. Marcus, London 1929-62; Lei oeuvres, ed. by R. Arnaldez, J. Pouilloux, C. Mondesert, 16 vols., Paris 1961-67; cf. H. A. Wolfson, Pbilo, 2 vols., Cambridge, MA 1947; R. Arnaldez et Al, Philon d'Alexandrie, Paris 1967.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


and through Augustine and other routes to affect profoundly the formulation of later Christian, Moslem and Jewish thinking about the relation of God to the world and to mankind. Philo accepted the Greek conception of immutable causality which determined the order of the world, but he was at pains to identify the true source of that order. He made use of the Stoic terms logos and logos spermatikos, seminal principle or reason (6), but gave them a different meaning. He argued with the support of Scripture that God did not act as Aristotle had maintained as an essentially passive first cause coeternal with the world emanating by necessity from the divine reason, that God did not make the world out of preexisting matter as in the Timaeus, that God was neither material nor within the world as supposed by the Stoics, and that God was in no way necessitated, but that he had acted with entirely free omnipotence in creating ex nihilo a world separate from himself. Philo used the term logos for principles that entered into this process first as the rational pattern on which God modelled his creation like a city which was fashioned beforehand within the mind of the architect* (De opificio mundi, 5,20) so that
the world discerned only by the intellect is nothing else than the reason (logos) of God when he is engaged in the act of creation. For (to revert to our illustration) the city discernible by the intellect alone is nothing else than the reasoning faculty of the architect in the act of planning to found the city [6,24, cf. 4,16-7,29].

Finally the logos was the system of principles introduced in the act of creation into the world as its immutable laws, God's power existing within the world itself. These were found in the natures of the heavenly bodies and the movements of the stars and numberless other operations of nature*, often
obscure to us, for all things are not within the ken of mortals, yet working together for the permanence of the whole; operations which are invariably carried out under ordinances and laws (Oeo(ioT( xoti v6|xoi() which God laid down in his universe as unalterable [19,61].

The cause for the sake of which this universe was created* (5,21) was as Plato had written God's desire to share his goodness, by an act not necessitated by his perfection but of wholly free providence not propotional to his acutal powers, for these are without end or limit, but in proportion to the capacities of the recipients* (6,23). The logos existing in nature provided thus for its harmony and for the perpetuation of species by means of the seminal essences (spermatikai ousiai) within which hidden and imperceptible are the logoi of all things* (13,43, cf. 44). But if God had so chosen, he could have created a different world, so that if the existent One had willed to employ his skill, by which he made amphibious creatures, in making a new kind of creature living in all the elements* (Quod detenus potion insidiari solet) (42,154) (7), he could have changed the existing natural order. God was absolute lord of the universe: For this world is the great city, and it has a single polity and a single law (nomos), and this is the reason (logos) of nature, commanding what should be done and forbidding what should not be done* (De
(6) Cf. Diogenes Laertius, VII, 134, 136, 147. (7) Cf. Lucretius, op. cit., Ill, 784-787; V, 128-131.


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Josepho, 6,29); and as absolute lord he could overrule that law and order as in the miracles well attested by Scripture. Philo saw in Scripture both literal and underlying meanings, from which he could apply the concept of law to God as an analogy (8), but it was no more than an analogy. For God's nature was so unlike created natures as to be unknowable by human reason, a conclusion that was to take a central place in subsequent Christian, Moslem and Jewish philosophy. The survival and revival in the West of Platonic and atomist thought, as of the equally influential Greek scepticism and Stoicism, depended in the first place on the survival of the Greek texts and the making of Latin versions. Their survival and revival depended at the same time on the ideas presented. Platonism, atomism especially in its Epicurean form, and Stoicism each offered at once an account of the origin and nature of things and a morality for the human condition appropriate to that account. Sceptical criticism forced each alike to defend its principles and in turn was forced into defence against counterattack. These philosophies diversified the intellectual context of scientific thinking in antiquity, and again in medieval and early modern Europe, by relating the sciences of nature to more general problems of knowledge and existence. They promoted in the culture of each society or period a certain specificity of commitment and expectation. Platonic thought, with a deceptive similarity to Christianity which at first captivated Augustine, was promoted by him through the essential mediation of Plotinus with the firm proviso that, in its fundamental doctrines of God, the creation and the soul, it was very different. Augustine was much influenced, in his use of the scriptural theology of creation as a cardinal principle of his natural philosophy, by Philo Judaeus. He established a Platonized Latin Christian philosophy with the historically pregnant conception of the world as the work of an eternal omnipotent, omniscient, providential and wholly distinct creator. Augustine offered with his theological insight into the inexorable objectivity of the laws of nature, indifferent to human wishes even if alterable by their creator, an encouragement to rational knowledge of them, and a scientific conception of methods of acquiring and exercising such knowledge. God the creator of all things
knew beforehand, without any beginning, all things to come in time. [...] And with respect to all his creatures, both spiritual and corporeal, it is not because they are that he knows them, but because he knows them they are. For he was not ignorant of what he was to create; hence he created because he knew, he did not know because he created [De Trinitate XV, 13.22] ().

(8) De Josepho, 6, 28; Quaestiones in Genesim IV, 90, 151, 184, 205; Quaestiones in Exodum II, 19, 59.
(9) Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis Ep., Opera, 20 vols., Venice 1584; Opera omnia, ed. J. P. Migne, 16 vols., Paris 1861; with individual works in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinomm, XXV..., Prague, Vienna & Leipzig 1891-..., and in Corpus Christianum, Turnhout, 1954-...; also Oeuvres, vol. V, 2 (De quantitate animae), ed. P. de Labriolle, Bruges 1939; De civ. Dei, trans. H. Bettenson, Harmondsworth, Middlesex 1972; cf. A. Schubert, Augustins lex-aetema-Lehre nacb Inhalt und Quellen, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, XXIV, 2, Miinster 1924; J. F. Callahan, Four Views of Time in Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge, MA 1948; R. M. Grant, Miracle and Natural Law in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Thought, Amsterdam 1952; E. Portalie, A Guide to the Thought of Saint Augustine, trans. R. J. Bastian, London 1960; A. C. Crombie, Some Attitudes to Scientific Progress: Ancient, Medieval and Early Modem, in History of Science XIII (1975), pp. 213-30.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


God created nothing in ignorance; which cannot be truly said of any human artificer. Then if God created all things knowingly, he created things which he already knew. This appears surprising but yet as something true: that this world could not be known to us if it did not already exist, but it could not have existed if it had not been known to God [De civ. Dei XI, 10.3].

As for men:
Some people, in order to discover God, read a book. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above and below, note, read. God, whom you want to discover, did not make the letters with ink; he put in front of your eyes the very things that he made (10). The laws of nature were the laws of numbers, exemplified to the senses in time and space in the rational proportions of sounds and of the growth of plants and general order of the visible universe. All things appearing in the universe have in fact originally and primarily already been created in a kind of web of the elements; but they make their appearance only when they get the opportunity. For just as mothers are pregnant with their young, so the world itself is pregnant with things that are to come into being, things that are not created in it except from that highest essence where nothing either springs up or dies, nothing has a beginning or an end. But when appropriate conditions arose, then those things which are contained and hidden in the secret bosom of nature may break out and be outwardly created in some way by the unfolding of their proper measures and numbers and weights, which they have received from him who has ordered all things in measure and number and weight [De Trin. Ill, 9, 16, quoting Wisdom 11, 21]. Just as in music, the provindential unfolding of the history both of nature and of mankind required time for its rational pattern to appear, and that rational pattern was in all cases embodied in the unchanging laws of nature that generated the process through time. Thus: The most customary course of all this nature has certain natural laws (naturales leges) of its own according to which both the spirit of life, which is in a creature, has in some way certain settled desires of its own, which even malevolence cannot overcome, and the elements of this corporeal world have their settled power and quality, what any one of them may or may not effect and what may or may not come from what. From these, as it were, origins (primordia) of things, all things which come to be, whatever they are and of whatever genus, take their beginnings and progresses, their departures and ends. So it is that a bean is not born from a grain of wheat, nor wheat from a bean, nor a man from a beast, nor a beast from a man. Above this natural motion and course of things the power of the Creator
(10) Sanctus Augustinus, Novos ex codicibus vaticanis Sermones, Nova patrum bibliotheca, Sermo CXXVI, 6, ed. A. Mai, vol. I, Rome 1852, p. 292; cf. E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W. R. Trask, New York 1953.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

has in himself the ability to make from all things something other than is in accord with their, as it were, seminal principles (rationed seminales), but he cannot by himself or from any things make that which was not ordained in those things. For his power is not an unruly one, but he is omnipotent through the strength of this wisdom. He makes from any one thing in its due time that which in it he had previously made possible. Therefore there are different arrangements of circumstances by which this herb generates thus and that one thus, by which this season is fruitful and that one not, by which a man can speak and a beast cannot [De Genesi ad litteram IX, 17; cf. De civ. Dei VI, X, 24, XIV, 2, XXI, 8].

If the certainty of belief in the rational and providential creation of nature and destiny of mankind encouraged a disposition towards scientific inquiry (ll), Augustine's further insights into the conception of natural laws offered a context for the exercise of scientific knowledge. To acquire knowledge we could argue from natural signs or from general laws. Thus we argued from smoke to fire, from track to animal, from facial expression to emotion. We could also use conventional signs to convey information, as we did through language and as both we and the animals did through voice and gesture (12). We could prognosticate either legitimately or illegitimately:
For it is one thing to say: If you drink the juice of this herb, your stomach will not hurt, and quite another to say: If you hang this herb round your neck, your stomach will not hurt. The first course is recommended as a healthful remedy; the second is to be condemned as a superstituous sign.

But more effective were arguments from general laws and starting conditions as in astronomy. For:
It contains beyond a demonstration of present circumstances an element akin to historical narration, since on the basis of the present position and motion of the stars it is possible to trace their past courses according to rule. It also includes predictions concerning the future made according to rule which are not superstituous and portentous but certain and fixed by calculation. We do not seek to learn from these any application to our deeds and fates in the manner of the ravings of the astrologers but only information that pertains to the stars themselves. For just as he who computes the phases of the Moon, when he has observed its condition today, can determine its condition at a given period of years in the past or in the future, so in the same way those who are competent can make assertions about any of the other stars [De doctrina christiana II, 29].

Likewise in the arts whether of construction or of medicine, agriculture and navigation or of dancing and wrestling: In all of these arts experience with the past makes possible inferences concerning the future, for no artificer in any of them performs operations except in so far as he bases his expectations of the future on past experience* (II, 30). Such predictions were made from the unchangeable laws of numbers instituted by God in nature, and discovered by men as the measure of the past and future:
( u ) Cf. De civ. Dei, XXII, 24; cf. A. C. Crombie, Some Attitudes..., cit. (12) De doctrina christiana, II, 2-3, trans. D. W. Robertson, Indianapolis & New York 1958; cf. R. A. Markus, St. Augustine on Signs, in Phronesis II (1957), pp. 60-83.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


It is perfectly clear to the most stupid persons that the science of numbers was not instituted by men, but rather investigated and discovered. Virgil did not wish to have the first syllable of Italia short, as the ancients pronounced it, and it was made long. But no one could in this fashion because of his personal desire arrange matters so that three threes are not nine, or do not geometrically produce a square figure, or are not the triple of the ternary, or are not one and a half times six, or are evenly divisible by two when odd numbers cannot be so divided. Whether they are considered in themselves or applied to the laws of figures, or of sound, or of some other motion, numbers have immutable rules not instituted by men but discovered through the sagacity of the more ingenious [II, 38]. By whatever mysterious means it may be that the future is foreseen, it is possible to see only something that exists; and whatever exists is not future but present. So when we speak of foreseeing the future, we do not see things that are not yet in being, that is, things that are future, but it may be that we see their causes or signs, which are already in being. In this way they are not future but present to the eye of the beholder, and by means of them the mind can form a concept of things that are still future and thus is able to predict them. These concepts already exist, and by seeing them present in their minds people are able to foretell the actual facts which they represent. [...] Suppose that I am watching the break of day. I predict that the Sun is about to rise. What I see is present, but what I foretell is future. I do not mean that the Sun is future, for it already exists, but that its rise is future, because it has not yet happened. But I could not foretell the sunrise unless I had a picture of it in my mind, just as I have at this moment while I am speaking about it. Yet the dawn, which I see in the sky, is not the sunrise, although it precedes it; nor is the picture which I have in my mind the sunrise. But both the dawn and my mental picture are seen in the present, and it is from them that I am able to predict the sunrise, which is future. The future then is not yet; it is not at all; and if it is not at all, it cannot possibly be seen. But it can be foretold from things that are present, because they exist now and can therefore be seen [Confessions XI, 18] ( ). Roger Bacon moved towards a new conception of nature by making the particular regularities which he called the laws of reflection and refraction examples of the common laws of nature. Likewise it was a lex nature universalis requiring the continuity of bodies that prevented the water from running out of a clepsydra, a vessel with a hole at the top and a perforated bottom, so long as the upper opening remained closed. This provided a positive cause for a positive phenomenon instead of the negative horror vacui .which Bacon rejected as contrary to the whole doctrine of adequate causation. The real cause he wrote in an early discussion of the question was the orderly regulation of the bodies of the universe and the congruence of the machine of the world (ordinatio corporum universi et mundi machine congruentia) (14). This he developed by explaining that the particular nature of water remains in position upwards not by itself but by the power (virtus) of universal
(1}) Trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin, Harmondsworth, Middlesex 1961, with changes. (M) Roger Bacon, Quaestiones supra libros quattuor Physicorum Aristotelis, ed. F. Delorme in Opera hactenus inedita, vol. VIII, Oxford 1928, pp. 200-1; cf. A. C. Crombie, The Significance of Medieval Discussions of Scientific Method for the Scientific Revolution, in Critical Problems in the History of Science, ed. M. Clagett, Madison, WI 1959, pp. 66-101; Idem, The Relevance of the Middle Ages to the Scientific Movement, in Perspectives in Medieval History, ed. K. F. Drew and F. S. Lear, Chicago 1963, pp. 35-57; A. C. Crombie and J. D. North, Bacon, Roger (c. 1219-c. 1292), in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, I, New York 1970, pp. 377-85; M. Schramm, Aristotelianism: Basis and Obstacle to Scientific Progress in the Middle Ages, in History of Science* II (1963), pp. 91-113.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

nature, for it was held up by a law of universal nature (ex lege nature universalis) (15). This natura universalis acted as both efficient and final cause. Universal nature constituted from its common laws thus subordinated to itself the system of particular natures with their natural tendencies making up the Aristotelian universe. Its laws were necessary and general. The idea seems to have been suggested by Avicenna to whom Bacon referred in explaining in De multiplicatio specierum (I, 6) how although by a law of particular nature (ex lege nature particularis) there is aptitude* for certain actions on the part of certain substances, nevertheless by divine ordination and a law of universal nature, about which Avicenna makes mention in Metaphysics VI, the capability is cut off and the act excluded* (16). The common laws of natural multiplication (leges communes multiplicationum naturalium) were shared by the propagation of light and other forms of energy, but these again could be dispensed for the benefit of natural order by the capability of the power of the soul in completing the act of vision (Opus maius V, 1,7). This occurred at the ultimate seat of sensory perception in the brain. Alhazen had argued that all that was required for true visual perception was that the image formed in the eye should preserve the proper arrangement of its parts corresponding to those of the object seen. To explain how this image was transmitted through the hollow optic nerves for presentation in the brain it was not then required that it should follow in these sentient organs the rectilinear propagation followed in non-sentient transparent media. Bacon brought this into his system as a further regular mode of propagation:
After I have shown the power of mathematics, I have come to the position of optics (perspectiva) [...]. Next I show the origin and composition of the eyes, because without this we cannot know how vision is effected. Therefore I disclose how the evidently concave optic nerves in which is the visual power arise from parts of the brain, and how they are composed of a threefold membrane and intersect like a cross in the surface of the brain, in which intersection and not in the eye is the principle organ of seeing. [...] After this I show that the image (species) of a thing is sent forth to sight [...] because images come to every part of the pupil from the separate parts of the thing. [...] Next because vision would be ruined unless there were a refraction of the image between the pupil and the common nerve where there is the common section of the nerves of which I spoke above, and right would be seen left and vice versa, therefore I demonstrate this by the law of refraction (per legem refractionutn), set out geometrically, so that vision is thus saved. Yet it is necessary nevertheless that the image of the thing seen should propagate itself by a new kind of propagation, so that it should not transgress the laws which nature keeps in the bodies of the world. For the image at its place of refraction advances according to the tortuosity of the visual nerve, and does not keep to a straight path, which is wonderful, but nevertheless necessary for the completion of the operation. So that the power of the soul makes the image relinquish the common laws of nature (leges communes nature) and advance in a way that suits its operations [...] (17). That the laws of reflection and refraction are indeed common to all natural actions I have shown in the treatise on geometry [...] but principal(l3) Roger Bacon, Liber primus Communia naturalium, ed. R. Steele in Opera hactenus inedita, cit., vol. Ill, Oxford 1911, pp. 220, 224. (16) Idem, De multiplicatione specierum, ed. D. Lindberg in Roger Bacon's Philosophy of Nature, Oxford17 1983, pp. 84-5. ( ) Roger Bacon, Un fragment inedit de I'Opus tertium, Quarracchi 1909, pp. 75-8.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


ly in a separate work where I have explained the whole generation and multiplication and action and corruption of power (species) in all the bodies of the world (18).

It was the moral law of God that Thomas Aquinas looked for in nature. A11 the moral precepts of law come from the law of nature (lex naturae) (Summa tbeologiae, I, q. 60, art. 5) he wrote; and the law of God is the natural inclination imprinted in any creature to act in a way suited to it according to nature*. Then came the question whether God can do anything outside the established order of nature. Aquinas answered with an exemplary account of the omnipotent freedom of the Hebrew and Christian God as the creator of the world, by contrast with the rational necessity of the Aristotelian God as its first cause. It might seem that God could not do anything outside the order of nature which he established, for if he did he would be acting against the order of justice which he had established likewise and moreover he would seem to be changeable. Aquinas distinguished the total freedom of God as the first cause from the necessity of secondary causes to follow the higher causes to which they were subject. We could suppose that God as the first cause would not act against his foreknowledge, or his will, or his goodness*, but
he is not subject to the order of secondary causes. On the contrary this order is subject to him, since it proceeds from him not by natural necessity but by the choice of his own will; for he could have created another order of things. Therefore God can do something outside this order created by him when he chooses: for example by producing effects of secondary causes without them, or by producing certain effects to which secondary causes do not extend. So Augustine says: God acts against the wonted course of nature, but by no means does he act against the supreme law, because he does not act against himself.

Then since the order of nature is given to things by God, if he does anything outside this order, it is not against nature. Hence Augustine says: That is natural to each thing which is caused by him from whom is all limit, number and order in nature* (I, q. 105, art. 6) (19). The problem for the philosophers was at once epistemological and theological. The epistemological problem of defining what could be known about different subjectmatters and with what degrees of certainty was subordinated to the theological principle that the entire created world was contingent upon the inscrutable omnipotence of the Creator. William of Ockham in developing his theory of evidence under this principle limited the knowledge of the creation available to us to our immediate experience of the regularities found in particular objects. Empirically established connections were validated universally by the assumed principle that all individuals of the same kind (ratio) are so made as to have effects of the same kind in a subject of the same kind disposed in the same way (Super Quattuor libros SententiaC8 Ibidem, p. 90, referring to Comm. nat. and De mult, spec.: cf. ed. D. Lindberg in Roger Bacon's Philosophy..., cit., pp. 365-6. (19) Quoting Augustine, Contra Faustum XXVI, 3 (Opera omnia, ed. J. P. Migne, cit., vol. XLII, p. 480), and De utilitate credendi XVI (ibidem, p. 90).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

rum, Prol. q. 2, K) (20). Hence there is between cause and effect indeed an essential order and dependence* (Prol. q. 9, F), but effect and cause were separate things and knowledge of one thing did not contain knowledge of another. For I say that although God acts through the mediation of secondary causes*, such action is voluntary, not necessary*. This did not make secondary causes superfluous, because God does not act in any action with his whole power*. But from the omnipresence of divine power
it follows that it is not possible to demonstrate that some effect is produced by a secondary cause: because although combustion always follows the bringing of fire near combustible material, it could still stand that fire is not its cause. Because God could have ordained that always when fire is present the nearby subject itself alone causes combustion, just as he has ordained with the Church that when certain words are brought forth grace is caused in the soul. Hence it is not possibile to prove by an effect that someone is a man, especially by an effect that appears in us, because everything we see in a man can be done by an embodied angel, as eating, drinking etc. That is evident from the angel of Tobias* [II, q. 4-5, R] (21).

He argued in a subtle analysis that the intuitive notion (notitia intuitiva) gained through sensory perception of something that existed was naturally infallible in providing evident knowledge* of this fact to which we gave assent*. But God can cause a creditive act by which I believe that a thing that is absent is present* (Quodlibeta, V, 5). For whatever God produces with secondary causes mediating he can produce and conserve immediately without them*. Then God can make us see without a created object on which vision depends only as on a secondary cause* (VI, 6) (22). This doctrine placed natural philosophy and with it the relation
(M) William of Ockham, Super Quattuor libros Sententiarum annotations..., Lyons 1495; Scriptum in lib. I Sentent. Prologus, ed. G. Gal and S. Brown, in Opera philosophica et theolagica, vol. I, St. Bonaventura, N.Y. 1967, pp. 91, 241; cf. R. Guelluy, Philosophic et theologie chez Guillaume d'Ockham, Louvain & Paris 1947; A. C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste, Oxford 1953, 2nd cd. with corrections 1971; Idem, Augustine to Galileo, London & Cambridge, MA 1959, 3rd ed. reprinted 1979; L. Baudry, Lexique philosophique de Guillaume d'Occam, Paris 1958; F. Oakley, Christian Theology and the Newtonian Science: the Rise of the Concept of Laws of Nature, in Church History* XXX (1961), pp. 433-57; Idem, Medieval Theories of Natural Law: William of Ockham and the Significance of the Voluntarist Tradition, in Natural Law Forum* VI (1961), pp. 65-83; M.A. Pernoud, Innovation in William of Ockham's References to the Potentia Dei, in Antonianum XLV (1970), pp. 65-97; Idem, The Theory of the Potentia Dei according to Aquinas, Scotus and Ockham, ibid. XLVII (1972), pp. 69-95; W. J. Courtenay, Nominalism and Late Medieval Religion, in The Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion, ed. C. Trinkaus and H. A. Oberman, Leiden 1974; A. Maurer, Ockham and the Possibility of a Better World, in Medieval Studies* XXXVIII (1976), pp. 291-312; D. W. Clark, Voluntarism and Rationalism in the Ethics of Ockham, in Franciscan Studies* XXXI (1971), pp. 72-87; Idem, Ockham on Human and Divine freedom, ibid. XXXVIII (1978), pp. 122-60; F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant, and Order, Ithaca, N.Y. 1984, incorporating earlier papers and further discussion. (21) Ed. 1495, Quaestiones in lib. II Sent., q. 3-4, ed. G. Gal and R. Wood, in Opera philosophica, cit., vol. V, 1981, pp. 72-3; cf. Tobias 12, 19. (22) Quodlibeta septem, first complete ed., Strasbourg 1491, ed. J. C. Wey, in Opera philosophica, cit., vol. IX, 1980; cf. P. Boehner, The notitia intuitiva of Non-existents according to William of Ockham, in Traditio I (1943), pp. 223-75; A. C. Pegis, Concerning William of Ockham, ibid. II (1944), pp. 465-80; M. M. Adams, Intuitive Cognition, Certainty, and the Scepticism of William of Ockham, ibid. XXVI (1970), pp. 389-98; J. F. Boler, Intuitive and Abstractive Cognition, in The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, ed. N. Kretzmann, A. J. Kenny and J. Pinborg, Cambridge 1982, pp. 460-78; K. H. Tachau, The Problem of species in medio at Oxford in the Generation after Ockham, in Medieval Studies* XLIV (1982), pp. 394-443.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


of perceiver to perceived in a wholly new context. The order of nature as known to us as an order of observable facts depended on God not being a deceiver. The dominance of Christian thinking by the theology of divine omnipotence had specific consequences for natural philosophy in the 13th and 14th centuries through the distinction drawn between God's absolute and his ordained power (potentia Dei absolute et ordinate) (2i). The recovery and incorporation into the educational system of the entire body of Aristotle's writings in the 13th century restructured treatment of the relation of philosophy to theology and of reason to faith, and provided a new apprehension of the relation of God to the world and to mankind and hence of nature as the object of scientific inquiry. Discussion focused on the nature of God and the opennes of divine to human knowledge. The Platonic God as the good whose reason generated the world in accordance with the eternal ideas and the Aristotelian God as the rational first cause from which everything eternally emanated were alike necessitated by their rational perfection to produce the best of all possible worlds. Human reason moreover could know that divine reason in such a way as to discover not only the true constitution of the world but also why it must necessarily be so constituted and not otherwise, both morally and physically. The God of Abraham and of Christian theology by contrast, in his act of creating a world utterly distinct from himself, was absolutely free and inscrutable to man except in so far as he chose to reveal his providential plan through the patriarchs and prophets and through Christ and his Church. This was the historical world of Christian belief and expectation, a world of which the creation by God's providential will established the beginning and sequence of time in which under divine rule man was free to fulfil his ordained destiny. The contrast offered by the Aristotelian God as reason, of whose discovered essence and perfection the world was an eternally necessary consequence without beginning or end, was the sharper because Aristotelian metaphysics entered the Latin West accompanied by Arabic paraphrases and commentaries which stressed its determinism. Muslim as Christian theologians had had to defend God's omnipotent freedom against the same Aristotelian determinism, but when the philosophers Avicenna, Alfarabi and especially Averroes introduced the idea of creation into their interpretations of Aristotelian metaphysics they appeared in doing so to deny alike free providence to God and free responsibility to man (24). The Christian response was to examine the nature of God's power and its relation to his other attributes of will, reason, goodness and foreknowledge. Out of this examination came the distinction developed notably by Albertus Magnus and Aquinas between God's power considered absolutely in itself (potentia absolute), without regard to the order of the creation which he had established, and his ordained power (potentia ordinata) by which he acted in his

(") See on this subject especially F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit., by which I have been guided in what follows. (24) Cf. F. Van Steenberghen, Aristote en Occident, Louvain 1946; Idem, Introduction a I'histoire de la philosophic medievale, Louvain 1974; L. Gardet and M. M. Anawati, Introduction a la theologie musulmane, Paris 1948; Majid Fakhey, Islamic Occasionalism and its Critiques by Averroes and Aquinas, London 1958; W. J. Courtenay, The Critique of Natural Causality in the Mutakallimun and Nominalism, in ^Harvard Theological Review* LXVI (1973), pp. 77-94; H. A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of Kalam, Cambridge, MA 1976.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

creative plan in accord with his providence and goodness (25). Absolutely then God could do as he liked, but in dealing with his creation he voluntarily restrained that absolute power within the providential order which he had created, except only when he chose to transcend it with a miracle. From each side of this distinction came specific consequences for natural philosophy. When Bishop Etienne Tempier of Paris in 1277 condemned a collection of philosophical theses his main purpose was to defend God's absolute power against any attempt to limit it by current Aristotelian philosophy (26). Thus a number of propositions asserted explicitly what God could not do: he could not make more than one world (34), make a man without the agency of a human father (35), move the world in such a way as to produce a vacuum (49), move anything differently from the way it moved (50), make an accident exist without a subject or more than three dimensions (141), or perform the absolutely impossibile (147). Tempier also condemned the proposition that there was no question disputable by reason which a philosopher ought not to dispute and decide by argument (145). Despite this last, the effect of the theological affirmation of God's absolute power seems to have been to have liberated the more enterprising natural philosophers from such Aristotelian limitations so that they could explore in speculation a variety of possible worlds which God might have created had he so chosen, possibilities involving the void, infinity and a plurality of universes. The condemned propositions were cited in the 14th century among others by Thomas Bradwardine, Jean Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Albert of Saxony and as late as the 17th century in defence of Galileo's cosmological arguments by Tommaso Campanella (27). The doctrine of the absolute and inscrutable power of God was to have a long reach in expanding the domain of the supernaturally and speculatively possible at the expense of accepted certainties of experience and demonstrations of philosophy. It was God's voluntary restraint of his absolute by his ordained power that preserved the established order of nature as a possible and proper object of human inquiry. That order was identified by Ockham as the order of laws that God had ordained and established: for I say that God can do one thing by ordained power
(23) Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa tbeologiae I, q. 25, art. 5 and Augustine (sec note 19); M. A. Permoud, The Theory of the Potentia Dei..., cit.; W. J. Courtenay, Nominalism and Late..., cit.,; B. Hamm, Promissio, Pactum, Ordinatio, Tubingen 1977, and especially F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit. (26) Chartularium Univenitatis Parisiensis, ed. H. Denifle, A. Chatelain, vol. I, Paris 1889, pp. 54355, of which the numbering is followed here; cf. E. Grant (ed.), A Source Book in Medieval Science, Cambridge, MA 1974, pp. 45 ff. (") Cf. P. Duhem, Etudes sur Leonard de Vinci, vol. II, Paris 1909, pp. 41-4; Idem, Le systeme du monde, vols. VI, VIII, Paris 1954, 1958; A. Maier, Die Vorlaufer Galileis im 14. Jabrbundert, Rome 1949, pp. 155-215 (2nd ed. 1966); Idem, Metapbysische Hintergriinde Spatscholastischen Naturphilosophie, Rome 1955, pp. 381; A. C. Crombie, The Significance of Medieval..., cit.; J. E. Murdoch in The Cultural Context of Medieval Learning, ed. J. E. Murdoch and E. D. Sylla, Dordrecht & Boston, MA 1975, pp. 271-348; Idem, Infinity and Continuity, in The Cambridge History of Late Medieval Philosophy, cit., pp. 566-9; J. F. Wippel, The Condemnations of 1270 and 1277 at Paris, in Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies* VII (1977), pp. 169-201; E. Grant, The Condemnation of 1277, God's Absolute Power, and Physical Thought in the Late Middle Ages, in Viator X (1979), pp. 211-44; Tommaso Campanella, Apologia pro Galileo, Frankfurt 1622, p. 24, English trans, by G. McColley (Smith College Studies in History XXII, 3-4, Northampton, MA 1937); Italian trans, by L. Firpo, Torino 1969; R. Hissette, Enquete sur les 219 articles condamnes a Paris le 7 man 1277, Louvain 1977; L. Bianchi, L'errore di Aristotele: La polemica contra I'etemita del mondo nel XIII secolo, Firenze 1984.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


and another by absolute power. These were of course a single power in God, who did nothing that was not ordained.
In this way we should understand that he can do something, whenever this is taken according to the laws ordained and established by God (secundum leges ordinatas et institutes a Deo) and that means what God can do by ordained power. In the other way, to be able to do something is taken for being able to do everything that does not involve a contradiction, whether God ordained this to be done or not, because God can do many things which he does not want to do [...]; and that means what God can do by absolute power. Thus the Pope cannot do something according to the law (jus) established by him which however he can do absolutely speaking.

Again in the scheme of salvation ordained by Christ to replace the Old Law (lex defuncta), what was then possible according to the laws then established is no longer possible according to the law now established, although absolutely speaking it is possible* (28). Ockham in effect applied to the created world in general, alike to the moral order governing human behaviour and to the natural order governing the behaviour of irrational beings, the metaphor of laws decreed by a ruler, here the inscrutable God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, of the Christian creed. With God's reasons no longer in any degree transparent to human reason as they still had been for Aquinas, mankind had no option but to accept the order of things as it was given in experience <nd in revelation through Holy Scripture. God by his absolute power could reverse the universal law (communis lex) of the existing moral order, making good actions evil and evil good if then they were to agree with divine precept P), just as he could upturn the existing physical order of things if he so chose. The only safeguard of constancy both moral and physical was the goodness of God, in which man must have faith, by which he freely bound himself to preserve a stable world. That, explained Ockham's contemporary Robert Holcot, was God's covenant with man and that alone guaranteed the consistency of the creation and of the economy of salvation and grace. For
there is a distinction between compulsory necessity (necessitas coactionis) and unfailing necessity (necessitas infallibilitatis). In God compulsory necessity has no place, but an unfailing necessity comes in God from his promise and covenant or established law (ex promisso suo et pacto sive lege statuta). This is not an absolute but rather a consequential necessity (>0).

It was the necessitee condicionel of Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale, by which God granted free choice despite his foreknowledge, by contrast with the symple necessitee by which something had to be done (11. 4433-41) (}1).
() William of Ockham, Quodlibeta VI, 1, ed. J. C. Wey, cit., pp. 585-86; cf. F. Oakley, Christian Theology..., cit.; Idem, Medieval Theories..., cit.; Idem, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit. (w) William of Ockham, Quaest. in lib. II Sent., q. 15, ed. G. Gal et R. Wood, cit., p. 352, cf. q. 3-4, pp. 58-60; F. Oakley ibid, with further references. C0) Quoted with changes from H. A. Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology, Cambridge, MA 1963, p. 168 n.; Idem, Forerunners of the Reformation, New York 1966, p. 149; cf. W. Kolmel, Von Ockham zu Gabriel Biel: zur Naturrecbtslehre des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderto, in Franziskanische Studien* XXXVII (1955), pp. 228-59. (3l) Cited with Holcot from F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit., p. 64.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

The attribution of the natural order entirely to laws of nature imposed from without by God's ordained will, and the elimination from the concept of nature of any intrinsic principle of rationality such as Aristotle had postulated, assimilated nature to a product of art. It was the product of a divine art not transparent like that of the Timaeus to human reason, but utterly impenetrable, its order discoverable only so far as it was directly observable or divinely revealed. Hence the evident empiricism of 14th-century natural philosophy and its focus not on any ultimate purpose which the natural order might have in the divine economy, but rather on the regularities of nature visible to man and on explanations postulated to account for them in a creation separated from its Creator. Thus Buridan in applying the dynamics of impetus to the celestial spheres:
One could say in fact that God, when he created the universe, set each of the celestial spheres in motion as it pleased him, impressing on each of them an impetus which has moved it ever since. God has therefore no longer to move these spheres, except in exerting a general influence similar to that by which he gives his concurrence to all phenomena. Thus he could rest on the seventh day from the work he had achieved, confiding to created things their mutual causes and effects (32).

Hence likewise the new relevance of analogies between the contrivance of the divine artificer, whose reasons man could not penetrate, and the contrivances which man could understand because he made them himself. The gravitational clock, propelled first by water and then mechanically by weights, had become gradually part of daily life by about the middle of the 14th century in many Western towns, where clocks had been set up in public places over the previous hundred years. Some appear to have been planetaria or astronomical clocks paralleling the motions of the celestial bodies, others to have been designed to measure the terrestrial hours. Elaborate astronomical clocks were devised and constructed by the Oxford mathematician Richard of Wallingford and in Italy by Giovanni de' Dondi. Perhaps the most famous terrestrial clock was that erected by Henri de Vick in Paris on the Palais Royal (now the Palais de Justice) in 1370, when Charles V of France ordered all churches in the city to ring the hours and quarters according to the equal divisions of the day incorporated in this instrument. Clocks came to interest philosophers as programmed mechanisms capable of self-regulation. Seven years after de Vick had installed his clock, Nicole Oresme completed his Le livre du del et du monde, commissioned by Charles V within his plan for translating into French the whole of Aristotle with commentaries. In this he wrote that it could be supposed that
when God created the heavens, he put in them motive qualities and powers just as he put weight in terrestrial beings, and he put in them resistances against these motive powers. [...] And these powers are so adjusted, tempered and harmonized to the resistances that the movements are made without violence; and except for violence it is doubtless like a man making a clock and letting it go and be moved by itself. Thus God left the heavens to be moved continually according to the propor()2) Johannes Buridanus, Subtilissime Questiones supra octo Pbisicorum libros Amtotelu, VIII, q. 12, Paris 1509; cf. A. Maicr, Die Impetustheorie (1940) revised in Zwei Grundprobleme der Scbolastischen Naturpbiloiopbie, Rome 1951, p. 212; Idem, Metaphysische Hintergriinde..., cit.; A. C. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo, cit., vol. II, p. 82.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


tions which the motive powers have to the resistances and according to the established order [II, 2].

That order God respected even when extraordinarily he performed a miracle, for as Oresme argued in explaining that he could have lengthened the day for Joshua far more economically by stopping a rotating Earth than the whole rotating heavens: When God performs a miracle, it must be supposed and held that he does this without disturbing the common course of nature more than the least that is necessary (II, 25) (). These ideas were all to have a long reach. Thus the Jesuit Francisco Sudrez in his Tractatus de legibus ac Deo legislator (1612) distinguished among the meanings of the term lex naturalis not only that law which is in mankind but also that which fits all things, in accordance with the inclination imparted to them by the Author of nature*. But this latter
acceptation of law is metaphorical, since things lacking reason are not properly speaking capable of law, just as they are not capable of obedience. Hence the efficacy of divine power and the natural necessity resulting therefrom in these things are called law metaphorically [I, 1].

God's free acts in so far as they operated externally might be said to relate to art, and in so acting he observed a law
which God as artist (artifex) has imposed upon himself, so that he may carry out his works in accordance with it. For although God could have made and ruled the world in various ways, he has decided to constitute and govern it according t'o a certain definite law

applying to both the physical and the moral order. Hence it is said that
God cannot do certain things according to ordinary law, namely which he has imposed upon himself, or that he cannot according to his ordained power (secundum potentiam ordinatam), that is reduced to such order by the same law. [...] Thus the free works of God are ruled by a law established by himself [II, 2] (M).

Similarly Descartes was to insist that even the mathematical truths, which you call eternal, have been established by God and depend on him entirely as well
(") Nicole Oresme, Le livre du del et du monde, ed. A. D. Menut and A. J. Denomy, trans. A. D. Menut, Madison, WI 1968; cf. for clockwork E. Zinner, Aus der Friikzeit der Raderuhr, in Deutsches Museum: Abhandhungen und Berichtc* XXII (1954), 3, pp. 1-64; H. A. Lloyd, Mechanical Timekeepers, in A History of Technology, ed. C. J. Singer et AL, vol. Ill, Oxford 1957, pp. 648-75; D. J. de S. Price, On the Origins of Clockwork, Perpetual Motion Devices and the Compass, in ^Smithsonian Institution Bulletin* CCXVIII (1959), pp. 81-112; S. A. Bedini and F. R. Maddison, Mechanical Universe: The Astrarium of Giovanni de Dondi, ^Transactions of the American Philosophical Society* N.S. LVI, 5, Philadelphia, PA 1966; J. D. North, Richard of Wallingford, Oxford 1976; J. Le Goff, Pour un autre moyen age: Temps, travail et culture en Occident, Paris 1977; D. S. Landes, Revolution in Time, Cambridge, MA 1983; also A. C. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo, cit. ()4) Francis Suarez, S. ]., Tractatus de legibus..., Coimbra 1612, pp. 7-8, in Selections from Three Works, with introduction by J. B. Scott, vol. I, Oxford 1944, pp. 103-104; cf. F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

as do all other creatures*. For it is God who has established these laws in nature, just as a king establishes laws in his kingdom*, and likewise he could change them just as a king does his laws. [...] But I comprehend them as eternal and immutable. [...] But his will is free [...] yet his power is incomprehensible* (35). If it were asked what has necessitated God to create these truths [...] I say that he has been as free to make it untrue, that all the lines drawn from the centre to the circumference were equal, as not to create the world* (36). We could not comprehend that divine power, by which again God could make it untrue that twice four was eight (37). Robert Boyle likewise was to be in no doubt that if we suppose God to be omnipotent, (that is, to be able to do whatever involves no contradiction, that it should be done)*, the possibility of human science depended entirely upon his freely chosen constancy. For
if we consider God as the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion, whose general concourse is necessary to the conservation and efficacy of every particular physical agent, we cannot but acknowledge, that, by withholding his concourse, or changing these laws of motion, which depend perfectly upon his will, he may invalidate most, if not all the axioms and theorems of natural philosophy: these supposing the course of nature, and especially the established laws of motion among the parts of the universal matter, as those upon which all the phaenomena depend (}8).

As these were established, he thought that

God's agency in the world [...] is like a rare clock, such as may be that at Strasburgh, where all things are so skilfully contrived, that the engine being once set a moving, all things proceed, according to the artificer's first design.

As for the term law, although for brevity and by custom he spoke of the laws of motion and rest* as the laws of nature*, this like Suarez he regarded as but an improper and figurative expression*. For to speak properly, a law being but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior, it is plain, that nothing but an intellectual being can be properly capable of receiving and acting by a law*. God as the supreme and absolute Lord, [...] when he made the world, and established the laws of motion, gave them to matter, not to himself*. What he created he also disposed, and
though I think it probable, that, in the conduct of that far greatest part of the universe which is merely corporeal, the wise Author of it does seldom manifestly
()3) R. Descartes to Marin Mersenne 15, IV, 1630, in Oeuvres, ed. by Ch. Adam and P. Tannery, vol. I, Paris 1897, pp. 145-6; cf. A. Funkenstein, Descartes, Eternal Truths, and Divine Omnipotence, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science* VI (1975), pp. 185-99; H. Frankfurt, Descartes and the Creation of the Eternal Truths, in Philosophical Review* LXXXVI (1976), pp. 36-57. (J6) R. Descartes, letter of 27, V, 1630, in Oeuvres, cit., pp. 151-2. (") Idem, Meditationes prima philosophia, Responsio ad sextes objectiones (1641); Oeuvres, vol. VII, (1904), p. 436; cf. Pliny, Nat. hist., II, 5, 27 and 27, 97 (note 4 above). (38) R. Boyle, Some Considerations about the Reconcilableness of Reason and Religion, sects. 2, 3 (1675), ed. T. Birch, Works, vol. Ill, London 1744, pp. 515, 516; cf. J. A. H. Murray et Al., A New English Dictionary, VI, 1, ed. H. Bradley, Oxford 1903: Law; E. M. Klaaren, Religious Origins of Modem Science: Belief in Creation in Seventeenth-Century Thought, Grand Rapids, MI 1977; F. Oakley, Omnipotence, Covenant..., cit.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


procure a recession from the settled course of the universe, and especially from the most catholic laws of motion

yet where men were concerned

I think it becomes a Christian philosopher to admit, in general, that God doth sometimes, in a peculiar though hidden way, interpose in the ordinary phenomena and events of crisis's; but yet that this is done so seldom, at least in a way that we can certainly discern, that we are not hastily to have recourse to an extraordinary providence, and much less to the strange care and skill of that questioned being called nature, in this or that particular case, though perhaps unexpected, if it may be probably accounted for by mechanical laws, and the ordinary course of things.

the omniscient and almight author of things having once framed the world, and established in it the laws of motion, which he constantly maintains, there can no irregularity, or anomaly, happen, [...] that he did not from the beginning foresee and think fit to permit, since they are but genuine consequences of that order of things, that, at the beginning, he most wisely instituted.

Only on some special occasions, this instituted order, either seemingly or really, has been violated* (}9). Against the deist use of the argument against God's special providence, that after the first formation of the universe, all things are brought to pass by the settled laws of nature, Boyle insisted that God's special providence was evident above all in the first formation of things*. For the laws of motion, without which the present state and course of things could not be maintained, did not necesarily spring from the nature of matter, but depended upon the will of the divine author of things*. Besides, he repeated,
I look upon a law as a moral, not a physical cause, as being indeed but a notional thing, according to which, an intelligent and free agent is bound to regulate its actions. But inanimate bodies are utterly incapable of understanding what a law is, or what it enjoins, or when they act conformably or unconformalby to it; and therefore the actions of inanimate bodies, which cannot incite or moderate their own actions, are produced by real power, not by laws; though the agents, if intelligent, may regulate the exertions of their power by settled rules ( ).

Boyle's attempt to restrict the term law to its proper human and moral context did not succeed, but the long tradition behind his insistence on the utter dependence of human science upon God's omnipotent will received an interesting extension by Isaac Newton. For God who created the world, who governs all things [...] as Lord over all*, and who knows all things that are and can be done* (41), could as easily if he so chose vary the laws of nature, and make worlds of several sorts in several parts of the universe* (42).
(39) R. Boyle, A Free Inquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature, sects. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 (1666-82); in Works, cit., vol. IV, (1744), pp. 362, 367, 385, 398, 403. () Idem, The Christian Virtuoso (1690); in Works, cit., vol. V, (1744), p. 46. (41) I. Newton, Philosophiae naturalis Principia mathematica, vol. Ill, Scholium generale, Londini 1687. () Idem, Opticks, 4th ed. query 31, London 1730, pp. 379-80.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Within this intellectual context the essentially theological concept of laws implanted by God in the creation of nature came to offer an invitation to man to discover and draw out these laws of nature by scientific observation and analysis. The theological concept of ordained law became transformed into the scientific concept of natural laws, not as moral imperatives sanctioned by right reason but as physical principles, albeit of a nature still with moral attributes. By the time of Newton the term laws of nature had come to designate the object of all scientific inquiry: the principles or axioms to be discovered by experimental and theoretical exploration, or postulated for experimental control. By itself the concept of laws of nature could scarcely have been a guide to how to conduct such an inquiry. What made it scientifically effective was its amalgamation with two matching concepts. First the analogy of natural with human art offered an invitation to simulate natural effects with artifacts made by and therefore understood by man: by discovering how to control hypothetical models of his own contrivance man could thus gain insight into the laws controlling nature itself. Secondly the concept of laws of nature became quantified by association with that of mathematical functions expressing the quantitative dependence of effect on cause in concomitant degrees (43). Thus changes in an effect (as the dependent variable) expressed as an algebraic function of the conditions necessary and sufficient to produce it (as the independent variables) could be precisely calculated from those conditions. It may be argued that the concept of functions can be found implicitly but effectively in antiquity: in tabulated correspondences of celestial motions in Babylonian and Greek astronomy, in the linkage made by musical theorists, from Archytas of Tarentum and Plato to Boethius, of different sensations of pitch with variations in the speeds of the motions producing sound, in Ptolemy's systematic correlation of the degrees of refraction of light with increasing angles of incidence, and so on. The concept may seem to be implied also by the Aristotelian principle that a cause must be adequate to produce an effect, and therefore that there must be a quantitative proportion between a cause and its effect. Yet it was evidently not until the 13th or 14th centuries that the implied notion of functional dependence between variable quantities was explicitly recognized in the West. Then it was developed first only in principle, without the systematic practice of measurement that was necessary to incorporate it effectively into experimental science. That practice was to develop first in the technical arts. It was not until the 17th century that systematic measurement was
(43) Cf. my Styles of Scientific Thinking..., cit.,ptiv: Hypothetical Modelling, and for the concept of functions 'cns.~ 3, 5, 7, 9 with E- Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophic und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit, vol. m, Berlin 1923; J. L. Coolidge, The Origins of Analytical Geometry, in Osiris I (1936), p. 231-50; Idem, History of Geometrical Methods, Oxford 1940; C. B. Boyer, The Concepts of the Calculus, New York 1939; Idem, History of Analytical Geometry, New York 1956; A. Maier, Der Funktionsbegriff in der Physik des 14. Jahrhunderts, in Divus Thomas XIX (1946), pp. 147-66; On the Threshold of Exact Sciences, ed. and trans, by S. D. Sargent, Philadelphia, PA 1982; A. C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste, cit.; Idem, Quantification in Medieval Physics, in Isis LII (1961), pp. 145-60; A. P. Youschkevitch, Geschichte der Mathematik in Mittelalter, Leipzig 1964; Idem, The Concept of Function up to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century, in Archive for History of Exact Sciences XVI (1976), pp. 37-85; M. Schramm, Steps towards the Idea of Function, in History of Science* IV (1965), pp. 70-102; E. Grant, A Source Book..., cit.; O. Pedersen, Logistics and the Theory of Functions, in Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences* XXIV (1974), pp. 29-50; Oberwolfach Mathematisches Forschungs Institut, Proceedings of a Conference on the Development of the Concept of Function, Basel 1975.

Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature


to be made essential to all physical research. It was combined then with a rational theory of quantity expressed in linear scales, replacing the inhibiting Greek conception that the properties of substances were present and had to be expressed as pairs of opposites, and with the analytical formulation of functional dependence by means of increasingly precise and powerful mathematical symbolism. By this time the mathematically defined general laws of nature had come to be seen to offer possibilities not given by the Aristotelian specific natures or forms or causes as the object of scientific inquiry. It was the mathematicization alike of the form and the content of scientific argument that brought about an essential change in natural science from the syllogistic logic of subject and predicate, within which the causal conditions for specific phenomena were defined, to the mathematical logic of linear demonstration, defining general relations of dependence within which the specific phenomena were included. All this can obviously not be seen as a consequence simply of a theological concept of infinite power. What can be seen as its consequence are expectations about the possibility of certain scientific knowledge. These appeared most dramatically in the cross-purposes that bedevilled Galileo's controversies with theologians. When Galileo in his first letter about the sunspots (1612) announced his hope to discover the true constitution of the universe; for such a constitution exists, and exists in only one, true, real way, that could not possibly be otherwise* (Opere, V, 102) (44), he used the language Aristotle used for a completed and closed system of scientific knowledge. That was the constitution of the universe that must follow from true and certain knowledge of the First Principle. To achieve his goal Galileo in fact relied on the open-ended criterion of range of confirmation, by his telescopic observations and dynamical arguments, but theologians thought that by asserting that the discovered constitution of the universe could not be otherwise, he was imposing limitations on divine omnipotence. Neither side grasped clearly the difference that mathematical thinking made to the possibilities of apodeictic proof as envisaged traditionally in Aristotelian logic. But that is another story discussed elsewhere (43).

(") Le Opere di Galileo Galilei, ed. A. Favaro, 20 vols., Florence 1890-1909. (45) Cf. A. C. Crombie, Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy, in Reason, Experiment and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, ed. M. L. Righini Bonelli and W. R. Shea, New York 1975, pp. 157-75, 303-5; A. Carugo and A. C. Crombie, The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and of Nature, in Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze VIII, 2 (1983), pp. 3-68; Crombie and Carugo, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (forthcoming).

Galileo Galilei, from II Saggiatore (1623): frontispiece. The brilliantly witty rhetoric of his argument in this work delighted the newly elected Pope Urban VIII but infuriated the Jesuit object of his irony, the mathematician and architect Orazio Grassi.

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist in Early Modern Europe

HE ESSENTIAL TERM IS THE ITALIAN VIRTU, which Leon Battista Albert! used in the fifteenth century for "those excelling gifts which God gave to the soul of man, greatest and preeminent above all other earthly animals."1 A man of virtu in Renaissance Italian, coming from the Latin virtus meaning power or

^on Battista Alberti, I libri della famiglia, ed. Cecil Grayson (Opere volgari, vol. i, Ban, Italy: Laterza, 1960), p. 133; cf. for full documentation of this paper with bibliography Alistair C. Crombie, Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition (London: Duckworth and Co., 1994); also "Science and the Arts in Renaissance: The Search for Truth and Certainty, Old and New," History of Science 18 (1980), pp. 133-46, and in Science and the Arts in the Renaissance, ed. John W. Shirley and F. David Hoeniger (Washington, DC: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 1985), pp. 15-16, "Philosophical Presuppositions and Shifting Interpretations of Galileo" in Theory Change, Ancient Axiomatics and Galileo's Methodology: Proceedings of the 1978 Pisa Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science, vol. i, ed. Jaakko Hintikka, David Gruender, and Evandro F. Agazzi (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1981), pp. 171186, "Historical Commitments of European Science," Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, 7 (i) (1981), pp. 19-51: these and other papers are included in A.C. Crombie, Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought (London: Hambledon Press, 1990). A shorter version of this present paper was given at Williams College, MA, while Visiting Bernhard Professor, at the conference organized there by Professor Samuel Y. Edgerton, Jr. in October 1984 on "Art and Science in Related Revolutions." For the relations between the arts and the sciences in this period there are Rafaello Caverni, Storia del metodo sperimentale in Italia, 6 vol. (Florence: 1891-1900); Leonardo Olschki, Geschichte der neusprachlichen wissenschaftlichen Literatur, vol. i (Heidelberg: 1919), vol. ^ (Leipzig: 1911), vol. 3 (Halle an der Salle: 1917); Hedley Rhys, ed., Seventeenth Century Science and the Arts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961); Erwin Panofsky, "Artist, Scientist, Genius: Notes on the 'Renaissance-Dammerung'" in The Renaissance: Six Essays by Wallace K. Ferguson et al. (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), pp. 111-81; William P.D. Wightman, Science in a Renaissance Society (London: 1971); and Shirley and Hoeniger, eds., Science and the Arts in the Renaissance; and for most of the persons named the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ed. Charles C. Gillispie, 16 vol. (New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1970-80).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

capability, was a man with active intellectual power to command any situation, to do as he intended, like an architect producing a building according to his design; by contrast with someone at the mercy of fortuna, of chance or luck, of the accidents of fortuitous circumstance, unforeseen and hence out of control. The conception of the man of virtu, the virtuoso aiming at reasoned and examined control alike of his own thoughts, intentions, and actions and also of his surroundings, points to the essence of the moral and intellectual commitments by which the Western scientific movement was generated. The conception of virtu embodied a program for relating man to the world as perceiver and knower and agent in the context of his integral moral, social, and cosmological existence. The program presupposed the stability of nature and mankind and of their relations; it entailed a commitment to an examined life of reasoned consistency in intellectual, practical, and moral life alike and it generated a common style in the mastery of self, or nature and of mankind alike by the rational anticipation of effects. To understand that common style we must take a long view reaching back to the Greek philosophers, mathematicians, medical men, historians, and dramatists who provided the models equally for the medieval and early modern scientific movement, as for the contemporary visual, musical, and literary arts. It was surely no accident that the same culture produced sciences and arts based alike on stable expectations, whether physical or moral: a mathematically and causally structured science of nature, a morally structured drama, and painting and music each structured mathematically to make their aesthetic or dramatic effects. The virtuoso was then the rational artist in all things, designing his intentions first by antecedent analysis in the mind, before executing them through the hands, whether he was aiming at mathematical or experimental investigation, at artistic composition, at the cultivation of private or public good by habit guided by right reason, or as an expedient politician at calculating from the regularities of human experience the most effective form of machination. We could take the virtuoso in this sense as diagnostic of Western civilization, as distinct from other civilizations of comparable or greater age and magnitude. Also diagnostic is a particularly rational form of being blinded by reason, which we could call the blind idiot syndrome. This refers to a computer programmed to make translations. It was asked to translate from English into Russian, and then back again into

Experimental Science and the Rational A rtist


English, the phrase: "Out of sight, out of mind." The phrase came back from the Russian: "Blind idiot." Problems of this kind have arisen from perceptions that oversimplify or in other ways fail to comprehend what exists, in this case what existed in the English language. In every culture at any time men have experienced their world through the mediation of a particular vision of existence and of knowledge. This defines their cultural style. Failures of European vision to comprehend what existed, because it was unexpected, appeared in abundance in the intellectual and pictorial records of European expansion overseas, whether into various parts of Asia, or the Americas, or the South Pacific.2 Failures of scientific comprehension have regularly accompanied the revelations of such new scientific instruments as the microscope and telescope.3 The history of scientific thought is strewn with examples of even the most original scientific minds failing to comprehend or even to acknowledge certain phenomena, which could not exist within their powerful theoretical vision. Technical frontiers may leave phenomena out of sight; conceptual frontiers put them out of mind. The style common to the Western sciences and arts may be illustrated by a collage of examples, through which will become evident the pattern in which in a diversity of contexts virtu imposed structure eventually even upon fortuna itself. Thus wrote Plato: an architect used technical theory, providing antecedent analysis and design, as a "directive science" (Statesman 2,60 AB) to control the construction of a building by means of measurement and calculation. For "all arts and forms of thought and all sciences employ ... number and calculation" (Republic, vii, 52,2 C). Any artist or craftsman in making something "has before his

Cf. Bernard Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific: A Study in the History of Art and Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960); Barbara M. Stafford, Voyage into Substance: Art, Science, Nature, and the Illustrated Travel Account, 1760-1840 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984). 3 Cf. Gerard L'E Turner, "The Microscope as a Technical Frontier in Science" in Proceedings on the Royal Microscopical Society 2 (1967), pp. 175-197; Bernard Cohen, "The Influence of Theoretical Perspective on the Interpretation of Sense Data: Tycho Brahe and the New Star of 1572, and Galileo and the Mountains on the Moon," Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia delta Scienza di Firenze 5 (i) (1980), pp. 3-13; Ian Hacking, "Do We See Through a Microscope?" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62 (1981), pp. 305-22; Samuel Y. Edgerton Jr., "Galileo, Florentine 'disegno,' and the 'Strange Spottedness' of the Moon," Art Journal (Fall 1984), pp. 225-32, and "The Renaissance Development of Scientific Illustration" in Science and the Arts, ed. Shirley and Hoeniger, pp. 168-97.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

mind the form or idea" (x, 596 B) of what he was to make. This was his model, just as the divine maker modelled the world from the eternal forms (Timaeus 2,8A-3oC, 466-480, 536). Sometimes in our perceptions "we are satisifed with the judgement of our senses" (Republic, vii, 52.36), but sometimes the senses alone could not resolve the apparent contradictions or illusions produced by nature or by art, as when apparent size varied with distance or when a straight stick partly in water looked bent, or in "many tricks of illusion, like scene-painting and conjuring. But such illusions can be dispelled by measuring, counting and weighing. We are no longer at the mercy of the senses; reason takes control" (x, 602.0-36). Art then lay across the boundary between true representation and deceit. On one side was "the making of likenesses, as in creating a copy that conforms to the proportions of the original in all three dimensions with every part properly coloured": this was fairly called a likeness [eikon]. But when for example the true proportions of a large sculpture were distorted to make them appear correct when seen from below, this only "seems to be a likeness" but is in fact merely "a semblance [phantasma]" produced by art (Sophist 2.25D-6C). Visual art then was like sophistry, which imposed upon its listeners "by means of words that cheat the ear, exhibiting images [eidola] of all things in a shadow-play of discourse so as to make them believe that they are hearing the truth" (2346). The sophistries of rhetoric were aimed not at truth but only at persuasion; but a master of persuasion might share common methods of argument with a true scientist seeking a different goal. Plato likened the methods of rhetoric to those of medicine. Each, in order to reach its goal, had to discover the true nature of its object. Rhetoric had to grasp the nature of the soul in order to see how it was persuasible; medicine had to grasp the nature of the body in order to see how it was healthy or curable: "In both cases you must analyze a nature... if you are to proceed scientifically, not merely by practice and routine, to impart health and strength to the body by prescribing remedies and diet, or by proper discourses and training to give to the soul the desired belief and virtue." At the end of his analysis the scientific rhetorician "will classify the types of discourse and the types of soul, and the various ways in which souls are affected, explaining the reasons in each case: suggesting the types of speech appropriate to each type of soul, and what kind of speech can be relied upon to create belief in one soul and disbelief in another, and why." For "a certain type of hearer will be easy to persuade, by a certain type of

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


speech, to take such and such action, for such and such reason; while another type will be hard to persuade. All this the orator must fully grasp, and next he must watch it actually taking place in men's conduct." When the student of rhetoric, having grasped the theory, could place any individual person in this classification of characters, and could know how to seize the occasion for the appropriate tricks, "then and not till then he has well and truly achieved the art." There was "absolutely no need for the budding orator to concern himself with the truth about what is just or good conduct" or "who are just and good men In the law courts nobody cares about the truth in these matters, but only about persuasion, and that is concerned with what seems most likely" for the purpose. The would-be master of persuasion must then suppress or substitute facts according to need and say "goodbye to the truth forever." Then he will be "equipped with the art complete" (Phaedrus 269D-73A). Plato delineated very clearly in this account the goal of rational power over its subject matter that was to define the whole Western rational tradition, whether in seeking to find the truth or to persuade to belief or action. He set out systematically for the first time in his various writings the historic fact that mastery of rational scientific understanding brought with it power to manipulate matter and mind alike. Physical engineering and social engineering had the same form, and persuasion of the scientific (as of the artistic) acceptability of whatever was proposed or done became as much part of the scientific tradition as demonstrative proof. According to Aristotle, everything constituted by nature "has within itself a principle of motion and of stationariness" (Physics, ii. i, i92,b 14-15). Art by contrast imposed an external principle of change, but "art imitates nature" and hence was part of natural science (ii. 2,1943 22-23). For "if a house had been made by nature, it would have been made just as it is now by art; and if things made by nature were made also by art, they would be made in just the same way ...; in general art partly imitates nature, and partly completes what nature cannot complete." Thus "if the ship-building art were in the wood, it would produce the same results by nature" (ii. 8, 1993 12-17, b28). Art, entailing the ability to invent by rational deliberation and choice and to learn, distinguished man from other animals. Man alone "lives by art and reasonings." Hence man alone could progress. Aristotle distinguished "mere experience" of particular sensory perceptions from "connected experience" where memory of particulars


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

led to knowledge of general regularities. In the latter sense "experience seems pretty much like science and art, but really science and art come to men through experience." For "knowledge and understanding belong rather to art than to mere experience, and artists are wiser than men of mere experience...; because the former know the cause, but the latter do not" (Metaphysics, i. i, 980025-981328). The "with things made the principle is in the maker; it is either reason or art or some faculty" (vi. i, iO25b22-3), and "all makings proceed either from art or from a faculty or from thought ...; from art proceed the things of which the form is in the soul of the artist" (vii. 7, 1032,32,5^1). Thus, whether in the practical, productive, or theoretical arts and sciences, two things were essential: "One is the choice of the right end or aim, the other is the discovery of the actions that will bring it about In all the arts and sciences both the end and the means should be within our control" (Politics, vii. 13, i33ib 25-37). Likewise in his moral behaviour man alone could choose and initiate his actions, and could, through practice guided by right reason, cultivate skill in virtue or vice as in any other art. Hence "choice is either desiderative reason or ratiocinative desire, and such an origin of action is a man" (Nicomachean Ethics, vi. 2, i i39b4~5). For "art is identical with a state of capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning. All art is concerned with coming into being, that is, with contriving or considering how something may come into being which is capable of either being or not being, and whose origin is in the maker and not in the thing made"; it was in nature not in art that things existed "by necessity" (vi. 4,11403 1-16). By art then, by practice guided by reason, men acquired skill to control every aspect of their lives, whether in making material artifacts, or in managing the plants and animals and their own bodies or their fellow men, or in cultivating moral virtue or vice. The fulfillment of human intelligence in the arts and sciences was made possible by the fact that "of all animals man alone stands erect, in accordance with his godlike nature and essence" (De partibus animalium, iv. 10, 686a 27-29), for this raised up with his head the most exact senses of vision and hearing, and liberated his hands as an instrument for making both artificial things and other instruments. Thus by mind, eye, and hand man was the animal alone equipped for technical advance. There was an analogy between the rational art of nature and the rational art of man: "Our wonder is excited first by phenomena which occur in accordance with nature but of which we do not know

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


the cause, and secondly by those which are produced by art despite nature for the benefit of mankind. Nature often operates contrary to human expediency; ... when therefore we have to do something contrary to nature, the difficulty of it perplexes us and we must call art to our aid." Then by "mechanical skill...: Mastered by nature, we overcome by art" (Mechanica, c. i, 8473 lo-b 16). One could say of anyone who had grasped the revolutions of the heavens that "his soul is like that of whoever fashioned them in the heavens. For when Archimedes fastened on to a [metal] sphere the movements of the moon, the sun, and the five planets, he did the same as the god of Plato who built the world in the Timaeus; he made one revolution of the sphere control several movements utterly unlike in slowness and speed. Now, if in this world this cannot be done without a god, neither could Archimedes have been able to imitate those same movements upon a sphere without divine genius" (Cicero, Tusculanae quaestiones, i. 25. 61-3). To investigate all the diverse subject matters of art and science upon which Aristotle imposed a similar rational form, he employed a likewise similar method of argument by analysis and synthesis. Thus he applied to politics as to physics "the method that has hitherto guided us. As in other departments of science, so in politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple elements or least parts of the whole" (Politics, i. i, 12523 19-24). As with physical phenomena, so with the state and human society, the complex whole must first be analyzed into its elementary constituents, so that it could be reconstructed from those elements and so scientifically understood (Physics, i. i, 18439^1). Apart from the Timaeus, Plato's main works became known to the Latin West only with Marsilio Ficino's Latin translations made towards the end of the fifteenth century, followed by editions of the Greek. By contrast, practically all of Aristotle was known by the middle of the thirteenth century, mostly through the translations made during the previous hundred years. Hence philosophical conceptions of the relation of natural science to art, and of the structure of scientific argument, whether leading to scientific understanding or beyond that to artistic construction or engineering, were in early modern Europe at first predominantly Aristotelian. Later during the sixteenth century came the influence of Plato and with that of Greek mathematicians, especially Archimedes, in addition to Euclid, who had provided a model of scientific argument since the twelfth century. The original insight by which the Greek mathematicians had


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

discovered an abstract order behind the chaos of immediate experience was into a realm of simple relations, as in the mathematical sciences of astronomy, optics, mechanics, and acoustics, which they had developed most successfully. Their inquiry into the explanation of a phenomenon became a search for the simplest and fewest principles that would produce it. Then, when the principles were postulated, the phenomenon must follow. Thus they exploited the speculative power of geometry by imposing upon phenomena at once its deductive logical structure and an appropriate model delineating for each its form in space. Euclid had established the classical postulational style first by developing in the Elements a rational theory of geometrical space. From this he developed in the Optics a geometrical theory of what must be seen in specified situations, accepting his postulates, which took the eye as the point of origin of straight lines of vision. Similarly, in the Sectio canonis, he developed a theory of acoustical perception from the postulate that sounds were produced by motions standing in a numerical ratio to each other in which pitch was determined by frequency. Euclid and other Greek mathematicians aimed ideally to develop their research into the phenomena purely theoretically within their geometrical or arithmetical model. Later they came to realize, as did Ptolemy in his Optics, that in exploring complex phenomena postulation must be controlled by observation and experiment, in order to decide whether a possible theoretical model yielded the consequences found in the actual world. The style of scientific argument in optics came thus especially through Ptolemy, and likewise later through Alhazen, to be seen in the thirteenth-century West as one of experimentally controlled postulation. This was to be the style of Renaissance art. It was already in the twelfth century envisaged as a program by Domingo Gundisalvo, following the tenth-century Arabic philosopher al-Farabl: "The artist" he wrote "is the natural philosopher who, proceeding rationally from the causes of things to the effects, and from effects to causes, searches for principles." Thus for "what appears in vision," whether true or illusory, optics "assigns the causes by which these things are brought about, and this by necessary demonstrations." Likewise for music, and for engineering: "The science of engines is the science for contriving how one can make all those things..., of which the measures are expressed and demonstrated in mathematical theory, agree ... in natural bodies. ... The sciences of engines therefore

Experimental Science and the Rational A rtist


teach the ways of contriving and finding out how natural bodies may be fitted together by some artifice according to number, so that the use we are looking for may come from them."4 Again, Robert Grosseteste wrote in the thirteenth century: "All causes of natural efforts have to be given by means of lines, angles and figures, for otherwise it is impossible to have knowledge of the reason [propter quid] concerning them."5 Hence the need for mathematics in all natural philosophical investigations. Likewise, according to the French architect Villard de Honnecourt a generation later, in building and making machines, in design and portraiture alike "the art of geometry commands and teaches"; and "in order to work easily," it must be kept in high regard by anyone "who wants to know how each must work."6 Without going into the questions of precisely what these general programmatic utterances meant in particular practice, and of what mathematics meant in different contexts and periods, we may see in them a style of rational justification to be repeated again and again. No one was to argue more insistently than Roger Bacon for "the power of mathematics in the sciences and in the affairs and occupations of this world. ... Of these sciences the gate and key is mathematics" (Opus maius, iv. i. i). That effective natural philosophy required also practical experimental art was eloquently stated by Bacon's contemporary Pierre de Maricourt in his letter of 1269, De magnete. For he wrote "while the investigator of this subject must understand nature . . . he must also diligently use his own hands." Then "he will be able in a short time to correct an error which he could not do in eternity by natural philosophy and mathematics alone, if he lacked care with his hands. For in hidden operations we greatly need manual industry, without which we can usually accomplish nothing perfectly. Yet there are many things subject to the rule of reason which we

Dominicus Gundissalinus, De divisione philosophae, ed. L. Baur (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, 4 (1-3) Miinster: 1903), pp. 10,17, iiz, 122; cf. Alpharabius, De ortu scientiarum, ed. C. Baeumker (ibid., 19 (3) Miinster: 1916). 5 Robert Grosseteste, De lineis, angulis et figuris in Die philosophischen Werke, ed. L. Baur (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, 9 Miinster: 1912), p. 60; cf, A.C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science 1100-1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953, 1971). 6 Villard de Honnecourt, Kritische Gesamtausgabe des Bauhuttenbuches ms. fr. 19093 der Pariser Nationalbibliothek ed. H. R. Handloser (Vienna: 1935), folios iv, i8v, i9v.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

cannot investigate completely with the hand."7 Matching this rather with practical art than with natural philosophy in view, a contemporary asked of Alberti "in what class of learned men" to put him. He answered: "Among the natural scientists [physici].... Certainly ... he was born only to investigate the secrets of nature. And what kind of mathematics does he not know? Geometer, arithmetician, astronomer, musician, he wrote marvellously better than anyone for many centuries on perspective. ... He wrote on painting, he wrote on sculpture ... and he not only wrote but also made with his own hands."8 Alberti himself explained in 1435: "In writing about painting ... we will, to make our discourse clearer, first take from mathematicians those things which seem relevant to the subject. When we have learned these, we will go on, to the best of our ability, to explain the art of painting from the basic principles of nature. ... We will now go on to instruct the painter how he can represent with his hand what he has conceived with his mind."9 Alberti exemplified in his account of the painter the active self-conscious man of virtu, the rational artist who made himself effective by means of knowledge, technique, and continual practice. Governing all his thinking was his perception of analogy within diversity. He searched in all his work for an economy of explanation and of practice reached by thinking out the general principle behind each subject, whether in perspective painting, in the anatomical variations of the human body as in De sculptura, in architecture as in De re aedificatoria, in surveying as in the Descriptio urbis Romae and Ludi rerum mathematicarum, in the relation of Italian vernacular to classical Latin as in the Regule lingue florentine, in the art of ciphering as in De componendis cifris, or in his theory of moral life. He looked everywhere also for the issue of theory in practice and thereby its confirmation by observation. Thus moral like scientific virtu was to be cultivated by reasoned analysis of personal and contemporary experience, and by discourse with other men both present and past who recorded the experience and reflections of mankind. The ultimate aim of man in his natural life on this Earth

Petrus Peregrinus Maricurtensis, De magnete book i, ch. 2., ed. G. Hellman (Kara magnetica; Neudriicke von Schriften und Karten iiber Meteorologie und Erdmagnetismus 10 Berlin: 1898). 8 Cristpforo Landino, Commento... spora la Comedia di Danthe Algheri (Florence: 1491), folio iv1. 9 Alberti, De pictura book i, sections i and Z4, ed. Grayson in On Painting and On Sculpture (London: Phaedon Press, i97z), p. 36, 58.

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


was to cultivate himself by reason, technique, and letters as a wellcomposed and controlled work of art. This was an Aristotelian humanist ideal viewed perhaps with skepticism by some contemporaries engaged more roughly with the real world, but its principle of reasoned control in an examined life had long been made part of traditional Christian moral theory. For Alberti it was the basis of both the personal and the social responsibility that all human activities and works entailed. Hence the necessity both for education and for that continual effort of practice in virtu, which alone could restrain the hazards of "unjust and malevolent fortuna" (I libri delta famiglia, prologue, p. 3). God had endowed man with an inborn virtu, and this it was our duty to cultivate both for our own sakes and by our work "so that times past and those present will be of service to those that have not yet come" (Profugiorum ab aerumna i, pp. 122-3). "Our first and proper use is to exert the power of our soul towards virtu," for: "To man alone among mortals is it given to investigate the causes of things, to examine how true are his thoughts and how good are his actions" (De iciarhia i, pp. 198, 212). At the same time he must live responsibly for the benefit of others, above all for "justice and truth" (ii, p. 286).10 All the practical arts proceeded then from a rational analysis of the subject matter and objectives of the art to their achievement in an appropriate representation or manipulation or use of the products of the analysis. Practical art like natural science became at once both highly intellectualized and precisely controlled. This was the intellectual bond uniting Alberti with his contemporaries, Nicolaus of Cusa, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, Georg Peurbach, and Piero della Francesca, in their common search for a quantified geometrical space and techniques for its measurement in astronomy and cartography, optics and painting alike; and again later uniting Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Diirer, and likewise the musicians Franchino Gaffurio, Lodovico Fogliano, and their successors in their search for an arithmetically quantified music that accommodated the requirements of the human ear. When Diirer wrote that "a good painter is inwardly full of figures," which pour forth "from the inner ideas of which Plato writes,"11 he was presenting the aesthetic theory of an artist with both philosophical education and technical knowledge of
10 n

Alberti, Opere volgari, ed. Grayson, vol. i (1960) and vol. 2 (1966). E. Panofsky, The Life and Art of Albrecht Diirer, 4th ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 280.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

practical mathematics. The program became a commonplace. Thus Giorgio Valla: "the artist reasons when he wants something for himself, fashions and forms it inwardly, and accordingly makes an image for himself of everything that is to be portrayed."12 Marsilio Ficino: "What is a work of art? The mind of the artist in matter separate from it. What is a work of nature? The mind of nature in matter united with it. ... And what is remarkable, human arts construct by themselves whatever nature herself constructs, as if we were not slaves of nature but rivals." But "not just anybody can discern by what principle and in what way the work of a clever artist, artistically constructed, is put together, but only he who has the same power of artistic genius [artis ingenium].... And he who discerns on account of similarity of genius could certainly construct the same things when he had recognized them, provided materials were not lacking." Since therefore man had seen and measured the order of the heavens, "who will deny that he has a genius (so to speak) almost the same as that of the Creator of the heavens and that he could in a certain way make the heavens if he obtained the instruments and celestial matter; since he makes them now, though of other matter, yet very similar in arrangement."13 Leonardo da Vinci: "Astronomy and the other sciences proceed by means of manual operations, but first they are mental as is painting, which is first in the mind of him who theorizes on it, but painting cannot achieve its perfection without manual operation."14 But "although nature starts from the reason and finishes at experience, for us it is necessary to proceed the other way round, that is starting... from experience and with that to investigate the reason."15 "There is no effect in nature without reason: understand the reason and you do not need experiment."16 "Oh speculator on things, I do not praise you for knowing the things that nature through her order naturally brings about ordinarily by herself; but, I say, rejoice in knowing the end of those things which
Giorgius Valla, De expetendius et fugiendis rebus opus, book i, ch. 3, (Venetiis: 1501). 13 Marsilius Ficinus, Theologica Platonica, book 4, ch. i, book 13, ch. 3 (Opera, Basilae: 1576), pp. 1x3, 2.95-7. 14 Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting, Codex Urbinas Latinus 1270, book i, chs. 19, 35 trans. A.P. McMahon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956): a posthumous compilation. 15 Leonardo da Vinci, Les manuscrits ... de la Bibliotheque de I'Institut, Codex E., ed. Charles Ravaisson-Mollien, folio 55r (Paris: Institut de France, 1888). 16 Leonardo da Vinci, // Codico Atlantico nella Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano, transcribed by G. Piumati, folio i47v (Milan: 1894-1904).

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


are designed by your own mind."17 Four ancient works that were to propel in this same direction conceptions developed in the sixteenth century of the relations between the arts and sciences were the Aristotelian Mechanica, Hero of Alexandria's Automata, Proclus's neoplatonic commentary on the first book of Euclid's Elements, and Vitruvius's De architectura. Thus Vitruvius on the architect: "His works are born from both construction and reasoning" (i. i. i). Men learned to devise the machines [machinae] and instruments [organi] necessary for improving the material arts by imitating the "devised nature [natura machinata] " (x. i, 4) exemplified in the celestial revolutions. An exegesis of these terms given in the philological commentary on the earliest Italian translation (in 152.1) made the essential point: "Machinatio ... may be derived from I cunningly contrive,... I deliberate, I think out,... stratagem, ... whence undertaking, thinking, machine and ... mechanic or mechanical operator."18 "Machina Mechanics... is commendable whether for its basic imitative resemblance to the divine work of the construction of the world, or for the great and memorable usefulness reached. ... And that furthermore ... has been put into practice through a burning desire to produce in sensible works with their own hands that which they have thought out with the mind."19 Daniele Barbaro in the principal sixteenth-century Italian commentary on Vitruvius wrote of Michelangelo that "the artist works first in the intellect and conceives in the mind, and then signs the external matter with the internal habit."20 But "the intellect of man is imperfect and not equal to the divine intellect, and matter so to speak is deaf, and the hand does not respond to the intention of art." Hence "the architect must think very well and, in order to make more certain of the success of the works, will proceed first with the design and the model...; and ... he will imitate nature, which does not do anything against its maker. Yet he will not search for
Leonardo da Vinci, Les manuscrits Codex G., ed. Ravaisson-Mollien, folio 47' (Paris: 1890). 18 Marcus Lucius Vitruvius Pollio, De architectura libri dece, traducti de latino in. vulgare, affigurati, commentati, book i, ch. 3 (Como: 1521) folio 18: begun by Cesare Cesariano and completed by Benedetto Giovio and Bono Mauro; see Paolo Galluzzi, "A proposito di un errore dei traduttori di Vitruvio nel '500,' " Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze i (z) (1976), pp. 78-80. 19 Vitruvius, ibid., book 10, ch. i commentary folio i6zv. 20 See the preface of Daniele Barbaro, I died libri dell' Architettura di M. Vitruvio, tradutti e commentati (Venice: 1556), p. 9.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

impossible things, either as to the matter or as to the form, which neither he nor others can accomplish."21 The limits of the possible in nature were brought into sharp focus by these rational artists whose essential purpose was to succeed in the practical execution of their projects. Thus Giuseppe Ceredi, engineer and scholar of Greek mathematics, insisted that "I am accustomed to practice both with the mind and with works"; for "I remembered, as was well said by Aristotle and Galen, that no science or art aimed at action can be perfectly possessed by anyone who may know its precepts but does not then confirm them with a variety of experiments [esperienze] many times and finally succeeding." There was a powerful precedent for "putting into execution so many beautiful mathematical and physical reasons, seeing that nature herself, as if become mechanical [quasi divenuta mecanica] in the construction of the world and of all forms of things, seems to be striving designedly to produce every hour more ingenious instruments [artificiosi organi]." Theory had been opened up for Ceredi by his being sold some manuscripts of Hero of Alexandria, Archimedes, Pappus, and other Greek mathematicians from the collection made at Milan by Giorgio Valla. Putting theory into practice, he offered as a method of antecedent analysis in any undertaking the construction of "small and large models [modelli], adding, changing, and removing many things according to whether the condition of the material, or the coming together of many far and near causes, or the variety of means, or the degree of the proportions, or the force of motions, or many other impediments that one can encounter, required it." Thus he could conveniently bring together the "numerous observations" that had to be made and kept "in the mind in order to achieve some new and important effect." For in order "to bring them properly together and to direct them firmly to the prescribed work," errors had to be recognized "from experience and so corrected by reason that at last one comes to the perfection of art and to the stable production of the effect that is expected."22 Again Guidobaldo del Monte pointed out that "art with wonderful skill overcomes nature through nature herself, by so arranging things as nature herself would do if she

21 22

Ibid., i (3), p. z6. Giuseppe Ceredi, Tre discorsi sopra il modo d'alzar acque da' luoghi bassi, book i (Parma: 1567).

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


decided that such effects should be produced by herself."23 Art then could not cheat nature, but by discovering, obeying, and manipulating natural laws, with increasing quantification and measurement, art was seen to deprive nature of her mysteries and to achieve its mastery by reasoned foresight, whether in the representation of a visual scene, the design and control of a machine, the composition of music, the navigation of a ship across the ocean, or optimistically the diagnosis, prognosis, and control of a disease or even of the affairs of state. Galileo was defining the identity at once of nature and of natural science when he commented on engineers who "would apply their engines to works of their own nature impossible: in the success of which both they themselves have been deceived, and others also defrauded of the hopes they had conceiv'd upon their promeses ...; as if, with their engines they could cosen nature" and her "inviolable laws." For "this is according to the necessary constitution of nature Nay if it were otherwise, it were not only absurd, but impossible And... all wonder ceases in us of that effect which goes not a poynt out of the bounds of nature's constitution."24 Galileo's last pupil and first biographer Vincenzo Viviani wrote significantly that for him "the book of nature" was "always open to those who enjoyed reading and studying it with the eyes of the intellect." He said that the letters in which it was written were the propositions, figures, and conclusions of geometry, by means of which alone was it possible to penetrate any of the infinite mysteries of nature. If the intellect did the reading, the "main doors" through which it entered in order to do so were "observations and experiments, which could be opened by the noblest and most inquisitive intellects by means of the keys of the senses." Viviani drew attention to Galileo's training both in music (through his father Vincenzo Galilei), showing in the First Day of the Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (1638) "a marvellous understanding of" the theory of music," and in perspective drawing (at the Florentine Accademia del Disegno), delighting in painting, sculpture, architecture, "and all the arts subordinate to


Guidobaldus e Marchio Montis, In duos Archimidis Aequeponderantiutn libros paraphrasis scholiis illustrate, Preface (Pesauri: 1588), p. z.

Galileo Galilei, Le mecaniche, national edition, ed. Antonio Favaro (Le Opere z Florence: G. Barbara, 1968), p. 155, trans. Robert Payne (1636): transcribed from the British Museum MS Harley 6796, f. 317', by Adriano Carugo.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

design."25 Living from Michelangelo's death to Newton's birth, Galileo marks the transition between two great European intellectual movements each in its own way dominated by mathematical rationality: the transition from the world of the rational constructive artist to that of the rational experimental scientist. The common element in these intellectual movements and the channel of their mutual influence seems to have been their common form of argument: their common use of postulation controlled by practical experience and experiment. That is what emerges from our collage of examples stretching from Plato to Galileo. It extended much more widely than those examples, to the whole conduct of life by the man of virtu, who knew how to proceed with rational intent in the control at once of argument and of a variety of materials and activities. This was the style also of the right reason of Aristotelian ethics, exemplified by the moral and political philosophy of Thomas More and more ambiguously of Machiavelli. But we should not confuse Machiavelli's moral intentions with his analysis of the technique that would enable the political virtuoso to succeed as a blackguard if he so chose. In the same style the rational artist achieved a common mastery of his materials, whether in the mechanical, plastic, visual, or musical arts or in the experimental sciences, by an antecedent analysis providing a rational anticipation of effects. Thus Galileo wrote of his law of falling bodies: "I argue ex suppositione, imagining a motion"26 that might be possible, following the example of Archimedes. This then led him to the experiments by which he decided whether that possible motion was realized in the actual world. The experimental philosopher as rational artist might make his antecedent analysis by means of theory alone, quantified as the subject matter allowed, or by modelling a theory with an artifact


Vicenzo Viviani, "Racconto istorica della vita di Galileo" (1654; Le Opere 19), pp. 625, 627; cf. A.C. Crombie, "The Primary Properties and Secondary Qualities in Galileo Galilei's Natural Philosophy" in Saggi su Galilei (Florence: G. Barbera, preprint 1969), Styles of Scientific Thinking, Chs. 9-11; A. Carugo and Crombie, "The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and of Nature," Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze 8 (2) (1983), pp. 1-68,


Galileo to Pierre de Carcavy, June 5,1637, Le Opere 17, pp. 90-1; cf. to Giovanni Battista Baliani, January 7, 1639, ibid., 18, pp. 11-13.

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


analytically imitating and extending the natural original. Galileo was behaving in a way just like his exact contemporary Shakespeare, when he offered an analysis of human character in his imaginary world which we recognize at once as true of our real experience. Scientist and artist alike were creating possible worlds that would in some way explain the real world of experience. They were both in different ways creating theoretical models, and it is through the model in its various forms that the interpenetration of art and science can be seen at its most telling. Painters from the time of Alberti used scientific optics to carry out an analysis of visual clues, by means of which they could construct a painting by simulating those clues: that is as a perceptual model imitating the natural clues in true perspective. To make then they had first to know. At the same time their perceptual models affected the way people looked at the natural world and what they saw in it. Conversely, in explaining the technique of perspective painting, they also provided models for the physiological operation of the eye. Kepler solved the problem of the formation of the retinal image by first isolating the geometrical optics of the eye from the questions of causation and perception, inherited within the package of ancient and medieval theories of vision, which inhibited a purely geometrical physical analysis. He treated the eye as a camera obscura containing a lens.27 To know then we might say that physiologists, at least when they tackled some problems, had first to learn how to make. The invasion of science by art through the method of hypothetical modelling went very deep during the seventeenth century. For some natural philosophers indeed art seemed to have taken over the epistemology of natural science altogether. Thus wrote Marin Mersenne: "One is constrained to acknowledge that man is not capable of knowing the reason for anything other than that which he can make, nor other sciences than those of which he makes the principles himself, as one can demonstrate in considering mathematics."28 Again in examining physical things "we must not be surprised if we cannot find the true reasons for the way they


A.C. Crombie, "The Mechanistic Hypothesis and the Scientific Study of Vision," Proceedings of the Royal Microscopical Society ^ (1967), pp. 3-111, republished in Science, Optics and Music.

Marin Mersenne, Les questions theologiques, physiques, morales, et mathematiques, question 22 (Paris: 1634) in; cf. Robert Lenoble, Marin Mersenne, ou la naissance du mecanisme (Paris: J. Vrin, 1943); Crombie, "Mathematics, Music and Medical Science," Actes du XIIe Congres International d'Histoire des Sciences, Paris 1968 (Paris: A. Blanchard, 1971), pp. 195-310.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

act or are acted upon, because we know the true reasons only for things that we can make with the hand or with the mind; and because, of all the things that God has made, we cannot make a single one, whatever subtlety or effort we bring to it; besides which God could have made them in some other way."29 The experimental natural philosophers and the rational artists were creating possible worlds for themselves and each other and for a wider public in more ways than one. The analysis of visual clues carried out for the purposes of perspective painting showed what must be seen when these were present. At the same time it generated expectations in those familiar with it of what they should be seeing to produce a given set of clues received. Thus Galileo with training in perspective and chiaroscuro saw and drew through his telescope in 1609 mountains and valleys on the moon, just as they could be seen and touched on an indented stone ball; Thomas Harriot with no such training saw through a comparable instrument in the same year only strange spots.30 Likewise the exact measurement and true scaling required by linear perspective completely transformed the communication of information in the sciences and technical arts through pictorial illustrations. The immediate effects were apparent in the views and in the sixteenth-century plans drawn of cities, in cartography, and in the depiction of the external and internal structures of animals, plants, minerals, and of machines. Depiction became an instrument of scientific research. It seems that the engineers Mariano di Jacopo, called Taccola, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, to name only two, designed their machinery by inventive drawing before construction;31 and that Descartes expected to find in the animal body a kind of mechanism analogous to mechanisms made familiar in printed illustrations.32


Marin Mersenne, Harmonic universelle, vol. 2, "Nouvelles observations physiques et mathematiques" (Paris: 1637), p. 8. 30 Edgerton, "Galileo, Florentine 'disegno,' and the 'Strange Spottedness' of the Moon," pp. 12532. 31 Edgerton, "The Renaissance Development of Scientific Illustration," pp. 168-97;

also Joan Gadol, Leon Battista Alberti: Universal Man of the Early Renaissance

(Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1969). Eg. Salomon de Caus, Les raisons des forces mouvantes avec diverses machines tant utiles que plaisantes, aus quelles sont adoints plusieurs desseigns de grottes et fontaines (Frankfurt, Germany: 1615); cf, Willem van Hoorn, As Images Unwind: Ancient and Modern Theories of Visual Perception (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 1972).

Experimental Science and the Rational A rtist

10 7

Matching perspective painting within the mathematical and experimental arts and sciences, which established a unique style of thought and action in early modern Europe, was music. The science of music, like that of perspective, was concerned primarily with the identification and quantitative analysis of clues to sensations: the acoustical quantities expressible in numbers which stimulated the diversities of auditory perception. It was Mersenne who finally developed the science of music as a systematic exploration of a whole subject matter. Again he aimed to show how through scientific analysis to achieve rational control: of musical perception and its effects on the emotions, of composition through a calculus of permutations and combinations of notes, and of information communicated through sound leading to a theory of language. "Music is a part of mathematics" he opened his first musical essay, the Traite de I'harmonic universelle (1627), "and consequently a science that shows the causes, effects and properties of sounds, tunes, concerts, and of everything that belongs to them." The science of music depended then on arithmetic and geometry "but also on physics from which it borrows knowledge of sound and of its causes, which are the movements, the air, and the other bodies that produce sound."33 He developed his science of music as a program of systematic measurement of the acoustical quantities effecting hearing, combined with an analysis on one side of the physics of sound producing these external quantities, and on the other of the internal processes mediating sensation and its effects on the soul. As in painting, all attempts to establish a scientifically rational control over musical composition foundered on the pecularities of auditory as of visual perception in providing aesthetic pleasure through art. The judgements of the ear could often differ from the expectations of mathematical theory. The

Mersenne, Traite de I'harmonie universelle, book i, theorem i (Paris: 1617), pp. 2, 9-, cf. for music Claude V. Palisca, "Empiricism and Musical Thought" in Seventeenth Century Science, ed. Rhys, pp. 91-137, "The Science of Sound and Musical Practice" in Science and the Arts, ed. Shirley and Hoeniger, pp. 59-73; D. Perkin Walker, Studies in Musical Science in the Renaissance (London: Warburg Institute, 1978); Crombie, "Mathematics, Music and Medical Science," pp. 295-310, "Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) and the Seventeenth-Century Problem of Scientific Acceptability," Physis 17 (1975), pp. 186-204, Styles of Scientific Thinking, ch. 3, section 4, Marin Mersenne and the Science of Music (forthcoming); Jamie C. Kassler, "Music as a Model in Early Science," History of Science zo (1982), pp. 103-39; H. Floris Cohen, Quantifying Music: The Science of Music in the First Stage of the Scientific Revolution, 1580-1650 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1984).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

science of music, developed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, clarified this important question, notably in exploring the relation of aesthetic pleasure to mathematical proportions and physical motions in consonance and dissonance, and the effects of cultural habits, familiarity, the expectations of the ear, and their changes. Aesthetic judgements thus differed essentially from those of science, even though there might be general agreement among knowledgeable persons within any particular period or culture.34 Mersenne recognized this, but he exemplifies once more the rational artist in his aim to stabilize all auditory experience by scientific theory covering sounds and sensations, their aesthetic effects, and their functions in human and animal communication. Through his systematic conception and practice of acoustical "experiences bien reglees et bien faites"35 Mersenne became a major architect of the modern experimental argument. He based his experimental analysis on the logic of agreement, difference, and concomitant variations with an explicit use of experimental controls. Thus to investigate the acoustical phenomena of vibrating strings (fundamental in musical theory since Pythagoras) he stretched two strings on a monochord. One was the control. In the other he kept all the relevant quantities (length, tension, specific weight) constant except one, and adjusted the remaining variable quantity in this string until it sounded in unison with, and hence vibrated with the same frequency as, the control. In this way he completed the work 'of Giambattista Benedetti, Vincenzo Galilei, Isaac Beeckman, and others in establishing the relations of frequency (hence pitch) to these quantities. Beyond that, by measuring the actual frequencies (as distinct from their ratios) producing different pitches and intervals he demonstrated experimentally for the first time that the musical intervals were determined by frequencies of vibrations of the air, whatever their source. He went on to explore, distinguish, and measure further acoustical quantities: the upper and lower limits of audible frequency and pitch and their variation in different individuals, the speed and loudness of sound, and the relation of loudness to distance, the

Cf. Palisca, "Scientific Empiricism and Musical Thought"; Walker, Studies in Musical Science in the Renaissance; Cohen, Quantifying Music; Crombie, Styles of Scientific Thinking. 35 Mersenne, Harmonie universelle vol. i, "Traitez de la nature des sons, et des mouvemens de toutes sortes de corps," Book 3, proposition v (Paris: 1636), p. 167.


Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


phenomena of resonance, consonance, dissonance, temperament, harmonics, and so on.36 Mersenne's style as a rational artist is well illustrated by two examples concerning in two different ways the control of information. By treating the ratios of the frequency of strings to the quantities determining it as in effect an acoustical function, he showed how a "deaf man could put them at any consonance he wished," without hearing anything, by adjusting these quantities in accordance with the "general rules" embodied in this function. For the benefit of the deaf he drew up a table showing the quantities that would produce the different notes of an octave.37 Thus he could generalize experimental information beyond its receipt by a particular sense. Even more generally, his conception of human and animal language as both biological and social phenomena, his attempt to account for the reception and communication of information in men and animals firmly by empirical and experimental investigations, and his rethinking of the physiological coordination of behavior, led him to look for the common elements in all human languages and beyond these in all forms of communication whether by human beings, animals, or machines. In this analysis he saw a possible means of inventing a new universal language for communication among all mankind. This would redeem the scandal of Babel, and would reunite mankind whose common understanding of meaning through a common reason had been disintegrated by the diversification of languages following the diverse and separate historical experiences of different peoples. Again Mersenne's model was music. Basing his linguistic experiments on a calculus of permutations and combinations of a given set of elements that he had already developed for musical composition, he proposed to devise a system of notations that could be expressed symbolically in music.38 Increasing European awareness of the diversity of the cultures of the world and of the relativity of human values and expectations directed attention in the seventeenth
See for these investigations Crombie, "Mathematics, Music and Medical Science," and "Mersenne, Marin (1588-1648)" in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography 9 (1974), pp. 316-22. 37 Mersenne, Harmonic universelle vol. z, "Traitez des instrumens," vol. 3, prop, vii (1637), pp. 123-6, cf. prop, xvii, pp. 140-6, vol. i, props, xvi-xx, pp. 42-52. 38 Ibid., vol. i, "Traitez de la voix ...," book i, especially props, xii, xlvii-1, pp. 12-13, 65-77, "Traitez ... des sons ...," book i, props, xxii, xxiv, pp. 39-41, 43, vol. 2, "De Putilite de Pharmonie," prop, ix, also La verite des sciences, book 3, ch. 10 (Paris: 1625), pp. 548, 544-80, Les questions theologiques, physiques,


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

century to the diversity of the perceptual worlds inhabited by different peoples, and also by animals.39 Deaf mutes likewise raised the question of the mental world of persons deprived of a sense. Following his analysis of music and the voice he proposed a method (already used in Spain by Pedro Ponce of Leon) of teaching the deaf to speak by showing them how to form the tongue and lips in appropriate positions and then associating these with written words and with the things they signified.40 Thus the science of music, including in it all the phenomena of sound, could restore personal dignity and bring about the unity of mankind within the rational and stable harmonic universelle that God had chosen to exhibit, both in the structure of his physical creation and in the information about it that men were able to discover and communicate. Antecedent theoretical analysis could direct the experimental argument in different ways. Theoretical expectations could open inquiry in certain directions and close it in others. Within a general and conventional agreement that trial by experiment was the ultimate test, a diversity of theories of what existed or could exist in nature, both in general and in particular, created expectations of what could or what could not be found by experimental inquiry. The boundaries of rationality either of nature or of scientific knowledge, however clearly defined by some leading scientific virtuosi in the seventeenth

morales, et mathematiques question 34 (Paris: 1634), pp. 158-65 (expurgated edition); cf. Lenoble, Marin Mersenne, ou la naissance du mecanisme; Crombie, "Mathematics, Music and Medical Science," "Marin Mersenne (15881648) and the Seventeenth-Century of Scientific Acceptability," and Styles of Scientific Thinking, ch. 3, section 4, ch. 7, section i; Mersenne, Les questions theologiques, physiques, morales, et mathematiques, and Traite de I'harmonie universelle; Arno Borst, Der Turmbau von Babel: Geschichte der Meinung iiber Ursprung und Vielfalt der Sprachen und Volker, 4 vol. (Stuttgart: 1957-63); Hans Aarsleff, From Locke to Saussure: Essays on the Study of Language and Intellectual History (Minneapolis, MN: 1982); Mary Slaughter, Universal Languages and Scientific Taxonomy in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982). 39 Mersenne, Les preludes de I'harmonie universelle, question 6 (Paris: 1634), pp. 150-7, Questions harmoniques, questions 13 (Paris: 1634), Harmonie universelle, "Traitez de la voix ...," book i prop, lii, pp. 79-81, cf. props, v-xiv, xxxviii-xli. pp. 7-15, 47-55; Thomas Willis, De anima brutorem (Oxford: 1672). 40 Mersenne, "Traitez de la voix ...," book i props, x-xi, li, pp. 11-12, 77-9; cf. David Wright, Deafness (London: Allen Lane, 1969); Crombie, "Mathematics, Music and Medical Science"; Harlan Lane, When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf (New York: Random House, 1984), The Deaf Experience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


century, were never accepted within all the diverse intellectual and social contexts concerned. Thus experiment and mathematics could have different meanings within inquiries directed by different preconceptions of what was discoverable in nature, and their results could give different satisfactions according to whether what was supposed to be discoverable could be interpreted as having been discovered. Kepler, for example, looked with neoplatonic vision for harmony in nature expressed in simple mathematical proportions supported by sound metaphysical reasons, and he insisted throughout that the proportions postulated must agree with observation. His quarrel with Robert Fludd, who shared something of the same vision, was that Fludd would not agree to acceptable experimental criteria for believing rather in one kind of world than in another, so that when Fludd cited measurements made with his weather glass (a kind of thermometer), they could not agree even on what was being measured. Between the absolutely different mental worlds they inhabited, the one as a scientific rational artist and the other as a Hermetic magician, there could be evidently no communication.41 Theory well supported by experimental argument could also blind even the most rational natural philosophers to unexpected experimental novelties. William Gilbert's theoretical expectations obstructed for a generation recognition that the declination of the magnetic needle from true north varied in the course of time, even though the evidence was available.42 William Harvey refused to accept that the lacteal vessels and thoracic duct discovered by Gasparo Aselli and the receptaculum chyli discovered by Jean Pequet had any function in the transport of nourishment from the intestines to the body: he objected theoretically on the grounds that these vessels were not found in all animals whereas the necessity for such transport was universal, that the mesenteric veins were sufficient, and that "nature never does anything thoughtlessly."43 Harvey was well aware of the analogy between the rational artist, who formed in his mind a conception of what he would represent in

Cf. Wolfgang Pauli, "The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler" in Carl G. Jung and Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955). 42 Cf. Eva G.R. Taylor, The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1955). 43 William Harvey to Robert Morrison, April 28, 1652 in The Circulation of the Blood, trans. Kenneth J. Franklin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 86.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

his painting and how he would do so, and the rational experimental scientist who proceeded likewise by an antecedent theoretical and quantitative analysis of his subject matter. For "art itself is nothing but the reason of work, implanted in the artists minde. And in the same way by which we gaine in art, by the very same we attain any kinde of science or knowledge whatever: for as art is a habit whose object is something to be done, so science is a habit, whose object is something to be known; and as the former proceedeth from the imitation of exemplars; so this latter, from the knowledge of things naturall. The source of both is from sense and experience" (with the Aristotelian meanings respectively of particular sensory perceptions and connected experience of their regularities), "since it is impossible that art should rightly be purchased by the one, or science by the other, without a direction from ideas."44 Experimental scientist and rational artist were then both alike exemplary men of virtu, achieving their objectives by a similar intellectual behavior, mastering their subject matters by an analytical anticipation of effects, and committed to an examined life of reasoned consistency in all things. In this context the rapid extension in the seventeenth century of scientific experience of the exploration of nature generated its own critical response. This was twofold, scientific and epistemological. The response in scientific method was a dramatic increase in the power, precision, and range of techniques of logical, mathematical, and instrumental analysis. The response in epistemology was a stricter and stricter examination of what scientific investigation could be accepted as having established. Within the ambience of a certain general philosophical skepticism, the contrast between the acknowledged successes of the mathematical and technical sciences and arts in solving specific and clearly defined problems, and the disputed claims of metaphysicians to true and certain knowledge of the whole essence of existence, led to the conclusion that scientific art alone could yield the only certainly true science of nature available to us. Scientific thinking has nearly always been guided or stimulated by ideas or beliefs coming from outside the strict boundaries of scientific demonstration. Through the seventeenth century, scientific experience itself brought about a recognition, within an increasingly professional scientific community, that positive reasons must be required for
^Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, Preface (London, 1651), translated as Anatomical Exercitations Concerning the Generation of Living Animals (London: 1653).

Experimental Science and the Rational Artist


accepting such beliefs as valid or relevant within a scientific argument. The scientific movement, propelled by a deliberate combination of a theoretical search for common forms of explanation with a practical demand for accurately reproducible results, came then to base the acceptability of scientific explanations on a criterion of art: the range of experimental confirmation on an open frontier, capable of yielding not certainty but only probability to a degree increasing with its range. The triumphal march of rational virtu towards control of scientific ideas of all kinds received at this point a check, indicated by Mersenne, from experienced scientific skepticism supported by theology: the doctrine of the omnipotent Creator which reduced the world from the human point of view to contingent regularities of fact.45 What then about the realm of fortuna that virtu aimed to master, the realm of untidy accidents and unfathomable motivations, of contingent expectation and uncertain choice? One aspect of that realm was mastered by reason through the calculus of probability, developed first in the context of commercial insurance and partnerships from the fourteenth century in Italy, and reduced by Pascal and Christiaan Huygens to an exactly calculated expectation at any point of time. Thus as Pascal wrote "what was rebellious to experience has not escaped the dominion of reason. Indeed we have reduced it by geometry with so much security to an exact art, that it participates in its certainty and now boldly progresses. And so, joining mathematical demonstrations with the uncertainty of chance, and reconciling what seemed contraries, taking its name from both, it justly arrogates to itself this stupendous title: the geometry of chance [aleae geometria]."46 Scientifically that may be said to have removed some aspects of the game of life from the long accepted realm of irrational fortune and personal luck into that of impersonal calculation. But what about those other seemingly irrational aspects of


Cf. A.C. Crombie, "Infinite Power and the Laws of Nature: A Medieval Speculation" in L'infinito nella scienza (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1986), republished in Crombie, Historical Studies in Scientific Thinking. 46 Blaise Pascal, "Adresse a 1'Academic Parisienne" (1644), ed. Louis Lafuma (Oeuvres completes, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1963), pp. 101-3; cf. A.C. Crombie, "Contingent Expectation and Uncertain Choice: Historical Contexts of Arguments from Probabilities" in The Rational Arts of Living, ed. A.C. Crombie and Nancy G. Siraisi (Northampton, MA: Smith College Studies in History, 1987); cf. Styles of Scientific Thinking, ch. 18.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

human motivation that have always been recurrently part of our culture: the temptations of magic or demonology for example, or the apparently deliberate cultivation of evil or the desire to destroy or deconstruct from whatever motive but for no evidently positive end? Out of sight in ages of reason, the dramatic irrationalism of our time has sensitized our minds to its counterparts in earlier periods. It has reverberated through our century like a Wagnerian opera: too loud, too long. How should a historian of virtu treat it? Certainly not like a blind idiot. Rather he can use his rational judgement as a kind of comparative historical anthropologist, getting to the viewpoint of its motivations, commitments, and expectations, in the past as in the present, in the minds of its historians as of their subjects, however irrelevant it may seem to the history of the problems solved by science or art.

Mathematics and Platonism in the Sixteenth-Century Italian Universities and in Jesuit Educational Policy1

Chairs or lectureships for different parts of the Arts 'quadrivium' seem to have existed from the end of the fourteenth century in Bologna (arithmetic 1384-5, astrology with the duty to teach Euclid and algorithm 1405, arithmetic and geometry 1443)2 and perhaps elsewhere in Italy. Domenico Maria Novara (1454-1504) of Ferrara held a lectureship in Bologna in astronomy from 1483 to 1504, Luca Pacioli one in mathematics in 1501-2, and Girolamo Cardano (1501-76) worked there on mathematics while holding a lectureship in medicine from 1562 to 1570.3 At the reform of the University of Rome by Leo X in 1514 two professors of mathematics were appointed, one being Pacioli; other major chairs were in philosophy, astronomy and medicine.4 The Roman philosophers according to the historian of the university5 were predominantly
This paper is based on A.C. Crombie and A. Carguo, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (forthcoming). The use by the original publisher of inverted commas instead of italics in the titles of books and journals has been left unchanged. Information has been supplied by Dr. Carugo for nn. 6 and 95. 2 Bortolotti, 'La storia delle matematiche nell' Universita di Bologna' (1947) 22, 8, 24. What follows is based on published sources: there is a great need to pursue these questions in university archives. For mathematics in 16th-century Italy cf. Tiraboschi, 'Storia della letteratura Italiana', vii (1791) 107 sqq.; Libri, 'Histoire des sciences mathematiques', iii (1840) 101 sqq; Bortolotti, 'Studi e ricerche sulla storia della matematica in Italia . . . ' (1928), 'La matematica in Italia . . . ' (1933); dTrsay, 'Histoire des universites', i (1933) 240, ii (1935) 2-3. 3 Bortolotti, 'La storia . . . ' (1947) 20, 24-33, 74-6; cf. Olschki, 'Geschichte' . . . i, 151 sqq. 4 Renazzi, 'Storia dell' Universita . . . di Roma', ii (1804) 24-30, 44-51, esp. 50-1, 61-6. For the name Sapienza revived for the university by Gregory XIII in 1568 see pp. 165-7; and for Cardano at Rome during 1571-76 see pp. 219-20. 5 Renazzi, ibid.,'ii, 173-4: 'Seguica la filosofia di Aristotele a dominar nelle Scuole della Romana Universita, ne ancor sorto era alcuno a contrastarle 1'antico suo impero. Que' raggi di vivo splendore, che cominciavano altrove a lampeggiare sul vasto campo delle filosofiche discipline, non erano ancor giunti a penetrare nelle Scuole Romane. Aveva, egli e vero, il Vives al principio del secolo XVI, su cui noi qul c'aggiriamo, nel suo eccellente libro 'De corruptis disciplinis', segnato le dritte vie, che batter conveniva per rettamente filosofare. Gia secondo il consiglio di Platone, allo studio della filosofia i piu accorti e saggi facevano agl'iniziandi premettere quello degli elementi dell'algebra, e della geometria. Imperciocche si era da quelli capita, che i difetti degli studj sin'allora usitati, nascevano specialmente dal non accopiarvi lo studio delle matematiche. Gio mosse nel secole XVI parecchi profondi ingegni a coltivarle, e illustrarle con


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

medical and Aristotelian; mathematics on the contrary was cultivated on Plato's advice as the best introduction to philosophy. Giambattista Raimondi (c. 1536-1614),6 appointed to the mathematical chair in 1576 and also an oriental linguist, is said to have led the way through his lectures in toppling Aristotle from the philosophical throne and replacing him by Plato. Galileo's friend Luca Valeric (1552-1618), who taught mathematics at Rome about 1600, likewise had Platonic affiliations.7 From the middle of the sixteenth century an effort was made to foster the mathematical sciences by establishing chairs or lectureships in other Italian universities. Pisa had a mathematical chair in 1484.8 With the renovation of the

impegno maggior; e per tal'opportunissimo fine circa la meta di quello 1'intermessa lettura di matematiche ricomparve nella Romana Universita. In fatti la giustezza di pensare, la precisione dell'idee, 1'esattezza del metodo, che in seguito s'introdussero a poco a poco in tutte le scienze, fu il sostanzioso e utilissimo frutto, che il dilatamento, e i progress! dello studio delle matematiche felicemente produssero. Lo spirito geometrico nato da tale studio e di maggior importanza e giovamento, che le astratte verita, le quali dalla geometria propongonsi, e si dimostrano. Ma tra noi i filosofi troppo altamente erano prevenuti per le dottrine peripatetiche, e oltre modo imbevuti delle scolastiche sottigliezze. Chi si maravigliera percio, se persistessero tenacemente attaccati ai vecchi loro pregiudizi, e se nel tempo di cui qui trattiamo, continuassero a spiegar, e sostenere dalle cattedre Aristotele con indefessa fatica, e con ardente entusiamo? La maggior parte dei Romani Maestri erano medici di professione come andremo divisando nel produrne qui ora il catalago; poiche allora congiungevansi quasi sempre gli studi prattici di medicina cogli astratti della fiosofia'; cf. pp. 174-7. 6 Ibid. 177: 'Un'altra cosa pure del Raimondi deesi qui accennare, che cioe fu esso un dei primi ad alzar nei suoi discorsi bandiera contro Aristotele e a preparar in Roma la letteraria rivoluzione di rovesciarlo dal filosofico trono, e rimettervi il gia abbandonato Platone, di che diremo a suo luogo': cf. G.O. xx 515. Raimondi was in great favour with Pope Clement VIII (Ippolito Aldobrandini) and especially with his nephew Cinzio Aldobrandini. On G.B. Raimondi see Girolamo Lunadoro, 'Relatione della corte di Roma e de 'riti da osservarsi in essa e de'suoi Magistrati et Officii, con la loro distinta giurisdittione' (Venezia, 1635) 63-5, where he is remembered as having 'belli pensieri circa la doctrina di Platone, et di Aristotele, per essere versatissimo, in ambi due questi auttori', and for his dedication to mathematical sciences. Notable achievements were his Latin translations from Greek, such as of Euclid's 'Data', 'uno delli libri necessarii per la intelligenza della scienza resolutiva, che e nelle mathematiche', and from Arabic, such as of Apollonius's eight books 'De Conis' (!). Lunadoro adds that Raimondi 'ha commentato i cinque (!) libri di Pappo' (books 3-5 ?) and 'Ha scritto poi Comentari, e dotti, et esquisiti sopra tutti i libri di Archimede'. He also mentions his work on Arabic, Persian and Turkish dictionaries and his learning in theology. This passage from Lunadoro's book was excerpted by John Pell, in an autograph memorandum now in the Brit. Mus., MS Add. 4458, ff. 95-96. Raimondi left an unprinted commentary on Pappus, now in the Bibl. Naz. Cent, di Firenze, MS Magi. cl. XI, no. 107. Under his supervision, in the famous 'Stamperia medicea' attached to the Collegio Romano, were printed many important works in Arabic, including Avicenna's 'Canon' (1593) and Nasir addin's edition of Euclid (1594). 7 Renazzi, 'Storia . . . ', iii (1805) 36, 85. 8 Fabronius, 'Historia Academia Pisanae', i (1791) 326-7: 'Difficile est reperire quid de illius aetatis mathematicis dicas. Prorsus illi ignorabant quid Graeci omnis praeclarae artis inventores, ac praesertim Archimedes vir prope divinus contulissent ad amplificandos geometriae fines, adjungendumque illius usum ad physicas res; et qui hanc profitebantur scientiam, nullum aliud praeceptum artis esse putabant, quern quod ni Euclide continentur'.

Mathematics and Platonism


university begun in 1543 under Duke Cosimo I three mathematical appointments were made in the same year 1548: Juliano Ristoro, a Carmelite described as having already professed mathematics in Siena and Florence, to a chair in astronomy with a view to facilitating astrology,9 and two others to positions as 'mathesis praeceptores'.10 It was to one of these latter posts that Galileo was to be appointed in 1589 through the interest of Guidobaldo's younger brother Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, after he had failed in the previous year to get a similar position at Bologna.11 The mathematical chair at Padua, to which Galileo moved in 1592 with the help of Giovanni Vincenzo Pinelli12, had been initiated in 1520 by Federico Delfino, who at his death in 1547 was succeeded by an undistinguished logician, Pietro Catena,13 who held it until his death in 1576. During 1559-60 Catena was joined briefly by Francesco Barozzi.14 Catena's successor from 1577 to 1588, Gioseffe Moleto, was a man who showed some originality, for example in recognising that all bodies should fall with the same speed and dealing with the contradiction between this conclusion and Aristotelian physics.15 He and Galileo were in

Fabbruccio, 'De Pisano Gymnasio . . . ' (1960) 112-6; Fabronius, op. cit. ii (1792) 385-6 470; Baldi, 'Cronica' (1707) 122. 10 Fabronius, op. cit. ii 385-6; cf. Schmitt, The Faculty of Arts at Pisa at the time of Galileo' (1972). 11 Fabronius, op. cit., p. 392; Favaro, 'Galileo Galilei e lo Studio di Padova', i (1883) 30-2. 12 G.O. x 42, 47-60, xix 111-2 117-25; Favaro, ibid. pp. 48-53, 'Cronologica Galileiana' (1892), 'Scampoli Galileiani, ser. ix' (1894). 13 Favaro, 'Galileo Galilei e lo studio di Padova' i, 100-36, esp. 133-6; see also Favaro, 'Intorno alia vita . . . di Prosdrocini de'Beldomandi' (1879) 46-55; 'Le matematiche nello Studio di Padova' (1880), 'I lettori di matematiche nella Universita di Padova' (1922) 61-7; Baldi, 'Cronica' (1707) 112, 135-6, Affo 'Vita di . . . Baldi' (1783) 9; Tiraboschi, 'Storia . . . ' vii (1791) 657; Crapulli, 'Mathesis universalis' (1969) 42-62. Catena was much concerned with mathematical demonstration in Aristotle, writing in one of his books. 'Universa loca in logicam Aristotelis in mathematicis disciplinas hoc novum opus declarat' (1556) 4:' . . . etiam si exiguas (nam apprime novi quam sit mihi curta suppellex) expederem in eruendo Aristotele ex illo obscuro, id autem tarn comode apte fieri putabam, si mathematica exempla sua expressiora redderem, quibus in explicandis logicis usus fuit ipse presertim hoc tempore quo publicis lectionibus mathematicis in Paduano Gimnasio incumbebam . . . .' He went on in commenting on 'Post. Anal.' i.i, 71a 19-22 (= text 3) to make the contrast: ' . . . Neque id ostenditur per inductionem Topicam quae a particularibus ad universalem procedit, et contrariatur huic posterioristico processui, qui fit ab universali and particularia . . . ' (p. 25). He followed this with another work: Petrus Cathena, artium et theologiae doctor, professor publicus artium liberalium in Gymnasio Patevino, 'Super loca mathematica contenta in Topicis et Elenchis Aristotelis', nunc et non antea in lucem aedita (1561). 14 Boncompagni, 'Intorno alia vita ed ai lavori di Francesco Barozzi' (1884) 796-7. 15 Favaro, 'Galileo Galilei e lo Studio di Padova', i, 21-36, 135-6, 'Giuseppe Moletti' (1917).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

contact through correspondence during the year before he died in 1588.16 From both Padua and Florence, the greatest influence on mathematical teaching in Italian universities was eventually to be that of Galileo himself. His pupil and friend Benedetto Castelli (1578-1643) was to be appointed at Pisa in 1613, and to move from there to the mathematical chair at the Sapienza in Rome in 1626.17 Another pupil, Bonaventura Cavalieri (1598-1647), was to hold the chair at Bologna from 1629 until his death. One of Castelli's pupils in Rome, Evangelista Torricelli (1608-47), was to succeed Galileo as mathematician to the Tuscan court in 1642; another, Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608-79), was to be appointed about 1635 to a mathematical lectureship in Messina, whence he moved in 1656 to the chair at Pisa. In the same year Marcello Malpighi (1628-94) went from a lectureship in logic at Bologna to the chair of theoretical medicine at Pisa, finally returning by way of the main medical chair at Messina to that at Bologna in 1666.18 Borelli and Malpighi, both members of the Accademia del Cimento, and Borelli's pupil Lorenzo Bellini (1643-1704) who succeeded Malpighi in the chair of theoretical medicine at Pisa, were to be primarily responsible for carrying the Galilean mathematical programme into biology. It was however the Jesuits who made the teaching of mathematics most explicitly part of an educational policy. The Jesuit 'Constitutiones' (1556) laid down that 'the end of the Society and of its studies is to aid our fellow men to the knowledge and love of God and to the salvation of their souls'.19 The principal emphasis of Jesuit universities was to be placed upon theology as the most appropriate means to this end, but a full range of other humane and useful subjects was to be taught: literature and history, classical and oriental languages, and 'the arts or natural sciences' since they 'dispose the intellectual powers for theology, and are useful for the perfect understanding and use of it, and also by their own nature help towards the same ends'.20 From Ignatius Loyola himself came the injunction: 'Logic, physics, metaphysics and moral science should be treated and also mathematics in the measure suitable to the end proposed'21. Medicine and law, being more remote from this end, were not to be taught in Jesuit universities or at least not by members of the society.
G.O. i, 183-5; x, 21, 30, 42, 77; xix, 111, 606. Fabronius, op. cit. ii, 404-9; Renazzi, op. cit. iii, 86-8: Favaro, 'Benedetto Castelli' (1907-8): Zannini, 'La vita di Benedetto Castelli' (1961). 18 For these authors see the 'Dictionary of Scientific Biography' (1970). 19 'Constitutiones Soc. Jesu', iv. 12 ('Mon. hist. Soc. Jesu', 1936) 468; Ignatius of Loyola, The Constitutions . . .' iv. 12, transl. Ganss (1970) 50-4, 213-4; cf. 'Constitutiones', iv. 12 (1583) 15961; 'Mon. paed. Soc. lesu' i, ed. Lukacs (1965) 281-5. 20 'Constit. SJ.' iv. 12 (1936) 470, (1965) 482; cf. (1583) 160-1. 21 Ibid. For Jesuit education see Antoniano, 'Dell'educazione cristiana e politica dei figliuoli' (1926); Farrell, 'The Jesuit Code of Liberal Education' (1938); Dainville, 'Les Jesuites et 1'education . . . : La naissance de 1'humanisme moderne' (1940) (note p. 75, Ignatius to Diego de Mendoza, 1553; cf. above n. 46 eh), 'Les Jesuites . . . : La geographic des humanistes' (1940). A convenient summary of Jesuit hisotry is 'Synopsis hist. Soc. Jesu', preface by Groetstouwers (1950).
17 16

Mathematics and Platonism


In the central Jesuit university, the Collegio Romano founded by Ignatius in 1550, a chair of 'Mathesis (cum Geometria et Astronomia)'22 was established in 1553 with Balthassar Torres as the first professor. After him it was held more or less continuously by Christopher Clavius from 1565 until his death in 1612. Both were in touch with Francesco Maurolico (1494-1575) in Messina: Torres corresponded with him about Jesuit mathematical teaching; Clavius developed a closer relationship after visiting him in 1569 and became largely responsible for the appearance of his major posthumous mathematical and optical writings. He gave a number of his manuscripts to Clavius on a further visit from him in 1574.23 Clavius was joined at the Collegio Romano in 1595 by his pupil and eventual successor Christopher Grienberger (1561-1636), another of Galileo's future friends, who likewise taught mathematics there, with interruptions, over a long period, until 1633.24 In 1553-4 a Balthassar Torres also initiated the chair in metaphysics, whence he moved in 1554-5 to that in 'Physica (seu Philosophia Naturalis)'. These two chairs as well as that in logic were also held at different times between 1559 and 1567 by Benito Pereira, Francisco de Toledo and Achille Gagliardi (1537/8-1607).25 It was Clavius who by his defence of mathematics within the context of Jesuit educational goals, and by creating a mathematical school at the Collegio Romano where most of the society's scientists studied, was principally responsible for establishing Jesuit policy and eventual achievements in the mathematical sciences. His 'Modus quo disciplinae mathematicae in scholis Societatis possent promoveri' indicates the kind of doubts he had to overcome within the society and gives his arguments for mathematics on the grounds of both intellectual necessity and practical utility:26
The way in which the mathematical disciplines could be promoted in the schools of the Society. First a master must be chosen with uncommon erudition and authority; for if either of these is absent the pupils, as experience shows, seem unable to be attracted to the mathematical disciplines. Now in order that the master should Villoslada, 'Storia del Collegio Romano' (1954) 59, 335. Scaduto, 'II matematico Francesco Maurolico e i Gesuiti' (1949) 132-4,137-41, cf. 'Le origini dell' Universita di Messina' (1948) 9; Rosen, 'Maurolico's attitude towards Copernicus' (1957) 179, 187-8; for Torres also 'Mon paed. Soc. Jesu . . . ' ed. Gomez Rodeles et al. (1901) 477-8. 24 Villoslada, op. cit. 187-99, 335; Sommervogel, 'Bibliotheque' . . . iii (1892) 1810-2. 25 Villoslada, op. cit. 51-2, 78-9, 326-7, 329, 331; for these professors see below nn. 44, 99; Sommervogel, op. cit. iii, 1095-9; cf. 'Mon. paed. Soc. Jesu' (1901) 150-62, 491-3, 500, 504, 515, 522, 571, 728. 26 'Mon. paed. Soc. Jesu' (1901) 471-3: autograph, 'Manu P. Christophori Clavii'; see Dainville, 'Les Jesuites . . . : La naissance de l'humanisme' (1940) 88 sqq., 139 sqq., 'L'enseignement des mathematiques dans les colleges jesuites . . . ' (1954) 7-8; Cosentino, 'L'insegnamento delle matematiche nei collegi Gesuitici nell'Italia settentrionale' (1971) 207 sqq.; cf. Phillips The correspondence of Father Christopher Clavius S.I. (1939) 205-20, with Possevino (1585), Baldi, Galileo and Guidobaldo del Monte (1588), and other mathematicians down to 1611. The debates about mathematics can be found in 'Mon. paed. Soc. Jesu' (1901) and 'Mon. paed. Soc. lesu', i (1965); cf. Farrell, 'The Jesuit Code of Liberal Education', pp. 153-362, esp. 338, 343, 370-1.
23 22


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

have greater influence over his pupils, and the mathematical disciplines themselves be of greater value and the pupils understand their utility and necessity, the master must be invited to take part in formal acts in which doctors are created and public disputations held, in such a way that if he is capable he too may sometimes put forward arguments and help those who are arguing. For by this means it will easily come about that the pupils, seeing the professor of mathematics together with the other teacher taking part in such acts and sometimes also disputing, will be convinced that philosophy and the mathematical sciences are connected, as they truly are; especially because pupils up to now seem almost to have despised these sciences for the simple reason that they think that they are not considered of value and are even useless, since the person who teaches them is never summoned to public acts with the other professors. It also seems necessary that the teacher should have a certain inclination and propensity for lecturing on these sciences, and should not be taken up with many other occupations; otherwise he will scarcely be able to help his pupils. Now in order that the Society should have capable professors of those sciences, some men should be selected apt and capable for carrying out this task who may be instructed in a private school in various mathematical subjects; otherwise it does not seem possible that these studies should last long in the Society, let alone be promoted; although they are a great ornament to the Society and are very frequently the subject of discussion in colloquia and meetings of leading men, where they might understand27 that our members are not ignorant of mathematical matters. Whence it comes about28 that our members necessarily become speechless in such meetings, not without great shame and disgrace; as those to whom this very thing has happened have often reported. I do not mention the fact that natural philosophy without the mathematical disciplines is lame and incomplete, as we shall show a little later. So much for the master of mathematical disciplines; now let us add a few words about his students. Secondly then, it is necessary that the pupils should understand that these sciences are useful and necessary for rightly understanding the rest of philosophy, and that they are at the same time a great ornament to all other arts, so that one may acquire perfect erudition; indeed these sciences and natural philosophy have so close an affinity with one another that unless they give each other mutual aid they can in no way preserve their own worth. For this to happen, it will be necessary first that students of physics should at the same time study mathematical disciplines; a habit which has always been retained in the Society's schools hitherto. For if these sciences were taught at another time, students of philosophy would think, and understandably, that they were in no way necessary to physics, and so very few would want to understand them; though it is agreed among experts that physics cannot rightly be grasped without them, especially as regards that part which concerns the number and motion of the celestial circles ('orbes'), the multitude of intelligences, the effects of the stars which depend on the various conjunctions, oppositions and other distances between them, the division of continuous quantity into infinity, the ebb and flow of the sea, winds, comets, the rainbow, the halo and other meteorological things, the proportions of motions, qualities, actions, passions and reactions etc. concerning which 'calculators' write much. I do not mention the infinite examples in Aristotle, Plato and their more celebrated commentators, which can by no means be understood without a

27 28

Reading 'intelligant' for 'intelligunt' (p. 471). As the editor points out, the preceding does not lead immediately to what follows (p. 472).

Mathematics and Platonism


moderate understanding of the mathematical sciences; indeed, because of their ignorance of these, some professors of philosophy have very often committed many errors, and those most grave, and what is worse they have even committed them to writings some of which it would not be difficult to bring forward. By the same token teachers of philosophy should be skilled in mathematical disciplines, at least moderately, lest they run onto similar rocks, with great disgrace and loss of the reputation which the Society has in letters. I do not mention the fact that the professors would hereby gain great influence over their students, if they understood that they treated as they deserved the passages in Aristotle and other philosophers which concern the mathematical disciplines. Whence it will also come about that the pupils understand better the necessity for these sciences. It will also contribute much to this if the teachers of philosophy abstained from those questions which do not help in the understanding of natural things and very much detract from the authority of the mathematical disciplines in the eyes of the students, such as those in which they teach that the mathematical sciences are not sciences, do not have demonstrations, abstract from being and the good,29 etc.; for experience teaches that these questions are a great hindrance to pupils and of no service to them; especially since teachers can hardly teach them without bringing these sciences into ridicule (which I do not just know from hearsay). The influence of Clavius is evident in the first Jesuit 'Ratio Studiorum' of 1586 and in the definitive version of 1599. Both outlined a full programme of philosophical and mathematical studies.30 The course of natural philosophy set out in 1586 covered the whole range of Aristotelian subjects from the heavens and their motions and influences (to be treated by a philosopher when there was no professor of mathematics), through the elements, meteorology, generation and the soul. Aristotle was to be followed except where detracting from or repugnant to faith.31 Quoting Loyola's injunction from the 'Constitutiones'32 the section 'De mathematicis' went on:33 Constitutions, part 4, ch. 12, C: There will be treated, they say, logic, physics, metaphysics, moral science, and also mathematics but only in so far as it is conducive to the end proposed to us. Now it seems no little conducive, not only because without mathematics our academies would lack a great ornament, indeed they would even be mutilated, since there is almost no fairly celebrated academy in which the mathematical disciplines do not have their own, and indeed not the last, place; but much more because the other sciences also very much need their help, because, for poets they supply and expound the risings and settings of the heavenly bodies; for historians the shapes and distances of places; for the Analytics examples of solid
Cf. Plato, 'Republic' vii, 533-4. 'Ratio Studiorum', iii, 'De studio philosophiae' (1586) 171 sqq., iv, 'De mathematicis', pp. 198 sqq.; ed. Pachtler, 'Ratio Studiorum', ii (1887) 125 sqq. (1586), cf. 256, 348 (1599). 31 'Rat. Stud.', iii (1586) 193-7; ed. Pachtler, ii (1887) 138-41. 32 Above n. 21. 33 'Rat. Stud.', iv (1586) 198-9; ed. Pachtler, ii (1887) 141-2; cf. Barbera, 'La Ratio Studiorum . . . ' (1942) 126; Cosentino, 'Le matematiche nella 'Ratio Studiorum . . . ' (1970), and op. cit. (1971) 2078-11; Dainville, 'Les Jesuites . . . : La naissance de 1'humanisme' (1940) 71-88, op. cit. (1954) 7-8; Villoslada, op. cit. (1954) 96 sqq.
30 29


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

demonstrations; for politicians admirable arts for good administration at home and in time of war; for physics the forms and differences of heavenly revolutions, light, discords, sounds; for metaphysics the number of spheres and intelligences; for theologians the main parts of the divine creation; for law and ecclesiastical custom the accurate computation of times; not to mention what advantages redound to the state from the work of mathematicians in the care of diseases, in navigations, and in the pursuit of agriculture. Therefore we must try to bring it about that, just like the other disciplines, so mathematics too may flourish in our schools, so that from this too our students may become more suited to serving the various interests of the Church, especially as, to our great disgrace, we lack professors who can give the teaching of mathematics that is needed for so many and excellent uses. At Rome too, if you except one or two, scarcely anyone will be left who is qualified either to profess these disciplines or to be at hand at the Apostolic Seat when there is discussion about ecclesiastical times.34

Two professors of mathematics were to be appointed. One should teach students of logic, who in their first year were 'preparing themselves for the Posterior Analytics, which can scarcely be understood without mathematical examples'. In their second year they would be studying physics, when 'the remaining part of the mathematical compendium which is to be completed by Father Clavius will be expounded'. The second professor in Rome, 'but only if he can be Father Clavius, is to provide a fuller knowledge of mathematical things over three years and is to teach privately about eight or ten of our students, who are at least moderately intelligent and not unmathematical and have studied philosophy, and who would be summoned from various provinces, if possible one from any one'.35 But Jesuit views on mathematics were by no means uniform even after these dates. For example Clavius had maintained in his commentary on Euclid (1574) that mathematics offered the most certain demonstrations but that these were not syllogistic. On the power of mathematical demonstrations he agreed with Francesco Barozzi.36 The philosopher Benito Pereira in his 'De communibus omnium rerum naturalium principiis' (1562,1576) had agreed on the contrary with Alessandro Piccolomini. He wrote: 'It is the opinion of many that the kind of most powerful demonstration ("demonstratio potissima"), which is treated in the Posterior Analytics i, is to be found either nowhere, or surely above all in the mathematical disciplines'. Among the reasons given were that this kind of demonstration was the goal of mathematical resolution, and that mathematical demonstrations did not suffer from the variety and disagreement of opinion found in those of physics and metaphysics. 'But although this opinion is very common and accepted by many, I however can in no way approve it: for I think that most powerful demonstration which is

I.e. the calendar. 'Rat. Stud.' iv (1586) 199-210; ed. Pachtler, ii (1887) 142-3. 36 Cf. Boncompagni (1884) appendix i: 'Lettera di Francesco Barozzi al P. Christoforo Clavio' (pp. 831-7).


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described by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics i can in no way, or only with difficulty, be found in mathematical sciences'.37 'My opinion', he wrote, 'is that mathematical disciplines are not proper sciences . . . To have science ("scire") is to acquire knowledge of a thing through the cause on account of which the thing is; and science ("scientia") is the effect of demonstration: but demonstration (I speak of the most perfect kind of demonstration) must be established from those things that are "per se" and proper to that which is demonstrated, but the mathematician neither considers the essence of quantity, nor treats of its affections, as they flow from such essence, nor declares them by the proper causes on account of which they are in quantity, nor makes his demonstrations from proper and "per se" but from common and accidental predicates'. He confirmed this from Plato who had written in the 'Republic' vii that 'mathematicians dream about quantity, and in treating their demonstrations proceed not scientifically, but from certain suppositions. Therefore he does not want to call their doctrine intelligence ("intelligentia") or science, but only acquiring knowledge ("cognitio"); on which judgement Proclus wrote much in book i of his Commentaries on Euclid'.38 To illustrate the use by mathematicians of non-causal demonstrations Pereira cited from Proclus, as Piccolomini had done, Euclid's proof that the sum of the internal angles of a triangle equals two right angles. The proof depended on a construction projecting one side to make an external angle, but this did not make the property demonstrated of the internal angles: 'Who does not see that this middle term is not the cause of that effect which is

Pererius, 'De communibus', iii.4 (1576) 72. Pererius, 'De comm.', i 12, p. 24. Isaac Barrow in his 'Lectiones . . . in ... Acad. Cantab. An. Dom. MDCLXIV, v (1683) 89 quoted these 'Words of Pererius, who was no mean Peripatetic' ('Mathematical Lectures', transl. Kirkby, v, 'Containing answers to the objections which are usually brought against mathematical demonstration', 1734, p. 80) in discussing the same question. In these lectures given at Cambridge during 1664-6 Barrow continued the 16thcentury discussions of the relation of mathematical demonstrations to the theory of demonstration set out in the 'Posterior Analytics', and of the question whether mathematical entities have any existence outside {he mind, citing those 'who will have Mathematical Figures to have no other Existence in the Nature of Things than in the Mind alone. And it is wonderful to me that this Opinion should be embraced by Persons, who are otherwise most excellently skilled in the Mathematics: Among whom we may reckon Blancanus ('Libro de Natura Mathem.' p. 7), whose words are these: "Though Mathematical Beings have no real Existence, yet because their Ideas do exist both in the Divine and Human Mind, as the most exact Types of Things, therefore the Mathematician treats of those Ideas which of themselves are primarily intended, and are true Beings" ': Barrow, ibd., 1683, p. 85; 1734, p. 76; Blancanus, 'De mathematicarum natura' (1615) 7. Giuseppe Biancani was a Jesuit pupil of Clavius and professor of mathematics at Bologna; cf. his 'Aristotelis loca mathematica ex universis ipsius operibus collecta et explicata' (1615). Barrow in his second published series of 'Lectiones' (1684) also cited Clavius on Euclid (see Lect. vi, pp. 2767). Cf. the well known contrast between the axiomatic ideal of Greek geometry and the demonstrations possible in physics made by Huygens in the preface (1690) to his 'Traite" de la lumiere'; also Newton, 'Opticks', query 30 (1706).



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

demonstrated'.39 This literal insistence on the identity of reasoning and causation in true science measures the gulf separating the logic of Aristotelian physics from that of the mathematicians. Again like Piccolomini, Pereira went on to argue: 'mathematical things are abstracted from motion, therefore from all kinds of cause';40 mathematics, as Proclus had said, gave several demonstrations of the same conclusion of which one was no better than another, except perhaps in brevity; mathematical demonstrations owed their certainty primarily to their subject-matter, abstract quantity. These views remained unchanged in later editions of his book. He concluded:41 Now they are called mathematical sciences, as a synonym for disciplines, not on account of the excellence of their demonstrations, but on account of the very great ease of learning them, and of the very beautiful order and wonderful connection of the demonstrations with each other. Now mathematical demonstrations are the most certain, most evident, and easiest, by reason of the subjectmatter, namely quantity; for quantity is the most sensed ('maxime sensata') since it is perceived by all the senses, and is the middle or principle of mathematical demonstrations. They can be expounded and declared in such a way that they lie open to the senses themselves, which cannot be done in natural or divine things. Moreover the principles of mathematics do not require long experience and diligent observation like the principles of physics or medicine. And Aristotle in the sixth book of the Ethics42 gives this as the reason why boys can become mathematicians but not physicists or wise. Lastly mathematical things afford very easy abstraction from matter, because quantity is not tied to and dependent on any fixed and determinate matter, as are other physical accidents, and therefore it can easily be abstracted and conceived by the intellect. Hence too it comes about that mathematical things are called by Aristotle beings from abstraction ('entia ex abstractione'), doubtless because of the ease of abstraction; and what is easily abstracted from matter is also easily understood. It remains then that for these reasons mathematical demonstrations are the most certain, most evident and easiest for us wherefore they are called by philosophers perfect or absolute demonstrations. We are speaking at present of purely mathematical disciplones, such as geometry and arithmetic, for in astronomy, perspective and others called middle or mixed, things are otherwise. But that is enough for the present question. Next we must see whether knowledge of all the causes which a thing has is necessary to the understanding of that thing . . . . These differences of opinion, as well as the scope of the Jesuit commitment to mathematics, are indicated in the 'Bibliotheca selecta qua agitur de ratione studiorum' (1593) by the Jesuit scholar and diplomatist Antonio Possevino (1533/4-1611), a friend of Clavius and one of the authors of Jesuit educational
Pererius, ibid. 24. Barrow, op. cit., vi (1683) 108 ('Of the causality of mathematical demonstrations' ed. 1734) again cited Pereira's comment on this theorem (Euclid, 'Elements', i. 32) in a discussion comparing geometrical and syllogistic demonstration. 40 Pererius, 'De comm.', iii, 3, pp. 69-70. 41 Pererius, 'De comm.', iii, 4, pp. 73-4. 42 Aristotle, 'Ethica Nicomachea', vi. 8, 1142a 12-19.

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policy.43 Possevino entered the society in 1559 with the three brothers Achille, Leonetto and Ludovico Gagliardi, who had been horrified by the suspect and atheistic tendencies of the Averroist philosophy they had heard at the University of Padua.44 Apostolic and diplomatic journeys in Savoy and France led to three years as first rector of the new Jesuit college in Avignon,45 at the end of which he published in his 'Coltura de gl'ingegni' (1568)46 an account of the aims, methods and content of education in Jesuit universities throughout Europe. This he introduced with a brief history of Christian philosophy. Two periods as Papal Nuncio to the King of Sweden (1568, 1577-80) involved further travels in Germany and Poland.47 Another mission took him in 1581-82 to Moscow, where Pope Gregory XIII sent him in response to a request from Czar Ivan IV, the Terrible, for negotiation of an end to the long war between himself and the King of Poland. Peace was concluded with both Poland and Sweden in 1582. Possevino's reports of this mission, with descriptions of political and religious conditions in Russia and neighbouring lands, and an account of a discussion of the Catholic religion held with Czar Ivan on 21 February 1582, were published in part in his 'Moscovia' (1586).48 Papal policy aimed to bring about an alliance of these Christian princes against the Turks, and religious unity on the basis of the Council of Florence. Possevino continued his diplomatic missions during 1583-7 in Poland and Hungary,49 according to his biographer well fitted for these tasks by 'un savoir eminent, une facilite prodigieuse a apprendre les langues' as well as by 'un zele apostolique, un courage a 1'epreuve des plus grandes difficultes, une dexterite a traiter les affaires les plus epineuses, des manieres tout a fait engageantes surtout avec les grands, une connoissance parfaite des cours du nord, des interets et des coutumes de toutes ces nations'.50 His intervention played an important part in the introduction of the reformed Gregorian calendar into

Antonii Possevini Societatis lesu 'Bibliotheca selecta', 2 partes (Romae, 1593); revised ed., 2 torn., Coloniae Agrippinae, 1607. For Possevino see Dorigny, 'La vie du Pere Antoine Possevin' (1712); Sommervogel, 'Bibliotheque' . . . vi (1895) 1061-93; Dainville, 'Les Jesuites . . . : La geographic des humanistes' (1940) 47; 'Mon. paed. Soc. lesu' (1965) 107, 127. 44 Dorigny, op. cit. 4, 13-18, 25-7; Castellani, 'La vocazione alia Compagnia di Gesu del P. Antonio Possevino' (1945) 102-4, 108, 114-5. For the Gagliardis see Sommervogel, op. cit. iii, 1095-9; and for the following discussion of the Jesuits in Padua, Cozzi, 'Galileo Galilei e la societa veneziana' (1968) 10-14. 45 Dorigny, op. cit. 27 sqq., 105-6, 115-6, 135-6. 46 Vicenza, 1568; a Latin version was published in his 'Bibl. sel.', lib. i (1593) i, 13-65. 47 Dorigny, op. cit. 166-252; Possevini 'Missio Moscovitica', ed. Pierling (1882) 109-20; see next note. 48 Vilnae 1586, republished Antverpiae 1587; further documents in the Vatican archives were published as Antonii Possevini 'Missio Moscovitica', curante Pierling (1882); see also Dorigny, op. cit. pp. 253-438; Pierling, 'Un nonce du Pape en Moscovie' (1884) 146,180 sqq., 'La Russie et la Sainte-Siege' (1896) 375 sqq.; 'Synopsis hist. Soc. Jesu' (1950) 86. 49 Dorigny, op. cit. 438-94. 50 Ibid. 259; cf. 496, 499.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Poland.51 In 1587 he returned to Padua to teach at the Jesuit college, the 'Gymnasium Patavium Societatis Jesu'.52 He was one of G.V. Pinelli's Jesuit friends in a circle which included Robert Bellarmine, the Gagliardi brothers, and the Cardinals Cesare Baronio and Ippolito Aldobrandini (to become in 1592 Pope Clement VIII) as well as Gabriele Falloppio, Cardano, Sperone Speroni, Gioseffe Moleto, Guidobaldo del Monte, Mark Welser and Girolamo Fabrizio d'Acquapendente.53 In Padua during 1587-91 he wrote the 'Bibliotheca selecta'.54 This major work is an encyclopaedia and bibliography of current learning covering education, Scriptural history, theology, religious orders, schismatics and heretics, the Jews, the Mahometans, the beliefs of the peoples of India, Japan, China and the New World, the history of philosophy, jurisprudence, medicine and the mathematical sciences, the ancient and modern secular history of the world and its chronology since the creation, poetry, painting, and the art of writing letters. Book xiii on philosophy reflects current Italian preoccupations and controversies, with a massively eclectic, critical knowledge of ancient, medieval and modern authors. Possevino commended Francesco Bonamico for his adherence to the Greek text of Aristotle, reproval of Averroes, and use of Archimedes in dealing with heavy and light bodies.55 He warned frequently against the Arabic interpreters.56 He praised among Christian interpreters Aquinas, Albertus and other scholastics, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (with caution)57 for drawing out true philosophy from Aristotelian shadows, and above all in recent times Chrisostomo Javelli, Caietanus, Domingo de Soto, Francisco de Toledo, Francisco Valles and

Ibid. 481-4; cf. 483 on Clavius. Ibid. 497-9; Favaro, 'Galileo Galilei e lo Studio di Padova', i (1883) 75-99. 53 Paolo Gualdo, 'Vita Joannis Vincentii Pinelli' (1607) 14-15,18-19,29, 38-40, 45,73,100,103, 117; Dorigny, op. cit. 512-4: cf. Tiraboschi, 'Storia', vii (1791) 243-5. Luca Pinelli was a Jesuit: Sommervogel, 'Bibliotheque . . . ', vi, 802. 54 Dorigny, op. cit. 499-502, 512-4. 55 Possevinus, 'Bibl. sel.' xiii, 'De philosophia' (1593) ii, 120-1: 'Franciscus Bonamicus Florentinus primarius Pisis Professor, qui decem libros De Motu emisit: quo sat magno volumine generalia naturalis philosophiae principia continentur. Sane vero ut viri eruditissimi, licet mihi de facie ignoti, testimonium catenus praebeam, quatenus qui eius labores non legerunt, avidius excipiant, haec possum dice re: modestus philosophus est, ac satis tutus, Graecis potius adhaeret; Simplicii, sensus explicat liquidius, quam plerique fecerint alii, uti et aliorum Graecorum; Graece enim novit, atque ad textum Graecum plura revocat; Averroem saepe, ac quidem merito reprobat; ubi agit de gravibus et levibus, multa ex Archimede desumens, apte explicat; misce pulchra problemata; sextum, et septimum Physicorum interpretatur copiose; idque agit, ut offendat, an recte concludat Aristoteles'. 56 Ibid. 99-101, 106-9 (107 on Averroism in the universities). 57 Ibid. 104: 'quae ad Aristotelem intelligendum, atque ad veram philosophiam e tenebris eruendam pertinent, in quo tamen unum id fortasse cavendum est, ne quoniam perspicasissimo fuit ingenio, Hebraeaque volumina, et Platonicam, Pythagoricamque philosophiam cupiditate omnia percipiendi avidissime versavit'; cf. 115, 206-7.


Mathematics and Platonism


'Benedictus Pererius noster'.58 But the religious end to which he saw philosophy leading gave him a preference for Plato, with a very definite caveat, as a guide to knowledge. Philosophy had arisen from man's natural desire to find God.59 Among a full range of recent Platonists he cited with general though qualified approval Marsilio Ficino60 and Giovanni Pico,61 with special praise Javelli62 and Fox Morcillo,63 and for specific points Francesco Patrizi64 and Jacopo Mazzoni.65 The main source of his view of the history of philosophy was Pereira.66 Many had received the light of philosophy from Plato, more from Aristotle;67 many had been against Plato, many for, so he would separate the correct use of him from the abuse.68 Plato's chief errors concerned the human soul (belief in its transmigration to and from the brute animals, existence from eternity or from the beginning of time, and presence not as the true form of an individual but like the pilot of a ship) and the origin of the world from a chaos of already existing elements. Those who vindicated him called him the wisest and holiest of philosophers and the Attic Moses, and these included not only Cicero and Plutarch, but Jerome, Augustine, Basil and Clement.69 It was agreed by Christian scholars that Pythagoras, from whom Socrates and Plato learnt so many doctrines, had been the disciple of a Nazarine Jew. Plato himself could have consorted with Jews when he was in Egypt.70 But Augustine both in The City of God' and in the 'Retractationes' confessed that he had been deceived by Plato and came to reject his doctrines: they were against both Catholic faith and natural reason.71 The gentile philosophers had to be read with caution.72 Possevino shared the
58 Ibid. 104, 106, 113-4, 120-1. For the conciliatory policy of the 16th-century Dominican Aristotelian, Javelli, who held Aristotle valid for the natural sciences but Plato better for morality and religion, see Garin, 'Storia . . . ' (1966) 586-7. By the time Possevino was writing reconciliation of Plato and Aristotle seems to have lost much of its charm in Padua: cf. Nardi, 'Saggi' (1958) 363. 59 Possevinus, ibid. lib. xiii. 1, p. 59; c.3, p. 62: 'Origo philosophiae, instrumentaque noscendarum rerum homini collata a Deo', caput iii. Naturale homini desiderium ad sciendum a Deo inditum est, quod omnes sentimus, philosophique ipsi sempte inculcarunt'. 60 Ibid. 87-8. 61 Ibid. 65, 68, 75-8, 104, 181. 62 Ibid. 79, 82, 86-8. 63 Ibid. 88: 'Sed et Sebastianus Foxius Morxillus magna cum laude Platonem interpretatus est'; cf. 112, 225. 64 Ibid. 88, 98, 109, 225. 65 Ibid. 117, 181, 200; cf. ibid. (1607) 28, 31-2, 50 where he cited also Mazzoni's 'De comparatione Platonis et Aristotelis' (1597); below nn. 74, 104. 66 Possevinus, 'Bibl. sel.' (1593) 72-4, 104, 113-4, cf. 69-72, 115-9; cf. Pererius, 'Comm. . . . in Genesim', i, praefatio (1601) -16; below nn. 127 seq., also 97. 67 Ibid. 59. 68 Ibid. 78. 69 Ibid. 78-9. 70 Ibid. 82-4. 71 Ibid. 79-80, 84. 72 Ibid. 88, cf. 100.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

contemporary belief in the concordance of all authorities in an essentially theological truth. Thus, he wrote, some had held that God was indifferent to nature, others that the natural world was all there was. The first was heretical, the second atheistic. Against both errors Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics agreed that God governed all, whether natural or supernatural, by reason and conducted it to its end.73 In Book xv on mathematics Possevino made it clear that mathematics and Platonism mutually reinforced each other in Jesuit educational policy. He had been helped in writing this book by Clavius. Mathematics was practically useful, necessary for physics, a parry to scepticism, and it also provided a means of exegesis of the abstract ideas of the Creator:74 Since this is so the necessity, worth and utility of the mathematical disciplines are shown by the fact that Plato and Aristotle have included them in the principles of contemplation and of action. So Plato, taking the whole mathematical genus, including arithmetic and geometry, away from the senses, in his own words calls them 'the drawer, the leader, the summoner, the energiser, the turner of mind, thought, vision, truth':75 that is, such that it draws, impells, excites, arouses and turns intelligence, reasoning, contemplation and truth. And by these words he means, not sophistical shadows, but the logical action of the mind, whereby the demonstration of truth is more purely and more accurately considered. And indeed the Timaeus of Plato and the Physics of Aristotle are very great proof of how much light mathematics itself sheds on philosophy.76 For in the Timaeus Plato makes God construct the soul of the world from arithmetical ratios and proportions and its body from geometrical shapes. Therefore Plato's physics, being made from numbers and lines, is arithmetical and geometrical; and it certainly cannot be understood by those ignorant of geometry. Hence it came about that there was fixed by Plato over the entrance to the Academy that saying: 'Let no-one ungeometrical enter';77 let nobody without geometry enter. In fact all that Aristotle says about motion and rest, about time and the heavens, and
73 Ibid. 117-8: 'Antequam ad Elenchum interpretum Physices accedam, pauca praemonenda sunt. Vidimus apud duo genera hominum, cum ab eorum magistris in haec studia inducerentur, sic in prolegomenis agi, ut alii inter Deum, et Naturam nihil interesse docerent: atque eodem tempore libellos obtruderent, qui specie pietatis fucati, mentes ab interiore, ac solida caussarum contemplatione avertebant. Alii vero dum una cum Plinio, et eiusmodi reliquis pergerent Mundum ita vocare Universum; ut videlicet ipso nihil praestantius, maius, melius esset, fecere, ut plerique ex philosophiae studiis felicitatem in eo constituerent, quem neque ortum fuisse, neque interiturum, sese demonstraturos pollicebantur. Prioris generis, haeretici quidam adhuc sunt, reliqui neque haeretici, neque catholici, sed potius ad atheismum vergentes'; cf. 90,99-105,130-5. 74 Ibid. lib. xv, 'De mathematicis', c. 1, 'Mathematica generatim', (1593) ii, 175-9; cf. also 1812; for Clavius's help 173, cf. 114; and for the history of mathematics 175 sqq. See Phillips, 'The correspondence of Father Christopher Clavius' (1939) 205 (with Possevino, 1585). In the 1607 ed. Possevino added a new c. 2, 'Disciplinarum mathematicarum certitudo quaenam' (torn, ii, 217-8) in which he cited Alessendro Piccolomini and Pereira in agreement on this question. 75 In Greek, followed by Latin translation. 76 The lines following come almost verbally from Ramus, 'Scholarum mathematicarum', ii (1569) 46-7; cf. Timaeus' 35A - 37C, 41D - 44B. 77 In Greek, followed by Latin translation: this remark occurs in Philoponus, 'Comm. in lib. De anima Aristotelis', i, comm. 45 (1535) sig. D iii, and in Franciscus Barocius, 'Opusculum' (1560) f. 39 r; cf. above n. 14.

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about the progression and history of animals, and the whole of his physical discussions abound, not only with examples but also with foundations drawn from geometry. For in the first book78 he brings forth the tetragon of Antiphon in order to refute it. In the second book he quotes examples concerning the two right angles in a triangle, besides what he did in the Posterior Analytics. In the third book he mentions certain points about the construction of gnomons. In the remainder he mentions the infinity of magnitude, motion and time; so that learned men have formed the opinion that a complete exposition of those books should be left out by most people, because they have not studied the mathematical disciplines deeply enough . . . . Archytas too and Eudoxus, so Plutarch says in his life of Marcellus,79 when they had transferred geometrical contemplations from the mind, and from things falling within the contemplation of thoughts alone, to examples of sensible and corporal things, they enriched geometry with a variety of demonstration not only logical but practical. Aristotle too taught mechanics, and by publishing it made it common knowledge. Nor indeed were these the only fruits seen to result from this: that Archytas80 gave flight to a wooden dove which he had suspended with weights in such a way that it was propelled by hidden wind of breath; or that Archimedes and Posidonius fashioned those spheres by attaching to which, so Cicero81 says, the motions of the Sun and Moon and the five planets, they brought about the same effect as that god who built the world in the Timaeus, namely that one revolution ruled motions very dissimilar in slowness and speed; or that the Nuremberger82 exhibited a fly and an eagle fitted with geometrical wings; or the new near-miracles of nature that Claudius83 seems to have performed in recent years in the gardens of Cardinal Atestinus84 by the Tiber, when he brought it about that by the soft and placid falling of water the motion, voice and song of a little bronze bird, opportunely pausing at the arrival of a night owl, and more opportunely being resumed on its departure, so closely imitated the truth, that anyone who has called it artificial deserved to be thought rash, rather than anyone judging it real deserved to be thought too credulous (he also added a water-organ from which a most sweet and harmonious sound was heard); and that (a thing that was indeed still more remarkable) at his will he so elegantly and truthfully projected a heavenly rainbow which the Latins call 'iris', that God was to be praised for having given such acumen to human brains, even in a matter of this kind . . . . And these things would certainly seem more than enough to excite minds ('ingenia') towards those disciplines, were it not that two other things add to their reputation: the one said by Plato, which (so Plutarch says) smacks of Plato's character , although it does not survive in his dialogues, namely that 'God above

I.e. of the Physics. The lines following come almost verbally from Ramus, 'Schol. math.', i (1569) 16-19; cf. i-iii, pp. 1-112. 80 Cf. Ramus above, citing Aulus Gellius, 'Noctes Atticae', x, 12.8. 81 Cicero, Tusculanae quaestiones', i, 25.63, 'De republica', i. 14. 22. 82 Cf. Baldi,'Discorso', in Herone Alessandrino'De gli automati', trad . . . Baldi(1589)ff. 56r. 83 Marg.: Claudius Galius. 84 I have not found the source of this story.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

all geometrises';85 the other having regard to their origins, for they have spread down from the most ancient patriarch Abraham86 to other men. Indeed He, by whose divine mind everything is providently administered, for the safety and presentation of all, has been said by Plato to govern and control this universe by geometrical proportion; seeing that every function of God is included in it, not only that which consists of contemplation but also that which comprises the building and administration of the world. And indeed Plutarch says that God, in the creation of the world, geometrised so much that he made up this geometrical problem: given two figures, to construct a third equal to the one and similar to the other. This, according to Plutarch, was that very celebrated problem upon the solution of which Pythagoras or Thales87 is said to have sacrificed; but there was
85 (p. 178); cf. Plutarch 'Quaest, conviv.', viii.2.1,718C-E, ed. and transl. Minar ('Moralia', ix, 1061) 118-21: 'Diogenianus, making a new start, said: If you please, let us on Plato's birthday take Plato himself as partner in the conversation, and since we have spoken about the gods, consider what he had in mind when he asserted that God is always doing geometry- if indeed this statement is to be attributed to Plato. I remarked that while this statement is not made explicitly in any of Plato's writings, it is well enough attested and is in harmony with his character, and Tyndares immediately took up the argument: Do you think, Diogenianus, that this saying conceals a reference to some recondite or difficult doctrine, and not merely to what he himself said and wrote many times, when he sang the praise of geometry for drawing us away from the world of sense to which we cling, and turning us toward the intelligible and eternal level of existence, the contemplation of which is the goal of philosophy, as being a viewer is the goal of a mystery-rite? For the nail of pleasure and pain, by which he represents the soul as fastened to the body, seems to have this as its greatest disadvantage, that is makes the objects of sense-perception clearer than those of intellectual knowledge, and forces the understanding to judge by emotion rather than by reason. Being habituated, through the experience of intense pain and pleasure, to paying heed to the shifting and changeable aspects of physical things, as though they were true being, the understanding is blinded to truth and loses that organ - that light within the mind, worth thousands of eyes [Plato, 'Republic', vii. 527E], by which alone the divine may be contemplated. Now in all of the so-called mathematical sciences, as in smooth and undistorted mirrors, there appear traces and ghost-images of the truth about objects of intellectual knowledge; but geometry especially, being, as Philolaos says, the source and mother-city of the rest, leads the understanding upward and turns it in a new direction, as it undergoes, so to speak, a complete purification and a gradual deliverance from sense-perception. It was for this reason that Plato himself reproached Eudoxus and Archytas and Menaechmus for setting out to remove the problem of doubling the cube into the realm of instruments and mechanical devices, as if they were trying to find two mean proportionals not by the use of reason but in whatever way would work. In this way, he thought, the advantage of geometry was dissipated and destroyed, since it slipped back into the realm of sense-perception instead of soaring upward and laying hold of the eternal and immaterial images in the presence of which God is always God'. 86 Cf. Pereira above n. 66, below nn. 97, 127 sqq. 87 Plutarch, ibid, viii.2.4, 720A - C, pp. 128-31: 'You will easily see the point, I replied, if you recall the threefold division, in the Timaeus, of the first principles from which the cosmos came to birth. One of them we call, by the most appropriate of names, God, one matter, and one form. Matter is the least ordered of substances, form the most beautiful of patterns, and God the best of causes. Now God's intention was, so far as possible, to leave nothing unused or unformed, but to reduce nature to a cosmos by the use of proportion and measure and number, making a unity out of all the materials which would have the quality of the form and the quantity of the matter. Therefore, having set himself this problem, these two being given, he created a third, and still creates and preserves throughout all time that which is equal to matter and similar to form, namely, the cosmos. Being continuously involved in becoming and shifting and all kinds of events, because of its congenital forced association with its body, the cosmos is assisted by the Father and

Mathematics and Platonism


also that other problem which is ascribed to Pythagoras by Proclus88 and by all the ancients, that is where in a right-angled triangle the square of the side opposite the right-angle is proved equal to the squares of the other two sides. In such a way then, God, in Plato's opinion, constructed the world. For that of which the first origin of the world consists Plato89 divides into three, God, matter and idea; that is, God as the most excellent of efficient causes, matter as the most unordered substance of all things, and idea as the fairest of all examples. Therefore if anyone mentally conceives God as wisest and as Geometrical Architect for all, for whom matter and idea are proposed as two dissimilar figures and who has to construct the world as a third figure from the two proposed, similar to the one, equal to the other, he will understand that the world has been joined together by God from all substances and from the whole of matter; but since he wished to leave nothing discordant and unordered, but to adorn it with ratio, measurement and number (for nothing was to be fairer than the world or more excellent than its maker), therefore the Craftsman of the world ('Opifex mundi') imitated the fairest and eternal exemplar. Therefore he formed the world in such a way that it should be a copy of that eternal exemplar and form which we call the Idea . . . .

In his discussion of the mathematical sciences, pure and mixed, Possevino essentially followed Geminus's division as reported by Proclus.90 The large range of authors cited points to Clavius's excellent guidance to the mathematicians and Possevino's own scholarship and eclectic concern with their relation to philosophical and theological issues. Thus on arithmetic he cited, for example, on the one hand Clavius himself, Cardano and Pacioli, and on the other hand Gianfrancesco Pico, Francesco Barozzi's work 'De numero Platonis' and Mazzoni's 'De triplici hominum vita'.91 On music he cited among many others Aristoxenus, Ptolemy, Gioseffe Zarlino, Giorgio Valla, Vincenzo Galilei, Francesco Giorgio ('sed qui sit expurgatus') and Mazzoni, and published a revision of Jean Pena's edition of Euclid's 'Musica' made from further Greek manuscripts.92 On geometry and the subordinate sciences of astronomy, geodesy, mechanics, optics, catoptrics, painting, sculpture and architecture he again cited Mazzoni and named Euclid, Archimedes and Ptolemy as preeminent. His authorities included Euclid's 'Elements' in Greek, Latin and Italian, Federico Commandino's editions of Apollonius and Archimedes, Proclus's Euclid, Michael Psellus's 'Compendium mathematicum', Ptolemy's 'Almagest' and 'Geographia', Copernicus's 'De revolutionibus', Clavius's commentary on Sacrobosco's 'Sphaera' (1593), 'Apologia pro
Creator, who, by means of reason, and with reference to the pattern, gives limits to that which exists. Thus the aspect of measure in things is even more beautiful than their symmetry'; cf. Euclid, 'Elements', vi.25. 88 Proclus, 'In primum Eucl. Elem.' props.ii.47 (= ed. Friedlein, pp. 426 sqq.). 89 Plato, Timaeus' 27D - 34 B, 48E sqq. 90 Possevinus, ibid. 173,179,200. Possevino (pp. 179-81) also cited the divisions of mathematics made by Boethius and Hugh of St Victor. 91 Ibid. 181-2, 200, cf. 87-8, 176. 92 Ibid. 182-200; cf. Euclidis 'Rudimenta musices, eiusdem sectio regulae harmonicae', . . . loanne Pena Regio Mathematico interprete (Parisiis, 1557).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Kalendario' and 'Euclid', Hero's 'Spiritalia', 'De machinis bellicis' and 'Automata', works of Ctesibus and Philo of Byzantium in the Vatican Library, Athenaeus's 'De machinis bellicis', Aristotle's 'Mechanica' in Niccolo Leonico's version, Allesandro Piccolomini's Taraphrasis', Niccolo Tartaglia's 'Nova scientia' and 'Quesiti', Guidobaldo del Monte's 'Mechanica' and 'Aequeponderantium', Giuseppe Ceredi's Tre discorsi sopra il modo d'alzar acque', Albrecht Diirer's 'Geometricae institutiones', 'Symmetria' etc., Euclid's 'Optica' and 'Catoptrica', Egnazio Danti's Trospettiva d'Euclide', Alhazen's and Vitelo's 'Opticae', Daniele Barbara's 'Perspectiva', Vitruvius's 'Architectura' in the editions of Philander and Daniele Barbaro, and Leon Battista Alberti's 'Architectura'.93 He went on to give a refutation of judicial astrology, finding support from Pereira's commentary on 'Genesis'.94 His account of the origins and parts of architecture was based on Vitruvius, Alberti, Palladio and Daniele Barbaro but included a discussion of the building of Solomon's Temple.95 Cosmography and geography he again based on Biblical, as well as ancient Greek and Latin and modern sources.96 Sympathy for Platonism such as that shown by Possevino and Pereira should not obscure the basically Thomist character of Jesuit philosophy. Pereira had made it plain in his preface to 'De communibus'97 that he was looking for a
Possevinus, ibid. 200-2. Ibid. 176, 202-7; cf. 104; above n. 66. 95 Ibid. 207-12. Cf. Villapando's massive commentary on the building of Solomon's temple, largely devoted to mathematical sciences and mechanics, which was published as vol. 3 of a large commentary on Ezechiel's prophesies: Hieronymi Pradi et loannis Baptistae Villelpandi e Societate lesu, 'In Ezechielem explanationes et Apparatus urbi et templi Hierosolymitani, commentariis et imaginibus illustratus', opus tribus tomis distinctum (Romae, 1596-1605). Juan Batiste Villalpando (1552-1608), a Spanish Jesuit, learned in mathematics and philosophy, had joined Jeronimo Prado, another Spanish Jesuit, in the ambitious task of preparing such a commentary and for this purpose they both moved to Rome, to work in the Collegio Romano. After Prado's death in 1595 Villalpando carried on the work, and managed to publish the first three volumes, the third being the 'Apparatus urbis et templi Hierosolymitani' (Romae, 1604), a large folio of 655 pp., containing a series of treatises of arithmetic, geometry, weights and measures, mechanics, etc. Its sources range from Girolamo Cardano to Giovanni Battista Benedetti and Clavius. Duhem, in 'Etudes sur Leonard de Vinci', i (1906) 511 sqq., maintains that Villalpando's discussion of the centre of gravity reproduces a treatise on local motion by Leonardo, now lost. Villalpando's discussion on the centre of gravity was set out again by Mersenne in the 'Mechanicorum libri' included in his 'Synopsis mathematica' (Paris, 1626). Excerpts from Villalpando's treatise 'De ponderibus et mensuris' ('Apparatus', pp. 249 sqq.) are to be found in Thomas Harriot's papers, Brit. Mus. MS Add. 6788, ff. 109-11, among other excerpts and notes on specific weights, written in 1604-1605. 96 Possevinus, ibid. 215-8. 97 Cf. Pererius, 'De comm.', iv 'De antiquis philosophis', c. 20 (1576) 164: 'De veterum igitur opinionibus, quae pertinent ad principia rerum naturalium (ut aliquis tandem huic libro terminus et finis imponatur) ita sit a nobis non (ut opinor) indiligenter, nee ineptem disputatum. De Platonis autem opinione mirum nemini videri debet, nihil a nobis hoc in libro dictum esse: nam cum de principiis rerum plurimae atque gravissimae quaestiones et controversiae sint inter Platonem et Aristotelem nequaquam satis adhuc explicatae, aliis quidem hos duos philosophos non rebus, sed verbis tantum dissidere affirmantibus, aliis autem contendentibus eos inter se omnino discrepare, non debuit tanta quaestionum moles in hunc libellum intrudi, et opinio Platonis simul cum aliorum
94 93

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concordance of Plato and Aristotle in truth as known by reason and revelation. Some unpublished lectures on 'De anima'98 given in Rome in 1566-67 show the same policy of reconciliation. Part of the attraction towards Platonism came from repulsion from Averro'ist interpretations of Aristotle. Pereira himself became regarded as unorthodox in the Collegio Romano. In 1567 he was moved from the chair in metaphysics first to that in scholastic theology and then in 1576 to that in scripture. A year or so later, another occupant of the theology chair, Achille Gagliardi, who was also prefect of studies, took the lead in opposing publication of Pereira's writings on the grounds that he was inclined to Averroi'sm." Gagliardi went from Rome to teach during 1579-80 at the Jesuit 'Gymnasium' in Padua, and after various other postings returned to the region in 1599 as superior of the Jesuit house in Venice. 10 By that time the Averroi'sm of the University of Padua had gained strength from the appointment in 1590 of Cesare Cremonini (1550-1631) from Ferrara to a chair in philosophy at Padua.101 Possevino's book no doubt reflects this hostility between the two institutions. The proposal made in 1602 by Gagliardi 'with some gentlemen' of Venice to found an 'Accademia della dottrina Platonica'102 indicates a general concern about the social consequences of the university's

philosophorum sententiis involui, et communi iudicio cognosci, sed satius fuit ea destinato in id libro aliquo, separatim explicari, et subtiliter ac proprie diiudicari'. Another effort at concordance is indicated by Possevino, 'Bibl. sel.' XIII (1593) ii, 87: 'Accedit ad haec perutile sane Seminarium Platonicae simul et Peripateticae philosophiae, quod collegit loannes Baptista Bernardus, vir, qui summis muneribus in Republica Veneta perfunctus, mirabili ordine, et labore universum philosophiam per locos, ordinemque collegit: rei nempe cuiusque, qua de agitur, propositiones, quae in earn in universum cadunt, turn divisiones, inde definitiones, deinceps causas, et ortus, atque ad extremum, si quid dilucidius agendum sit, liquidiorem lucem ex ipso Platone, et Platonicis afferens. Inter Platonicos autem, e quibus illud Seminarium confecit (licet Platonis dialogos non redegerit in eas classes, in quas supra redactae sunt) philosophos tamen, et alios auctores Christianos numeravit; qui sunt hi': a list follows beginning with 'Mercurii Trismegisti Pimander, Asclepius' and including at the end Patrizi, Fox Morcillo and Piccolomini; cf. 98; and 'Bibl. sel.' xii.12 (1607) ii, 31-2: 'Quinam conciliare Aristotelem cum Platone, vel attentarunt, vel polliciti sunt'; above nn. 66, 86, 74, below nn. 127 sqq. 98 Mendendez Pelayo, 'De las vicisitudes de la filosofia platonica en Espana' (1889/90), in 'Ensayos' (1948) 82; Villoslada, 'Storia del Collegio Romano' (1954) 78-9; Kristeller, 'Iter Italicum', i (1963) 287: 'Bened. Pererius, Lectiones super libros de anima (Rome, 1566-67)', Bibl. Ambrosiana, Milan, MS D 497 inf. (16 cent.). 99 Villoslada, op. cit. 79-80, 323-4, 327. On 16th-century Averrosim and its background cf. Nardi, 'Saggi sull' Aristotelisrno Padovano' (1958). 100 Castellani, 'La vocazione . . . del Possevino' (1954) 105 n. 101 Cremonini studied philosophy at the University of Ferrara with Federico Pendasio and became there a friend of Patrizi and of Torquato Tasso, and was called to the chair of philosophy in 1590. In the same year he was called to Padua, where he transferred in 1591: G.O. XX, 429-30; Garin, 'Storia . . . ' (1966) 558 sqq., 580. 102 Pirri, 'II P. Achille Gagliardi . . . ' (1945) 33; see Cozzi, 'Gesuiti e politica sul finire del Cinquecento' (1963), 'Galileo Galilei e la soceita veneziana' (1968) 12,15; cf. Favaro, 'Lo Studio di Padova e la Compagnia di Gesu sul finire del secolo decimosesto' (1878). The Jesuits were expelled from the Venetian Republic in 1606.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

philosophy, especially its anticlericalism. On its part the Pinelli circle, after Moleto's death in 1589, discussed Galileo in connection with the vacant mathematical chair and at the same time the possibility of introducing the study of Plato at the university. After Galileo had accepted the mathematical post at Pisa, Benedetto Zorzi, a Venetian patrician who was an admirer of both Plato and the Jesuits, wrote on 2 December 1589 to the Florentine Baccio Valori (1535-1606) :103
. . . . I heard about Galileo from Signer Pinelli, and I am pleased that the way has been opened to that man to show his learning publicly in a University. I am afraid that the chair will still be vacant this year, because there is a lack [i.e. of competent people] especially in this subject, the name of which Signer Contarini and I kept alive in the memory of those who govern the University; in which I should like on my part to see the study of Plato introduced, as I believe that His Highness is likely to bring it back in Pisa; and I would be glad if you would kindly let me know how this goes.

In 1588 the Grand Duke of Tuscany had in fact brought Mazzoni to teach Platonic philosophy at Pisa.104 When Galileo eventually did go to the Paduan mathematical chair in 1592 Pinelli's friendship drew him into his circle, as distinct from that of Cremonini.105 But the university introduced no chair in Platonic philosophy. Platonic philosophy seems to have been first officially recognised in university teaching at Pisa, when in 1576 the Grand Duke Francesco I authorised Francesco Vieri ('il Secondo Verino') to give extraordinary lectures on Plato in addition to his ordinary ones on Aristotle. Vieri had been active in the Florentine Academy, and from 1553 had taught first logic and then natural philosophy and medicine at Pisa.106 He was a friend of Baccio Valori107 and of Antonio Persio,108 and was opposed to the kind of Aristotelianism taught at
G.O. x, 42; see for Zorzi G.O. xx, 561, Cozzi, op. cit. (1968) 13n.; for Valori G.O. xx, 551. Cf. Serassi, 'La vita di Jacopo Mazzoni' (1790); Rossi, 'I. Mazzoni. . .' (1893); G.O. x, 446, xx, 479; Corsano, 'Per la storia . . . iv. 1: Mazzoni . . . ' (1959); Garin, 'Storia . . . ' (1966) 607-8, 614; Purnell, 'Jacopo Mazzoni. . .' (1972); Crescini, 'II problema metologica . . .' (1972) 365 sqq.; above n. 65, below nn. 133 sqq. 105 Cozzi, op. cit. (1968) 14; Gualdo, 'Vita . . . Pinelli' (1607) 29, 115. On Galileo and the Jesuits at Padua cf. Nelli, 'Vita . . . di Galileo', i (1793) 25,112; Favaro, 'Galileo Galilei e lo Studio di Padova', i (1883) 4, 72-99: Favaro (pp. 98-9) rejected Nelli's opinion that Jesuit hostility to Galileo began at Padua. 106 See Fabbruccio, 'De Pisano Gymnasio . . . ' (1760) 132-4; Fabronius, 'Historia Academia Pisanae', ii (1792) 96 sqq., 346 sqq., 469; and for a brief account of the introduction of Platonism into Italian universities, Kristeller, 'Studies . . . ' (1956) 291-3, esp. 292 n. for the date 1576. 107 See Fabbruccio, ibid. 134; Viviani, 'Vita ed opera di Andrea Cesalpino' (1922) 170-1; cf. Kristeller, ibid. 295, 323 n. and 290 n. for his correspondence with Patrizi; Bandini, 'Memorie per servire alia vita del senator Pier Vettori' (1756) for his acquaintance at Pisa with Cesalpino; Cochrane, The Florentine background . . .' in McMullin (ed.), 'Galileo' (1967) 126-7,136-7; and cf. Campanella on Valori, G.O. xvii, 352 (1638). 108 Cf. Gabrieli, 'Verbali. . . dalla prima Accademia Lincei (1603-1630)' (1927), 'Notizio . . . di Antonio Persio Linceo' (1933); G.O. iii, 366-8, xi, 298, 301-3.
104 103

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Pisa by Bonamico109 and Girolamo Borri.110 He manoeuvred in various ways to follow the tradition of concordance between Plato, Aristotle and orthodox Catholic theology initiated by Ficino. The essentially moral and religious aim of his Platonism is indicated by his definition of philosophy in the educational scheme set out in the 'Discorso' (1568): 'Speculative philosophy is a habit of the human spirit by which all those things become known which depend on God and on nature, and which guides us finally to knowledge of the intelligences and of God himself, in the contemplation of whom consists the supreme human happiness in this mortal and earthly life . . . . Again it can be defined with other words, as it is defined by the divine Plato, when he says that "philosophy is a knowledge of divine and human things through which man makes himself similar to God so far as is possible for him" '.m Of the three contemplative disciplines, he saw mathematics and natural science as essentially means by which the mind rose up to the science of the divine, so that in St Paul's words 'through visible creatures it ascends to the invisible God', their Creator.112 Within this scheme mathematics had a central place, for 'mathematics is a science of quantities considered without matter and substance (although always existing in some matter and substance) in order to give us knowledge in the factive things of the arts and of human activities governed by action, and in the natural and divine substances speculated about in natural and in divine science; all that, which in all these things concerns either continuous or discontinuous quantity, . . . proclaiming the usefulness to be got from this mathematical science'.113 It made known true demonstrations as illustrated by Euclid's geometry, and their rules as set out in Aristotle's 'Posterior Analytics'. Hence it served all the demonstrative sciences and the f active arts using machines, such as architecture and military art, teaching the theory ('ragione') and mode of construction of different instruments, military formations, camps and fortifications, measurements of heights of towers and so forth.114 'Mathematics', he wrote again, 'are useful, indeed necessary to the speculative sciences'.115 Among these, in subject-matter divine science came first in excellence and perfection, natural science concerned with natural corporal substances came next, and mathematics came last because it was concerned with accidents, those of'quantity. But in certainty and exactness of demonstration mathematics came first because it was more abstract than natural science, and more open to human reason than the divine obscurities

Fabbruccio, ibid. p. 133; Fabronius, ibid, ii, 341 sqq., 353 sqq. Fabbruccio and Fabronius, ibid. 111 Vieri, 'Discorso' (1568) 9; cf. his similar definition to Valori in 1590; Viviani, 'Andrea Cesalpino' (1922) 170; Cochrane, op. cit. 136-7, nn. 48, 52. 112 Vieri, ibid. 75, cf. 72-75. 113 Ibid. 73-4. 114 Ibid. 79-80; citing Plato, 'Rep.' vii and Polybius. 115 Vieri, ibid. 84 sqq.:'. . . le matematiche sono utili anzi necessarie alle scienze specolative'.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

made known to us only superhumanly. He accepted the Platonic argument that in education mathematics, being simply open to grasp by reason, should be taught first, then natural science, and lastly metaphysics.116 Vieri's view of the arts and sciences exemplifies the strength of the rational Florentine tradition specified by Leonardo da Vinci and Ficino. 'Art (to start from the first and lowest grade)', he wrote, 'is nothing other than a habit of our spirit which proceeds with a right reason concerning those things that we call factive and which are all those which serve the body. Its subject is all the factive things such, so to speak, that they depend on our operations which always terminate in the completion of something material outside ourselves'.117 Reason meant the mathematical sciences, embracing the arts and natural philosophy. Thus 'geometry is not only useful for knowing how to measure the Earth, to build buildings with rule and measure, and for other similar arts which use machines, but serves also for the understanding and contemplation of the whole universe and for skilful operation, and in sum serves for everything where in some way there is continuous quantity. Whence it can be defined from the subject and from the end in this way, by saying that it is a speculative science of continuous quantity, without being applied to anything natural and sensible, which can serve later for sensible things'.118 One subalternate of geometry to which he gave attention was astronomy and especially its derivative, judical astrology. His attitude was traditionally Catholic, based on Augustine and the councils, lastly that of Trent. He held that it was possible to predict general and simple effects such as rain, winds, snow and so on depending immediately on the heavens and their light, which could be calculated from observations with good instruments.119
But as for more composite effects, such as are those which can happen to man, the astrologer cannot prescribe as in those more simple and more general effects because, although man in many operations depends on the heavens nevertheless in voluntary and free acts he is not subjected to the heavens, or else very indirectly in so far as the intellect and will make use of the senses and corporeal power; and so in his free acts man is not necessitated or constrained, even though he may be influenced. Otherwise divine, natural and civil laws would be banished away, all of which command him to act well and forbid him to act badly, offering fit reward to whoever acts well and penalty to whoever does the contrary. Thus he

Ibid. 88-96. Ibid. 6. 118 Ibid. 96-7. 119 Ibid. 99; he wrote concerning the proposition that astrology 'predice le cose avvenire: la quale scienza quanto agl' effetti piu universali, e piu semplici, come pioggie, vend, nevi, e altri simili, i quali immediatamente dependono dal cielo, e dal lume suo, e certissima, e vera, di maniera che di cotali effetti si apporra sempre 6 il piu delle volte il buono astrologo ogni volta, purche oltre all'essere eccell. in cotal dotrina e'sia ancora diligente in calculare bene; usi buoni stormenti, pigli el pun to vero; e in somma, osservi tutto quello, che si richiede'. For his reference to Augustine and the Councils see p. 106. He made no reference to Copernicus.


Mathematics and Platonism


does the contrary. Thus he would not take council in his acts because everything would happen of necessity, and yet it is evident from experience that those who take council act much better than those who act by chance. Otherwise justice would be taken away . . . . Finally our most holy and true Christian religion, and the Catholic and Roman Church, master of all truth and unable to err, teach that man is free and that the heavens cannot constrain him.120

He made an interesting choice of topics, linking the arts and sciences through mathematics, in his brief discussion of optics and music. After stereometry, astronomy, cosmography, geography and chorography came another part of mathematics concerned with continuous quantity
called perspective because it applies lines to seeing, considering them in so far as they go out from the eyes and come to things, speaking however in the manner of the perspectivists, who think that we see things because rays go out of our eyes and come as far as the things seen in the shape of a pyramid of which the apex would start from the eyes and the base terminate at the surface of the thing seen. But speaking in the manner of Aristotle and of the truth, these lines of sight are boundaries of the species ('specie') of the thing seen, which species or true image starts from the thing seen, terminating its apex in our eye. When we are so far away that the apex of the species or image of the thing does not arrive at our eyes, we cannot see; and according to whether we are more or less near the things, and the angle of the said apex opposite to the base and to the thing is larger or smaller, whence by the teaching of Euclid in the first book of the Elements the base which terminates at the thing seen will be larger if the angle is larger and smaller if the angle is smaller, so that the thing appears larger or smaller according to whether it is seen through a larger or smaller angle; and it is seen through a larger angle if it is nearer to us and through a smaller one if it is farther away. The perspectivist then considers that the line from our eye either goes out from it and comes to the thing, or comes from the thing to the eye; this for the present does not matter. Enough that perspective is a science which reasons from a line that goes out from the eye and comes from that, or that is the boundary of the image of the thing which starts from the thing itself and terminates in the eye, drawing together by virtue of the blackness of the eye, which colour has power to unite, or by virtue of the eye's round shape which shape also unifies it, as is seen in convex and round mirrors in which our face appears very small and foreshortened and by contrast in concave mirrors much larger. Perhaps the images of the thing unite with each other when they arrive at the eye for the one reason or the other.121

120 Ibid. 100,102. He illustrated his argument (p. 101) with the story of the Stoic Zeno's slave, who claimed that he had broken his master's vase by necessity, to which Zeno replied that he chastised him by necessity. 121 Ibid. 108-10; cf. Crombie The mechanistic hypothesis and . . . vision' (1967).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Going on to discuss the three divisions of perspective, dealing respectively with direct, reflected and refracted visual lines, he drew attention to Aristotle's analogies between the reflection of images from a mirror, the bouncing of a ball from a wall, and the echoing of the voice from a cavern 'down to the last syllable'.122 Perspective explained illusions such as a stick appearing bent in water, problems of natural philosophy such as the shape and colours of the rainbow, and the foreshortening used by painters. Arithmetic like geometry was also both speculative and practical: 'the speculative is called by Plato in the Philebus the arithmetic of philosophers, and the other that of the common people', as used by merchants.123 So likewise was music. As with geometry and its subalternates, so with 'arithmetic, which is more certain than music, because arithmetic treats numbers which it does not apply to any sensible matter, and music treats the same numbers while applying them to sensible things, as are sounds, high-pitched and low-pitched'.124 Thus speculative music applied the science of discrete quantity to notes which together could produce harmony and consonance. Through these practical music played in various ways could excite the concupiscent or irascible appetites of the senses shared with the animals, or in man alone a third 'rational appetite for those things which help and delight the soul, such as the appetite and longing to know natural, mathematical and divine things, and to act in short virtuously according to moral and to speculative virtue'.125 This last was that understood by the divine Plotinus which led men to transcend 'the eye of the body' so that 'the intellect, which is divine, would rise to think that if man has been able to form notes of such proportion, with how much greater harmony had God, who in knowledge, will and power is so far ahead of men and every other creature, composed this universe and such marvellous orders of creatures, all directed to the services of man . . . '.126 A year after he had begun his lectures on Plato at Pisa, Vieri published another work aiming at concordance: 'Compendio della dottrina di Platone in quello che ella e conforme con la fede nostra' (1577). True 'virtuosi', he wrote in the preface, embellished the spirit in three ways: with knowledge above all of divine things, secondly of visible things, and thirdly of the teaching of Plato. Josephus had said that Plato imitated Moses: 'Numenius the Pythagorean, having read the books of Moses and of Plato, considered Plato to be another

Vieri, ibid. Ill; Aristotle, 'De anima', ii.8, 419b 25-35. For perspective Vieri (pp. 112-3) cited Euclid, Archimedes, Pecham and Witelo. 123 Vieri, ibid. 114-5; citing also the 'Republic' vii and the 'Laws'. 124 Vieri, ibid. 91-2. 125 Ibid. 115-6; see 113-20, esp. 117-8; the ancient Lydian and loniam modes excited the concupiscent and amorous appetite; the Phyrigian mode the irascible and warlike; and the Dorian the contemplative. 126 Ibid. 118-9, citing Plotinus and Aristotle's 'Polities', viii.7.


Mathematics and Platonism


Moses who spoke in the Attic tongue';127 Justin Martyr, Augustine and Ficino confirmed the conformity of Plato's doctrines with Christian theology. Cosimo de' Medici, through his encouragement of Gemistus surnamed Plato because he was 'almost a new Plato', of Ficino and the formation of a Platonic Academy, and thereby of Pico della Mirandola, had by the will of Divine Providence resurrected there in Tuscany the pious and divine philosophy of Plato: 'which had originated from Zoroaster with the Persians, succeeded among the Egyptians thanks to Mercurius Trismegistus and among the Thracians through the work of Orpheus and Aglaophemus, and grew with the Greeks and Italians under Pythagoras and with the Athenians through the care of Plato'.128 Vieri paid attention in this work to concordance over the whole range from moral teaching to accounts of the creation: 'God has produced the whole universe as is said by Moses in the beginning of Genesis and by Plato in the Timaeus', and also by Hermes Trismegistus in the 'Pimander'.129 His last effort at concordance appeared in his final year at Pisa: 'Vere conclusioni di Platone conformi alia dottrina Christiana et a quella d'Aristotile' (1590). This was a polemical reply to his Aristotelian colleague Borri's 'De peripatetica docendi atque addiscendi methodo' (1584). From Vieri's dedicatory preface to Baccio Valori it seems that he had been obstructed by the Aristotelians in giving his lectures and had been forced to abandon them.130 Meanwhile in Ferrara Patrizi is listed as lecturing on Plato's 'Republic' in 1578 and on Platonic philosophy in a number of subsequent years down to 1587. In that year he left, but Platonic courses seem to have continued in the university.131 Patrizi was an all-out Platonist, concerned about concordance with Christian theology but not with Aristotle. In the University of Rome the Platonic impetus given by the mathematical scholar Raimondi was strengthened by Patrizi's appointment to a new chair in Platonic philosophy there in 1592, through the Neoplatonic interests of Ippolito Aldrobrandini, who had in that year become Pope Clement VIII, and his family.132 A chair for the introduction of lectures on Plato in Bologna had been discussed in 1588 and Mazzoni proposed for it.133 But in that year he joined Vieri at Pisa, where he
127 Vieri, 'Compendio', dedicatory preface to Giovanna d'Austria, Gran Duchessa di Toscana (1577) sig. a4-2; cf. for Numenius Pythagoricus of Apamea in Syria (2nd cent, A.D.) Sarton, 'Introduction', i (1927) 298; for Josephus, 'Against Apion', ii, 15-17, cf. Dewish, 'Antiquities' i.2.3; and for his Hermetic Neoplatonic view of intellectual history, advocated in the 15th century by Georgius Gemistus Pletho, Kieszkowski, 'Studi . . . ' (1939) 113 sqq.; Kristeller, The Philosophy of Marsilio Ficino' (1943) 13 sqq., 'Studies . . . ' (1956) 36-7, 233; Saitta, 'II pensiero italiano', ii (1950) 75 sqq.; Garin, 'L'umanismo italiano' (1953) 108 sqq., 'Studi. . . ' (1958) 153 sqq., 216 sqq., 'Storia . . .' (1966) 358 sqq.; Yates, 'Giordano Bruno' (1964) 14 sqq.; Wind, 'Pagan Mysteries . . .' (1967) 241 sqq.; Walker, The Ancient Theology' (1972); cf. above nn. 66, 86,97. 128 Vieri, ibid. sig. a4+3; this Cosimo was 'Padre della Patria' (1389-1464); see for Algaophenus etc. Kristeller, Studies . . . (1956) 233. 129 Vieri, ibid, c.ll (1577) index, and pp. 85 sqq., citing these three ancient authors. 130 Cf. Fabronius, op. cit. ii (1792) 347, 469; Kristeller, Studies . . . (1956) 292; Garin, L'umanismo italiano (1952) 165, Storia . . . (1966) 587-8. 131 Solerti, 'Documenti riguardanti lo Studio di Ferrara' (1892) 32-48; Kristeller, Studies . . . (1956) 191-2. 132 Renazzi, Storia dell'Universita di Roma, iii (1805) 31-2, 224-5. 133 Costa, Ulisse Aldrovandi e lo Studio Bolognese (1907) 90; Kristeller, ibid. 292.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

remained until 1597 when he was brought by Clement VIII to succeed Patrizi in Rome.134 In Pisa Mazzoni was eventually succeeded in his chair by another of Galileo's academic colleagues, Fortunio Liceto (1577-1657), who held it from 1605 until he moved to Padua in 1609.135 In the sixteenth century Platonic philosophy seems to have been officially recognised only in Pisa, Ferrara and Rome, followed briefly at the beginning of the seventeenth century by Pavia.136

Le P.I. Affo, 'Vita di Monsignori Bernardino Baldi da Urbino, Primo Abate di Guastalla' (Parma, 1783). S. Antoniano, 'Dell'educazione cristiana e politica dei figliuoli' (Torino, 1926). F. Argelati, 'Biblioteca degli volgarizz atori' . . . 5 torn. (Milano, 1747). Aristotelis Stagiritae, 'Omnia quae extant opera, nunc primum selectis translationibus . . . ; Averrois Cordubensis in ea opera omnes qui ad nos pervenice Commentarii' . . . 11 vol. (Venetiis apud luntas, 1550-52). Bernardino Baldi, 'Discorso' in Di Herone Alessandro 'De gli automati, overo machine se moventi, libri due', tradotti del Greco da Bernardino Baldi (Venetia, 1589). - da Urbino, Abate di Guastalla, 'Cronica de matematici overo Epitome dellIstoria delle vite loro' (Urbino, 1707). - 'Vite de'matematici', pub. da E. Narducci, 'Vite inedite di matematici Italiani scritte da Bernardino Baldi', 'Bullettino di bibliographia e di storia delle scienze matematiche e fisiche', xix (1886) 335-640. A.M. Bandini, 'Memorie per servire alia vita del Senator Pier Vettori' (Livorno, 1756). M. Barbera, S.I., 'La Ratio Studiorum e la parte iv delle Costituzioni della Compagnia di Gesu' (Padova, 1942). Francisci Barocii patritii Veneti 'Opusculum, in quo una oratio, et duae quaestiones: altera de certitudine, et altera de medietate mathematicarum continentur' (Patavii, 1560). Isacci Barrow mathematicae professoris Lucasiani 'Lectiones habitae in Scholis Publicis Academiae Cantabrigiensis: An. Dom. MDCLXIV (Londini, 1683).
134 Fabronius, Hist. Acad. Pisanae, ii (1792) 362-71, 469; Renazzi, ibid. 32-4; G.O. xix, 38-41, xx, 479. 135 Fabronius, ibid. 374-5, 470. 136 Kristeller, ibid. 292. At Padua Francesco Piccolomini (a philosophical professor there from 1560 to 1604) was attracted to Plato, whom he tried to reconcile with Aristotle, and Federigo Pendasio also taught Platonism while remaining an Aristotelian; but the University's basic Aristotelianism was firmly maintained by Giacomo Zabarella (professor there 1564-89) and Cremomini (professor there 1591-1631): G.O. xx, 429-30, 507, 559; Garin, 'Storia' (1966) 548 sqq., 558 sqq., 578, 656 sqq.

Mathematics and Platonism


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Postremo methodo Platonica, rerum universitas, a conditore Deo deducitur' (Ferrariae, 1591). Francesco Patrizi, 'Autobiografia di Francesco Patricio (1529-1597)', ed. A. Solerti in 'Archivio storico per Trieste, 1'Istria e il Triento', iii, 1886,275-81. Benedict! Pererii Societatis Jesu 'De communibus omnium rerum naturalium principiis et affectionibus libri quindecim' . . . (Romae, 1576); first published as 'Physicorum, sive de principiis rerum naturalium libri xv' (Romae, 1562). Benedicti Pererii Valentini. . . 'Prior tomus Commentarium et dissertationum in Genesim, continens historiam Mosis ab exordio mundi usque ad Noarticum diluvium septem libris explanatum' (Romae, 1589). Benedictus Pererius, 'Commentariorum et disputationum in Genesim tomi quatuor' . . . (Coloniae Agrippinae, 1601). Benedictus Pererius, 'Adversus fallaces et superstitiosas artes, id est, de magia, de observationum somniorum et de divinatione astrologica, libri tres' (Ingolstadti, 1591). D'Antonio Persio, Trattato dell'ingegno deH'huomo' (Vinetia, 1576). A. Persio, 'Index capitum librorum Abbatis Antonii Persii Lyncei Materani Civ. Rom. I.V.C. philosophi ac theologi praestantissimi De ratione recte philosophandi et De natura ignis et caloris' (Romae, 1613). E.G. Phillips, The Correspondence of Father Christopher Clavius S.I. Preserved in the Archives of the Pont. Gregorian University', 'Archivium Historicum Societatis lesu', viii, 1939, 193-222. loannis Grammatice Philoponi, 'Commentaria in libros De anima' Aristotelis (Venetiis, 1535). Alessandro Piccolomini, 'De la institutione di tutta la vita de 1'homo nato nobile e in citta libera, libri x in lingua Toscana, dove e Peripateticamente e Platonicamente, intorno a le cose de 1'Ethica, Iconomica, e parte de la Politica, e raccolta la somma di quanto principalmente puo concorrere a la perfetta e felice vita di quello' . . . (Venetiis, 1542; 1545). Alexandri Piccolomini . . . 'Commentarium de certitudine mathematicarum disciplinarum' (Romae, 1547). Alessandro Piccolomini, 'La prima parte della filosofia naturale' (Roma, 1551). - 'L'instrumento de lafilosofia'(Roma, 1551). P. Pierling, 'Un nonce du Pape en Moscovie; preliminaries de la treve de 1582' (Paris, 1884). - 'La Russie et le Saint-Siege; Etudes diplomatiques', i (Paris, 1896). P. Pirri, 'II P. Achille Gagliardi, la Dama milanese, la reforma dello spirito e il movimento degli zelatori', 'Archivium historicum Societatis lesu', xiv, 1945, 1-72. Plutarch, 'Quaestiones conviviales', vii, with an English transl. by E.L. Minar, in 'Moralia', ix, Loeb Classical Library (London and Cambridge, Mass., 1961). A. Possevino, 'Coltura de gl'ingegni' (Vicenza, 1568).

Mathematics and Platonism


Antonii Possevini . . . 'Moscovia' . . . (Vilnae, 1586; Antverpiae, 1587). - 'Missio Moscovitica', curante P. Pierling (Parisiis, 1882). - Societatis lesu 'Bibliotheca selecta qua agitur de ratione studiorum in historia, in disciplinis, in salute omnium procuranda', 2 partes (Romae, 1593; revised ed. Coloniae Agrippinae, 1607). Hieronymi Pradi et loannis Baptistae Villanpandi e Societate lesu, 'In Ezechielem explanationes et apparatus Urbi et Templi Hierosolymitani, commentariis et imaginibus illustratus', opus tribus tomis distinctum (Romae, 1596-1605). Procli Diadochi Lycii philosophi Platonici ac mathematici probatissimi 'In primum Euclidis Elementorum librum commentariorum ad universam mathematicani disciplinam principium erutitionis tradentium libri, iiii', a Francisco Barocio patritio Veneto . . . primum iam Romanae linguae venustate donati, et nunc recens editi (Patavii, 1560). Proclus Diadochi, 'In primum Euclidis Elementorum librum commentarii', ex recog. G. Friedlein, Teubner (Lipsiae, 1873). F. Purnell, jr., 'Jacopo Mazzoni and Galileo', Thysis', xix 1972, 273-94. P. Rami 'Scholarum mathematicarum, libri unus et triginta' (Basileae, 1569). F.M. Renazzi, 'Storia dell 'Universita degli Studi di Roma detta comunemente la Sapienza . . . ', 4 vol. (Romae, 1803-6). P. Riccardi, 'Biblioteca mathematica Italiana dalla origine della stampa ai primi anni del secolo, xix' (Modena, 1893). E. Rosen, 'Maurolico's attitude toward Copernicus', 'Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society', ci, 1957, 177-94. G. Rossi, 'I. Mazzoni e 1'eclettismo filosofico nel Rinascimento', 'Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei', classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, serie 5a, ii, 1893, 163-83. P. Rossi, 'I filosofi e le macchine, 1400-1700 (Milano, 1962). G. Saitta, 'II pensiero italiano nell'Umanesimo e nel Rinascimento', 3 vol. (Bologna, 1949-51; 2a ed., Firenze, 1961). G. Sarton, 'Introduction to the History of Science', 3 vol. (Baltimore, 1927-47). M. Scaduto, 'Le origini dell'Universita di Messina (a proposito del quarto centenario)', 'Archivum historicum Societatis lesu', xvii, 1948, 102-59. - 'II matematico Francesco Maurolico e i Gesuiti', 'Archivum historicum Societatis lesu', xviii, 1949, 126-41. C.B. Schmitt, 'Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola (1469-1533) and his critique of Aristotle' (The Hague, 1967). - 'A Critical Survey and Bibliography of Studies on Renaissance Aristotelianism 1958-1969' (Padova, 1971). - The Faculty of Arts at Pisa at the time of Galileo', 'Physis', xiv, 1972,243-72. - 'Towards a reassessment of Renaissance Aristotelianism', 'History of Science' xi, 1973, 159-93. P.A. Serassi, 'La vita di Jacopo Mazzoni, patrizio Cesenate' (Roma, 1790). A. Solenti, 'Documenti riguardanti lo Studio di Ferrara nei secoli xv e xvi conservati nell' Anchivio Estense', Atti della Deputazione Ferrarese di Storia Patria, iv.2 (1892) 4-51.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

C. Sommervogel, 'Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus', nouv. ed., i-ix (Bruxelles et Paris, 1890-1930), x-xi (Paris, 1909-32), xii (Toulouse, 1930). G. Tiraboschi, 'Storia della letteratura Italiana', 8 torn. (Modena, 1787-94). Francesco Vieri, 'Discorso di M. Francesco de Vieri, cognominato il Verino, del soggetto, del numero, dell'uso, et della dignita et ordine degl'habiti deH'animo, cioe dell'arti, dottrine morali, scienze specolative, e facolta stormentali' (Fiorenza, 1568). M. Francesco de Vieri cognominato il Secondo Verino, 'Compendio della dottrina di Platone in quello che e conforme con la fide nostra' (Fiorenza, 1577). R. Garcia Villoslada, 'Storia del Collegio Romano, dal suo inizio (1551) alia soppressione della Compagnia di Gesu (1773)', 'Analecta Gregoriana' Ixvi (Romae, 1954). U. Viviani, 'Vita ed opera di Andrea Cesalpino' (Arrezzo, 1922). D.P. Walker, 'The Ancient Theology: Studies in Christian Platonism from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries' (London, 1972). E. Wind, 'Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance', 2nd ed. (London, 1967). F.A. Yates, 'Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (London, 1964). G. Zaccagnini, 'Bernardino Baldi nella vita e nelle opere', 2a ed. (Pistoia, 1908). G.L. Masetti Zannini, 'La vita di Benedetto Castelli' (Breschia, 1961).

Further References
See A.C. Crombie, Styles of Scientific Thinking . . . (1994) 763 n. 131, 766 n. 267,1824,1826; U. Baldini, 'Christopher Clavius and the scientific scene in Rome' in Gregorian Reform of the Calendar, ed. G.V. Coyne et al. (Citta del Vaticano, 1983) 137-69, Legem impone subactis: Studi sufilosofia e scienza del Gesuiti in Italia 1540-1632 (Roma, 1992); G.P. Brizzi (a cura di), La 'ratio studiorum': Modelli culturali e pratiche educative del Gesuiti in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento (Roma, 1981); A. Carugo, 'Giuseppe Moleto' in Aristotelismo veneto e scienza moderna, a cura di L. Olivieri (Padova, 1983) 509-17; G. Codina Mir, Aux sources de la pedagogic des Jesuites: Le 'Modus Parisiensis' (Roma, 1968); N. Jardine, 'The forging of modern realism: Clavius and Kepler against the sceptics', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, x (1979) 141-73; E. Knobloch, 'Christoph Clavius: ein Astronom zwichen Antike und Kopernikus' in Vortrage des erstens Symposiums in Bamberger Arbeitskreises Antike Naturwissenschaft und ihr Rezeption, hrg. K. Doring and G. Wohrle (Wiesbaden, 1990); J.M. Lattis, Ch. Clavius and the Sphere ofSacrobosco: The roots of Jesuit astronomy on the eve of the Copernican revolution (University of Wisconsin doctoral thesis, 1989); C. Naux, 'Le Pere Christophe Clavius, sa vie et son oeuvre', Revue des questions scientifiques, liv (1983) 55-68,181-94; with Christophe Clavius, Correspondenza, a cura di U. Baldini e P.D. Napolitani, 7 vol. in 14 (Pisa, 1992).

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy

'He exalted Plato to the skies for his truly golden eloquence, and for his method of writing and composing in dialogues; but above everyone else he praised Pythagoras for his way of philosophising, but in genius he said that Archimedes has surpassed all, and he called him his master'. The omission of Aristotle's name from this honours list by Galileo's second seventeenthcentury biographer, Niccolo Gherardini, is no surprise; nor is his preceding remark that, far from following current fashion in running Aristotle down, Galileo praised his marvellous writing on literature and ethics but found that 'this great man's way of philosophising did not satisfy him, and that there were in it fallacies and errors' (Galileo, Opere, xix, 645). Nevertheless, I shall respond to the invitation given to me to discuss briefly some 'wider issues' relating to Stillman Drake's very interesting paper, by taking up just one question on which I shall argue that Aristotle had a far more profound influence on Galileo's scientific thinking than remarks such as Gherardini's might suggest. Professor Drake make a point of stressing Galileo's alleged decision 'to limit the scope of his inquiries to separate and well-defined areas, and not to seek a general theory of the universe'. He seems to refer to the range of content or subjects Galileo was prepared to consider. But going on to say that this is 'an extremely important part of his scientific methodology', he cites the Dialogo and // Saggiatore for examples of Galileo's limit being place on the expectation of certainty rather than the range. Galileo's performance in scientific inquiry was undoubtedly guided by his policy of selecting acceptably answerable questions as much as by his criteria for acceptable answers. But whether Professor Drake means that Galileo limited the range or the certainty he expected science ultimately to achieve, I should argue that the opposite is true. First Galileo's very effective method of limiting problems in order to solve them was nearly always aimed in the end, whether through the science of motion and mechanics or through telescopy, precisely at establishing not only true methods of natural philosophy, but also the true general theory of nature. This was a theory comprising matter and its properties as discovered by both terrestrial and celestial inquiries, their bearing on cosmology, the relation of


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

perceiver to perceived and of knower to known, and the bearing of all on theology. Secondly, throughout his scientific inquiries and debates, Galileo wrote continually of finding 'true and necessary demonstrations' (Opere, ii, 155; v. 330) of his conclusions, and on one famous occasion, in his First Letter about the Sunspots (1612), he looked forward not un-typically to solving 'the greatest and most admirable problem there is, the true constitution of the universe. For such a constitution exists, and exists in only one, true, real way, that could not possibly be otherwise' (Opere, v. 102). Strong words; in fact, the words of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (i.2, 71b9-72a24; 6, 74b5-6; 10, 76a31-b31), well known in Galileo's day to every educated person. We have unqualified scientific knowledge of something, Aristotle had written, when 'we know the cause on which the fact depends, as the cause of that fact and no other and, further, that the fact could not be other than it is' (i.2, 71b9 = text. 7, Opera omnia, i, 1552, f.!30v); 'Demonstrated knowledge must rest on necessary first principles; for the object of scientific knowledge cannot be other than it is' (i.6, 74b5 = text. 44, f.!42v). I should argue that Galileo aimed in the end at total certainty, that is was Aristotle and no other who provided him with this ideal of truly scientific certain knowledge, and that he retained this ideal from his earliest to his latest writings, even as he rejected the methods and destroyed the content of Aristotle's physics, and even when he recognised that demonstration truly scientific by Aristotelian criteria eluded his grasp. We might say that by attempting to prove so much so powerfully Galileo got himself scientifically and personally into a lot of unnecessary trouble. But given his background and education in sixteenth-century Italy, to say nothing of his own quite specific intellectual vision, it was very natural for him to see beyond the solutions of particular problems to a general philosophical reform to which they would effectively contribute. In this he was certainly encouraged by early influences to make a characteristic response to the striking variety of current intellectual attitudes and aims, themselves the products of successive European responses to successive recoveries of ancient thought. Most relevant was the well-known difference between the philosophers on the one hand, and the mathematicians and artists on the other. Both sides had been exposed in different ways to a mathematical rationalism imposed on art and nature through mathematical theories of painting, music and machines, and on philosophy through Neoplatonic visions of a morally normative and therapeutic numerological harmony, and of mathematics as a stage in the education of the mind for theology. Mathematics became an antidote to the threat of scepticism. But the recovery of alternatives to the academic Christian Aristotle, and especially of this new Plato, made much sixteenth-century philosophy notably eclectic, tolerant of opposing systems, seeking concordance between authorities, circling in the habit of scholastic disputation, seeing mathematics as a means of moral education rather than of solving scientific problems. Jacopo Mazzoni (1548-98), friend of Galileo's father and professor of both Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy at Pisa from 1588 to 1597, was the

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


most obvious and intelligent philosophical contemporary giving mainly this meaning to mathematics. By contrast the artists, engineers and mathematicians concerned with their problems were obliged by the practical crafts to make clear limited decisions. The Florentine ambience provided by Galileo's father, as an eminent practical as well as theoretical musician, and by his friends among artists and mathematicians, was strongly scientific in this sense and unsympathetic towards the more numerological and cosmic aspects of Platonism. Moreover, Vincenzo Galilei (c. 1520-91) in his experimental analysis of the mathematical basis of music looked beyond the Pythagorean proportions, like Aristotle, for some process of physical causation. We could say perhaps that Galileo Galilei tried to carry the decisiveness of the mathematical arts into natural philosophy through the discovery of true processes of physical causation, as distinct from those accepted by conservative contemporary Aristotelians. Out of this, above all under the guidance of Archimedes, came the distinction he made between what he called the mathematical 'definitions' (e.g. Discorsi on two new sciences, 1638; Opere, viii, 197 sqq.) and the physical causes which he never ceased to look for. He was to carry the consequent decisions of his natural philosophy into theology. His earliest surviving philosophical writings show however an influence on his intellectual formation that was neither mathematical, not artistic, nor Platonic but conservatively Aristotelian. To these I must now turn. During 1969 and 1971 my colleague Adriano Carugo, then working at Oxford and now at the University of Venice, and I solved the main problem of the sources of Galileo's early writings in his own hand, published by Favaro as Juvenilia (Opere, i). These comprise two incomplete treatises, each in two parts, on major Aristotelian themes: the Tractatio prima de mundo with the Tractatio de caelo concerned essentially with questions of cosmology and cosmogony raised for Christian theology by Aristotle's De caelo; and the fragmentary Tractatus de alteratione with the Tractatus de dementis concerned with the theory of elements and qualities put forward by Aristotle in the Physics and the De generatione et corruptione. We have also studied a third autograph treatise, again incomplete and in two parts, which Galileo left in manuscript but of which Favaro published only a small section, describing it as 'some scholastic exercises' (Opere, ix, 273). This is the Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstratione (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, MS Galileiano 27; Fig. 1), a commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics with a detailed analysis of questions of the logic connecting cause with effect, of types of scientific demonstration, and of the relation between mental assent, as in a mathematical proof, and demonstration of actual existence. I shall summarise our conclusions about the sources, dates and nature of these three treatise, and then briefly discuss some of the philosophical views Galileo expressed in them and their relation to those he expressed in later life.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Fig. 1 Beginning of Galileo's autograph Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstratione (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrals di Firenze, MS Galilaiano 27, f. 4r).

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


I myself began studying the Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis in 1964 when I was looking for the sources and earlier thinking behind the famous distinction which I discussed in my article, 'The Primary Properties and Secondary Qualities in Galileo Galilei's Natural Philosophy', for the Saggi su Galileo Galilei and in more detail in the unpublished volume Galileo's Natural Philosophy in which Adriano Carugo collaborated, both completed in 1968 (see the Bibliographical Note). By that date I had become interested in a further range of ancient, medieval and more recent sources cited in Galileo's treatise as well as in the Tractationes de mundo et de caelo and the Disputationes, of which I began to make a preliminary study and got a microfilm in the autumn of 1967. The next stage in this story was that in 1968 Adriano Carugo began to suspect and in 1969 showed conclusively that many of Galileo's citations of ancient and medieval sources in the Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis and the Tractatio prima de mundo came from the textbooks of two Jesuit professors of philosophers at the Collegio Romano, both Spaniards: Benito Pereira (c. 1535-1610) and Francisco de Toledo, or Toletus (1532-96), who became a Cardinal. These textbooks were Pereira's De communibus omnium rerum naturalium principiis et affectionibus libri quindecim (published at Rome, 1576; first edition with a different title 1562), and Toletus's commentaries on Aristotle's Physics (published at Paris, 1581) and Degeneratione et corruptione (published at Venice, 1579). Carugo showed that Galileo used Pereira's book as his main source of information for his discussion in De motu of the dynamical theories of Philoponus, Hipparchus, Avempace, Averroes, Julius Caesar Scaliger and other ancient, medieval and more recent authors. Then in June 19711 discovered that important parts of the Tractatio de caelo, including the earliest appearance in Galileo's hand of the name of Copernicus (Fig. 2), whose location of the Earth in an orbit round the Sun is there rejected, all came from a well-known textbook by another Jesuit professor at the Collegio Romano, In Sphaeram loannis de Sacro Bosco commentarius (published at Rome, 1581) by the German mathematician Christopher Clavius (1527-1612). So Galileo's basic sources were three prominent contemporary Jesuits of the Collegio Romano. These identifications required some luck as well as cunning, for although Galileo clearly indicated Pereira as a source, he named Clavius only once and Toletus not at all; but of course they were based essentially on considerable and sometimes tedious reading of sixteenth-century natural philosophy, made in order to explore and understand Galileo's intellectual background and its relevance to his own thought. Sometimes Galileo took from his sources whole passages verbatim, including lists of references, not always copied accurately. Sometimes he went through these to the ancient or medieval originals. But he did not simply copy, but organised and often rearranged the materials for his own sharply independent arguments. I have shown that he used another work by Pereira, a commentary on Genesis (first volume, published at Rome, 1589), in the same way for his discussion in his Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena (1615) of the exegetical rules for relating demonstrated science to the authority


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Fig. 2 Autograph page of Galileo's Tractatio de caelo with the earliest reference in his hand of Copernicus's great work: 'Nicol. Copn: in op. de revolutione orbinum caelestinum' (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, MS Galileiano 46, f. 22r).

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


of revealed Scripture. In the Disputationes he cited some two dozen ancient, medieval and more recent authors, but again he seems to have used intermediate sources, here mainly the Dominican philosopher Thomas de Vio Caietanus's In . . . libros Posteriorum Analyticorum Aristotelis castigatissima commentaria (published from 1505 in many editions, including one at Venice in 1565) and the sixteenth-century Averroi'st logician Girolamo Balduino's Quaestia aliquot. . . logica et naturalia (available in various editions including one published at Venice in 1563 with his commentary on the Posterior Analytics). We have a complete transcription made during 1970-71 by Adriano Carugo of the unique manuscript of the Disputationes (MS Galileiano 27), and we are publishing with an English translation the parts of this most relevant to scientific thought. All three treatise comprise closely reasoned arguments, scholastic in form, making often fine distinctions between opposing opinions. Apart from Aristotle, cited continuously, the highest rates of citation are scored by his commentator Averroes, followed by Aquinas and the Thomistae' (Opere, i, 76, 117-118, 144), chiefly Italian and Spanish. This is matched by agreement with Thomist opinions especially on cosmology, for example for the world created being the best possible, for the heavens being probably incorruptible but not necessarily so because no natural power could limit God's absolute freedom, and so on. If we look at Galileo's Jesuit sources themselves, we find an astringently rational view of nature, natural causation and natural philosophy very like so many later expressions of his own. Pereira, for example, argued that the disproof of alchemical gold came not from the theory that alchemists had no access to celestial fire, which he himself thought was the same as terrestrial fire, but from the fact that no one had ever produced if (De communibus, viii, 21, pp. 299-300). He was equally sceptical of magic and astrology. Clavius gave a brilliantly lucid exposition of the criteria for deciding whether or not the spheres and epicycles, postulated in astronomical theory to account for the observations, had any real physical existence (In Sphaeram, c.4, pp. 434-437). Galileo did not discuss this in the Tractatio de caelo, but we may see a kinship between his later position on Copernicus and Clavius's insistence that celestial like terrestrial science must argue from effects to their real physical causes, that it was only the syllogistic form that made the dialectical rule that truth can follow from falsehood seem plausible, that Copernicus himself had postulated his new arrangement of spheres and epicycles not as fictitious but real, and that while he himself was not convinced by Copernicus' arguments he would thank heartily anyone who could produce a better system than any so far produced. What are these writings? We have derived a possible order and dating from their content and from the paper used. The chronology in the Tractatio prima de mundo, deriving from a combination of Biblical and ancient Greek chronology total of 5,748 years from the creation, with 1584 years from the birth of Christ 'down to the present time' (Opere, i, 27; cf. Favaro's editorial comment on p. 12), might be thought to make this at least its earliest date of composition, even


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

if it was all copied from another source. Since the Tractatio de caelo is written on the same kind of paper, watermarked with a faint CT or CL, they seem to belong to the same period. Should both be placed at the end of Galileo's period as a student at Pisa, before his return to Florence in 1585? But, as William Wallace has pointed out to me, Galileo corrected mistakes in writing down this total chronology (MS Galileiano 46, f.!0r) and when repeating it later wrote it as 6,748 years without correction (f.!5v; corrected in Opere, i, 36), so it seems to be fragile evidence. Moreover, in the Tractatio de caelo he quoted Clavius. He visited Clavius in Rome in 1587 and evidently discussed astronomy, for in a subsequent letter of 8 January 1588 (Opere, x, 22-23) he referred to the Jesuit's still unpublished defence of the new Gregorian calendar. In his letter of 15 November 1590 (Opere, x, 44-45) to his father from Pisa, a year after he had returned there as lecturer in mathematics, he awaits the arrival from him of 'la Sfera', which could have been Clavius's. So perhaps we should date the Tractationes de mundo et de caelo from his period either with his father at Florence (when in 1588 he wrote his cosmographical lectures on Dante's Inferno, on different paper however) or as a young lecturer at Pisa. The Disputationes is written on paper without watermark. Since here he does not mention Archimedes, explicitly the new enlightenment of his Theoremata circa centrum gravitatis solidorum (dated late 1587 or early 1588: see Carugo's edition of the Discorsi, 1958, pp. 840-847) and thereafter of the lectures on the Inferno, the dialogue and treatise De motu, and La bilancetta (dated 1586 by Favaro on Vincenzo Viviani's not always reliable testimony, but plausibly later on other evidence to be discussed in our forthcoming book), it seems that the Disputationes must probably precede these works. Of these La bilancetta, the Dialogus de motu and part of the Tractatus de motu were written on similar paper without watermark. He wrote the Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis on the kind of paper, watermarked with a device of a lamb and flag (Fig. 3), which he used also for the Inferno and for another part of the Tractatus de motu. It has been argued, mainly from the doctrines proposed, that he wrote both the dialogue and the treatise De motu after his return to Pisa in 1589. If the paper is a guide to the date of the Tractatus de elementis, this would connect the sudden appearance of citations of Galen in this work with the seven volumes of Galen which Galileo said in the same letter of 15 November 1590 that he was expecting from his father with the Sfera. Some years after giving up medicine, it was Galen the philosopher whom he cited. In this letter he told his father that he was 'studying and having lessons with Signer Mazzoni, who sends you greetings'. Must we then conclude that the Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis was a study of these questions of Aristotelian natural philosophy written by the young lecturer in mathematics under the influence of Mazzoni, side by side with the critique of Aristotle he was developing in De motu under the influence of Archimedes and Plato? The targets for criticism are also indicated by Mazzoni: Aristotle's lack of mathematics and his uncritical reliance on the senses. Galileo contrasted both with his own new mathematical method, but neither criticism is incompatible

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


Fig. 3 The watermark showing a backward-looking lamb with flag enclosed in a circle: Briquet no 48 (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, MS Galileiano 46, ff. 71, 74: the paper is folded and bound across the middle of the circle).

with his making at the same time a serious study of Aristotle's theory of the elements and qualities and its ancient rivals. In the unpublished volume I have already mentioned, I suggested that Galen's exposition of atomist doctrines in his De elementis secundum Hippocratem could have been a source of Galileo's later distinction between primary properties and secondary qualities which he had known from that time. This was also suggested by William Shea in his article 'Galileo's Atomic


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Hypothesis' (Ambix, xvii, 1970, p. 23). Moreover in De motu itself Galileo retained scholastic forms of argument alongside the mathematical form learnt from Archimedes, and continued not only citing philosophical commentaries but also using Pereira as an important source of information. Already in De motu Galileo used Archimedes and Plato to replace Aristotle's ideological structure of the universe with a structure that was the resultant, still providentially designed, of mechanical forces, and at the same time to begin replacing the whole Greek theory of pairs of contrary qualities with quantitative linear scales of weight, density, heat and so on. The full integration of his new mathematical method with a new theory of matter was something he brought about only much later, precisely through a further critique of Aristotle. We may then dismiss the hypothesis that Galileo's three earliest treatise were notes he took of philosophical lectures heard as a student at Pisa. The long-standing candidate for the lecturer, Francesco Bonamico, has in any case been shown by Eugenio Garin (Scienza e vita civile, 1965, pp. 124-127, 144145, 165-166) to be impossible, and this was confirmed in 1969 by Adriano Carugo's further comparisons of Bonamico's De motu (Florence, 1591) with the Juvenilia. Bonamico was no Thomist and he disagreed with Galileo too often. Galileo was to take him on years later in his Discorso (1612) on floating bodies, and interestingly was to cite from him the logical rule for discovering the cause of effects through presence or absence, which he used in experiments for that work (Opere, iv, 52; cf. 19, 22, 27). But that is another question. I do not think it possible to say what Galileo wrote these treatises for, or indeed exactly when he wrote them. Was he lecturing on these subjects and were they his own lectures? Were they simply for his own edification? For that matter why, and indeed over what years, did he write De motul Before we made the discoveries I have described no one known to us, no one we had been in touch with or whom we knew to be working on Galileo, had identified any of these sources. It seems that we looked back across nearly four and a half centuries to something known before perhaps only to Galileo himself. But someone was bound to identify them fairly soon, and in fact William Shea did independently discover Galileo's use of Clavius a couple of years after me. William Wallace noticed certain similarities with Pereira and Toletus, but saw them only among others through a glass darkly and failed to identify them as sources. Full details of our work will be published in our forthcoming book, but meanwhile we thought it might be useful to make authorised information available. It seems likely that Galileo used other secondary sources not yet identified. The sheer number of references, not just to ancient, medieval and modern philosophers and astronomers but also to points of theology in Scripture, patristic writings and the decisions of Councils of the Church, suggests some common source. Perhaps someone, not me, will look further. Nevertheless these early writings impress by their scholarship. They show Galileo then as indeed he appears in his later writings (despite his biographers) as the highly literate, well-read man of his time and ambience

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


that he was, a match for anyone in learned dialectical debate, and a philosopher who in wanting to show forth the true system of the universe and of knowledge, wanted also the support of the truest ancient model. He famously asked to be entitled 'philosopher' as well as 'mathematician' to the Grand Duke on his return to Florence in 1610 (Opere, x, 353). The theory of the truly scientific demonstration expounded by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics was a model on which everyone in Galileo's time had been educated and which was widely accepted as the ideal goal of knowledge. Galileo's Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstratione was his account of that model. It is significant that he should have written it as one of his earliest philosophical essays. Let me conclude by looking briefly at its place in Galileo's thought. We are caused to have knowledge, Galileo wrote in De praecognitionibus, by the first principles we grasp (disputatio ii, quaestio, MS Gal. 27, f.5v). We may know these in various ways: the most universal only through knowledge of terms, as that the whole is greater than its part; others only through the senses, as that fire is hot; others through various forms of inductive or hypothetical argument; others through experience, as in medicine; others only through habit, as those of moral science which we cannot understand unless we practice them (ii.l, f.4r). But whereas in nature an effect must necessarily follow from its sufficient cause, man is free and cannot without his assent be made to have knowledge (iv.2, f.!2v). This leads to a discussion in the Tractatio de demonstratione (disputatio i, quaestio i, f.!3r) of Aristotle's criteria for the first principles of truly demonstrated knowledge: these must be true, primary and immediate in not being themselves demonstrated from any prior principles, and related to their conclusions as cause to effect (Post. Anal. i.2). Galileo argued that only true propositions can actually be known, because true knowledge of things is had through the causes by which they exist. Demonstrations of true conclusions from false premisses can only be per accidens, not per se, and we cannot actually know such things as the void and the infinite for they are nothing. The proper object of true knowledge in ens reale, real being, not just ens rationis (ii, 1, ff.!7v-18r). He went on to analyse at length Aristotle's criterion that truly scientific demonstrations must-proceed from true causes, though we have first to discover these from our more immediate knowledge, for example through the senses. The premisses of mathematics cause knowledge and are as immediately knowable to us as their conclusions, but mathematical entities do not exist (ii.6, f .22). The sciences subordinate to mathematics (as astronomy, music etc) do not have truly scientific demonstrations because they must proceed ex suppositione from principles assumed from the superior science (ii.4, f.20v). We may give our certain assent with evidence as to knowledge through the senses, or without evidence as in our faith, but we come to rest most agreeably in knowing a conclusion because it follows from true premisses (ii.6, ff.22v-23r).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

He concluded with a discussion of the recognised kinds of demonstration: ostensiva, ad impossibile, quia, propter quid, potissima (iii.1-2, ff.29r-30r, cf. i.l, f.!3r). Here, as elsewhere, he seems to be using Proclus' commentary on Euclid, as well as Averroes and other authors whom he named, but he took an independent line. Demonstration ad impossibile is not truly scientific because it proceeds by raising questions from false premisses in order to find the true ones (f.29r). Truly scientific demonstration could be reduced to two kinds, demonstratio quia which demonstrates the existence of an effect and from that a posteriori its cause, the demonstratio propter quid which demonstrates both the cause and hence the existence of the effect (f.30rv). That demonstratio quia is truly scientific is proved on the authority of Aristotle and all commentators, and because like demonstratio propter quid it proceeds from true and necessary premisses to true and necessary conclusions, and so generates knowledge and not probable opinion (f.30r). That an attribute is connected with a subject we know from experience; that the connection is naturally necessary when it always occurs we know by the light of our intellect, for otherwise nature would have been improvident; it can be truly demonstrated by intrinsic, extrinsic or other kinds of cause (f.30r). This seems to be the origin of Galileo's later designation of demonstration both from observation and from theory as 'necessary demonstration'. The scientific argument, he went on, especially in the physical sciences where we began by not knowing the physical causes, alternated in a 'demonstrative regress' (iii.3, f.31rv) in both directions, from effect to cause and vice versa. In mathematics the regress is little needed because premisses are as immediately known as their conclusions. In any case it is not circular because, starting from an effect which one knows better than its reason, it demonstrates the reason for that effect. The complete true cause and the effect entail each other reciprocally and uniquely (f.31v). Parts of the Disputationes (despite its containing no precisely scientific illustrations of the logic) resonate with many of Galileo's well-known later practices and sentences. This is not the occasion to discuss the organisation of his experimental argument, for example in De motu and in the Discorso (1612) on the floating bodies, on the logic of la progressione demonstrativa, the methodo resolutiva, and the reductio ad impossibile or ad contradictionem (Opere, i, 260-265, 284-285, 318; iv, 19, 22, 27, 67). But it is relevant to note that he continued to carry on about 'true and necessary demonstrations' and 'the necessary constitution of nature' (as he put it in Le mecaniche, 1593; Opere, ii, 155, 189), and 'true demonstrations' from 'the true, intrinsic and total cause' (Discorso, 1612; opere, iv, 67), from his earliest writings and throughout the telescopic, mechanical and Copernican debates of 1610-16 and down to the Dialogo (1632). The great attraction for him of his argument, firs put forward in 1616, from the tides to the Earth's motions seems to have been that here he had a truly scientific demonstration by Aristotle's criteria: this cause must produce those effects, and those effects must entail this cause and no other (Opere, v 377-381, 393; vii, 443,470-472). Galileo hedged by claiming

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


this as perhaps only the most probable cause advanced so far, but he exposed himself of course to a double accusation: that he was committing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent, for phenomena could not uniquely determine their causes; and that he was claiming to demonstrate something necessary not just about the world that existed but also about its omnipotent Creator (cf. Antonio Rocco in 1633 on the Dialogo: Opere, vii, 628-629, 699-700). Galileo's necessity surely belonged to a conception inherited from Greek philosophy, that of the possibility of a completed and bounded knowledge of all that does and can exist. God's omnipotence made this existentially untenable, and this Galileo was to be careful to accept, by distinguishing his arguments about the world God had in fact created from any suggestion that God could be bound by any natural necessity (cf. Dialogo: Opere, vii, 128-131, 488-489; Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena: Opere v. 316-321). In his scientific practice, the open-ended character of mathematics and experiment and of the Archimedean argument ex suppositione (as in his letter of 7 January 1639 to Baliani: Opere, xviii, 12-13, aptly quoted by Stillman Drake), his appreciation of the complexity of natural causes themselves in such phenomena as light and heat, above all his use of range of confirmation as the test of a theory, notably of the new cosmology, effectively killed the scientific ideal of necessary truth imposed by Aristotle's logic. What are we to make then of Galileo's apparent blindness to this in expressions of continuing hope? Perhaps just words. But it seems to me that we have here in the slow general understanding of the difference that mathematical thinking made to traditional logic and to scientific explanation, found after all in sixteenth-century attempts to put Euclid into syllogisms, a phenomenon in European intellectual history, in European scientific methods mediated through cultural habits and inherited preconceptions, that greatly merits attention.

The subject of this paper (which has been checked by Adriano Carugo and is presented as a result of our joint researches) is discussed in detail in our forthcoming book to be published as: A.C. Crombie and Adriano Carugo, Galileo's Arguments and Disputes in Natural Philosophy. This work is a considerably revised version of our unpublished volume, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (1968), which was awarded the Galileo Prize and is deposited in the Domus Galilaeana, Pisa. All citations of Galileo's published writings refer to Le Opere di Galileo Galilei, A. Favaro, ed., 20 vols. (Florence, 1890-1909): cited in the text as Opere. References are made to the major Latin edition Aristotelis Stagiratae Omnia quae extant opera . . . Averrois Cordubensis In ea opera omnes qui ad


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

nos pervenere commentarii . . ., 11 vols. (Venetiis apud luntas, 1550-52); Galileo seems to have used a reprint of 1573-76. Relevant secondary publications are C.M. Briquet, Les filigranes: Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier des leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600, a facsimile of the 1907 edition with supplementary material, ed. A. Stevenson, 4 vols. (Amsterdam, 1968); A.C. Crombie, The Primary Properties and Secondary Qualities in Galileo Galilei's Natural Philosophy', Saggisu Galileo Galilei, a cura di C. Maccagni (preprint, Firenze, 1969; published 1972); Galileo Galilei, Discorsi e dimostrazione matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze, a cura di A. Carugo e L. Geymonat (Torino, 1958); E. Garin, Scienza e vita civile nel Rinascimento italiano (Bari, 1965); A Procissi, La collezione Galileiana della Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze, i, 'Anteriori', 'Galileo', compilata da Angiolo Procissi (Roma, 1959); William R. Shea, Galileo's Intellectual Revolution (London, 1972); William A. Wallace, 'Galileo and the Thomists', in St Thomas Aquinas 1274-1974 Commemorative Studies (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 1974) 293-330: an innacurate note on p. 330 about the discovery of Galileo's early sources is to be corrected. The study of the paper used by Galileo for these early autograph writings was begun by Adriano Carugo and extended with certain precisions by myself. All the paper is made with parallel wire lines 28-30 mm apart, at right angles to which are fainter parallel textural lines about 1 mm apart. The watermarks, always consistently related to the wire lines, appear on the folios at fairly regular intervals according to the foldings. By this criterion the writings may be grouped as follows: 1 On paper without watermark: Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstration (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, MSS Galileiani 27, ff. 3-31; Procissi p. 106; Galileo, Opere, ix, 279-282, 291-292); Plutarch, Opere morali (MSS Gal, 27, ff. 34-42; Procissi p. 106; Opere, ix, 285-290); Sonetti (MSS Gal, 27, f. 45; Procissi p. 107; G.O. ix, 289-290); La bilancetta and Tavola delleproporzioni delle gravita in specie del metalli e delle gioie pesate in aria ed in aqqua (MSS Gal. 45, ff.55, 60-62; Procissi p. 120; Opere, i, 215-20, 225-8); Fragment of Greek-Latin vocabulary (MSS Gal. 70, f.4; Procissi p. 148); Dialogus de motu (MSS Gal. 71, ff. 435; Procissi p. 151; Opere, i. 367-408)' Tractatus de motu (MSS Gal. 71, ff.43-60; Procissi p. 151; Opere, i, 344-366). 2 On paper showing a mark CT or CL (cf. Briquet no.9553): Tractationes de mundo etde caelo (MSS Gal. 46, ff. 1-54; Procissi p. 123; Opere, i, 14-111). 3 On paper with watermark showing a backward-looking lamb with a flag enclosed in a circle: Fig. 3 (Briquet no. 48): Due lezioni all'Accademia fiorentina circa lafigura, sito e grandezza dell'inferno di Dante (1588; Bibl. Naz. Cent, di Firenze, MSS Filza Rinuccini 21, insertion 19, ff. 1-29; Opere, ix, 31-57); Tractatus de alteratione etde elementis (MSS Gal. 46, ff. 57-100; Procissi p. 123; Opere, i. Ill-Ill, cf. 133); Tractatus de motu (MSS Gal. 71, ff. 115-124; Procissi p. 151; Opere, i, 326-340); Isocratis ad

Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy


demonicum admonino (MSS Gal. 71, ff. 125-132; Procissi p. 151; Opere, ix, 283-284). 4 On paper with watermark showing a forward-looking lamb with flag enclosed in a circle with a cross above: Tractatus de motu (MSS Gal. 71, ff. 61-104, 133-134; Procissi p. 151; Opere, i. 251-312, 341-343). 5 On paper with watermark showing a swan on three semicircles (Briquet no. 12550): Tractatus de motu (MSS Gal. 71, ff. 105-114; Procissi p. 151; Opere, i, 312-326). This paper is whiter than that of the preceding and succeeding folios. There are linking marks H on ff. 104V and 105r and 7 on ff. 114V and 115r. Corrections and some repeated words throughout the Tractatus de motu suggest that Galileo was making a fair copy on different kinds of paper. In fact all the longer of these autograph writings show such mistakes. 6 On paper with watermark showing a ladder in a shield; Dialogus de motu (MSS Gal. 46, ff. 102-104: Procissi p. 123; Opere, i, 375-378, cf. 248); Memoranda de motu (MSS Gal. 46, ff. 102, 104-110; Procissi p. 123: Opere, i, 409-417); Italian-Latin vocabulary (MSS Gal. 46, f. 112; Procissi p. 123; Opere i, 246), MSS Gal. 46, f. 113 continuing the vocabulary has a watermark showing a star above the shield with the ladder (Briquet no. 5926), and this appears also on blank ff. 121-126.

Further References
A. Carugo, 'Les J6suites et la philosophie naturelle de Galilee: Benedictus Pererius et le De motu gravium de Galilee' in Science: The renaissance of a history, ed. P. Redohdi (History and Technology, iv; London, 1987) 321-33; J.M. Lattis, Ch. Clavius and the Sphere ofSacrobosco in Further references to ch. 8. For an up-to-date discussion of the dating of Galileo's writings see below ch. 10, with Appendix (a).

Galileo Galilei, Dialogo (1632), Dialogo III: diagram of the Copernican system with the Sun in the centre, surrounded by the orbits of Mercury, Venus, the Earth with the Moon, Mars, Jupiter with its satellites, and Saturn.


The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and of Nature with A. Carugo

1. Let us begin by saying first what is not the subject of this paper. We will not discuss the personal relations between Galileo and the Jesuits, because these have already been adequately discussed by the Jesuit Fathers Adolf Miiller (1909) and Bellino Carrara (1914)'. Nor are we concerned with any questions about the relation of the medieval

* This paper was presented in briefer form at the Novita Celesti e Crisi del Sapere: Convegno Internationale di Studi Galileiani Pisa-Venezia-Padova-Firenze 19-26 marzo 1983. Since it is too long for the Atti of the Convegno, it is published instead here in the Annali. 1 A. MULLER, Galileo Galilei und das Kopernikanische Weltsystem (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1909); B. CARRARA, La S. Scrittura, i SS. Padri e Galilei sopra il moto delta terra (Verona, 1914), I Gesuiti e Galileo (Verona, 1914).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

philosophical tradition to sixteenth and seventeenth century natural science. Our subject is the relation of the ideas developed by Galileo of science and of nature to the scholastic revival of Aristotelianism and Thomism, promoted by the Council of Trent and articulated in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by the Jesuits. It is one of the main subjects treated in our forthcoming book on Galileo's natural philosophy2. The policy of this scholastic revival was to defend a rational philosophy of science and of nature,; and with this to establish the possibility of rational knowledge for men both of God and of nature, against what were perceived as two current threats from within the Catholic world. One threat was seen to come from the conglomerate of Neoplatonism, Hermeticism and magic launched especially into Italian philosophy mainly by Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and sustained more recently in different ways by Francesco Patrizi and Giordano Bruno. Their aim was to bring about a truly Christian reform of education and religion through the knowledge and cultivation of occult harmonies believed to exist between the creation and the human soul. The whole of existence was a pattern of occult powers, and through these man could know God3. The other threat
2 A. C. CROMBIE and A. CARUGO, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (forthcoming), which contains full documentation and bibliography; see for various questions discussed therein CROMBIE, "The primary properties and secondary qualities in Galileo Galilei's natural philosophy", Saggi su Galileo Galilei (preprint, Firenze, 1969, wrongly dated 1967), "Sources of Galileo's early natural philosophy" in Reason, Experiment and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, ed. M. L. RIGHINI BONELLI and W. R. SHEA (New York, 1975a), "Mathematics and Platonism in the sixteenth century Italian universities and in Jesuit educational policy" in Prismata: Naturwissenschaftsgeschichtliche Studien: Festschrift fur Willy Hartner, hrg. Y. MAEYAMA und W, G. SALTZER (Wiesbaden, 1977), "Philosophical presuppositions and shifting interpretations of Galileo" in Theory Change, Ancient Axiomatic*, and Galileo's Methodology: Proceedings of the 1978 Pisa Conference on the History and Philosophy of .Science, ed. J. HINTIKKA,. D. GRUENDER and.E. AGAZZI, I (Dordrecht etc., 1981), "Galileo in Renaissance Europe" in Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell'Europa del Cinquecento, a cura di P. GALLUZZI (Firenze, 1983); and CARUGO, "Giuseppe Moleto: mathematics and the Aristotelian theory of science at Padua in the second half of the sixteenth century" in Aristotelismo Veneto e scienza moderna: Atti del 25 Anno Accademico del Centro per la storia della tradizione aristotelica nel Veneto, a cura di L. OLIVIERI, I (Padova, 1983), with also his extensive notes in Galileo Galilei, Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze, a cura di A. CARUGO e L. GEYMONAT (Torino, 1958). The present paper is based on our independent researches, as will be specified in our book. Here we have brought together some of these researches into a coherent argument. We have presented the dating of Galileo's writings as a series of problems, and their problematic character is further emphasised by our not always agreeing on all the possible solutions suggested. 3 Cf. BENEDICTUS PERERIUS, Adversus fallaces et superstitiosas artes, id est, de magia, de observatione somniorum et de divinitione astrologica, libri tres (Ingolstadti, 1591); D. P. WALKER, Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella (London, 1958), The Ancient Theology: Studies in Christian Platonism (London, 1972); F. YATES,

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


was seen to come from the revival especially in France of Greek scepticism promoted notably by Michel de Montaigne and Pierre Charron, which denied the possibility of any certain human knowledge, scientific or theological or otherwise4. The question of Galileo's relation to this neoscholastic philosophical policy arose from our discovery of the sources of Galileo's misnamed Juvenilia. We were concerned first with the short closely reasoned essays in Galileo's own hand on Aristotelian natural philosophy comprising two incomplete treatises, each in two parts: the Tractatio prima de mundo with the Tractatio de caelo concerned essentially with questions of cosmology and cosmography raised for Christian theology by Aristotle's De caelo; and the fragmentary Tractatus de alteratione with the Tractatus de elementis concerned with the theory of the elements and qualities put forward by Aristotle in the Physics and De generatione et corruptione (both in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Ms. Galileiano 46) 5 . At the same time we were making a study of another autograph scholastic treatise left unpublished by Galileo, the logical Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstrations to be discussed below, which Antonio Favaro did not include among the Juvenilia. We showed that the two autograph treatises on natural philosophy which he published as Juvenilia were based on textbooks, sometimes copied word for word, by three well-known Jesuit professors at the Collegio Romano. Since in this joint paper we need sometimes to distinguish its two authors, we do this henceforth simply if a little inelegantly by using the name of the author concerned. Carugo then established during 1968-69, while revising parts of the monograph on Galileo's natural philosophy for which we were awarded the Galileo Prize in 1969, that the Tractates
Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (London, 1964); CROMBIE (1975a) 165-6, above n. 2, below nn. 4, 35, 76. 4 Cf. ANTONIUS POSSEVINUS, Bibliotheca selecta qua 'agitur de ratione studiorum, XV: "De mathematics" (Romae, 1593); H. Bus SON, La pensee religieuse franqaise de Charron a Pascal (Paris, 1933), Le rationalisme dans la litterature franqaise de la renaissance (1533-1601) (Paris, 1957); R. LENOBLE, Mersenne ou la naissance du mecanisme (Paris, 1943); D. C. ALLEN, Doubts Boundless Sea: Skepticism and faith in the Renaissance (Baltimore, Md., 1964); R. H. POPKIN, "Scepticism, theology, and the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century" in Problems in the Philosophy of Science, ed I. LAKATOS and A. MUSGRAVE (Amsterdam, 1968) 1-39, and The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif., 1979); C. B. SCHMITT, "The recovery and assimilation of ancient scepticism in the renaissance", Rivista critica di storia della filosofia, XXVII (1972) 363-84; A. C. CROMBIE, "Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) and the seventeenth century problem of scientific acceptability", Physis, XVII (1975b) 186-204; and Clavius, Mazzoni etc. below nn. 29 sqq., 43-45, 76. 5 Cf. A. PROCISSI, La collezione Galileiana della Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, I (Roma, 1959); Le opere di Galileo Galilei, direttore A. FAVARO, 20 vol. (Firenze, 1890-1909), ristampa 1968: all references to Galileo's published writings are given simply by volume and page in this edition.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

de alteratione et de elementis and the Tractatio prima de mundo were based on Benito Pereira's De communibus omnium rerum naturalium principiis et afectionibus libri quindedm and Francisco de Toledo or Toletus's commentaries on Aristotle's Physics and De generatione et corruptione. Benito Pereira's book was published first with a different title in 1562 and as De communibus... in 1576. Toletus's commentary on the Physics was published first in 1581 and that on De generatione et corruptione in 1579. Crombie discovered Christopher Clavius as a third source in June 1971, showing that important parts of the Tractatio de caelo all came from his In Sphaeram loannis de Sacro Bosco commentarius. His commentary on Sacrobosco's Sphaera was published in 1581 in its second enlarged edition which includes the addition used by Galileo. All three sources were republished in several later editions 6. Crombie gave an authorized account of our discoveries, of their relation to the work of other scholars, and of the bearing of our studies on Galileo's attempt to construct a conception of scientific inquiry and scientific knowledge, in 1974 in his paper "Sources of Galileo's Early Natural Philosophy", published in 1975 7. Our identifications, to quote from that paper, have "solved the main problem of the sources of Galileo's early writings in his own hand" (p. 160). More than that, by showing that "Galileo's basic sources were three prominent contemporary Jesuits at the Collegio Romano" (p. 164), they have provided an entirely new and unexpected perspective both on Galileo's intellectual biography and on its context in the contemporary European scene. We had not then solved the problem of the sources of the unpublished logical Disputationes, essentially a commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. Like the other two scholastic treatises this is again incomplete and in two parts: De praecognitionibus and Tractatio de demonstration 8. It contains a detailed analysis of such topics as the model expounded by Aristotle and later commentators of truly scientific demonstration as that which makes us know, the various kinds of first principles and ways of knowing them, the different forms of scientific demonstration in physics and mathematics, the arguments for establishing the connection of cause with effect and the existence of causes postulated, and related questions. Carugo solved the major
6 7

Cf. below nn. 7, 11. See above n. 2; and for these Jesuits and their writings C. SOMMERVOGEL, Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus, I-IX (Bruxelles et Paris, 1890-1930), X-XI (Paris, 19091932), XII (Toulouse, 1930). 8 Section headings were published by FAVARO as "some scholastic exercises" in IX, 273, 279-82; cf. CROMBIE (1975a) above n. 2.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


problem of its sources in April 1975, when he established similar word-for-word direct copying by Galileo, in the first part of his treatise, of Ludovico Carbone's Additamenta ad F. Toleti Commentaria una cum Quaestionibus in Aristotelis Logicam, first published in 15979. A complete list of textual correspondences will be presented in our book, where we show how closely Galileo followed point by point some long and complex arguments developed by Carbone. Most of the particular questions discussed by Galileo in De praecognitionibus were not commonly included in books on logic at that time. In discussing them Carbone, and later the Jesuit Paolo Delia Valle (Latinized as Paulus Vallius) in his Logica (Lugduni, 1622), were exceptional. In the prefaces to both volumes of Delia Valle's book we read that he had lectured on logic at the Collegio Romano in 1587-88. No such lectures are extant. In the same prefaces he referred to publications on logic identifiable as Carbone's, with the accusation that in them their author had plagarized his lectures. He named the Additamenta in the second of these prefaces, but there is no evident correspondence between Delia Valle's much more diffuse text and that of Galileo. The following are some examples of correspondences between Galileo and Carbone in single passages:
Galileo, Disputationes de praecognitionibus et praecognitis in particulari (Ms. Galileiano 27) Ludovico Carbone, Additamenta ad commentaria D. Francisci Toleti in logicam Aristotelis, (Venetiis, apud Georgium Angelerium, 1597) "Tractatio de praecognitionibus et praecognitis" particulares scientiae, non ideo non cognoscunt ista principia, quod eorum notitia non sit aliquo modo necessaria, sed quia, cum sint per se nota, supponuntur tanquam vera. Quia is qui docendus accedit ad aliquam scientiam, debet esse dispositus ad assentiendum primis principiis (f. 42va). principia propria demonstrationis praecognoscenda sunt actu... Probatur ex Aristotele qui variis in locis (Lib. I. poster, t.5 et 15. Li.2.ca.ult.li.6 eth. c. 3) hoc docet, dum ait, nihil posse cognosci, nisi intelligantur propria principia eius quod cognoscitur. Secundo,

scientias participates non solere praecognoscere talia principia, non quia illorum notitia non sit necessaria, sed quia per se nota supponuntur ab illis; adde accendetem ad scientias debere esse ita dispositum ut, cognitis principiis per se notis, illis assentiatur (f. 4v). propria scientiae demonstrativae principia actual!ter sunt praecognoscenda. Turn quia ita docet Aristoteles p. post tex. 5, 16, 2 post, cap.6 ultimo, 6 eticorum cap.6 3, quibus locis docet Aristoteles non posse cognosci conclusionem aliquam nisi praecognitis illius

Carugo announced in April 1975 at a conference held at Santa Margherita that he had made this discovery.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought horum principiorum notitia... est caussa efficiens proxima conclusionis: ergo non potest actu cognosci conclusio, nisi eius principia actu cognoscantur (f. 42va). si prima principia et dignitates actu ingrediantur aliquam demonstrationem saltern imperfectam, ut est ilia quae ducit ad impossibile, praecognoscenda sunt actu. Primum patet haec positio ex doctrina Aristotelis, qui hoc aliquando docuit (I.Post. t.26): cui consentit Philoponus (I.Post. t.2), Themistius (cap. 11.12) et alii. Deinde confirmatur eadem ratione, qua probata fuit prima conclusio. Caeterum quando prima principia ingrediuntur demonstrationem, non habent propriam dignitatum rationem, sed potius quorundam principiorum particularium et propriorum illius conclusionis (f. 43ra). ilia (sell, principia) sunt cognoscenda actu, ante demonstrationem, a quibus conclusio proxime dependet; atqui ab hoc principorum genere (sett, a dignitatibus) non dependet proxime cognitio conclusionis... dicta principia non ingrediuntur actu demonstrationem, cum non sint propria; neque virtu te, cum res non pendeat intrinsece ab illis... ergo non est necesse, ut actu praecognoscantur. Sed dices, si ita est, quare necessario praecognoscenda sunt aliquo modo, ut est probatum? (ie. dignitates seu prima principia ante demonstrationem cognoscenda sunt saltern habitu). Respondeo, quia licet non sint caussae in essendo, sunt tamen caussae in cognoscendo... Adde etiam quod praecognoscenda sunt ad convincendos protervos (f. 42vb-43ra). prima principia... non possunt probari a priori... quoniam si possent demonstrari a priori non essent prima, quia haberent ilia priora ex quibus penderent... Quod si petas, quod si ilia (soil, prima principia) ignota fuerint et non possint probari a posteriori, quaenam scientia ilia demonstrabit?

principiis. Turn quia ilia principia sunt causa efficiens scientiae; ergo non potest haberi cognitio scientiae actualis nisi praehabeatur ipsorum principorum (f. 5v). Dignitates quae ingrediuntur demonstrationem aliquam imperfectam, qualis est ilia quae ducit ad impossibile, actu praecognosci debent. Probatur ex Aristotele tex. 16, Philopono in tex. 2, Temistio passim cap.6 12. Secundo, eadem ratione qua superiori; nam dignitates quae ingrediuntur aliquam demonstrationem sunt principia tanquam propria illius (f. 5v).

ilia principia actu sunt praecognoscenda, a quibus intrinsece pendet conclusio; sed a dignitatibus conclusio non pendet intrinsece, cum illae neque actu neque virtute ingrediantur demonstrationem; ergo. Dices: si conclusio nullo modo pendet ex his dignitatibus, quare habitualiter sunt praecognoscenda? Respondeo, primo, quia licet conclusio non pendeat in esse ab illis, pendet tamen in cognosci aliquo modo. Secundo, ut possimus protervos convincere (f. 5v6r).

principia prima et immediata nullo modo posse probari, quia alias non essent prima, quia darentur priora illis per quae probarentur. Dices: Quid dicendum quando principia prima sunt ignota et non possunt ostendi a posteriori? Respondeo: pertinere ad scientiam subalternantem probare talia principia

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature quoad propria, ad dialecticam quoad probabilia, ad Metaphisicam quoad communia (f. 6v). authores in hac quaestione in duobus convenire. Primo, in principle adquisitionis scientiae fuisse necessariam actualem existentiam rei; cuius ratio, est, quia, cum omnis nova cognitio ortum habeat ex sensu, qui versatur tantum circa existentiam, sequitur etc. Secundo, in progressu scientiae esse praecognoscendum de subiecto esse. Differre autem quid nomine huius esse secundi intelligendum sit, de quo loquitur Aristoteles (f. 7r). Tria esse quae quaestionem hanc perdifficilem reddunt. Primo, an de subiecto semper praecognoscendum sit esse existentiae actuale, quia multa sciuntur a nobis semper, quae tamen non semper existunt. Secundo, quare non sufficiat praecognoscere esse essentiae tantummodo de subiecto. Tertio, quare in aliquibus demonstrationibus non sit necessarium praecognosere an sit subiecti (f. 7r). Scientiae abstrahunt ab existentia; ergo non poterunt praecognoscere existentiam suorum subiectorum. Respondeo, si spectemus rationem formalem scientiarum, illas quidem abstrahere ab existentia subiectorum: cum enim considerent universalia, non possunt ilia ut existentia cognoscere; si autem attendamus conditionem sine qua non, nego illas abstrahere ab existentia (f. 7v). Tria esse genera rerum, quae reperiuntur in scientiis. Quaedam sunt omnino notae, et haec non possunt demonstrari; nam demonstratio ad ignota tantum probanda exigitur; quae enim per se notae sunt, non egent probatione. Quaedam sunt ignotae, et haec, vel a priori vel a posteriori saltern probari possunt. Quaedam sunt quae partim notae sunt, partim ignotae, et haec, licet non possint


Respondeo, probari debere a subalternante sive a superiore scientia: et a Dialectica ex probabilibus, a Metaphysica vero ex communibus (f. 44ra). Sunt autem duo in quibus omnes conveniunt. Primum, in acquisitione scientiae opus fuisse subiectum esse in rerum natura, quia nostra scientia habet ortum a sensu, qui solum versatur circa ea quae actu existunt. Secundum, in ipso etiam scientiae progressu praecognoscendum esse... subiectum esse. Sed dubium est, quid nomine esse intelligendum sit, et quid Aristoteles intelligat cum ait etc. (f. 46rb). Tria sunt quae hie difficultatem faciunt. Primum, an de subiecto semper praecognoscendum sit esse existentiae.. cum videamus de multis esse scientiam quae non semper existunt. Secundum, cur de aliqua re non sufficiat tantum praecognoscere esse essentiae. Tertium, an aliqua possit esse demonstratio de subiecto, cuius nullum esse praesupponatur (f. 46vb). Omnes scientiae abstrahunt ad existentia; igitur non praecognoscunt illam de suis subiectis. Respondeo, scientias abstrahere ab esse existentiae, si spectemus rationem formalem ipsarum; quia cum versentur circa universalia formaliter, non possunt considerare subiectum ut formaliter existit; sed si consideremus conditionem sine qua non ipsius subiecti, nego abstrahere ab existentia (f. 47vb-48ra). Tria sunt genera rerum quae in aliqua scientia reperiuntur; aut enim sunt res omnino notissimae, aut sunt omnino ignotae, aut... partim notae et partim ignotae. Si sint prioris generis nullo modo probari queunt, quia demonstratio est instituta ad probandum ignota. Si secundi, probari potest eas existere vel a priori vel saltern a posteriori. Si vero tertii, non possunt probari... genere aliquo demonstrationis, sed


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought solum aliqua inductione vel syllogismo hypothetico (f. 48rb).

demonstrari aliquo genere demonstrationis, tamen vel inductione vel silogismo ipotetico ostendi possunt (f. 8v).

Carbone was not a Jesuit, but he had been educated in Jesuit colleges and had attended lectures at the Collegio Romano. The discovery that Galileo's source was the Additamenta published first in 1597, and reprinted several times thereafter as an appendix to Toletus's commentary, establishes 1597 as the earliest possible date for the Disputationes, when Galileo was at Padua as a mature man of thirtythree. A copy of an unspecified edition of Toletus's commentary was among the books owned by Galileo 10. Hence we are forced to make a radical reexamination of Galileo's intellectual biography, which we had not yet done when Crombie's article on "Sources..." was completed in 1974. This means that we must reexamine the traditional dating of Galileo's main undated writings. The available evidence comes mostly from such conceptual and material connections as can be found between these and the writings that are dated n.
A copy of Toletus's commentary on Aristotle's logic was entered as "Logica del Toleto. 4" in the "Inventario di tutti i libri trovati serrati in uno scaffale del salotto terreno dell'abitazione della Sig.ra Sestilia Bocchineri Galilei il di 23 e 24 Genn. 1668 ab Inc." (Ms. Gal. 308, f. 168). Favaro, in his reconstruction of the list of books owned by Galileo, specified for no apparent reason the edition Toleti Francisci Commentaria una cum quaestionibus in universam Aristotelis logicam (Coloniae Agrippinae, 1596): see A. FAVARO, ' La libreria di Galileo Galilei' in Miscellanea galileiana inedita (Venezia 1887), entry no. 486, and Bullettino di bibliografia e di storia delle scienze naturali e fisiche, XIX 11 (1886), entry no. 78. We announced our discoveries for the first time to anyone else in a letter written by Crombie on 31 March 1972 to William Wallace in response to a letter of 16 July 1971 from him with information about his own work and a typed copy of his paper on "Galileo and the Thomists". Crombie wrote: "You may not know that in a volume entitled Galileo's Natural Philosophy, written by myself with the collaboration of Adriano Carugo, we went into considerable detail in the study of Galileo's so-called Juvenilia as well as of his Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstratione (Ms. Galileiano 27) into the sources he used. We have a complete transcription of the text of the latter work of which we are publishing a substantial section with English translation in our book. In 1969 this book was awarded the Galileo Prize [...] So far as the sources of the Juvenilia are concerned, we have shown that three main sources, sometimes copied word for word, are Clavius's commentary on Sacrobosco's Sphaera, Pereira's De communibus omnium rerum naturalium and Toletus's commentaries on the Physics and on De generations et corruptione. Certainly there is no evidence for, and there is negative evidence against, his using Bonamico. [...] We have in fact gone into the question of dating of most of Galileo's early writings in some detail, using watermarks as well as other evidence, and have proposed some revision of the accepted dates. [...] Besides the Juvenilia etc. we have a lot of new material on Galileo's Platonism and its background, cosmology of light, the sources of his distinction of primary and secondary qualities, his father's and his own contributions to scientific musical theory, and other matters."

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


We need then to establish some fixed points in Galileo's intellectual biography, and first to relate this to his background. We know that especially during the years 1585-1589 when he was living with his father Vincenzo Galilei in Florence, between his two periods at Pisa, Galileo developed a strong interest in mathematics and the mathematical sciences and arts. His association with the Accademia Fiorentina del Disegno was the beginning of a life-long fascination with the techniques of perspective painting and sculpture12. His father's
Francesco Bonamico had of course been proposed as Galileo's source by Favaro on the supposition that Galileo's essays were lecture notes taken as a student at Pisa. Before we informed William Wallace of our discoveries which focussed attention on the Collegio Romano, he had begun to look in the right direction. In his paper "Galileo and the Thomists", published in St. Thomas Aquinas 1274-1974 Commemorative Studies (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 1974), he had noted some resemblances between parts of the Juvenilia and commentaries by various scholastics including Pereira and Toletus, but he failed to identify any specific sources. In his concluding discussion of different hypotheses about the sources of the Juvenilia, he wrote that "there is no evidence of direct copying from any of the Thomist authors mentioned in this study". He observed perspicaciously that if the source were a professor at Pisa, he "would appear to be sympathetic to the writings of two members of the newly-founded Society of Jesus, Pererius and Toletus" (p. 327). But he did not identify these two Jesuits as Galileo's sources, and he did not mention Clavius at all. The purpose of his letter enclosing his paper with these suggestive but "largely negative results" (p. 329) was in fact to ask for support for a proposal to the American National Science Foundation for a study of the natural philosophy of the Juvenilia and their background and the identification of their sources. Jesuit authors and the Collegio Romano were not mentioned in the copy of this proposal which he later sent us (noted as received by the National Science Foundation on 30 September 1971), which specified quite other directions of search for Galileo's sources, directions suggested very naturally by his own earlier work and the residue of accepted beliefs: cf. for the first part of his programme W. A. WALLACE, Galileo's Early Notebooks: The Physical Questions (Notre Dame, Ind., 1977). After Crombie's letter of 31 March 1972 and after Wallace had visited both him and Carugo later in that year, Crombie sent him at his request the relevant typed sections of our book setting out our evidence. Carugo gave him also for his private use a copy of his transcription of Galileo's logical Disputationes. In the following year he announced, without consulting us, and gave in the public domain of the Annual Conference of the American History of Science Society at San Francisco on 29 December 1973, a paper based on our discoveries and evidence with the title: "Christopher Clavius: a source of Galileo's early notebooks" (History of Science Society, Newsletter, II.3, 1973, p. 10). He agreed not to publish this; he proposed to send it with his report to the National Science Foundation. He added to the published version of his "Galileo and the Thomists" (1974) a misleading footnote about our discoveries, writing that our "work confirms the thesis only tentatively advanced in this study, namely that the Juvenilia were probably composed by Galileo himself, with little or no direct use of primary sources but with a recognisable dependence on the writings of Pererius and Toletus, and also with some borrowings from Christopher Clavius's commentary on the Sphaera of Sacrobosco" (p. 330, n. 133). This is contradicted by the paper itself, which contains no thesis about these Jesuits and no reference to Clavius. After promising to set the record straight at the earliest opportunity, he compounded the error yet further in a footnote to another paper: "Galileo and reasoning ex supposition: the methodology of the Two New Sciences", Boston Studies in the Pilosophy of Science, XXXII (1976) 100-1, n. 3a. Here he stated he had requested funds from the National


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

unpublished manuscripts indicate that some of the acoustical experiments to be reported in the D iscorsi (1638) were carried out by Vincenzo during those years. Thus Galileo would have been introduced by his father through the art of music both to experimental science and also perhaps to a conception of natural philosophy. Vincenzo became strongly antipathetic to the more numerological and cosmic aspects of Platonism, and he insisted that an explanation of musical experience must reach beyond Pythagorean conceptions of musical harmony and proportion and look with Aristotle for some process of physical causation13. It is strictly relevant to Galileo's intellectual biography that Italian mathematicians and mathematical scholars in the

Science Foundation in 1971 to enable him to check the texts of these three Jesuit authors: their names do not appear in the copy of his proposal which he sent to us. Following the lines of research then going on independently, no doubt someone was bound to have identified these Jesuit sources, even in a sea of possibilities. William Shea did independently discover Galileo's use of Clavius about two years after us, without knowing of our work. We trust that these precisions will finally, in this small affair, set the record straight. More recently, Wallace has tried to show that Galileo used different Jesuit sources from those we have identified. He has made a study of manuscript reports or summaries of lectures given at the Collegio Romano during the last decades of the sixteenth century: see his Prelude to Galileo: Essays on medieval and sixteenth-century sources of Galileo's thought (Dordrecht etc., 1981). This has provided the useful and interesting information that Jesuit treatment of natural philosophy, in lectures as in books, followed a similar pattern with similar contents, and that books and manuscripts alike have a general resemblance to each other and to Galileo's scholastic writings. This has enriched our knowledge of sixteenth-century scholasticism, of Jesuit university teaching, and of the European intellectual scene. But it proves nothing about Galileo's sources. There are evidently no specific resemblances between Galileo's writings and any of these manuscripts, which cannot be found also, and more closely, in the printed books. This is not surprising, since it seems unlikely that Galileo would have spent time chasing up in obscure manuscripts what he had already found in well-known publications in print. We do not propose to discuss this line of speculation, because for Galileo there is nothing specific to discuss. 12 Cf. VIVIANI in XIX, 599-605, 627-8, cf. 36, 636-7, 645, II, 607-8; L. OLSCHKI, Geschichte der neusprachlichen wissenschaftlichen Literatur, I (Heidelberg, 1919), II (Leipzig, 1922), III (Halle a.S., 1927); E. PANOFSKY, Galileo as a Critic of the Arts (The Hague, 1954); A. C. CROMBIE, "Science and the arts in the Renaissance: the search for certainty and truth, old and new", History of Science, XVIII (1980) 233-46, and (1981) above n. 2. 13 Cf. GALILEO, Discorsi, ed. with notes by CARUGO (1958) 702-14, above n. 2; C. V. PALISCA, "Scientific empiricism in musical thought" in Seventeenth Century Science and the Arts, ed. H. H. RHYS (Princeton, 1961); A. C. CROMBIE, "Mathematics, music and medical science", Actes du XIIe Congres International d'Histoire des Sciences Paris 1968 (Paris, 1971) 295-310, (1983) above n. 2, and the forthcoming Marin Mersenne: Science, Music and Language; S. DRAKE, "Renaissance music and experimental science", Journal of the History of Ideas, XXXI (1970) 483-500; D. P. WALKER, "Some aspects of the musical theory of Vincenzo Galilei and Galileo Galilei", Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, C (1973-74) 33-47, Studies in Musical Science in the Late Renaissance (London & Leiden, 1978).

The Jesuits and Galileo 3s Ideas of Science and Nature


sixteenth century were deeply rooted in Aristotelian science. Thus Francesco Barozzi in his translation of Proclus's commentary on Euclid tried to bring out its basic Aristotelian structure by marginal references to the Posterior Analytics 14. Giuseppe Moleto opened his unpublished discourse (in the Ambrosian Library in Milan) on the mathematical sciences with an account of the Aristotelian idea of a demonstrative sciences as presented in the Posterior Analytics15. Writers on mechanics from Alessandro Piccolomini to the Galileis's friend Guidobaldo del Monte all looked, with the Aristotelian Mechanica, for a science of physical causation. The tradition of the rational arts in perspective painting, music and mechanics shared then the Aristotelian conception of a rational science of nature. We could say that Galileo and others were later to use the decisiveness of the mathematical arts in order to replace the Aristotelian causes by discovering the true physical processes of nature 16. Galileo's earliest dated, or easily datable, writings were mathematical, starting in 1587 or early 1588 with his theorems on centres of gravity for which he used Archimedes 1?. Also in 1587 he visited Clavius in Rome (X, 22-3). His mathematical treatises on fortification and on the compass of proportion can be dated by the inclusion of copies in the collection of manuscripts made by G. V. Pinelli, who died in 1601. Also in this collection, now in the Ambrosian Library, Carugo discovered a purely mathematical treatise on cosmography (an extensive summary of the first book of Ptolemy's Almagest), different from that published by Favaro which in one of its copies is dated 1606 18. These mathematical treatises copied for Pinelli were written at Padua and must date therefore from the years 1592-1600. At Padua Galileo had been drawn into the Pinelli circle which included Guidobaldo del Monte and several prominent Jesuits. One was the remarkable Antonio Possevino, a friend of Clavius and author of the encyclopaedic Bibliotheca selecta rationum studiorum (1593), for which Clavius contributed help on mathematics and its history 19. In writing to GuidoPublished at Padua, 1560: cf. A. CARUGO (1983) above n. 2; below n. 46. To be analysed in our book by Carugo. 16 Cf. E. PANOFSKY, "Artist, scientist, genius: notes on the ' Renaissance Dammering'" in The Renaissance: Six Essays by W. K. FERGUSON et al. (New York, 1962); CROMBIE (1975b), (1980), (1981), (1983) above nn. 2, 4, 12, "Historical commitments of European science". Annali dett'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, VII (1982) 29-51, and Styles of Scientific Thinking (London, 1994). 17 I, 179-208; cf. X, 22-36, GALILEO, Discorsi, ed. with notes by CARUGO (1958) 840-7, above n. 2. 18 II, 206-7; the Ambrosian Ms. is being edited by Carugo, and excerpts will be published in our book. 19 Cf. G. Cozzi, "Galileo Galilei e la societa veneziana", Saggi su Galileo Galilei
15 14


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

baldo del Monte in 1602 with his first reference to the isochronism of the pendulum and on the descent of bodies along the arcs and chords of circles, he commented that "when we begin to have to do with matter, because of its contingency the propositions considered in the abstract by geometry begin to alter", so that they could not be regarded as "certain science" such as was mathematics itself (X, 100). To Paolo Sarpi he wrote in 1604 of his earliest (mistaken) law of free fall, that since "I lacked a totally indubitable principle which could be taken as an axiom in order to demonstrate the accidents I have observed, I have been reduced to a very natural and evident proposition (ha molto del naturale et deU'evidente}" (X, 115). From these distinctions much of his future conception of science was to follow20. In 1597 Galileo made his first dated references to Copernicus, in his letters to Jacopo Mazzoni and to Kepler. The purpose of his letter to the former was to refute with a mathematical demonstration (using figures the same as in Clavius's Sphaera) an argument just published by Mazzoni against Copernicus, whose Pythagorean opinion Galileo held to be "much more probable" 21 than the opinion of Aristotle and Ptolemy. To Kepler he wrote with congratulations on his Mysterium cosmographicum (1597), which he promised to read, rejoicing "to have such a companion in the search for truth" when there were so few "who do not follow a perverted method of philosophizing". He would read the book the more willingly "because I came to the opinion of Copernicus many years ago and the causes of many natural effects have been found by me from such a supposition ( post'tto) which are without doubt inexplicable by the generally accepted hypothesis. I have written down many reasons and refutations of counter arguments which

(1968), reprinted in his Paolo Sarpi tra Venezia e I'Europa (Torino, 1978); E. C. PHILLIPS, "The correspondence of Father Christopher Clavius S. J. ...", Archivum historicum Societatis lesu, VIII (1939) 193-222; Crombie (1977) above n. 2; below nn. 28 sqq. 20 Cf. W. L. WISAN, "The new science of motion: a study of Galileo's De tnotu locali", Archive for History of Exact Sciences, XIII (1974) 103-306, "Galileo's scientific method: a reexamination" in New perspectives on Galileo, ed. R. E. BUTTS and J. C. PITT (Dordrecht etc., 1978), "Galileo and the emergence of a scientific style" in Theory Change etc., ed. HINTIKKA, GRUENDER and AGAZZI (Dordrecht etc., 1981). 21 II, 198; referring to JACOBUS MAZONIUS, In universam Platonis et Aristotelis philosophiam praeludia, sive De comparatione Platonis et Aristotelis (Venetiis, 1597): Galileo's figures for the dimensions of the world in II, 201 are the same as those in CHRISTOPHORUS CLAVIUS, In Sphaeram loannis de Sacrobosco commentarius (Romae, 1581) 209, 211; cf. W. HARTNER, "Galileo's contribution to astronomy" in Galileo: Man of Science, ed. E. McMuLLiN (New York, 1967); W. R. SHEA, Galileo's Intellectual Revolution (London, 1972); A. VAN HELDEN, "Galileo on the sizes and distances of the planets", Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, VII (1982) 70; below n. 45.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


however I have not dared until now to bring into the open, being frightened by the fortunes of Copernicus himself, our master". Copernicus had been derided by an infinity of "fools", hence he would not himself "publish my thoughts" (X, 68). Kepler replied urging Galileo to have confidence and asking for further information (X, 70). He guessed that Galileo had in mind proofs from the tides a, but Galileo did not answer. It seems clear that Galileo's serious commitment to Copernicus came with his telescopic discoveries of 1609-1610. He showed in his remarkable response to the new star of 1604, with his strange Aristotelian explanation, almost an aversion to the new cosmology23. Clavius had argued already in his Sphaera (1585 ed., pp. 191-5) in agreement with Tycho Brahe that, since the new star of 1572 had no observable parallax, it was to be considered a celestial body beyond the Moon. He thought that the new stars and comets might be generated in the celestial region. If this were true, it was up to the Aristotelians to find arguments for Aristotle's opinion on the matter of the heavens. He supposed that probably we should say that was not a fifth essence but a mutable body, though less corruptible than sublunary bodies. Only fragments remain of Galileo's autograph public lectures at Padua on the new star of 1604. After stating some disagreements with Tycho Brahe and Kepler, he gave his own explanation, resembling one given of comets by Aristotle (Meteorologica 1.6, 343al-23, c.7, 344a5-37), that the new star was not a star at all but an effect produced by the reflection of sunlight from condensed vapours rising from the Earth to the celestial sphere (II, 277-84, cf. 269-72). This was scarcely compatible with the immense distance of the fixed stars cited in his refutation of Mazzoni's argument against Copernicus. He cited observations he had made to locate the phenomenon, on which Clavius wrote to him at the end of the year (X, 121, cf. 117-9, 133, 136). He cited also a list of authors who had written on new stars, including the Spanish scholastic philosopher Francisco Valles, or Vallesius, who had published a recent commentary on the Meteorologica (1588) with another optical explanation. Another correspondent Leonardo Tedeschi sent him an account of this and mentioned also Clavius and his opinions (X, 130-2, cf. 124-9, 137-41). Galileo wrote to a further correspondent in 1605 that the planned to publish his lectures, but not wanting to expose "to the censure of the world what I think not only about the location of this light, but also about its substance and generation, and
22 KEPLER, Gesammelte Werke, hrg... W. VAN DYCK und M. CASPAR ... F. HAMMER, XIII 23 (1945) 192-3. Cf. HARTNER (1967) above n. 21; below nn. 28-29.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

believing that I have come upon an opinion that has no evident contradictions and that on that account could be true, I must for my own security go slowly" (X, 134). He wanted to make more observa
own security go slowly" (X, 134). He wanted to make more observa

that what he had already written applied likewise to the new star of 1604. Galileo published nothing, but we know that he was granted a licence on 26 February 1607, repeated on 1 March 1610, to publish a work entitled Astronomica denuntiatio ad astrologos24. Was this his projected work on new stars and comets? Again as late as 1606 in his Trattato delta sfera ovvero Cosmografia, written for his students at Padua, despite a reference to "the greatest philosophers and mathematicians who, considering the Earth to be a star, have made it mobile" (II, 223), he offered a purely traditional astronomy with the standard Aristotelian and Ptolemaic arguments against such a proposition. The "subject of cosmography" he wrote was the "description of the world" (mondo), but only that part of the theory (la speculazione) dealing with the number and arrangement of its regions and their shape, size and distance and motions found therein. The consideration of their "substance and quality" was left to "natural philosophy". As to "method, usually cosmography proceeds in its theorizing with four". First there are "sensory observations (osservazioni sensate)" of the appearances of phenomena. Secondly there are hypotheses (ipotesi), that is "suppositions (supposizioni) concerning the celestial orbs such that they agree with the appearances", as that the heavens were spherical and moved in circles with diverse motions, and the Earth was at rest at the centre. Thirdly there were geometrical demonstrations by which, from the properties of the circle and the straight line, the particular properties (accidenti) following from the hypotheses were demonstrated. Lastly there were arithmetical calculations which reduced the results to tables for practical convenience. We could distinguish in the world as a whole two regions, and because "it is true that our intellect is guided to knowledge of the substance by means of the properties", we found between these two regions notable differences. In one there were mutable elements always in a process of generation and corruption and with a natural rectilinear motion; the other, celestial region was immutable except for its eternal circular motions (II, 211-2). Whether or not from motives of prudence, or from lack of interest, or because of specific teaching duties, he seems to have paid little attention to Copernicus.

24 A. FAVARO, "Intorno alia licenza di stampa del ' Sidereus Nuncius' di Galileo Galilei", Rivista delle biblioteche, n. 18-19 (1889) 98-103; cf. XIX, 227-8; below n. 37.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


All this changed with the Sidereus nuncius (1610). Describing in his dedication to the Grand Duke Cosimo II of Tuscany how Jupiter with its satellites revolved "round the centre of the world, that is round the Sun itself", he added: "But why do I use probable arguments, when I can decide and demonstrate it with almost necessary reasoning?" (II, 56-7). So, as the Pythagoreans had held, was "the Moon like another Earth" (65). All this he would treat more fully in his book De systemate mundi where, against "those who exclude the Earth from the dancing whirl of stars", he would "demonstrate the Earth to be a wandering body", and "this we will confirm with an infinity of physical reasons (naturalibus rationibus)" (75). Galileo's situation also changed. In writing then with new celebrity on 7 May 1610 to Belisario Vinta to apply for a return to Florence, he listed the works which he proposed to complete there: "two books De sistemate seu constitutione universi, an immense conception full of philosophy, astronomy and geometry; three books De motu locali, an entirely new science in which no one else, ancient or modern, has discovered any of the most remarkable laws which I demonstrate to exist in both natural and violent movement: hence I can reasonably call this a new science and one discovered by me from first principles; three books on mechanics, two relating to demonstrations of its principles and foundations and one concerning its problems". Besides these he had various opuscoli on sound, vision, the tides, the continuum, animal motion and other subjects. He concluded with his request concerning his "title and function" in the service of the Grand Duke: that "in addition to the title of mathematician, His Highness will add that of philosopher; for I claim to have studied more years in philosophy than months in pure mathematics" (X, 351-3). Later in a letter of 16 July 1611 asserting that we knew that the Moon had mountains and valleys like the Earth "no longer from imagination but from sensory experience and from necessary demonstration (per sensata esperienza et per necessaria demonstrazione}", that is from the telescopic "observations from which I deduce (deduco] my demonstrations" (XI, 142), he wrote that "as I show elsewhere" Aristotle had not demonstrated that the heavens were immutable and in substance "quite different from our inferior substances". The contrary was the sounder opinion (147). He referred here again perhaps to De systemate mundi. This list raises some problems. Should we suppose that he had already begun the philosophical work on cosmology which became the Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, Tolemaico e Copernicano (1632)? We know that during the years 1602-1609 he was developing the theorems on the isochronism of the pendulum and on falling bodies and related problems on which he was to found his new


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

kinematics and dynamics, and which were to be published in the treatise "De motu locali" in the Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze (1638) 25 . But what were these three books on mechanics? As for his philosophical studies, we should not take Galileo's claims about himself too literally, but we have an indication of his philosophical knowledge and commitments two years later in the First Letter about Sunspots (1612) published in his Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno die macchie solari e loro accidenti (1613). His Jesuit opponent Christopher Scheiner concerning these phenomena, a man he wrote "of free and unservile mind", was "beginning to be moved by the force of so many novelties and to give ear and assent to the true and good philosophy, especially in that part which concerns the constitution of the universe". But he had not freed himself from certain beliefs to which the intellect became "accustomed by long habit to give assent", as where "he continues to keep as true and real" those eccentrics, epicycles etc. "supposed by pure astronomers (posti da i puri astronomi} to facilitate their calculations, but not to be maintained as such by astronomers who are philosophers (astronomi filosofi). These, in addition to the task of somehow saving the appearances, try to investigate, as the greatest and most admirable problem there is, the true constitution of the universe. For such a constitution exists, and exists in only one, true, real way, that could not possibly be otherwise" (V, 102) 26. In these words he stated with great force the goal of truly scientific demonstration as presented by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics2?. A decade later when in II Saggiatore (1623) Galileo was defending himself against the accusation by another Jesuit opponent that he was ignorant of logic, he displayed a considerable acquaintance with the methods of another part of Aristotle's logic: the probable and persuasive, as distinct from demonstrative argument, and the analysis of fallacies, presented in the Topics and the Sophistici Elenchi. He dated this acquaintance from the time when he "was young and still under a pedantic tutor" and used "to engage with pleasure" in logical
Cf. R. CAVERNI, Storia del metodo sperimentale in Italia, IV (1895) 267 sqq.; GALILEO, Discorsi, ed. CARUGO (1958) 694 sqq., above n. 2; L. Sosio, "I ' Pensieri' di Paolo Sarpi sul moto", Studi Veneziani, XIII (1971) 315-92; WISAN (1974) above n. 20. 26 Cf. SHEA (1972) above n. 21, CROMBIE (1975a) above n. 2. 27 Post. Anal, 1.2, 71b9-72a24, 6, 74b5-6, 10, 76a31-b31, see translation with notes by J. BARNES (Oxford, 1975); also BARNES, "Aristotle's theory of demonstration", Phronesis, XIV (1969) 123-52; L. A. KOSMAN, "Understanding, explanation and insight in the Posterior Analytics" in Exegesis and Argument, ed E. N. LEE et al. (Assen, 1973); J. H. LESHER, "The meaning of NOUS in the Posterior Analytics", Pbronesis, XVIII (1973) 44-68; and Articles on Aristotle, I: Science, ed. BARNES, M. SCHOFIELD, R. SORABJI (London, 1975).

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"altercations" (VI, 245, question 12). He described one argument made by his opponent as not even "a good topical argument for persuading anyone" (VI, 257, q. 13). It was indeed "possible to reach true conclusions through false arguments, paralogisms and fallacies" (VI, 273, q. 18, cf. 14, 15, 16, 17), but he wanted to do so through true demonstrations. We may suppose that Galileo was given the normal foundation in logic at Pisa, and that he was made as familiar as any educated person with the standard types of Aristotelian argument (cf. IV, 65, 659, VII, 59, XVIII, 234, 248). We are still left with the problem of when he resumed his logical studies in order to write the Disputationes. This treatise as we have said cannot be dated before 1597. 2. We may look briefly at the conception of true science expounded by Clavius, who remained an evident influence upon Galileo to the end of his life. Galileo in this Tractatio de caelo refuted Copernicus's location of the Earth in an orbit round the Sun with the same arguments in the same words as Clavius in his Sphaera (1581)28. What he did not cite in organising the case against Copernicus was Clavius's lucid exposition of criteria for deciding whether or not the circles and their arrangement, postulated in astronomical theory to account for the phenomena, had any real physical existence. Clavius insisted firmly that "just as in natural philosophy we arrive at knowledge of causes through their effects, so too in astronomy, which has to do with heavenly bodies very far away from us, we must attain to knowledge of them, how they are arranged and constituted, through the study of their effects, that is, stellar movements perceived through our senses". Hence it was "highly rational" that astronomers should "search out" the circles and their arrangements that would carry the planets round in their observed motions "on condition that causes can be thereby suitably assigned to all the motions and appearances, and that nothing absurd or inconsistent with natural philosophy can be inferred therefrom". He set out then to rebut the sceptical argument of "Averroes and his followers", who said that "they concede that all the phenomena can be saved by postulating eccentric circles and epicycles, but it does not follow from this that the said circles are found in nature; on the contrary they are entirely fictitious; for perhaps all
Compare I, 38-41, 41-7, 47-54, 48-50, 50-4 respectively with CLAVIUS, Spbaera (1581) 42-6, 55-7, 63-4, 134-43, 68-70; Clavius in the 1594 edition of his book referred to "Nicolaus Copernicus Prutenus, nostro hoc seculo astronomiae restitutor egregius" (pp. 67-8) while still opposing his views; cf. CROMBIE (1975a) above n. 2; above nn. 21, 23.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

appearances can be saved in a more suitable way, though it is not yet known to us". Thus "the appearances may be truly saved" by circles that were "themselves entirely fictitious, and in no way the true cause of those appearances, just as one may reach a true conclusion from a false premise, as is evident from Aristotle's Dialectics". This refers to the Priori Analytics (II, 1-4, 53b4-57bl7). Clavius first strengthened the Averroist argument from Copernicus, who "saves all the phenomena in another way" than Ptolemy, so that "eccentrics and epicycles are not necessary for saving the phenomena". Then he countered with a complex rebuttal beginning with a challenge to his opponents, that "if they have a more suitable way of saving the appearances, let them show it to us, and we shall be satisfied and thank them heartily... But if they cannot show us a more suitable way, then they should at least accept this one, deduced as it is from such a variety of phenomena; unless they wish not only utterly to destroy natural philosophy as it is expounded in the schools, but also to bar the way to all the other arts which discover causes through the study of effects. For whenever anyone infers some cause from its visible effects, I will say just what my opponents do; namely that perhaps another cause, at present unknown to us, can be furnished from those effects". The dialectical argument that "a true conclusion can be drawn from false premises" would ruin natural philosophy, but it was "irrelevant", because it was only the syllogistic form that made this kind of inference possible. It was something quite different from accounting mathematically for the phenomena by means of eccentrics and epicycles. Moreover "by the assumption of eccentrics and epicyclic circles not only are all the appearances already known preserved, but also future phenomena are predicted, the time of which is altogether unknown", such as the occurrence of an eclipse. As for Copernicus, "he did not reject eccentrics and epicycles as fictitious and contradictory to philosophy". Indeed "if the supposition of Copernicus involved nothing false and absurd it would certainly be doubtful which opinion, that of Ptolemy or of Copernicus, should rather be adhered to (as regards saving the phenomena of this kind)". But since Copernicus's supposition did contain many absurdities and errors contrary to the established natural philosophy, and also seemingly to the Holy Scriptures, that of Ptolemy was to be preferred. God had perhaps handed over "the constitution of the heavens and their motions" (pp. 434-7) for disputation with always something left over, so that men would never cease to inquire admiringly into his works 29.
Cf. P. DUHEM, "SOZEIN TA PHAINOMENA. Essai sur la notion de theorie physique de Platon a Galilee", Annales de philosophic chretienne, VI (1908), reprinted

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Clavius thus decided between rival hypotheses in astronomy by means of two criteria: the variety of phenomena covered, and agreement with accepted natural philosophy. The distinction indicated between mathematical and physical astronomy had of course been made in the well-known passage of Geminus quoted by Simplicius in his commentary on Aristotle's Physics (11.2, comm. 12). The physicist looked for causes inherent in the substance of bodies by which to demonstrate effects, including the consideration of "its being better that things should be as they are"; the mathematical astronomer investigated external qualities and invented hypotheses using epicycles and eccentric circles by which to save the phenomena. He must "go further and examine in how many different ways it is possible for these phenomena to be brought about, so that we may bring our theory concerning the planets into agreement with that explanation of the causes which follows an admissible method". Thus "a certain person" had even postulated that the Earth moved round the Sun30. One notable feature of Clavius's argument was his insistence that the form of reasoning in mathematical science was quite different from the syllogism, so that comparisons between them were irrelevant and misleading31. Another was his failure to meet the central logical point made by Averroes. Averroes wrote of the epicycles and eccentrics in his commentary on Aristotle's De caelo (II.6, comm. 35) that astronomers "suppose the existence of these circles as principles" and deduced from them consequences corresponding precisely to what was observed; but "they demonstrate in no way that the suppositions which have served them as principles are necessitated in return by these consequences". There was then no reciprocal implication between the phenomena and such principles, for phenomena could not uniquely determine their causes. To assert that they did would be to commit the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. Averroes wanted to undermine the Ptolemaic epicycles and eccentrics in order to establish the Aristotelian homocentric spheres as the true basis of an astronomy consistent with the true physics. Without taking sides on this astronomical issue, Aquinas in the Summa theologicae (I, question 32, art. 1) refined the logical point by distinguishing the kind of "principle as in natural science where
Paris, 1982; A. M. BLAKE, C. J. DUCASSE and E. H. MADDEN, Theories of Scientific Method: the Renaissance through the nineteenth century (Seattle, Wash., 1960); CROMBIE (1977) above n. 2; N. JARDINE, "The forging of modern realism: Clavius and Kepler against the sceptics", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, X (1979) 141-73; C. NAUX, "Le Pere Christophe Clavius, sa vie et son oeuvre", Revue des questions scientifiques, LIV (1983) 55-68, 181-94; above n. 28. 30 Cf. T. L. HEATH, Aristarchus of Samos (Oxford, 1913) 275-6. 31 Cf. below n. 43.

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sufficient reason can be brought to show that the motions of the heavens are always of uniform velocity" from the kind where the reasons adduced "do not sufficiently prove the principle", as with the astronomical system of eccentrics and epicycles. Here accounting for the phenomena "is not sufficient proof, because possibly another hypothesis might also be able to account for them". This argument became a commonplace. It was repeated by the sixteenth-century Italian Averroi'st Agostino Nifo in contrasting different kinds of demonstration: "a good demonstration is one in which the cause is convertible with the effect". But since the epicycles and eccentrics were not reciprocally implicated by the appearances, they must be regarded as "provisional, until another better cause is discovered, which is convertible with them. Hence their proponents are mistaken, because they argue from a proposition having several causes to the truth of one of them; for these appearances can be saved both in this way and in others not yet discovered" 32. Montaigne used the same argument to illustrate how undecidable were such questions, so that it did not matter whether one believed Ptolemy or Copernicus, and who knew but that one day a third opinion might overthrow both33. Pereira used it in De communibus..., where he also gave an account of demonstration in mathematics and in the Posterior Analytics strongly contrasting with that of Clavius 34. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine was to use it in advising Paolo Antonio Foscarini and Galileo in 1615 to be prudent in their advocacy of the Copernican system35. Clavius ignored the logical point, and looked in the manner indicated by Geminus to natural philosophy to decide between equally accurate mathematical hypotheses. Galileo pursued essentially the same strategy, first to argue in the Trattato delta sfera and Tractatio de caelo against the Earth's motion,
AUGUSTINUS NIPHUS, In Aristotelis libros De coelo et mundo commentaria (Venetiis, 1553) f. 90vb; cf. DUHEM (1908) above n. 29; P. MANSION, "Note sur le caractere geometrique de 1'ancienne astronomic", Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Mathematik, IX: Festschrift... Moritz Cantor (1899) 275-92; G. E. L. OWEN, "TITHENAI TA PHAINOMENA" in Aristote et les problemes de methode, ed. S. MANSION (Louvain, 1961); J. MITTELSTRASS, Die Rettung der Pbdnomene (Berlin, 1962); W. H. DONAHUE, "The solid planetary spheres in post-Copernican natural philosophy" in The Copernican Achie vement, ed. R. S. WESTMAN (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1975); G. E. R. LLOYD, "Saving the appearances", Classical Quarterly, XXVIII (1978) 202-22. 33 MONTAIGNE, Essais, XII: "Apologie de Raimond Sebond", texte etabli par R. BARRAL avec P. MICHEL (Oeuvres completes, Paris, 1967) 237-8. 34 BENEDICTUS PERERIUS, De communibus omnium rerum naturalium principiis et affectionibus libri quindecim (Romae, 1576) 47-48; cf. CROMBIE (1977) above n. 2. 35 XII, 171-2, cf. V, 351, 357-61; X. M. LE BACHELET, "Bellarmin" in Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, II (Paris, 1905) 560-99, "Bellarmin et Giordano Bruno", Gregorianum, IV (1923) 193-201; G. DE SANTILLANA, The Crime of Galileo (Chicago, 1955); U. BALDINI, "L'astronomia del Cardinale Bellarmino" in the Atti of the Convegno (1983).

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and then later to argue for its motion. He used Clavius's two criteria in the anxious years 1615-1616 to argue for Copernicus from the new evidence of his telescopic discoveries and from his new dynamics and mechanics, with which he aimed to destroy Aristotelian physics and to replace it with a true system. Hoping to persuade above all Bellarmine, he set out these arguments in his letter of 23 March 1615 to Piero Dini, his Considerazioni circa I'opinione Copernicana, his Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena, and his Discorso del flusso e reflusso del mare finished in January 1616. Astronomers, he wrote in the Considerazioni, "have made two sorts of suppositions: some are primary and concerned with the absolute truth in nature; others are secondary, and these have been imagined to provide the reasons for the appearances in the movements of the stars, and they show how these appearances are in a certain way not concordant with the primary and true suppositions". Thus Ptolemy supposed "not as pure astronomer but as purest philosopher" that the celestial movements were all circular and uniform, that the Earth was immobile at the centre of the celestial sphere, and so on. Then he introduced his secondary suppositions as epicycles and eccentrics to account for the phenomena, but certainly not as fictions. Copernicus likewise put the mobility of the Earth "among the primary and necessary positions in nature (posizioni prime e necessarie in naturaY'. Galileo then made the remarkable assertion that, "if discursive reasoning is not enough to make us understand the necessity of having to put the eccentrics and epicycles really in nature, we must be persuaded of it by the senses themselves" (V, 357-60), for in the Copernican system the orbits of Venus and Mercury like those of Jupiter's four satellites were literally epicycles and the orbits of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn literally eccentrics. Far from these having been introduced as fictions, "they must be admitted in our time with absolute necessity, since they are shown to us by the senses themselves" (V, 298). This seems vindication of Qavius indeed. Galileo's final argument from the tides in the Discorso was again remarkable for its criteria of decision. He introduced with this a new physical criterion for identifying, the true astronomical system, as that which was uniquely possible within a single uniform system of terrestrial and celestial dynamics. It was an ambitious attempt to extend the Archimedean method, with its use of models, from terrestrial to celestial phenomena. At the same time it was an attempt to give a truly scientific demonstration in the Aristotelian sense, by means of an hypothesis "that seemed reciprocally to harmonize the mobility of the Earth with the tides, taking the former as the cause of the latter, and the latter as an indication and argument for the former" (V, 393). Then cause and effect would be convertible: this cause must necessarily


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

produce those effects, and those effects must necessarily entail this cause and no other. The search for convertibility presupposed the framework of the syllogistic modus ponendo ponens and modus tollendo fattens. Here the aim of true demonstration was to discover definitions in which cause and effect, or substance and properties, were convertible: the substance was defined uniquely by those properties and those properties were uniquely properties of that substance. Hence, beginning with the observation of properties, it was necessary to know exhaustively all the possible substances of which they could be properties. Then if those were eliminated one after the other, what remained must be the one true substance and definition concerned. Mersenne and Newton were to object to this form of argument in science. Galileo's scientific originality in the great cosmological debate lay in his use of range of confirmation as the decisive test of a true theory. Thus he insisted in his First Letter about the Sunspots (1612) that his discovery that Venus had phases like the Moon "will leave no room for anyone to doubt what the revolution of Venus is, but will decide with absolute necessity, in conformity with the positions (posizioni] of the Pythagoreans and of Copernicus, that the rotation of Venus is round the Sun, round which, as the centre of their revolutions, revolve all the other planets" (V, 99). This was "indubitably demonstrated" by this "single experience" (199). In this way he wrote later, his telescope had provided through "sensory observations that can in no way be adapted to the Ptolemaic system, but are very sound arguments for the Copernican" (328), evidence not available to Copernicus himself (VII, 349-50, 363). The criterion of range of confirmation gave to the experimental and mathematical sciences their open-ended character. But Galileo never came to see clearly, at least in his Copernican disputes, that their different logical form led to different logical consequences from the Aristotelian truly scientific apodeictic demonstration. Nor did his opponents. Hence the cross-purposes so evident in the later stages of these disputes. Bellarmine had demanded such a demonstration of the Earth's motions. One of Galileo's most hostile critics, the Aristotelian philosopher Antonio Rocco, a former student at the Collegio Romano, dismissed his arguments in the Dialogo (1632) from tides and telescope alike with the challenge: "But come on, if there is a necessary truth and conclusion such that it is also evident as you say, show the evidence, bring in the reasons and the causes, leave persuasion to rhetoric, and no one will contradict you" (VII, 629). Since there were several ways of saving the appearances, Galileo by "putting forward only one, fell into the error of the consequent". Galileo noted in reply: "You are mistaken because you do not understand what you are saying...: but the structure of the world is just

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


one, and it has never been otherwise: therefore someone looking for something other than this one that exists is looking for something false and impossible" (699-700). We may introduce at this point a document found by Carugo in the Pinelli collection in the Ambrosian Library which, if authentic, would be profoundly puzzling for the history of Galileo's Copernicanism. This is an unaddressed, unsigned and undated letter in handwriting resembling Galileo's but not clearly identifiable. Since it is among the Pinelli manuscripts it should date from before his death in 1601. The author was writing to replace an earlier letter with "notes on mechanics" which had gone astray. He continued: "Concerning my treatise De motu celesti, I may say that it is in three books which make twenty-one folios... The figures will be rather numerous, as in Sacrobosco's Sphaera ... In my doctrine I show not only the necessity of lines and numbers, but also the necessity of physical (naturali] operations The treatise is by way of introduction... In this way an easy route is opened, not only into the apparent motions of the fixed stars and planets, but also the calculations of the distances and motions of the comet: a thing considered impossible by previous writers. Furthermore by experience I can affirm this, that those who feel uneasy with the usual theories of planets do not find any difficulty whatever in our Pythagorean theory but on the contrary great satisfaction, so that it seems to me that I would not have as many copies as could be sold. The same hypotheses have been followed by Copernicus, a truly singular man to whom I am much indebted. But he left there a gross scale of useless revolutions and fictional motions alien to reason and to the nature of things and to the necessity of appearances" 36. If this letter was by Galileo, what was the treatise De motu celesti? Could it have been a Copernican revision of a now unknown work to which Galileo referred in De motu gravium as "our lost commentaries on the Almagest of Ptolemy, which... will be published in a short time" (I, 314)? Could it have been the projected Astronomica denuntiatio ad astrologos? We know that Galileo once projected a work on comets, which were in fact discussed at length by Clavius in his Sphaera37. The unidentified letter shared Galileo's preference for theoretical simplicity and belief in natural as well as mathematical necessity, but unlike both Galileo and Clavius it seems to accuse Copernicus of introducing fictions. Nothing has been established. Necessity was a central theme alike of Galileo's logical Disputationes and of his scientific writings to the end of his life. An account
36 37

Biblioteca Ambrosiana Ms. I. 231 inf. (Codice Pinelliano), f. 187rv. Cf. above nn. 23-24.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

of his intellectual biography should include an examination of the relation of this treatise, a series of questions on the Posterior Analytics, to the development of the general conception of scientific knowledge within which he always presented his solutions of particular problems. We have done this in detail in our book on Galileo's natural philosophy, in which we are publishing relevant sections of the Latin text with an English translation. Here we can only indicate some relevant points. Galileo started in De praecognitionibus from the fundamental Aristotelian doctrine that it was principles that gave us knowledge: "The primary principles must be in some way presupposed as known, in order that the conclusion itself may be perfectly known" (disputatio II, quaestio 1, Ms. Galileiano 27, f. 4r; cf. II. 3, f. 5v). Principles could be known in various ways: the most universal solely through their terms, as that the whole is greater than its part; others solely through the senses, as that fire is hot; others by induction, division and hypothetical arguments; others by experience, as in medicine; others solely by habit, as those of moral science which we cannot understand unless we practice them. Primary and immediate principles were those that could not be proved in any way. He insisted that principles in\ essendo, that is existing in the objects of knowledge (as distinct from in cognoscendo, principles of knowledge) could be proved in the particular sciences a posteriori from their effects, for otherwise "the question of existence would be excluded from all sciences except metaphysics" (II, 4, f. 6r). "The principles in a demonstration a priori are known beforehand, whereas in a demonstration a posteriori they are sought" (f. 6v). Accepting that "all new knowledge originates from the senses" (III. 1, f. 6v) whose objects must exist, he distinguished scientiae redes which began with actually existing objects from scientiae rationales concerned only with objects of knowledge (f. 7rv). But he insisted that while the sciences, because they considered universals, abstracted formally from the existence of their objects, they must all in the end be concerned with existence. They were concerned not with the contingent existence of individuals, but with the existence of species of things "which, the universe being supposed, is necessary at least in its time". This was "the existence that follows universal nature, not in the abstract but in something individual". For indeed "nature, is more completely realized by species than by individuals" (f. 7v). Mathematics likewise abstracted from existence, but it demonstrated the properties of existing objects (f. 8r). Throughout he used the Aristotelian analogy between the causation of knowledge in man and of effects in nature: "for every natural cause sufficient to produce its effect, provided that its requirements are given, operates by necessity; but the intellect together with the knowledge of principles is a natural

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


and sufficient cause to produce scientific knowledge". Still, "why must we necessarily assent to the conclusion once we know the premises?" He replied with Saint Thomas, "because there are some things that necessarily, follow from known principles; therefore, once these are known, the conclusions, which are virtually contained in them and are suited to be inferred, are necessarily known" (f. 12v). But there was a difference for, "because man is free" (f. 13r), he might not assent even when all the requirements were given. The Tractatio de demonstratione was a critical analysis of the account given by Aristotle and later Greek and medieval commentators of scientific demonstration and its kinds according to the subject-matter. The premises of truly demonstrated knowledge according to the Posterior Analytics (I. 2) must be "true, primary, immediate, better known than, prior to, and the causes of the conclusion" (Tr. de dem. I. 1, f. 13v). Immediate meant that the primary premises were not themselves demonstrated, but were self-evident; and the cause must be of that effect alone, which itself could not be otherwise. Galileo argued, with Averroes and St. Thomas, that only true propositions could be actually known. True conclusions could be inferred from false premises only per accident, not per se, and to know something required not only inference but demonstration from true premises. Scientific demonstration gave knowledge of "a thing through the causes by which it exists". The proper object of knowledge was ens reale, something real, not just ens rationis, a thing of reason. Hence of the void and infinite and suchlike "there can be no science, because they are nothing" (II. 1, ff. 17v-18r). Demonstratio quia, ' demonstration that' in the scholastic terminology used by Galileo, demonstrated the cause a posteriori from its effect known through the senses, while demonstratio propter quid, ' demonstration because ', gave us scientific knowledge of the effect by demonstrating it a priori from its discovered cause. Galileo argued that since "only those causes by which a thing exists are true and proper causes in being (in essendo], therefore demonstration propter quid must proceed only through such causes". This kind of demonstration "makes us know a thing without qualification (simpliciterY, but this was not so with "demonstration which proceeds from virtual causes, for these are ex suppositione and therefore do not make us know things without qualification" (II. 2, ff. 18v-19r). To know was simply "to assent certainly and evidently to the conclusion", but such assent required that the premises were not only true but immediate. This was not so when a science was subordinate to another, as astronomy and music to mathematics. Hence "a subordinated science, as imperfect, cannot have perfect demonstrations, since it supposes its primary principles to be proved in a superior science, and


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

therefore it generates knowledge ex suppositione and only in a certain respect (secundum quid)" (II. 4, f. 20v). Thus we could have "scientific knowledge (scientia) of something in two ways, either simpliciter and absolutely, or secundum quid and within a determinate genus". The former "required that a resolution should be made into all its principles and causes, even the primary and most universal", and that these should be known per se (II. 5, ff. 21v-22r). As for the requirement that the premises should be better known than the conclusion, whether better known to us or in nature, he agreed with St. Thomas that for an absolute demonstration they must be better known in nature. This was not contradicted by cases where we might assume premises in order to prove something else; or where, as in mathematical demonstrations, "the causes are better known than the effects both to us and in nature, though such demonstrations are not the most powerful (pottssimae)"; or where the conclusion could be better known than the premises as "by the senses or by faith". Sciences were the more perfect according to their object, as the divine was more perfect than the perishable; to their independence, so that subordinate sciences were imperfect; to their certainty; and to their evidence. This could be either intuitive evidence through knowledge of the terms alone, as of first principles; or discursive evidence through the cause, as of demonstrative science. Evidence always carried certainty, but we could assert with "certainty without evidence, as is clear in subordinated sciences and even clearer in our faith" (II. 6, ff. 22rv). In any case "we come to rest in knowledge of the conclusion, but because of knowledge of the principles" (f. 23r, cf. 22v). Galileo concluded his scholastic treatise with a discussion of the main kinds of demonstration distinguished by Aristotle and the commentators: ostensiva, ad impossibile, quia, propter quid, potissima (III. 1-2, ff. 29r-30v; cf. I. 1, f. 13r). Ostensive demonstration was that which proved from true principles that something was true (f. 13r). As a form of inference "a demonstration that leads to an impossibility (ad impossibile) is not a true and perfect demonstration, since it proceeds from false propositions and, by raising questions, comes to deny both premises" (III. 1, f. 29r; cf. 13r, 30r). Avicenna was said to have held that there was only one kind of demonstration, propter quid (f. 29r). Galileo agreed with St. Thomas and others who had maintained that there were two, but only two kinds, quia and propter quid: for "we know a thing either a posteriori or a priori: we know it a posteriori by demonstration quia, a priori by demonstration propter quidn (f. 29v, cf. 30r). That demonstration quia was a true kind of demonstration was proved "on the authority of all commentators" as of Aristotle himself, for it "proceeds from necessary

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


propositions and infers something necessary (ex necessariis procedit et insert aliquid necessarium), and does not generate opinion (opinio)\ therefore it generates scientific knowledge (scientiaY' By contrast "induction is not a demonstration at all,... for it proceeds from particulars" and "by itself does not lead to any necessary conclusion". The demonstration of the cause of some effect showed us by its very nature at the same time the existence of the effect: thus "demonstration propter quid, so far as it is in its power, makes us know the cause and the existence of a thing" (f. 30r, cf. 29r). Hence it was useless of Averroes to add a further kind of demonstration potissima of existence as well as cause. But there were within demonstration propter quid itself " something like two kinds of demonstration, the one proceeding through extrinsic causes, the other showing through intrinsic causes the attribute of its primary and adequate subject by means of principles that are actually indemonstrable, and the latter can with perfect right be called potissima". In a demonstration propter quid "it must be known either in the premises or before them that the cause has a necessary connection (necessaria connexio) with its effect, whereby it will then be possible in the demonstration to give the reason why this connection exists in the subject". By comparison demonstration quia might seem to be "a topical or probable syllogism", but in itself it was a true demonstration which " infers from necessary premises a necessary conclusion" (f. 30r). Continuing his analysis with an example, man's ability to laugh, he wrote: "we know the connection of the attribute with the subject by experience: for from the beginning of the world up to now the ability to laugh has always been known to be connected with man; secondly, by induction...; thirdly, by the light of our intellect, which knows that this connection is necessary: for in most cases those things that always happen are natural; hence, since the ability to laugh always belongs to man, our intellect understands that it is natural. This can be confirmed by the consideration that otherwise nature would have badly provided man with universal properties, since it would not have provided things with their necessary conditions and properties. And... we do not know the cause of the effect, but the connection of the cause with the effect" (f. 30v). Demonstration propter quid and quia were then analogous, for both "proceed from true and necessary propositions". One and the same conclusion could be demonstrated by either, but not formally in the same way. Hence demonstration quia was called by Aristotle "demonstration of sign (demonstratio signi)n and "it proves the existence of a thing"; by Averroes "demonstration of evidence (demonstratio evidentiae), since it proceeds from things that are better known to us"; by Latin writers "demonstration from the effect, or a posteriori-, by the


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Greeks conjectural (conjecturalis}". Within it various distinctions could be made. For example when it "proceeds from an effect to its cause" as "there is smoke, therefore there is fire", the demonstration could proceed also "from one effect to another, or from a sign or whatever accident is necessarily connected with its cause to the cause itself". Another distinction came from considering the middle term of the syllogism, where the demonstration might consist of "convertible terms, such as: there is an eclipse, therefore there is an interposition of the Earth", or not, "such as: it is hot, therefore there is fire". Yet another distinction was between demonstrations of "simple being", as by Aristotle of primary matter and the first mover, and demonstrations a posteriori of more complex propositions. These were especially useful, "since the principles of a science are sometimes unknown and cannot be proved except by demonstrations of this kind", and without their help "we cannot know anything at all about abstract and divine things" (III. 2, f. 30v). Finally Galileo came to the question (III. 3, f. 31rv):
Whether a demonstrative regress can occur. The first opinion was that of those more ancient philosophers who are reported by Aristotle to have claimed that in a demonstration a perfect circle is given, so that it is possible to know perfectly both the conclusion by the premises and the premises by the conclusion38.... Aristotle... denies that a perfect circle can be permitted in a demonstration, yet he admits an imperfect circle. We consider this opinion as most true. In order to understand it, we should note, first: two things are required for a demonstration. First, that what proves and what is proved should be connected with each other, otherwise it would not be possible to infer one necessarily from the other. Secondly, that which proves, as it is better known, should come first in the demonstration. We should note, secondly: the cause and the effect can be taken in three ways. In the first way, under the formal relation of cause and effect; in the second way, in so far as they are different things; in the third way, they can be considered in so far as the cause is necessarily connected with the effect...

He argued that a demonstrative regress was not possible in the first way because one relative thing is not better known than the other, and would not be circular in the second way if the things were necessarily connected: for "the demonstrative regress is the progress of reasoning in a demonstration which goes from the effect to the cause
Cf. ARISTOTLE, Post. Anal. 1.3, translated with notes by J. BARNES (Oxford, 1975); DESCARTES, Discours de la methode, VI, texte et commentaire par E. Gilson (Paris, 1947) 181-91, 470-4; N. JARDINE, "Galileo's road to truth and the demonstrative regress", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, VI (1976) 277-318; above n. 27.

The Jesuits and Galileo }s Ideas of Science and Nature


and vice versa". But a regress was possible in the second way only "provided that it takes place in a different kind of cause, or in the same kind but not in the same respect (ratio] and does not lead to the same thing". For "it could happen that someone knows the effect but not the cause", and then "from the existence of the effect he proves the existence of the cause", but still "he does not know the reason why it belongs to the effect... Now this can be proved through a demonstrative regress, for it has a necessary connection such as that of the reason for the effect with the cause, and one of the two can be assumed as better known in order to prove the other". To an objection that, for example, "vapour is the material cause of rain and rain is the material cause of vapour" was circular, he replied that here the causes were different, for we demonstrated rain by condensation and vapour by rarefaction, so there was no circle. To the question whether the progress from the cause to the reason for the effect showed the existence of the effect, he replied with St. Thomas that here "indeed existence cannot be proved by a perfect demonstration absolutely and simpliciter, but it can be propter quid." Then:
You will ask secondly: in which sciences do we think that there is such a circle. I reply: the demonstrative regress is useful to the completion of all sciences, but it is most frequent in the physical sciences. The explanation for this is that in most cases the physical causes are unknown to us. In mathematics there is almost no use for such a demonstrative regress, because in such disciplines the causes are better known both by nature and to us. You will ask thirdly: what are the requirements of a demonstrative regress. I reply, they are these...: that in it there should be two progressions of demonstration, one from effect to cause, the other from cause to effect. Second: that we should start from demonstration quia... Third: that the effect should be better known to us... Fourth: that once the first progress has been completed, we should not immediately start the second, but we should wait until the cause, which we know materially, becomes known to us formally. This is the reason why demonstration propter quid cannot take place unless we know beforehand the cause formally. You will object: then it would follow that the demonstration propter quid is useless, as it is made for the very purpose of knowing the formal cause. I deny this consequence: for although someone who knows the formal cause knows virtually the reason why (propter quid] the attribute belongs to the subject, yet he does not know it actually unless he makes a true demonstration. From this it follows that a regress is not properly a circle, since it proceeds from the effect to the material cause and from the cause known formally to the reason for (propter quid] the effect. Fifth condition: that the demonstrative regress should take place through convertible terms. For if the effect had a wider extension than the cause, it would make the first progress impossible. Therefore the following inference is not valid: there is light, therefore there is the Sun. On the other hand, if the cause has a wider extension than the effect, it would make the


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought second progress impossible. As is evident: for although the following inference is valid: he breathes, therefore he has a soul; yet the reverse is not valid, for breathing requires many organs, which the soul may lack. Lastly it is required that it should have the form of the first figure of the syllogism.

The Disputationes, with Galileo's other scholastic treatises, give biographical substance to Ernst Cassirer's perception that Galileo shared with his Aristotelian opponents a fundamental agreement on the object of truly scientific knowledge, despite his rejection of their syllogistic methods of trying to reach and form of expressing such knowledge39. They establish the longevity and depth of his enduring commitment to their common assumption that true natural philosophy must demonstrate the necessary connections underlying the regularities of phenomena perceived by the senses. They establish the depth likewise of his commitment to a philosophical strategy aimed at once to solve particular problems and to lead to the apprehension of universal first principles. This he continued to share with contemporary philosophers, even when he came to differ from them sharply in his specification of effective methods of scientific inquiry, and hence of exactly how particular solutions must make it necessary to accept the principles from which he tried to demonstrate that they followed. By this strategy he aimed to establish a new identity at once for natural philosophy and for nature. All three of Galileo's scholastic treatises showed an explicit agreement on many questions with Thomist opinions, for example in the Disputationes on there being only two kinds of demonstration, quia and propter quid, and as in the Tractatio prima de mundo (I, 29-31) on the perfection of the world and its realization rather through species than individuals40. After Aristotle, he cited Averroes and Aquinas more than any other authorities in the three treatises together, with the latter equalled by Themistius and Philoponus in the Disputationes. All three used syllogistic arguments without mathematics. He seems to be siding, in the debate whether the most powerful demonstration was that described in the Posterior Analytics or that provided by mathematics, with Alessandro Piccolomini and Pereira against Francesco Barozzi and Clavius when he wrote in the Disputationes that mathematical demonstrations "non sint potissimae" (f. 22r, cf. 31v)41. He followed in
39 E. CASSIRER, Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophic und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit (Berlin, 1906) 134-41. 40 Ms. Galileiano 27, ff. 7v, 29r, 30r; cf. I, 29-31 where the argument corresponds almost word for word to AQUINAS, Summa theologica, I, q, 25, art. 6, Summa contra gentiles, 1.75, 81, 11.45, 111.71. 41 P. GALLUZZI, "II ' Platonismo' del tardo Cinquecento e la filosofia di Galileo",

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


this treatise the Aristotelian tradition that made demonstration quia and propter quid the central method of natural philosophy, and he kept to that terminology with only a passing reference to "resolutio et compositio" (f. 14r) as belonging to demonstration. At the same time he showed a strong independence. With Aristotle he denied tha argument in a circle could be permitted in a demonstration, and gave an example to show that in a proper demonstrative regress this was not so. But with Aristotle he admitted as "most true" an imperfect circle, of which he made an analysis. For the progression of a demonstrative argument went in two directions: starting from an effect better known that its cause, we searched for its cause so that we could demonstrate that effect from this. A significant condition was that the cause and effect had to be convertible, that is coextensive (f. 31rv). This according to the accepted interpretation of Aristotle was the condition for a perfect scientific demonstration, in which the complete cause and the effect entailed each other reciprocally and uniquely. All three scholastic treatises have the same decisive manner. It seems reasonable to suppose from their resemblance in style and interests that they were written at nearly the same time. If so, Galileo might have followed the traditional order of topics in which commentators began with logic and went on to cosmology and then to physics. This would date them all after 1597. Descartes similarly was to follow in Les meteores (1637) the order of topics discussed in Aristotle's Meteorologica and followed by commentators. There are many resemblances likewise both in terminology and in conception of science between the Disputationes and Galileo's other writings on natural philosophy, but in these another model also makes its appearance: that of mathematics. The sixteenth-century debate on mathematics had centred on the opposing conceptions of its relation to natural philosophy attributed to Plato and to Aristotle. Both sides claimed support from Proclus's commentary on the first book' of Euclid's geometry. Barozzi, in putting the Platonic view against the Aristotelian Piccolomini, argued that mathematics provided in itself the most powerful demonstrations, even if in subordinate sciences like astronomy and music they were not the most certain. Mathematics was necessary to natural philosophy because it was concerned with " mid dle essence" lying between the "sensible essence" of things and the purely "intelligible essence" of the divine. Hence both "in the order with respect to nature" and "in the order of learning and in terms
in Ricerche sulla cultura dell'Italia moderna, a cura di P. ZAMBELLI (Bari, 1973); L. OLIVIERI (a cura di), Aristotelismo veneto e scienza moderna (Padova, 1983); CROMBIE (1977) and CARUGO (1983) above n. 2; also n. 34.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

of utility Plato placed the mathematical not only prior to the natural but prior to all sciences " and to all arts 42. Clavius made the same point, again strongly influenced by Proclus, in his own influential commentary on Euclid. For "the mathematical disciplines deal with things without any sensible matter, but really they are immersed in matter". From their intermediate position " they demonstrate everything they undertake to dispute by the firmest reasons and confirm them so that they truly produce scientia in the mind of the hearer, and they utterly remove all doubt; something which we can scarcely ascribe to other sciences". Mathematics were thus an antidote to the Pyrrhonists, "philosophers who decided nothing but doubted about everything". He insisted that the "linear demonstrations" of geometry were not syllogisms, and that dialectical arguments (as in the Topics] were very different from mathematics: "For in a dialectical problem either one or the other part of a contradiction being undertaken is only probably confirmed, so that each man's intellect is in doubt which part of it is true; but in mathematics, whichever part a man chooses he will prove with firm demonstration, so that there is no doubt left at all" 43. Hence his argument that mathematics should be made an essential subject of study at the Collegio Romano, for "natural philosophy without the mathematical disciplines is lame and incomplete" 44. This was matched by the note written by Galileo in 1612 during his hydrostatical controversies that he "being used to study in the book of nature, where things are written in only one way, would not be able to dispute any problem ad utranque par tern or to maintain any conclusion not first believed or known to be true" (IV, 248). Likewise Mazzoni in his In universam Platonis et Aristotelis philosophiam praeludia (1597), the work about which Galileo had written to him in that year, maintained that mathematics was essential to all physical demonstrations. Once more he acknowledged Proclus. Mathematics was not concerned with the final cause, but demonstrated through the formal cause and in "mixed mathematics" which "include matter and motion" also through other appropriate causes: "something

FRANCISCUS BAROCIUS, Opusculum, "Questio de medietate mathematicarum" (Patavii,431560) ff. 38r-39v. CHRISTOPHORUS CLAVIUS, Eudidis Elementorum libri XV, Prolegomena (Romae, 1574) and I.I, f. 22; cf. N. W. GILBERT, Renaissance Concepts of Method (New York, 1960) 44 16, 90; above n. 4. CROMBIE (1977) 65, above n. 2; cf. A. P. FARRELL, The Jesuit Code of Liberal Education (Milwaukee, Wise., 1938); G. COSENTINO, "Le matematiche nella ' Ratio Studiorum' della Compagnia di Gesu", Miscellania storica Ligure, II (1970) 171-213, "L'insegnamento delle matematiche nei collegi Gesuiti nelTItalia settentrionale", Physis, XIII (1971) 205-17.

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19 7

shown clearly in Archimedes's little book De insidentibus, in which that most acute man very often completes his demonstrations by means of an active cause such as through the impulsive power which is in a liquid or in some other heavy body" (lib. XV, pp. 159-60)45. Then: "The question is whether the use of mathematics in physical science, as an instrument of proof (ratio probandi) and a middle term of demonstration, is opportune or not". He replied that "Plato believed mathematics to be especially fitted for physical investigations" and he proposed to defend Plato, and to show that "Aristotle has run on to the rocks", because just "where good sense showed that mathematical demonstrations should be used... he wrongly rejected mathematics". By postulating geometrical bodies prior to the four elements, and therewith accounting both for physical change and for the production in us of the different sensible qualities, Plato had made "not an error into which his love of mathematics drove him" but "a stroke of the greatest genius". But "Aristotle, from failure to apply mathematical demonstrations in the proper places, has widely departed from the true method of philosophizing (vera philosophandi ratio)" (XVIII, 188-90). Both were mistaken in separating theory from practice, for "theoria and praxis do not divide philosophy into two generically different parts, but everything theoretical also has either as a side-effect or as its fruit something practical" (XXIII, 231). Thus in natural philosophy and mathematics "all theories have their praxis, and conversely praxis their theories" (p. 233 bis). But there was a difference of purpose between theoretical reasoning "for the sake of truth" that aimed to show the "essence" of particular existing things, and reasoning that aimed to "make truth a means" to some practical end, as "when a mathematician is concerned with mechanics". A good example to show that in both cases "experience not only precedes the grasp of universals, but also follows it" was astronomy (XXIV, 245-6). He took up the Copernican debate here in the context of a rejection of Pyrrhonic and other sceptical "doubts against the investigation of truth" (VII, 72), concluding with the argument against the Pythagorean opinion of Copernicus (X, 129-34) about which Galileo was to write. Each in his own way, Mazzoni as Galileo later, was trying to establish criteria for science that would embrace alike the particular sciences of the diverse phenomena perceived by the senses and the "perfect science in an absolute sense, which understands by eternal reasons". For the former kind of science
Cf. A. KOYRE, "Galileo and Plato", Journal of the History of Ideas, IV (1943) 420-1; CROMBIE (1969) above n. 2; F. PURNELL JR., "Jacopo Mazzoni and Galileo", Physis, XIV (1972) 273-94; GALLUZZI (1973) above n. 41; JARDINE (1976) above n. 38; also nn. 4, 21.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

Aristotle provided for Mazzoni the best criteria, for the latter Plato, who showed how reason could ascend "to the principles and causes of things" (XVI, 175-6). This was a suitable distribution of favours by the incumbent of the chair at Pisa in both Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy which Mazzoni held from 1588 to 1597. Galileo met him, a friend both of Vincenzo Galilei and of Guidobaldo del Monte, on his return to Pisa as mathematical lecturer in 1589. In writing to his father in 1590 about some volumes of Galen and "la Sfera" which he was expecting, he added that he was "studying and having lessons with Signer Mazzoni", an association evidently pleasing also to Guidobaldo del Monte and to Mazzoni himself (X, 44-7, 55, XIX, 34-41, 627). In his letter to Mazzoni of 1597 Galileo wrote from Padua with warm appreciation of the many kindnesses he had received at Pisa from his old mentor, colleague and friend and of the "universal learning" shown by his book. He continued that he was greatly satisfied and consoled to see Mazzoni, "in some of the questions which in the first years of our friendship we used to dispute together with such delight, incline to the side that had seemed true to me and the opposite to you". Perhaps this had been "to give scope to the arguments", or to save "intact in every detail, the genuineness of the learning of so great a Master, under whose discipline it seems that all who dedicate themselves to search for the truth do and must gather together" (II, 197-8). The Master must have been either Aristotle or Plato, but for Mazzoni surely Plato. The model used in their different ways by Clavius and Mazzoni, and perhaps following these two preceptors also by Galileo, was the account given by Proclus of the relation of mathematics at once to existence and to human understanding and practice, in his In primum Euclidis Elementorum librum Commentariorum ad universam mathematicam disciplinam principium eruditionis tradentium libri IV (1560)46. Proclus gave to the Platonic scheme of existence set out in the Republic the Aristotelian logical structure of the Posterior Analytics. Mathematical existence, in its intermediate position between the highest simple realities grasped only by intellectual intuition and the complex extended objects of the senses, was explored by discursive reasoning. Mathematical knowledge then could lead both upwards to the apprehension of the absolutely intelligible principles of all existence, and downwards into the investigation of the detailed construction of the material
46 Latin translation by Barozzi (Padua, 1560); quotations below are with slight modifications from the English translation by G. R. MORROW (Princeton, 1970): the suggestion that Galileo used Proclus was made by JARDINE (1976) 317, above n. 38; cf. also n. 14, and CROMBIE, Stvles... above n. 16.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


universe and the operations of the practical arts. Going upwards it discovered its own primary principles, and its common axioms as that of equality and common methods as "the method of proceeding from things better known to things we seek to know and the reverse path from the latter to the former, the methods called analysis and synthesis" (Prologue, I. 3). Always "it is the higher sciences that provide the first hypotheses for the demonstrations of the sciences below them" (I. 4). Mathematics "takes its principles from the highest science and, holding them without demonstration, demonstrates their consequences" (I. 10). Mathematical knowledge was generated in its intermediary position by the internal activity of the understanding, but it was at the same time stimulated by and projected downwards upon the objects of the senses. Reaching by its dialectical power both upwards and downwards, the understanding thus replicated with a cosmos of ideas the complex cosmos of existence: "All mathematical are thus present in the soul from the first... This then is a second world-order which produces itself and is produced from its native principles...; and when it projects its ideas, it reveals all the sciences and the virtues" (I. 6). The function of mathematics was "discursive thinking", and in this differed both from pure intellectual intuition and from "opinion and perception, for these forms of knowing fix their attention on external things and concern themselves with objects whose causes they do not possess. By contrast mathematics, though beginning with reminders from the outside world, ends with the ideas that it has within; it is awakened to activity by lower realities, but its destination is the higher being of forms". Thus "it unfolds and traverses the immaterial cosmos of ideas, now moving from principles to conclusions, now proceeding in the opposite direction, now advancing from what it already knows to what it seeks to know, and again referring its results back to the principles that are prior in knowledge". Hence "it advances through inquiry to discovery", working in two ways, sometimes exploring into diverse particulars and speculations, at others assembling these diverse results for reference "back to their native hypotheses... The range of this thinking extends from on high all the way down to conclusions in the sensible world, where it touches on nature and cooperates with natural science, in establishing many of its propositions, just as it rises up from below and nearly joins the intuitive intellect in apprehending primary principles. In its lowest applications therefore it projects all of mechanics as well as optics and catoptrics and many other sciences bound up with sensible things and operative in them. While as it moves upwards it attains unitary and immaterial insights that enable it to perfect its partial judgements" (I. 7). Mathematics then "makes contributions of the very greatest value to


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

natural sciences. It reveals the orderliness of the ratios according to which the universe is constructed and the proportion that binds things together in the cosmos... All these I believe the Timaeus sets forth, using mathematical language throughout in expounding its theory of the nature of the universe. It regulates by numbers and figures the generation of the elements, showing how their powers, characteristics and activities are derived therefrom and tracing the causes of all change back to the acuteness or obtuseness of their angles, the uniformity or diversity of their sides, and the number or fewness of the elements involved". Likewise "as Socrates says in the Philebus, all the arts require the aid of counting, measuring and weighing, of one or all of them; and these arts are all included in mathematical reasonings and are made definite by them" (I. 8). Mathematics thus projected upon sensible and imaginable things "its demonstrations about them existing previously in the understanding" (II. 1). Geometry "makes use of synthesis and analysis, always starting from hypotheses and principles that it obtains from the science above it". Then it uses "demonstrations and analysis in dealing with the consequences that follow from the principles, in order to show the more complex matters both as proceeding from the simpler and also conversely as leading back to them" (II. 2). At a certain "level of mental exploration it examines nature, that is, the species of elementary perceptible bodies and the powers associated with them, and explains how their causes are contained in advance in its own ideas". Then "when it touches on the material world it delivers out of itself a variety of sciences, such as geodesy, mechanics and optics, by which it benefits the life of mortals" (II. 3). Geometry like all mathematics in its intermediate position was based on hypothesis: "For no science demonstrates its own principles or presents a reason for them; rather each holds them as self-evident, that is, as more evident than their consequences... This is the way the natural scientist proceeds, positing the existence of motion and producing his ideas from a definite principle. The same is true of the physician and of the expert in any other science or art" (II. 8). Principles had to be clearly distinguished from their consequences. He went on to describe methods discussed by Plato, Aristotle and Euclid common in logical form to both mathematics and natural science. The "best is the method of analysis, which traces the desired result back to an acknowledged principle... A second is the method of division, which divides into its natural parts the genus proposed for examination and which affords a starting-point for demonstration by eliminating the parts irrelevant for the establishment of what is proposed". These were both used by Plato. "A third is the reduction

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


to impossibility, which does not directly show the thing itself that is wanted but, by refuting its contradictory, indirectly establishes its truth... Reduction is a transition from a problem or a theorem to another which, if known or constructed, will make the original proposition evident" (Propositions, I. 1). His example was the reduction of the problem of doubling the cube to that of finding two mean proportionals. In the third method he explained: "Every reduction to impossibility takes the contradictory of what it intends to prove and from this as a hypothesis proceeds until it encounters something admitted to be absurd and, by thus destroying its hypothesis, confirms the proposition it set out to establish" (I. 5). This corresponds logically in natural science to a form of experimental falsification within a defined number of possible hypotheses. Galileo combined in De motu gravium mathematical with syllogistic arguments in his analytical search for true relations of cause and effect. The writings, for which following E. Alberi we use this title, are collected in Ms. Galileiano 71. They were first published in part by Alberi in 1854 in his edition of Galileo's Opere, and later in full with the title De motu by Favaro in the first volume of the Edizione Nazionale (1890). Galileo appears in De motu gravium deeply preoccupied with the issues that dominated his scientific life: the proper methods of inquiry and demonstration in natural philosophy, and the discovery with them of the true constitution of the universe. His style of argument came from the twin models of the postulational method of Archimedes and the Aristotelian syllogistic structure leading to either the confirmation or the falsification of the premises by confronting their conclusions with experientia or ratio. This term meant both, reasoning and accepted theory. Terminology in this mixture got some changed applications. Thus he wrote: The method (methodus) that we shall observe in this treatise will be such that what ought to be said always follows from what has been said; nor shall I ever (if I may) assume as true what ought to be demonstrated. This is the method which my mathematicians have taught me: but it is not adequately observed by certain philosophers..." (I, 285). Notable among these was Aristotle in his physics, "because he assumed as known axioms what are not only not clear to sense, but neither ever demonstrated nor even demonstrable, since they are absolutely false" (I, 277-8). But Galileo habitually put his argument in the form of a hypothetical syllogism, usually to refute some opposing opinion by leading it to a reductio ad contradictionem, ad impossibile, or ad absurdum47. His own characteCf. A. C. CROMBIE, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science (Oxford, 1953, 1971), and (1975a) above n. 2; LESHER (1973) above n. 27; quotations


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ristic style appears in the use and content of ratio and its relation to experentia. Aristotle, he wrote, had kept too close to superficial experience, but he himself would "always use reasons more than examples (for we search for the causes of the effects, which are not given in experience)" (I, 263). Essential to the ratio of physics was mathematics, and he repeated the criticism that "Aristotle was not very well versed in geometry" (I, 302). An illustration was the demonstration of the falsity of one of his relevant conclusions by "the divine Archimedes" (I, 303). At the same time true ratio must be based on true experientia, but the relation between them was subtle. Sometimes plausible but false opinions gained currency because no one bothered to scrutinize them, as the "common opinion" that things appeared larger under water. When he "could not discover a cause for such an effect, at length turning to experience" he found that there was no such effect, at all with things seen simply under water, but only with things seen through the curved sides of a glass vessel containing water (I, 314). Sometimes our situation was the converse, as he wrote later of odours given off by fruit and flowers. For "we never can observe those odoriferous atoms", whether evaporating or condensing, but "when sensible observation is wanting, argument (discorso) must take its place, by whose help we shall be sufficiently able to apprehend the motion to the rarefaction and resolution of solids, as well as that to the condensation of the finest and most rare substances" (VIII, 105). But it was not always easy to discover the nature of things. So he concluded of the continuing motion of projectiles that such "a movable body moving with other than natural motion is moved by a power impressed (virtus impressa) on it by a mover. But what that power is, is hidden from our knowledge". A deleted addition continued: "And in the same way what power it is that makes strings resound is also hidden from our knowledge" (I, 374). De motu gravium was an essay in physical cosmology. Archimedes supplied Galileo with a new model not only for scientific method, but also for the primary physical problem with which he was concerned, the disposition and motions of the four elements in relation to the central Earth. From this model much else for physics followed. Galileo agreed with Plato in the Timaeus that the disposition and motions of the elements were the result of their relative gravities. He then introduced Archimedes in order to reduce the cosmological order of the elements to a problem of hydrostatics on the model of bodies floating
here are with slight modifications from the English translation by I. E. DRABKIN in GALILEO GALILEI, On Motion and On Mechanics, by DRABKIN and S. DRAKE (Madison, Wise., 1960).

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


or sinking in water. Thus he transformed Aristotle's teleological arrangement of the universe into the resultant of mechanical forces. He dismissed lightness as a separate property contrary to heaviness; it was simply relative to the heaviness of the medium. Thus the syllogism: "The cause of a positive effect must be positive: therefore the cause of motion cannot be lightness (levitas), which is a negative quality (privatio). It remains therefore that it is heaviness (gravitas); even things that are moved upwards, are moved by heaviness" (I, 416, cf. 362n). Likewise for all "alterative motions" or changes in quality: for "that alterative motion (motus alterativus), when the movable body is moved from lightness to heaviness, is a single and continuous motion. As when water becomes per accidens cold from hot it is moved with a single motion towards coldness, and the motion from hot to warm is no different from the motion from warm to cold", so too when a body moved from being light through neither heavy nor light to heavy. "So far then are these motions from being contraries that they are actually only one, continuous and coterminous. Hence also the effects that flow from these causes should not truly be called contraries, since contrary effects depend on contrary causes" (I, 322-3; cf. I, 159). In this way Galileo came to reject the whole Greek doctrine of pairs of contrary properties, and to replace it by a single linear quantitative scale by which gravity and temperature and so on could be measured and measuring instruments devised. Despite the ambiguity behind Viviani's particular claim that Galileo "discovered thermometers (termometri)" (XIX, 607), there can be no doubt about the effects of this radical conceptual change in the very possibility of quantification upon the fundamental theory and practice of all natural science48. Why then did "provident nature (prudens natura)" distribute the positions of bodies in the order found? It was not sufficient to say that "it pleased Highest Providence" to give them "the capacity to move to some particular place": light bodies upwards, heavy downwards. For "granted that heavy bodies move towards the centre because they move towards the Earth, our next question is: why was the Earth placed at the centre, and not in the place of (say) fire?" He found it "impossible to believe that nature was not constrained by necessity, or at least from expediency, to make this kind of distribution,
Cf. Tractatus de dementis (I, 157-60) and VIII, 634-5, XI, 350, 506, 545, XII, 139-40, 157-8, 167-8, XV, 12-15, XVII, 377-8; J. P. ANTON, Aristotle's Theory of Contrareity (London, 1957); G. E. R. LLOYD, Polarity and Analogy: Two types of argumentation in early Greek thought (Cambridge, 1966); F. SOLMSEN, Aristotle's System of the Physical World: A companion to his predecessors (Ithaca, N.Y., 1960); F. S. TAYLOR, "The origin of the thermometer", Annals of Science, V (1942) 129-56; W. K. MIDDLETON, A History of the Thermometer (Baltimore, Md., 1966); below nn. 59, 62.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

but merely did as she fancied and as chance would have it". He racked his brains "to think of some expedient and suitable, if not necessary, cause: and indeed I discovered that it was not without the best of reasons that nature had chosen this order. For since there is a single matter for all bodies, and those bodies are heavier that enclose more particles of that matter in a narrower space, it was certainly rational that those bodies that contained more matter in a narrower space should also occupy the narrower places such as those that are nearer the centre" (I, 344-5, cf. 252-3). Thus, as suggested perhaps by the Timaeus and the atomists, he reduced relative gravity to the relative condensation and rarefaction of matter. "In accordance with reason, therefore, we shall say that motion towards the centre is natural, and motion away from the centre unnatural": the intrinsic cause of all motion was weight, and at the centre bodies came to rest (I, 352-4). Archimedes and "the ancients" (I, 359), which in the scholastic tradition meant the Greek atomists and Plato in contrast to Aristotle, thus taught Galileo how he might reduce the whole physical world to a coherent uniform system of mechanics. Archimedes taught him also the analytical device of reducing physical problems to their mathematical essence by idealized abstractions from which all material accidents such as friction and irregular shape had been eliminated, and in which unimportant departures from strict physical truth were ignored. GaKleo followed his example with skill in his analysis in De motu gravium of motion on an inclined plane. He argued that "a movable body having no external resistance on a plane inclined no matter how little below the horizon will descend naturally, without the application of any external force", whereas on "a plane inclined upwards, no matter how little" it "does not ascend except by force". Hence "on the horizontal plane itself the body is moved neither naturally nor violently" and so "can be made to move by the smallest force of all". In demonstrating this he used an argument from the balance for which he assumed "as true what is false: namely, that weights suspended from a balance make right angles with the balance, when really the weights tending to the centre converge". Covering himself "with the protecting wings of the superhuman Archimedes" who had made the same assumption, he commented that Archimedes "did so perhaps to show that he was so far ahead of others that he could draw true conclusions even from false assumptions". We must not suppose that his conclusion was false, for he had proved it by another demonstration. Hence we must say either that the suspended weights do make right angles "or else that it is of no importance that they make right angles" but enough that the angles are simply equal. The latter seemed sounder, unless we wanted to call it "geometrical licence" as when

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


Archimedes assumed that surfaces had weight. That was not the end of the problem of relating mathematics to matter. For "our demonstrations must be understood of movable bodies free from all external resistance. But since perhaps it is impossible to find these bodies in matter, someone making a trial on them (de his periculum faciens) should not be surprised if the experiment fails (si experientia frustretur] and a large sphere, even though it is on a horizontal plane, cannot be moved with a minimal force". Further, there was in addition the fact that "a plane cannot actually be parallel to the horizon. For the surface of the Earth is spherical, and a plane cannot be parallel to this". Since "the plane touches the sphere at only one point (piano in uno tantum puncto sphaeram contingente], if we move away from .such a point, we must be moving up", and so it would be impossible to move the sphere "with an arbitrarily minimal force" (I, 299-301, cf. 296-9, 340, 407-8, VII, 52, VIII, 190, 197, 202-3)49. If Archimedes supplied the mathematical method, De motu gravium remained in much of its physical theory and methods of argument, and in its metaphysical expectations, fundamentally Aristotelian. Galileo based its dynamics on the Aristotelian principle that motion like any positive effect required an adequate cause, hence a continuing velocity required a continuing motive power and a change in velocity a change in effective power. He retained the distinction between natural and unnatural motion. In searching for the changing effective power bringing about the acceleration of falling bodies, he wrote that "we shall use this resolutive method (resolutiva methodo) to track down what we believe to be the true cause of this effect" (I, 318). His resolution was nonmathetaatical, and was in fact based on Pereira's De communibus... as we show below (I, 318-20). Most characteristic in its resemblance to the Disputationes was his search for necessary causes and demonstrations. These were essential likewise to any practical science of mechanics. "Before I descend to the speculation of mechanique instruments," he wrote in the version of Le mecaniche published by Favaro, " I have thought it very fitt to consider in generall the commodityes that are drawen from them. The rather, because (if I deceive not my self) I
49 Cf. on this question N. KOERTGE, "Galileo and the problem of accidents", Journal of the History of Ideas, XXXVIII (1977) 389-408; also Vocabulario degli Accademici della Crusca (Venezia, 1612): "Cimentare, cimento, vedi Esperimentare, Esperimento" (p. 182); "Tentare. Far prouva, cimentare. Lat. tentare, experiri, periculum facere" (p. 881). These terms were common synonyms and were used by Galileo as such, without distinguishing active testing from passive observation, despite C. B. SCHMITT, "Experience and experiment: a comparison of Zabarella's view with Galileo's in De motu", Studies in the Renaissance, XVI (1969) 114 sqq.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

have scene all enginiers deceiv'd, while they would apply their engines to works of their owne nature impossible; in the success of which both they themselves have bene deceiv'd, and others also defrauded of the hopes they had conceiv'd upon their promeses...; as if, with their engines they could cosen nature (ingannando... la natura], whose inviolable lawe it is, that noe resistence can be overcome by force which is not stronger than it. Which belief how false it is, I hope by true and necessary demonstration to make most manifest" (II, 155, cf. 156, 158, 179-80)50. Citing in this treatise not only Archimedes and the Aristotelian Mechanica but also Pappus's Mathematicae collectiones, he stressed the generality of mechanical principles. Thus he wrote of the effects of percussion, as with a hammer: "the cause of which, though it be in nature somewhat obscure and hard to be unfolded", he would try to make "clere and sensible, shewing at last the beginning and original (// principle ed origine] of this effect to be deriv'd from no other fountaine than that from whence flow the causes of other mechanicall effects". Force, resistance, space and velocity "goe alternately following such a proportion and answering such a law (leggeY as they followed in every mechanical operation; "and this is according to the necessary constitution of nature (la necessaria constituzione delta naturaY "Arguing by the converse,... if it were otherwise, it were not only absurd, but impossible". So "all wonder ceases in us of that effect, which goes not a poynt out of the bounds of nature's constitution" (II, 188-9). Again in his Discorso intorno alle cose che stanno in sull'acqua (1612) Galileo continued to use the terminology of the Disputationes to point to the same scientific objectives. As in De motu gravium he combined Aristotelian with Archimedean models both in form of argument and in physical concepts, and he tried to reduce general questions of the constitution of matter and the universe to specific problems soluble by natural science. This work was his first published contribution to experimental physics. If he contradicted so great a man as Aristotle, he wrote, this was not by caprice or because he had not read and understood him, "but because reasons persuaded him to it, and Aristotle himself had taught him to quieten the intellect (quietar I'intelletto] by what has convinced me by reason, and not only by the authority of the master" (IV, 65). His first aim then was "to introduce true demonstrations" from "the true, intrinsic and total cause" (IV, 67, cf. 79). His method of identifying the true cause was "to remove, in making the experiment (I'esperienza], all the other
English translation by ROBERT PAYNE (1636): transcribed by A. CARUGO from British Library Ms. Harley 6976, ff. 317r, 329v-30r; cf. below nn. 57, 58.

The Jesuits and Galileo 3s Ideas of Science and Nature


causes that can produce this same effect" (IV, 19), leaving only this one. For the "cause is that which, when present, the effect follows and, when removed, the effect is removed" (IV, 27, cf. 22). The quantitative relation between an adequate cause and its effect had been well defined by Luca Valeric in commenting to Galileo in 1609 on "principles of a middle science". A "geometrical intellect with some light, either natural or acquired, from metaphysics" would, he wrote, understand "that when the power of the efficient cause is multiplied it is necessary that the quantity of the effect should be multiplied according to the same multiplication, deducting from it every kind of impediment". For "we measure the quantity of the cause with the quantity of the effect" (X, 248, cf. 245)51. Archimedes had demonstrated that floating or sinking depended on the excess in gravity of the water or of the body relative to each other. Galileo continued: "By a different method and by other means I shall manage to prove the same, by reducing the causes of such effects to more intrinsic and immediate principles... And since this is required by the demonstrative progress (la progressione dimostrativa\ I shall define some terms and then explain some propositions which I could use, as true and known things, for my purposes" (IV, 67). True scientific demonstration depended then for Galileo upon a conception of laws both of logical reasoning and of nature discovered in existence and confirmed by all experience. This done, as he put it in the Dispufationes, "we come to rest in knowledge of the conclusion,... because of knowledge of the principles" (Ms. Galileiano 27, f. 23r); for, as he repeated in the Discorso (1616) on the tides, "bringing to rest the mind of those who desire, in theorizing (nelle contemplezioni] about nature, to penetrate beneath the skin... is reached only when the reason produced as the true cause of the effect easily and openly satisfies all the particular symptoms and properties (sintomi ed accidenti) that are seen distinctly connected with this effect" (V, 377). During this period 1610-1616 of many disputes over the telescope, floating bodies, the sunspots and the Copernican system, through which he articulated his campaign at once for a new physics and cosmology and for a new conception of natural science, Galileo wrote often on the proper methods of science and the point at which they could bring the mind naturally or by force of available possibilities to rest. He
Galileo (IV, 52) cited Francesco Bonamico for the rule of presence and absence, which had been stated in much the same words by William of Ockham: cf. E. CASSIRER, "Some remarks on the question of the originality of the Renaissance", Journal of the History of Ideas, IV (1943) 49-56; also for Galileo's use of this rule and the rule of concomitant variations CROMBIE, Robert Grosseteste (1953, 1971); KOERTGE (1977) above n. 49; WISAN (1978) above n. 20; and for the Topics etc. below.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

developed in print during those years all the main characteristics of his natural philosophy: his insistence that the object of natural science was the one true world existing to be discovered; his methods of exploring and demonstrating that one true world; and what kind of world he expected to find and with what degree of certainty. In fact he used a variety of methods of scientific argument and exploration adapted to different kinds of problems and subject-matters, and related to a variety of scientific and philosophical sources and models. His exploration might be primarily theoretical or primarily experimental according to the simplicity or complexity of the subject-matter and its problems. What he claimed to have been able to demonstrate truly and with certainty might depend again on the subject-matter, on his scientific experience in using different philosophical models, and also on his personal circumstances at different periods of his life. Winifred Wisan in her reexamination of "Galileo's scientific method" (1976) has rightly emphasized the effect on his presentation of his scientific conclusions of the prohibition in 1616 that forbad him to teach or write anything more in defence of the Copernican system. The form of Galileo's scientific argument with problems involving simple variables was postulation or argument ex suppositione on the model of Euclid and above all Archimedes. It was Archimedes who provided the ideal, as in his reduction by purely theoretical analysis of the possible postulates that could yield the phenomena of the balance or lever to an unique set certified by self-evidence or sufficient reason. Thus he could give a complete account of an experimental phenomenon without the need for any experiments. Galileo explicitly followed this model in describing his discovery of his definition or law of acceleration of falling bodies in the Discorsi (1638; VIII, 197, 205-8); and in his letters of 1637 to Pierre Carcavy (XVII, 90-1) and of 1639 to G. B. Baliani (XVIII, 12-13, 78). He postulated ex suppositione a definition without asserting its existence in nature, and demonstrated therefrom the "many properties of such a motion". The subject-matter did not allow him like Archimedes to reduce the possible definitions by a purely theoretical analysis to the one actually true in nature, but "if experiment showed that such properties happened to be verified in the motion of naturally falling heavy bodies, we could assert without error that this is the same motion that was defined and supposed by me" (XVII, 90). His experiments in this kind of situation, here with the inclined plane, were made then to test whether his postulated theoretical world was the one actual world. They amounted to "very little less than a very necessary demonstration" (VIII, 205). Again in using the pendulum as an instrument of analysis he began with "a postulate, the absolute truth of which we shall hereafter find established by seeing

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


other conclusions built upon this hypothesis, to correspond to and most exactly to agree with the experiment" (208) 52 . He saw the arguments developed ex suppositione by Ptolemy and by Copernicus for the much more complex motions of astronomy as likewise aiming to demonstrate, as he wrote in 1612, the one "true constitution of the universe" which "could not possibly be otherwise" (V, 102, 351, 357-61, VII, 148-50, 470, XII, 171-2). This was a truly Aristotelian vision of a completed science. A passage from Galileo's hydrostatical controversy specifies a change of model from the Aristotelian to the mathematical conception of analysis and synthesis, or resolution and composition. It also harks back to the Disputationes. The main question in dispute concerning scientific method was the efficacy of mathematics in physics, and hence of Archimedes against Aristotle. A passage in Galileo's hand published in 1615 in a work under Benedetto Castelli's name contrasts the proper method of argument in formulating problems for scientific decision with the circular syllogisms used by their opponents. They "commit the gravest mistakes" because "using mainly, but not well, the resolutive method (// metodo resolutivo] (which, if well used, is the best method of discovery), they take the conclusion as true and instead of going on deducing from it this and then that and then that other consequence, until they come across one that is manifest either by itself of because it has been demonstrated, from which then the intended conclusion is reached by the compositive method (il metodo compositivo}; instead, I say, of making good use of such a progression, they form with their imagination a proposition that squares immediately with the conclusion they intend to prove, and without falling back even a single step, they take it as true, though as false or equally doubtful as the conclusion, and immediately they construct on it a syllogism, which leaves us without any gain in our original uncertainty" (IV, 521, cf. 13-15). This account of resolution and composition corresponds to that given by Pappus in the Mathematicae collectiones (VII, praefatio 1-3) of the two kinds of analysis used by the Greek geometers, and more briefly by Proclus as analysis and synthesis 53.
52 53

Cf. on this WISAN (1974) 124 and (1978) 42, above n. 20. PAPPUS ALEXANDRINUS, Matbematicae collectiones a Federico Commandino in Latinum conversae... (Pisauri, 1588); cf. T. L. HEATH, History of Greek Mathematics, II (Oxford, 1921) 400-1. Pappus and Proclus were both known in manuscript to GIORGIO VALLA, De expetendis et fugiendis rebus opus, X.I (Venezia, 1501); Pappus was cited by GUIDOBALDO DEL MONTE, Mechanicorum liber, Praefatio (Pisauri, 1577); cf. A. P. TREWEEK, "Pappus of Alexandria: the manuscript tradition of the Collectio mathematical, Scriptorium, XI (1957) 195-233; GILBERT (1960) above n. 43; JARDINE (1976) above n. 38; WISAN (1978) above n. 20; also n. 46. For another historical ac-


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

Galileo elaborated his account in the Dido go (1632) to embrace both mathematics and physics. He believed that the method by which Aristotle himself had expounded his physical doctrine was not that "by which hee investigated, for I hould for certaine that hee first of all procured, by way of senses, of experiments and observations, to assure himselfe as much as might be of the conclusion, and that afterwards he sought the meanes to demonstrate it; for that is for the most part the use in demonstrative sciences; and this comes to passe because when the conclusion is true, if we make use of a resolutive method, we easily encounter some proposition that hath alreadie beene demonstrated, or we arrive to some principle which is of itselfe knowne (prindpio per se notoY (VII, 75). Of some principles "humane understanding... hath so absolute a certaintie as nature herself e hath, and such are pure mathematical sciences... I beleeve that this knowledge equalls the divine knowledge in the objective certaintie, seeing it arrives so farre as to comprehend the necessitie, above which I cannot see that there is greater certaintie" (VII, 129)54. Physical principles were less certain. He regretted that the great magnetical experimenter William Gilbert's lack of mathematics and especially of geometry had made him so rash "in accepting of those reasons for the concluding demonstrations which hee produceth for the true causes of the true conclusions by him observed". But a well conducted experimental investigation on which to base a conclusive scientific argument could "make it little lesse to mee than a mathematical demonstration". He went on to bring the resolutive method into the experimental argument: "In searching the reasons of the conclusions unknown to us, wee must have the fortune from the beginning to direct our discourse towards the way of truth by which when a man walkes, it easily falls out that hee meets now
count following CASSIRER (above n. 39) and its critics cf. J. H. RANDALL, "The development of scientific method in the school of Padua", Journal of the History of Ideas, I (1940) 177-206, The Career in Philosophy, I (New York, 1962) 256-360 and "Paduan Aristotelianism reconsidered" in Philosophy and Humanism: Renaissance essays in honor of Paul Oskar Kristeller, ed E. P. MAHONEY (Leiden, 1976); CROMBIE (1953, 1971) above n. 47; N. W. GILBERT, "Galileo and the school of Padua", Journal of the History of Philosophy, I (1963) 223-31; W. F. EDWARDS, "Randall on the development of scientific method in the School of Padua - - a continuing reappraisal" in Naturalism and Historical Understanding: Essays in the Philosophy of John Hermann Randall jr., ed. J. P. ANTON (Albany, N.Y., 1967), "Niccolo Leoniceno and the origins of humanist discussion of method" in Philosophy and Humanism, ed. MAHONEY (1976); H. SKULSKY, "Paduan epistemology and the doctrine of the one mind", Journal of the History of Philosophy, VI (1968) 341-61; C. B. SCHMITT (1969) above n. 49 and A Critical Survey and Bibliography of Studies on Renaissance Aristotelianism 1958-1969 (Padova, 1971) 38-46. 54 English translation by Joseph Webbe, British Library Ms. Harley 6320 (c. 1634): quoted here and below.

The Jesuits and Galileo}s Ideas of Science and Nature


with some, and then with other propositions knowne for true, either by discourse or by experience, from the certaintie whereof the truth of ours getts force and evidence" (VII, 432, 434-5). Castelli in writing to Galileo in 1637 described an experimental analysis of a problem concerning the absorption of heat from the Sun's rays as "ordering all the reasoning first by the resolutive method and then by the compositive" (XVII, 160). Galileo's form of scientific argument with more complex subjectmatters was a combination of experimentally controlled postulation with more immediate experimental and observational exploration. He conducted his experimental analysis of the causes of effects according to the "laws of logic" (leggi logicali) or "physical logic" (logica naturale) (VI. 252, 333), which were the scholastic rules of inference: presence and absence, and concomitant variations. The last was specified by Aristotle in the Topics as a rule for the predication of properties by which to "argue from greater or lesser degrees... See whether a greater degree of the predicate follows a greater degree of the subject... Now... if an increase of the property follows an increase of the subject,... clearly the property belongs; while if it does not follow, the property does not belong. You should establish this by induction" (Topics, II. 10, 114b37-115a6, cf. IV. 6, 127bl8-25, VI. 7, 145b33-6a36; FRANCIS BACON, Novum organum, II. 13). These were the logical rules that Galileo stated for his inquiries into hydrostatics and sunspots, into comets in II Saggiatore (VI, 339-40, q. 45), and into the connection between the motions of the tides and of the Earth in the Dialogo: "I say therefore, that if it be true that of one effect one only is the primarie cause and that betweene the cause and the effect there is a firme and constant connection, it is necessarie that whensoever there is a firme and constant alteration in the effect, there is a firme and constant alteration in the cause". Then since annually and monthly the tides "have their firme and constant periods, wee must of force say that there falleth out a regular alteration in the same times in the primary cause of the fluxes and refluxes". Demonstrating this with his model of water moving in a vessel, he argued that the motion observed was "a compounded motion resulting from the coupling together of the two proper motions whereof the diurnall whirling with its now adding to, and then drawing from the annuall moving, is that which produceth the difformitie in compounded motion". Similarly to account for the regular seasonal variations in the tides "(if we will retayne the identitie of the cause) we must finde out alterations in these additaments and subtractions which make them more or less powerful! in producing these effects which have dependance on them" (VII, 471-2).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

The Aristotelian rules of inference used the criterion of range of confirmation to establish that a given property belonged to a given subject. Galileo extended the quantification of the argument "from greater or lesser degrees" from the example of mathematics and the practical mathematical arts. These rational arts, of perspective painting and measured music but above all of mechanics and engineering, provided a distinctive intellectual model for Galileo's experimental investigations no less important than those taken from his other sources. The rational arts offered a distinctive method of analysis by means of artificial models imitating the processes of nature. Thus the Venetian Daniele Barbaro wrote in his well known commentary on Vitruvius (1556) that "the architect must think out very well and, in order to make more certain of the success of the works, will proceed first with the design and the model... Yet he will not search for impossible things, either as to the matter or as to the form, which neither he nor others can accomplish. Whence art, observer of nature, wanting also to make something, takes the matter of nature put into existence with sensible and natural form... and forms that matter with that idea and with that sign which is reposing in the mind of the artist" 55. The engineer Giuseppe Ceredi of Piacenza, inspired at once by Greek mathematical thinking and by the example of "nature itself, as if become mechanical in the construction of the world", offered in 1567 as a method of antecedent analysis in designing any desired result the construction of "models (modelli}, adding, changing and removing many things" as required. In this way he could bring together conveniently the many observations needed to bring about "some new and important effect", recognize errors by experience and correct them by reason, and so direct the whole enterprise "to the stable production of the effect that is expected" 56. Again Guidoba'ldo del Monte, taking up ideas from the influential Aristotelian Mechantca in a paraphrase of Archimedes published in 1588, wrote that "if art overcomes nature by imitating her so that those things which are done by art happen contrary to nature", that was possible because "art with wonderful skill overcomes nature through nature herself, by so arranging things as nature herself would do if she decided that such effects should be produced by herself" 57. Galileo was to write likewise in Le mecaniche, and in
DANIELE BARBARO, 7 died libri dell'Architettura di M. Vitruvio, tradotti e commentati... 1.3 (Vinegia, 1556) 26; cf. V. P. ZOUBOV, "Vitruve et ses commentateurs du XVIe56siecle" in La science au XVIe siecle: Colloque de Royaumont 1957 (Paris, 1960). GIUSEPPE CEREDI, Tre discorsi sopra il modo d'alzar acque da' luoghi bassi (Parma, 1567) 5-7; cf. CROMBIE (1982) and Styles... above n. 16. 57 GUIDOBALDUS E MARCHio MONTIS, In duos Archimedis Aequeponderantium libros paraphrases scholiis illustrata, Praefatio (Pisauri, 1588) 2; cf. the Aristotelian Me55

The Jesuits and Galileo }s Ideas of Science and Nature


criticizing "the model of a machine" proposed by an engineer, that "already a long time ago I had found, and confirmed by many many experiences, the concept that nature could not be overcome and cheated (defraudata) by art" (VIII, 572)58. Galileo's writings on natural philosophy were all disputations in which he combined his scholastic and mathematical methods to argue for or against the various positions or hypotheses being proposed. His method of argument was to eliminate rival proposals by means of these rules of inference, and then to try to demonstrate the truth of his own favoured proposal by showing that it alone was confirmed by agreement with the whole range of the known phenomena. Thus he wrote in his Second Letter on the Sunspots (1612) of two rival suppositions, that the spots were either small circling stars or actually on the solar body, "this second, it seems to me, is true, and the other false; just as any other supposition (posizione] whatsoever that might be assumed will be found false and impossible, as I shall try to demonstrate by means of obvious disagreements and contradictions. All the appearances agree concordantly with the hypothesis that they are contiguous with the Sun and that they are carried round by its revolution, without meeting any inconvenience or difficulty" (V, 118, cf. 117, 127). Having shown that this rival which did save a good part of the phenomena was nevertheless false, he did not want "to waste time in disproving every other imaginable supposition" (V, 130). If his true observations meant that celestial matter must be alterable, this was a conclusion closer than the opposite view to Aristotle himself, who surely would have agreed if he had known "the present sensory observations. For he not only admitted manifest experience (le manifeste esperienze] among the powerful means of reaching conclusions about natural problems, but gave it first place". For "I am sure that he never held the conclusion of inalterability to be as certain as that all human reasoning must take second place to evident experience (evident e esperienza)". For all that he continued, "in order to remove every ambiguity, to some come, inspired by a superior power, necessary methods (metodi necessarily by which we understood these phenomena, "though this is not enough to persuade those whose minds cannot be reached by the necessity of geometrical demonstrations" (V, 138-40). Repeating this interpretation of Aristotle in the same context in the Dialogo (1632), he made Sagredo challenge his opponent as represented
chanica (847a); S. DRAKE and I. E. DRABKIN, Mechanics in Sixteenth Century Italy (Madison, Wise., 1969); P. L. ROSE and S. DRAKE, "The pseudo-Aristotelian Questions of Mechanics in Renaissance culture", Studies in the Renaissance XVIII (1971) 65-104. 58 Cf. VIII, 559-61; above n. 50.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

by Simplicio "to produce all the particular reasons, experiments and observations, as well naturall as astronomicall, whereby others may be persuaded" of their opinion (VII, 71, cf. 75-6). As for Galileo's own preliminary arguments for the Earth's motion from simplicity and economy and so on, these "I bring you not as lawes infrangibile (leggi infrangibili], but as motives (motivi] which have some appearance. And because I know full well that one onely experience, or concluding demonstration, which could be brought to the contrarie were sufficient to beat downe these and an hundred thousand other probable arguments unto the ground, we must not stay heere, but go forward..." (VII, 148). There is a striking contrast between Galileo's apodeictic confidence about astronomy and mechanics and his much more cautious estimate of what could be truly and certainly discovered about the real world existing behind the more complex and enigmatic problems of matter and its composition and properties 59. This corresponded to the distinction which placed the former in the mathematical middle sciences and the latter in natural philosophy or physics. Natural philosophy he had written in the Trattato della sfera (1606) was concerned with "substance and quality" and "our intellect is guided to knowledge of the substance by means of the properties (accidenti}" (II, 211, 212). The proper object of natural scientific inquiry was then the substances and hence causes bringing about the properties which made up the world we could observe. With his first telescopic discoveries he set out to destroy the Aristotelian division of the world into regions of celestial and elementary substances (XI, 147, cf. 280-5, 289, 298-303; above nn. 23-24), just as in De motu gravium and the Discorso (1612) on floating bodies he set out to destroy the division of properties into contrary pairs. Both he wanted to reduce to a linear quantitative uniformity amenable to mathematics and measurement. His problems began in looking beyond that to the physical substance and causality
Cf. for Galileo's scientific style especially L. S. OLSCHKI, "The scientific personality of Galileo , Bulletin of the History of Medicine, XII (1942) 248-73, "Galileo's philosophy of science", Philosophical Review, III (1943) 349-65; A. C. CROMBIE, Galilee devant les critiques de la posterite (Les Conferences du Palais de la Decouverte, Paris, 1956), translated in part as "Galileo: a philosophical symbol", Actes du VHIe Congres International d'Histoire des Sciences, Florence-Milan 19% (Vinci & Paris, 1958) 1089-95, (1969), (1975a), (1981) and (1983) above n. 2, and Styles... above n. 16; JARDINE (1976) above n. 38; KOERTGE (1977) above n. 49; WISAN (1978) and (1981) above n. 20; with his researches into different subject-matters classically exemplified by A. KOYRE, Etudes galileennes, I-III (Actualites scientifiques et industrielles, nos. 8552-4; Paris, 1939); L. GEYMONAT, Galileo Galilei (Torino, 1957), English translation (New York, 1965); E. McMuLLiN (ed.), Galileo: Man of Science (New York, 1967); M. CLAVELIN, La philosophic naturelle de Galilee (Paris, 1968); SHEA (1972) above n. 21; WISAN (1974) above n. 20; also nn. 47-58.

The Jesuits and Galileo }s Ideas of Science and Nature


behind the phenomenal world. One such problem arising out of the Sidereus nuncius (1610) was the nature of light, the means by which the telescope gave us its information. The Roman philosopher Giulio Cesare La Galla reported an occasion in Rome in 1611 when he had lamented the impossibility of deciding even on "our general classification of it, as to whether it is substance or property, body or something incorporeal, quality or relation; for such is the weakness of our intellect that it can easily be made to fit all these categories or equally be excluded from them". Galileo agreed "and firmly avowed that he would willingly allow himself to be shut up in a dark cell and fed on bread and water, provided that, when he was restored to light in due course, he could perfectly grasp its nature and understand it" 60. Again in his First Letter about the Sunspots (1612) he wrote that "for me it is much more difficult to find the truth than to show convincingly what is false, and it seems, to me that I know what the sunspots are not, rather than what they are" (V, 95). So "we could not blame in any way the philosopher who confessed that he does not know, and cannot know, what the matter of the sunspots may be" (106). He was prepared to speculate but, he wrote in his Third Letter, "in our speculating we either try to penetrate the true and intrinsic essence of natural substances, or content ourselves with coming to know some of their properties (affezioni]. An attempt upon the essence I hould to be an undertaking no less impossible and a labour no less vain in the nearest elementary substances than in the most distant and celestial ones... But if we wish to stop at the apprehension of some properties, it does not seem to me that we should despair of being able to reach them in the bodies most distant from us as well as in the nearest ones" (V, 187-8). Perhaps Winifred Wisan (1976, p. 24) was correct in detecting a further nuance from the prohibition of 1616 in the Platonic imagery of the remark in the Discorso delle comete (1619) published under Mario Guiducci's name, that "we must be content with what little we can conjecture here among the shadows, until we are shown the true constitution of the parts of the world" (VI, 99). But this expressed yet once more a consistent estimate of our knowledge of physical causes, if not of geometrical structures. He commented famously in the Dialogo (1632) on the assertion that everyone knew that the cause of bodies falling downwards was gravity, that rather "every man knows that it is called gravitie", but of the "essence you know no whitt more than you
JULIUS CESAR LA GALLA, De phoenomenis in orbe Lunae, De luce et lumine disputatio (Venetiis, 1612) 57-8; cf. GALILEO, Le opere, III, 325-6; CROMBIE (1969) above n. 2.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

know of the essence of the movent (movente] which turnes the starres about, excepting the name..." (VII, 260-1). Likewise in the Discorsi (1638) he refused "to inquire into the cause of the acceleration of natural motion, concerning which various opinions have been pronounced by various philosophers". It was enough at present for him "to search out and demonstrate to us some passions (passtones] of an accelerated motion (let the cause of that acceleration be what it will)..." (VIII, 202). Galileo suggested in the Discorsi (VIII, 87-89) methods for deciding by measurement whether or not light was a form of motion with a finite speed. But from his first discussions of the nature of light, through II Saggiatore (VI, 350, 352), down to his last correspondence on the subject with Fortunio Liceti in 1640-41 he maintained that the evidence could show us only how light behaved, not what it was. His comment to Liceti in 1640 on "the essence of light, about which I have always been in the dark" could be applied to his physical investigations over many years: "Here I would not like to be told that I have not stopped at the truth of fact; for experience shows me that it happens in this way; which, I could say, in all the effects of nature admired by me, assures me of the an sit but brings me no gain in the quomodo" (XVIII, 208). Galileo's philosophical campaign was dedicated to establishing the identity at once of the true science and, as he wrote in his First Letter about the Sunspots, of "the true and real world which, made by God with his own hands, stands always open in front of us for the purpose of our learning" (V, 96, cf. XI, 530, XII, 20). What he expected to find by reason in existence behind the appearances perceived by the senses was governed by the interaction between his philosophical and scientific sources and his scientific experience in exploring nature by means of geometrical postulation, the logic of experimental elimination and confirmation, analogical modelling, measuring instruments, and the extension of the natural senses with the telescope and microscope, to say nothing of the exigencies and expediencies of debate and persuasion. Galileo's rhetorical image in // Saggiatore (q. 6) of the mathematical book of philosophy recalls Proclus's account of the Timaeus "using mathematical language throughout in expounding its theory of the nature of the universe" and the generation of the elements and their powers "by numbers and figures" (1.8: above, n. 46) and recalls also Clavius and Mazzoni (cf. nn. 42-45). Galileo had quoted biblical passages comparing the heavens to a book in his Tractatio de caelo (I, 64). His point in II Saggiatore was to distinguish the book of philosophy from books of fiction like the Iliad and Orlando furioso "in which the least important thing is whether what is written in them is true" (VI, 232). By contrast, as he repeated in his last account of the image to

The Jesuits and Galileo}s Ideas of Science and Nature


Liceti in 1641, "the book of philosophy is that which stands perpetually open before our eyes, but because it is written in characters different from those of our alphabet it cannot be read by everybody; and the characters of this book are triangles, squares, circles, spheres, cones, pyramids and other mathematical figures fittest for this sort of reading" (XVIII, 295, cf. XIX, 625). Thus, as in the Timaeus, Euclid and Proclus it was essentially a geometrical, not an arithmetical book61. The Timaeus and related Greek sources offered Galileo also something further in his search for a rational philosophy of nature. He had been forced to defend the validity not only of his telescopic observations but also of unaided vision against sceptical doubts about the certainty of mathematics when applied to sensible subjects. Practical difficulties in using this unfamiliar instrument reinforced the suspicion that the telescope was just another of the optical devices for producing illusions well known to theatrical magic. Clavius and other mathematicians at the Collegio Romano formed this opinion when they tried to confirm Galileo's observations in the autumn of 1610, until with advice from Galileo himself they succeeded. Christopher Grienberger wrote to him frankly that things so difficult to believe should not be accepted lightly and that it was hard to give up opinions held for so long by so many philosophers, but that at length "I have examined with my own eyes the wonders you were the first to introduce to the world... I have learned from experience (experientia) that it is not an illusion that you have seen four satellites in motion around Jupiter,... the irregularities of the Moon..." and so on (XI, 33, cf. X, 430-45, 480-501, XI, 253, 272-7). La Galla in his ambiguous defence of the telescope in 1612 linked the question to Aristotle's critique of Plato for his prejudicial introduction of mathematics into physical inquiries and to the further question of "sensible forms and qualities". It was he wrote "asserted by philosophers and known from experience" that "the senses are deceived over the common sensibles, namely motion, rest, number, size and shape; although they are normally either not at all or to the least degree at fault over the proper sensibles, such as colour or taste" (III, 323-5). He gave as an illustration the ancient illusion of a stick half in water which appeared bent to vision but straight to touch. Galileo replied like Plato (Republic X. 602C-E) that such optical illusions were corrected by optical science (III, 323-5) and likewise for other such apparent deceptions. Later in II Saggiatore (q. 48) he argued that "when I conceive of a
61 Cf. for the book of nature M. CURTIUS, Europaische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (Bern, 1948) 323-9, English translation (New York, 1953) 319-26; E. GARIN, La cultura filosofica del Rinascimento italiano (Firenze, 1961) 451-65.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

piece of matter or a corporal substance, I certainly feel myself necessarily obliged at the same time to conceive" that there must be attributed to it a set of irreducible minimum "conditions (condizioniY': shape, relative size, location in place and time, motion or rest, touching other bodies or not, and number. He felt "no compulsion to hold that it must necessarily be accompanied by such conditions" as colour, taste, sound etc. "Rather, if the senses had not escorted us, reason or imagination by itself would perhaps never have arrived at them". Having no justification by reason, these qualities evidently had no place in his theory of the real physical world. They "are on the side of the object in which they seem to be placed no more than mere names (puri nomi], but have a place only in the sensitive body (corpo sensitivo}" of living things. The "primary and real properties (primi e reali accidenti}" required in external bodies for exciting these sensory qualities in us were no more than "sizes, shapes, numbers and slow or swift motions" (VI, 347-50). Galileo's primary properties apart from one refinement had been listed by Aristotle (De anima III. 1, 425al5-17, cf. II. 6, 418a8-19, III. 1, 425al4-blO; Categoriae c.6, 4b20-6a35, cf. c.8, 9a27-bll; De sensu c.l, 437a4-16, cf. c.4, 442a30-b!7) as quantities not qualities, and as objects common to more than one sense rather than proper to each sense. His distinction between the mere names and the real properties corresponded to the account given by Galen of Democritus's distinction between the qualities "by convention (lege}" or for us and those existing "in reality (vere}n in things 62 . Again according to Sextus Empiricus "Plato and Democritus held that the only real things were those discernable by reason" 63. Both recognized as real only actual as distinct from potential qualities, and both agreed also in reducing all the other senses to modes of touch. Aristotle had criticized his predecessors for precisely these opinions (cf. I, 123-9, 157-60). Except for making irreducible geometrical shapes and not solid atoms the primary constituents of matter, Plato in the Timaeus (56B-68D) added to the real properties listed by the atomists two fundamental items: numbers, and variations in the speeds of motion. Thus the numbers of particles accounted for density and texture, their shapes and speeds accounted for the different sensations of heat, and above all variations in speeds expressible in numerical
GALEN, De elementis secundum Hippocralem libri duo, I, Latin version by Niccolo Leoniceno in GALEN, Omnia quae extant in Latinum sermonen conversa, I (Venetiis, 1556) f. 2rv; cf. CROMBIE (1969) above n. 2 and his Appendix: "Sources for Galileo's accounts of the primary properties and secondary qualities etc." in our book; SHEA63 (1972) 100-4, above n. 21; also nn. 48, 59. SEXTUS EMPIRICUS, Adversus mathematicos, VIII.6, Gentiano Herveto Aurelio interprete (Parish's, 1569) 184-5, (Genevae, 1621) 222.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature


ratios accounted for the different qualities of sensation experienced as the pitch and consonance of sounds (67A-C, 80A-B). This was the refinement of "slow or swift motions" that Galileo added to Aristotle's common sensibles in listing his primary and real properties. It had been developed by the Greek musical theorists from Archytus of Tarentum and Plato, Aristotle himself (De anima II. 8, 419b4420b4) and Aristoxenus, to Ptolemy and Theon of Smyrna, and was discussed explicitly by Boethius in his influential textbook on music. The connection of the frequencies of vibratory impulses with musical sensations had been investigated in the sixteenth century by Giovanni Battista Benedetti and by Vincenzo Galilei probably assisted by Galileo himslef64. Galileo like Plato (61C-62A) introduced the question of the causation of the sensory qualities by asking what we meant by heat, looking then for the "true property, affection and quality (vero accidente, affezzione e qualitd] that really resides in the material" (III, 347). Like Plato he was concerned to distinguish between things and sensations designated by names. After considering common problems of sensation he followed Plato's order and essential ideas in explaining the five special senses (65B-68D). It seems evident that he based his treatment on the Timaeus, and possible that these were the subjects of the De sono et voce and De visu et coloribus included in his programme for Vinta in 1610. By defining in this way a stable and calculable relation of perception to the world perceived, Galileo met one essential condition for a rational science of nature. He provided against the sceptics for the validity, and against the magicians for the consistency of the information received through the senses. He focused attention on the relevance to this question of the scientific study of the senses themselves and of sound and light as the media of hearing and vision. In his analysis of the more complex properties of materials and of heat and light in the Discorsi he introduced yet another ancient model, Hero of Alexandria. Whereas Plato and the atomists had been concerned primarily with the general problem of establishing what existed through changing appearances, Hero had aimed to find more limited explanations of specific physical phenomena of the structure of matter. Likewise in his treatment of sound Galileo gave preference to technical over philosophical questions and authors in acoustics. In keeping with these sources he shifted his focus from that of // Saggiatore to more technical and experimental aspects of the argument from observable phenomena to the inobservable structures and motions postulated by reason to
64 Cf. CROMBIE (1969) above n. 2, (1971) and the forthcoming volume on Mersenne etc. above n. 13.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

produce them. He appeared at his most sophisticated as a philosopher who was an engineer, looking not so much for the nature of things as for the way to specify precisely in defined situations how to get accurately reproducible results. His search for the true identity of science and of nature then seems to have ended in the conclusion that in practice it was this rational experimental art, and not any vision of a completed and demonstrated necessary truth of the essence of things, that could lead us most truly to the only science of nature available. 3. We turn now to the difficult problem of placing in Galileo's intellectual biography important undated writings on natural philosophy. The problem has two aspects: the order of composition, and the dates. The only evidence available comes from comparisons of contents, from references and citations, and from material connections in the same or related manuscripts. Much has to be probable and persuasive, little demonstrative. There are more questions than answers. Hence our approach must be problematic, despite any temptation there may be to play the role as Galileo put it "of someone who has conceived some perfect demonstration but who does not assent to its conclusion" (Ms. Galileiano 27, f. 13v): to offer irrefutable proofs for what cannot be believed, like the clever Oxford scholar who proved irrefutably that Queen Victoria was the author of the Iliad. The main problem is the dating of the Latin dialogue and treatise De motu gravium (Ms. Galileiano 71) and the scholastic Tracfafiones de mundo et de caelo and Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis (Ms. Galil. 46) all in Galileo's hand. The last pages of Ms. Galileiano 46 which contains these scholastic treatises are filled with fragmentary notes (excerpts from books and drafts of passages) on motion. The second note was written in dialogue form for insertion in the dialogue and so must have followed it (I, 375-8, 409) 65 . Then comes a series of notes used in the treatise De motu gravium, which Galileo must have written after the unfinished dialogue and before or while writing, or while revising, the treatise. All the fragmentary notes are written on paper with the same watermark as the dialogue which they follow immediately in the manuscript. The first draft of the treatise (Ms. Galileiano 71, ff. 115-24; I, 247, 326-40) is on paper with the same watermark as the Tractatus de alteratione et de elementis. The Tractationes de mundo et de caelo is on a third kind of paper66. These

65 Cf. I. E. DRABKIN, "A note on Galileo's De motu", his, II (1960) 271-7, and in GALILEO, On Motion... (1960) 124, above n. 47; WISAN (1974) above n. 20. 66 Cf. CROMBIE (1975a) above n. 2.

The Jesuits and Galileo}s Ideas of Science and Nature


material connections are matched by the use made of Pereira's De communibus..., which use matches the order of composition: dialogue, notes, treatise. There are no references to Pereira in the dialogue, but Galileo used his textbook for some of the notes for the treatise and for the treatise itself. He used it also for the Tratatio prima de mundo where he cited it for a specific argument concerning the eternity of the world (I, 22-24, 32-37; cf. Pereira XV) and for the Tractatio de dementis (I, 123-4, 138-9, 143-6,151-2; cf. Pereira III. 1, X, 10-11, 22-3). Three passages in De motu gravium offer compelling evidence that Galileo was using Pereira's textbook here. The first is that in which he adopted a theory that projectiles were kept in motion by a virtus impressa (I, 307-15, 412) in the form which Pereira (XIV. 4-5) had expounded in order to reject. The other two passages are those in which he discussed Philoponus's criticism of the Aristotelian argument for the impossibility of motion in a void and Hipparchus's theory of the acceleration of falling bodies. The former began as a fragmentary note (I, 410) which was expanded into an addition to the chapter on the question in De motu gravium (I, 284). Galileo reported the argument in a way not presented by Philoponus in his commentary on the Physics IV, but evidently conflated from two passages by Pereira (XL 10-11). Again in reporting Hipparchus's theory Galileo falsely referred to Alexander of Aphrodisias instead of to Simplicius's commentary on De caelo (comm. 86) where it is to be found, and reported it in an incomplete and distorted form which he proceeded to criticize (I, 31920). A clue is found in a fragmentary note on Hipparchus's theory (I, 411), with in another fragment (ibid.} and in a marginal note to De motu gravium (I, 318 n. 1) an explicit quotation from the chapter in which Pereira (XIV. 3) presented it in the same incomplete and distorted form as that criticized by Galileo. Further, Galileo's account of the "horizontal plane" of the Earth (I, 299-301, cf, 340, 407-8; above n. 49) is the same as that given by Clavius in his Sphaera (1581, pp. 132-2). In view of his very detailed use of Clavius for his Tractatio de caelo it is reasonable to suppose that he based his account on this textbook here also67. De motu gravium was linked then with the scholastic treatises through these common Jesuit sources, and this link we have to take into account in trying to place both in Galileo's intellectual biography.
Cf. for the same point with the same diagrams FRANCESCO MAUROLICO, Dialogbi de cosmographia (Venetiis, 1543), whose work was known to Clavius; A. MASOTTI, "Maurolico, Francesco (1494-1575)", Dictionary of Scientific Biography, IX (New York, 1974) 190-4; above n. 28.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Unhappily there seems to be no firm evidence for the date when he read any of these sources. All we have are some fragile hints for Clavius. It seems likely that Galileo used figures for the dimensions of the world taken from Clavius for his letter of 1597 to Mazzoni (above n. 21). One later manusctipt (c. 1624) of the version of his Trattato della sfera (1606) published by Favaro contains a "Tabula climatum" (II, 244-5, cf. 207, 209) closely similar to that in Clavius (1581, pp. 413-4) but not found in earlier copies or in the earlier unpublished version of the Trattato (1601) in the Ambrosian Library. Although he did not mention Clavius in what remains of his lectures on the new star of 1604, where he cited a series of other authors, it seems certain that he must have known of his extensive discussion in the Sphaera of the earlier new star of 1572 (above n. 23). This was mentioned by one of Galileo's correspondents at the end of 1604 (X, 132), when Clavius himself also wrote to him about his own observations (X, 121). Evidence for the dating of De motu gravium is to say the least undecisive. The main physical issue with which it was concerned was the nature of gravity and hence the cosmological arrangement and motions of the four terrestrial elements. The geocentric cosmology made explicit in the introduction to the final version but also assumed throughout (I, 252-3, 342-5) could hardly have been written during the period of Galileo's public campaign for Copernicus opened with the Sidereus nucius (1610). He cited Copernicus's De revolutionibus once in De motu gravium (I, 326) but not in connection with the motions of the Earth. He named him also in the Tractatio de caelo (I, 43, 47-54; cf. above n. 28) explicitly to refute his opinion. These geocentric doctrines might seem to place both treatises before Galileo's Copernican declarations of 1597 to Mazzoni and Kepler, but he continued after that for whatever reason to assume the old cosmology in his lectures on the new star of 1604 and in his Trattato della sfera in 1606. He introduced in De motu gravium a critique of Aristotle, based on Plato and Archimedes, for his general failure to understand mathematics and his particular theory of gravity. This is absent from the Tractationes de mundo et de caelo. If we assume a progressive intellectual development this would place De motu gravium after the Tractationes. If all three scholastic treatises were written about the same time, and all after 1597 because of the use of Carbone for the Disputationes, this would place De motu gravium still later. Their common use of Jesuit sources might suggest composition at nearly the same time. So might their common syllogistic style of argument. This might not seem a specific resemblance because Galileo continued to combine scholastic with Archimedean methods in his later works, but the Aristotelian dynamics of De motu gravium seems to link it more

The Jesuits and Galileo}s Ideas of Science and Nature


definitely with his scholastic treatises on cosmology and natural philosophy 68. A reference in the dialogue De motu gravium (I, 379) to his reconstruction in La bilancetta of the exact method by which Archimedes assessed the proportion of gold and silver in King Hiero's crown places that and hence the treatise after this work. Then can we date La bilancetta? The story of Hiero's crown had been told by Vitruvius, but according to Galileo with a crude method unworthy of Archimedes's superior intellect. After examining Archimedes's treatises on floating bodies and the balance he had found his true method (I, 215-6, cf. 211-4). Galileo's boasted reconstruction resembles a version of Archimedes's method given in the Carmen de ponderibus et mensuris, a work on weights and measures dating from about 500 AD which is the second extant source for the story of Hiero's crown. It was published with the grammarian Priscian's works in 1516 and 1584 69. An account of the method closer to the Carmen than to Galileo was published by Giovanni Battista della Porta in the edition of his Magia naturalis of 1589 70. Like Galileo he claimed to be offering a new discovery of Archimedes's method. Galileo and Porta seem to have become acquainted only after the publication of the Sidereus nuncius, when they were put in touch by Federico Cesi and both became members of the Accademia dei Lincei (X, 252, 508, XI, 175, 345, XX, 511). Galileo referred to Priscian in his undated commentary on Tasso (IX, 130, cf. 12-16, X, 244, XIX, 627, 645). His autograph manuscript of La bilancetta is followed by an autograph table of relative weights of metals in air and in water (I, 223-8). The values given here and in the Carmen and by Porta are sufficiently different for it to be supposed that he and Porta made independent measurements. La bilancetta is not mentioned in Galileo's earliest surviving correspondence of 1588-90 which is devoted largely to Archimedes (X, 22-30). It seems to have had some circulation in manuscript before its eventual publication in a work entitled Archimede redivivo in 1644 (I, 213), but neither it nor Porta nor the Carmen were mentioned by Mazzoni in his discussion of Hiero's crown in his In universam...
68 Galileo's reference to a question "amicissimi nostri Dionigii Fontis" (I, 368) could have been written before or after his friends's death and so does not help with dating; nor in fact does the discussion in the Discorso (1612) on floating bodies of a problem similar to one in De motu gravium, for the problems were different and so the one discussion was not a correction of the other: cf. SHEA (1972) 19-20, above n. 21. 69 PRISCIANI CAESARIENSIS, Institutiones grammaticae, adiectis nuper praetermissis Libello de XII carminibus (Parrhisiis, 1516) f. 127rv and Libri omnes (Basileae, 1584) 863-4. 70 lo. BAPT. PORTA NEAPOLITANUS, Magiae naturalis libri XX, XVIII.8 (Neapoli, 1589) 285-6.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

(1597, p. 232). Another reconstruction of Archimedes's method resembling Galileo's with a description of the hydrostatic balance was published by Marino Ghetaldi in his Promotus Archimedis (Romae, 1603), writing in the preface that he had been urged to publish it by Clavius 71. But since the Carmen had been available in print throughout most of the sixteenth century all this throws no clear light on the date of La bilancetta. The date often given as 1586 is based on the sole evidence of a manuscript note added by Viviani in the margin of his life of Galileo in 1654 (XIX, 605, cf. I, 211). A further problem is presented by Le mecaniche. This exists in two versions, a shorter version of lectures dated 1594 in a manuscript discovered by Favaro72 too late to be included in the Edizione Nazionale, and the longer and much more developed version which he did include. This longer version contains a discussion (absent from the shorter version) of the motion of a body on an inclined plane which seems less developed than that found in De motu gravium. Both discussions were based on the idea that heavy bodies could be moved on a horizontal plane by any force however small. This was presented in the former work as an obvious consequence of "the constitution of nature with regard to the movements of heavy bodies" and stated as an "undoubted axiom" (II, 179-80). But in the latter Galileo thought that it "seems quite hard to believe" and set out to demonstrate it from the principle of the balance (I, 299; cf. above n. 49). He referred also to an earlier discussion of the problem (I, 296). On this rather slender evidence should we conclude that De motu gravium was written after the longer Le mecaniche? Then when was the latter written? He mentioned to Vinta in 1610 that he had in hand "tre libri delle mecaniche" (X, 352). In a short piece of uncertain date from Florence about a machine he wrote that he had formed "already a long time ago" (VIII, 572; cf. above nn, 50, 58) the concept given prominence in Le mecaniche that nature cannot be cheated by art. These remarks suggest composition well before he returned to Florence in 1610. But it appears that a demonstration in the work concerning the proportion of the force required to pull a weight on planes with different inclinations was unknown to Galileo until G. B. Baliani sent it to him on 17 June 1615 (XII, 186-8). From a much later letter by
71 See "Quomodo Archimedis argenti mixtionem deprehendit in auro" (pp. 51 sqq.); L. CAMPEDELLI, "Ghetaldi (Ghettaldi), Marino (1566 [1568?] -1626)", Diet. Set. Biog., V (1972) 381-3. 72 Cf. FAVARO, "Delia meccaniche lette in Padova 1'anno 1594 da Galileo Galilei", Memorie del R. Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, XXVI (1899) and WISAN (1974) above n. 20, for the resemblances between Le mecaniche and De motu gravium.

The Jesuits and Galileo }s Ideas of Science and Nature


Baliani of 1 July 1639 (XVIII, 68-71) we learn that many years before Baliani had sent Galileo, from a manuscript treatise on mechanics by Francois Viete in his possession, an improvement on a solution by Pappus concerning the inclined plane, and that Galileo had replied claiming the treatise as his own. In the longer Le mecaniche the solution is introduced with a criticism of Pappus (II, 181). Again this version contains a precise definition of the concept of momenta absent from the shorter version (II, 159). Does all this place the longer Le mecaniche after Baliani's letter of 1615? Some further circumstantial evidence might support such a dating. When in 1620 Elie Diodati wrote to Galileo saying that he had never seen any work by him on mechanics, Galileo replied that this was no wonder, since his many disputes over several years had delayed the completion both of "my Mechanics and my System", ie. of the World (XIII, 48, 53). There is no copy of Le mecaniche in the Pinelli collection, where one might expect to find it if Galileo had written it at Padua before 1601, since Pinelli was interested in the subject. The titles of other treatises written at Padua describe Galileo as "matematico dello Studio di Padova" or "lettore di matematica nello Studio di Padova" (e.g. II, 207), but in the manuscript copies of Le mecaniche the author is indicated simply as "il Galileo" or as Galileo Galilei "Accademico Linceo" or just "Fiorentino". This seems to point to a later date, when he was famous, living in Florence, and a member of the Lincei. Again in Le mecaniche Galileo discussed the apparent paradox of the Archimedean screw in the same way as Guidobaldo del Monte in De cochlea, published posthumously in 1615. But how can composition after this date be squared with his remarks quoted above? But we could go on. If this various evidence displaces Le mecaniche to a date so much later than the traditional 1590s based on Vincenzo Viviani's notoriously unreliable witness, it might seem to make De motu gravium even later. We may suppose that it was written with revisions over several years. The mature style of arguing in this treatise, with its sophisticated use of Archimedes, should warn us against considering it as an unsuccessful attempt by a young mathematical lecturer at Pisa or Padua to discuss traditional questions relating to the motion of bodies. The mention of an extensive commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest, which the author claims to have just completed and to be about to publish (I, 314), confirms the impression that here we have the work of an experienced scholar. Since no such commentary is extant among Galileo's writings, can this refer to something that was to be incorporated in the Dialogo? We know from correspondence that it was in 1624 and 1625 that what was originally planned as a Dialogo del flusso e reflusso developed into a larger discussion of the


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Ptolemaic and Copernican systems (XIII, 236, 282) 72a . The eventual Dido go (1632) was linked again with both De motu gravium and the scholastic treatises on cosmology and natural philosophy through the fragmentary notes in Ms. Galileiano 46 and through their use of common Jesuit sources. Thus two of these notes (I, 416) on Aristotle refuting Plato's involvement with geometry became the celebrated assertion by Simplicio in the Dido go (VII, 229) that mathematics might be true in the abstract but not so true in matter, both citing the same example of sphaera tangit planum in puncto (cf. I, 301) 73 . Again Salviati's criticism of Aristotle's merely probable reasons for there being only three dimensions and demonstration of the same thing by mathematics (VII, 34, 38) are identical with those given in Clavius's Sphaera (1581, pp. 13-15). In a further exchange between Simplicio and Sagredo (VII, 256) we find at least an echo of the distinction made by Pereira in De communibus... (I. 16) between physics as a science based on sensory evidence and probable reasons and mathematics as a science based on intellectual evidence and necessary demonstrations, even if mathematical demonstrations were not potissimae. We find a specific citation in the expression used by Simplicio for Plato's theory of knowledge: nostrum scire est quoddam reminisci. This appears nowhere in Ficino's Latin translation of Plato, but is given by Pereira as a quotation from Plato saying "nostrum scire nihil aliud esse, quam quoddam reminisci" (III. 6). Can we find a date for De motu gravium? We know from correspondence that Galileo was writing a general treatise on motion in the years 1628-31. Cesi wrote on 9 September 1628 urging him not to waste time in answering opponents, but to carry on working to complete his writings on various subjects including the "knowledge of... the nature of all motions (la natura di tutti i moti}" (XIII, 448). Cavalieri wrote on 3 December 1630 saying that he was glad to hear that Galileo had resumed his "theorizing on motion (speculationi del moto}... seeing that with such science and mathematics coupled together it is possible to undertake theorizing about natural things" (XIV, 171). Galileo himself wrote on 29 November 1631 to Cesare Marsili to say that he was planning to publish the "first book on motion (primo libro del motoY (XIV, 312) immediately after his forthcoming Dialogo. Was this the treatise "De motu locali" to be published in the Discorsi (1638)? Its three books correspond to his description to Vinta in 1610. Parts of this treatise can be dated to the years 1602-9, and
Cf. CARUGO, Gli avversari di Galileo ed il loro contribute alia genesi e immediata fortuna del Dialogo..., Saggi su Galileo Galilei, IIP (Firenze, 1972) 128-207. 73 Cf. ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, 11.2, 995al4-16, III.2, 997b34-998a6; above n. 49.

The Jesuits and Galileo's Ideas of Science and Nature

22 7

Galileo could have resumed work on it after his many years of controversy. But it is a purely mathematical treatise and if the correspondence refers to a philosophical treatise on the nature of motion, it may refer to the De motu gravium, which is such a treatise on the causes of the natural motion of heavy bodies. To what else could it refer? Was he writing two treatises, the one to complement the other? Does the assorted evidence we have indicated justify so massive a displacement of De motu gravium from its conventional dating at Pisa or Padua to the eve of the Dido go or even later? If this seems like attempting to prove the unbelievable that is not our intention. We put the question for the evidence itself to reveal a believable answer. The answer must affect the dating also of Galileo's scholastic treatises on cosmology and natural philosophy and on logic. All are linked with each other and also, though not necessarily immediately, with the Didogo through their common use of Jesuit sources. We know that the logical Disputationes must have been written after 1597, but apart from that we have no direct evidence for dating any of the other scholastic treatises. Did they all belong to the years of philosophical studies, some time between 1597 and 1610, of which he boasted to Vinta? We can date Galileo's use of another work by Pereira, a commentary on Genesis published in 1589 which was the source of the exegetical rules for relating demonstrated science to scriptural revelation discussed in his Lett era a Madama Cristina de Lorena (1615; V, 333-4)74. Likewise he used for this letter a comment added by Clavius on the recent astronomical discoveries to his last edition of his Sphaera in 1612 (V, 328). May we then suppose that Galileo read his other scholastic sources some time during these years 1610-1616 when his various cosmological controversies had launched him firmly beyond mathematics into philosophy? His disputes obliged him to clarify his ideas of science and of nature, and his writings of that period are an evident product of such a clarification. A stylistic feature may also relate De motu gravium to this period or later. Galileo in one of the fragmentary notes in Ms. Galileiano 46 complained of people who read his writings not to see "whether what I have said is true" but only to "undermine my arguments" (I, 412). This may seem to belong to a context of controversy and it became a familiar complaint in his writings on floating bodies (1612), sunspots (1612), science and the interpretation of Scripture (1613-15), and comets (1618-23). Alternatively his assumption that the world was inhabited largely by hostile fools and knaves may simply be an enduring diagnostic symptom of

Cf. CROMBIE (1975a) 165, above n. 2.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Galileo's character. Another stylistic feature relating to the Jesuits but not to the question of dating is the dialogue form used by Galileo in the Dialogo. Galileo's dialogues differ from Plato's, where Socrates's interlocutors simply raise questions and listen patiently to his answers. They are an elegant form of the scholastic disputatio, revived by the Jesuits, in which each speaker put forward a definite point of view closely argued from experience, reason and relevant authorities, and all aimed to clarify the topic and reach critical assessments of the solutions proposed. Galileo in his disputes aimed clearly to win not only the truth but also the argument. He showed himself a master of all the dialectical and topical skills of debate and persuasion7S. At the same time he continued to be haunted to the end by an apodeictic vision of certainty, however unobtainable. His scientific experience with a diversity of problems made him well aware in practice of the degrees of certainty, analysed by logicians, available in different kinds of subject-matter. Central to his treatment of cosmology to the last was the distinction such as made by St. Thomas Aquinas and discussed in the Dialogo (VII, 30, 369, 488) between possible mathematical hypotheses which saved the astronomical appearances and demonstrations through true causes. He adapted his scientific methods and his immediate expectations to the subject-matter. The on-going physical argument through all his major writings on natural philosophy aimed to dispute and reject the Aristotelian conception of physical causes and to establish in its place the truly certified conception which in the end he saw as uniformly mechanical. If we may so characterize Galileo's contribution to the promotion of a rational philosophy of science and of nature articulated by the Jesuits, against on one side scepticism and on the other Neoplatonic and Hermetic magic, the direction of his argument led him inevitably into often bitter disputes with the Jesuit Aristotelians themselves. But these should not blind us to the underlying similarity of their rational policy. Nor was Galileo in this alone among prominent natural philosophers. Mersenne, Gassendi and Descartes promoted the same sort of rational philosophy against the same sorts of opponents. "Car la nature ne peut etre trompee, ni ceder a ses droits", wrote Mersenne with evident satisfaction in opening his Les mecaniques de Galilee (1634) 76 . Together with others of similar outlook they established an
J. D. Moss, "Galileo's rhetorical strategies in defense of Copernicanism" in the Atti 76 of the Convegno (1983). Ed. B. ROCHOT (Paris, 1966); cf. LENOBLE (1943), POPKIN (1979), CROMBIE (1971) and (1975b) above nn. 3-4, 13; and R. PINTARD, La libertinage erudit dans la pre75

The Jesuits and Galileo }s Ideas of Science and Nature


identity for natural philosophy in their time, by closing many still open questions through their insistence upon specific rational criteria for Admitting questions, as well as answers, into acceptable scientific inquiry. Galileo himself wrote no explicit critique of scepticism or magic or Neoplatonism, which he.virtually ignored except for the brief period of his Neoplatonic theological letters of 1613-15, but his sharp awareness of these different kinds of philosophy is obvious in numerous comments specifying his own. An interesting difference is that Mersenne and Gassendi were sufficiently sceptical to disbelieve that certainty was possible in the search for causes in natural science. Mersenne therefore insisted upon experimental precision. Galileo and Descartes still on this question stayed with Aristotle. This could considerably affect the relative weight given to experimental measurement as distinct from mathematical or logical demonstration in scientific inquiry. "The most subtle Galileo, easily the chief of the mathematicians of our time, and likewise a noted philosopher", Liceti wrote of him towards the end of his life in a book devoted to many questions unanswerable by Galileo's criteria, including whether or not the universe was infinite77. Galileo in 1639 acknowledged his copy with its account of opposing opinions: "I cannot stop wondering how one single human mind can store all the doctrines scattered in a thousand books by a thousand other rare minds". As for the question of infinity: "The reasons given for both sides are very acute, but in my brain neither of them reaches a neceessary conclusion". Perhaps in the end "this is one of those questions that happen to be inexplicable by human reasonings, resembling perhaps predestination, free will and other matters, where only the Holy Scriptures and the divine assertions can set us piously at rest" (XVIII, 106).

mitre moitie du XVIIe siecle (Paris, 1943); I. DAMBSKA, "Meditationes Descartes'a na tie sceptycyzmu frankuskiege XVII wieku", Kwartalnik filosoficzny, XIX (1950) 1-24 with French summary; H. COURIER, "Doute methodique ou negation methodique? ", Etudes philosophiques, IX (1954) 135-62, La pensee religieuse de Descartes (Paris, 1972); T. GREGORY, Scetticismo e empirismo: Studi su Gassendi (Bari, 1961); O. R. BLOCK, La philosophic de Gassendi (La Haye, 1971); G. RoDis-LEWis, L'oeuvre de Descartes (Paris, 1971); R. MANDROU, Des humanistes aux hommes de science XVIe et XVlle siecles (Paris, 1973); J. A. SCHUSTER, "Descartes' Mathesis universalis: 1619-1628" in Descartes: Philosophy, mathematics and physics, ed. S. GAUKROGER (Brighton, 1980); B. V. BRUNDELL, Pierre Gassendi 1592-1655: From Aristotelianism to a new natural philosophy (University of New South Wales Ph.D. dissertation, 1982). 77 Cf. CROMBIE (1969) 23, above n. 2.

Galileo Galilei, by Mario Leoni 1624 (Musee de Louvre).

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric with A. Carugo
Galileo's idea of rhetoric and his attitude towards it are unequivocally conveyed by the following passage from the Dialogo (1632) on the two greatest systems of the world, which carries in the margin the note: In the natural sciences the art of rhetoric is ineffective . He wrote:
If this about which we are disputing were some point of law or of other human studies, where there is neither truth nor falsehood, we could rely a lot on sharpness of wit, on quickness in replying and on better knowledge of writers, and hope that whoever excelled in these matters would make his own reasoning appear and be judged superior. But in the natural sciences, the conclusions of which are true and necessary, and where there is no place for human judgment, one should be cautious not try to maintain something that is false. For a thousand Demosthenes and a thousand Aristotles would be left defenceless by anyone of little intelligence who has had the chance of knowing the truth (VII, 78) *. i

Despite Galileo's disparagment of rhetoric recent literary critics have claimed to have unveiled what they call rhetorical strategies devised by him in his battle for a new idea of science and a new philosophy of nature. Jean Dietz Moss, in her study of Galileo's rhetorical strategies in defence of Copernicanism2, has claimed that in his Lettera a Madama Christina di Lorena (1615) Galileo closely followed the conventions of letter writing developed by medieval rhetoricians and
1 The Roman and Arabic numbers in brackets refer by volume and page to the National Edition of Le opere di Galileo Galilei, 20 vol. (Firenze, 1890-1910). See for a full discussion of Galileo's intellectual style A. C. CROMBIE and A. CARUGO, Galileo's Arguments and Disputes on Natural Philosophy (forthcoming); also A. CARUGO and A. C. CROMBIE, The Jesuits and Galileo's ideas of science and of nature, Annali delTIstituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze , VIII.2 (1983) 3-67; A. C. CROMBIE, Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition (London, Gerald Duckworth, 1994). 2 Novita celesti e crisi del sapere, a cura di P. Galluzzi (Supplemento agli Annali ..., 1983, 2), 95-103.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

adopted by the humanists, in particular the an dictamini which formulated the principles of epistolary composition with its distinctions of salutatio, captatio benevolentiae, narratio, petitio and conclusio. But Moss's own paraphrase of Galileo's letter hardly justifies the application to it of such rigid distinctions. As far as the Dialogo is concerned, she maintains that the arguments presented by Galileo are not rigorous demonstrations in the sense of fulfilling the canons of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. They are instead dialectical in nature, the probable type of reasoning treated in Aristotle's Topics and Rhetorica. She has also remarked that the manner in which Galileo presents his arguments is rhetorical, in that they are intended to induce assent from his fictional and real audience . But statements like these only show that Moss seems to be unaware of the clear distinction made by Aristotle and familiar to Galileo between dialectical and rhetorical arguments and to have vague and confused ideas about the nature of rhetorical arguments, an impression confirmed by her random discussion of scattered passages from the Dialogo. A more rigorous and systematic analysis of the rhetorical structure of the Dialogo, and a more subtle discussion of the rhetorical devices exploited by Galileo in presenting various forms of arguments, are be found in Brian Vickers's essay on Epideictic rhetoric in Galileo's Dialogo \ Vickers claims to be the first to have noticed that the dominant rhetorical technique in the Dialogo is the simultaneous use of praise and blame, elevating the Copernican world-system and debasing the Ptolemaic (p.71). In other words, the Dialogo exemplifies a brilliant application of epideictic rhetoric as described in Aristotle's Rhetoric, book I, chapter III. Moreover, according to Vickers the epideictic mode clearly lent itself to the dialogue form(p:73), not so much to the Platonic one, in which a priviledged and dominant speaker exposes the limitations of his partners' thinking, but rather to the Ciceronian form, in which distinct characters espouse distinct philosophical points of view and each speaker argues for his case. Hence Galileo's adoption of the rhetorical concept of persona or mask, which protected him from being identified with his characters and allowed him to give a living reality to philosophical ideas. Analyzing the topics that are praised or blamed in the Dialogo, Vickers argues that, beside the encomia to God and to the acuteness of human mind, which are part of the stanAnnali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, VIII.2 (1983), 69-102.

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


dard epideictic repertoire, the truly original feature of the Dialogo [is] the fact that every other instance of praise and blame concerns the new science, its heroes and enemies, and its positive contribution to knowledge (p. 81). Despite the brilliance of Vickers's arguments and the evident care with which he has studied the Dialogo, he does not seem to have paid sufficient attention to what Galileo understood by rhetoric and to what it meant for him. A clear indication of this can be gathered from the passage of the Dialogo which we have quoted at the beginning. Rhetoric was regarded by Galileo as an art of speaking wittingly and brillantly on legal or ethical and political issues so as to persuade an audience to judge a case in one way rather than another, by means of arguments that are only apparently conclusive and that lead to conclusions that are not necessarily true and may even be false. The natural sciences or natural philosophy, on the other hand, were conceived by Galileo as a form of knowledge based on arguments not only persuasive but also logically sound, that is to say necessary demonstrations leading to true conclusions. Therefore rhetorical arguments according to Galileo were not only ineffective, but had no place in natural philosophy and ought to be avoided in any philosophical discussion. If any philosopher tried to resort to this sort of argument in a dispute on how nature is structured and how it operates, he should be exposed by those philosophers who were aiming at the knowledge of truth. The classical distinction between modes of discourse aiming at truth and at mere persuasion had been made by Plato in the Phaedrus. This became well known in Marsilio Ficino's Latin version composed at the end of the 15th century and was echoed by Galileo as will appear later. Socrates in his analysis of true love starts by trying to discern the nature of soul (245 C). He characterizes the essential human soul as the soul that has beheld truth and the soul of the philosopher alone as that which could rise on wings so that it ever approaches to the full vision of divine perfection (249 B-C). Thus those who live a life of philosophy did honour to the music of the eldest of the Muses, Calliope and Urania, whose theme is the heavens and the story of gods and men, and whose song is the noblest of them all (259 D). Then what was good discourse? Must it presuppose a knowledge in the mind of the speaker of the truth about his subject? Must the intending orator know, for example, what is truly just, or good or noble, or only what will be thought so, since it is on the latter, not the former, that persuasion depends (259 E - 260 A)?


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Supposing, Socrates continues, that neither he nor Phaedrus knew what a horse was, he might persuade his companion to buy a donkey by calling it a horse. It was the same when a master of oratory, who is ignorant of good and evil, employs his power of persuasion on a community as ignorant as himself, not by extolling a miserable donkey as being really a horse, but by extolling evil as being really good, and when by studying the beliefs of the masses he persuades them to do evil instead of good (260 C). The art of rhetoric was a kind of influencing of the mind by means of words, not only in courts of law and other public gatherings, but also in private ; and anyone possessing the art can make the same thing appear to the same people now just, now unjust, at will, and likewise now good, and now the reverse of good. The trick was to make out everything to be like everything else , but then anyone who intends to mislead another, without being mislead himself, must discern precisely the degree of similarity and dissimilarity between this and that. How can he do this if he does not know the truth about a given thing (260 C - 2A)? Socrates contrasted rhetoric with dialectic, the method of inquiry for the truth by means of correct question and answer using the taxonomic procedures first of collection, by which we bring a dispersed plurality under a single form in order to define it, and then of division, by which in reverse we are enabled to divide into forms, following the objective articulation . Thus by dialectic we could discern an objective unity and plurality (265 D - 6B) and discover the truth. But rhetoric aimed not at truth but at mere persuasion. According to the manuals of rhetoric, after opening a speech with a preamble, next comes exposition accompanied by direct evidence; thirdly indirect evidence; fourthly probabilities ; then in addition proof and supplementary proof, followed by refutation and supplementary refutation both for prosecution and defence; with covert allusion and indirect compliment and ... indirect censure and other tricks of those like Gorgias, who realized that probability deserves more respect than truth (266 D - 7 A). But it was not enough simply to have picked up the antecedents of the art, as if people who had done that with medicine or dramatic poetry or music knew anything about the actual practice of those arts; for it is because they are ignorant of dialectic that they are incapable of defining rhetoric (269 B) or of practising or teaching it. The true rhetorician, the real master of persuasion aimed at that and nothing else, but the art shared certain common methods

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


with scientific argument aiming to find the truth. All the great arts need supplementing by a study of nature (269 D - E). Socrates likened the method of rhetoric to that of medicine. Each, in order to reach its goal, had to discover the true nature of its object. Rhetoric had to grasp the nature of the soul in order to see how it was persuasible; medicine had to grasp the nature of the body in order to see how it was healthy or curable: In both cases you must analyze a nature ... if you are to proceed scientifically, not merely by practice and routine, to impart health and strength to the body by prescribing remedies and diet, or by proper discourses and training to give to the soul the desired belief and virtue . This was the method attributed to Hippocrates, but we must no,t just rely on the authority of Hippocrates, but we must see also if our reason agrees with him on examination. At the end of his analysis the scientific rhetorician will classify the types of discourse and the types of soul, and the various ways in which souls are affected, explaining the reasons in each case: suggesting the types of speech appropriate to each type of soul, and what kind of speech can be relied upon to create belief in one soul and disbelief in another, and why . For a certain type of hearer will be easy to persuade, by a certain type of speech, to take such and such action, for such and such reason, while another type will be hard to persuade. All this the orator must fully grasp, and next he must watch it actually taking place in men's conduct. When the student of rhetoric, having grasped the theory, could place any individual person in this classification of characters, and could know how to seize the occasion for the appropriate tricks, then and not till then he has well and truly achieved the art. There was absolutely no need for the budding orator to concern himself with the truth about what is just or good conduct or who are just and good men ... In the law courts nobody cares about the truth in these matters, but only about persuasion, and that is concerned with what seems most likely for the purpose. The would-be master of persuasion must then suppress or substitute facts according to need and say goodbye to the truth forever. Then he will be equipped with the art complete (269 D - 73 A). If the multitude get their notion of probability as the result of a likeness to truth, ... these likenesses can always be best discovered by someone who knows the truth (273 D). Socrates rebuked Phaedrus for suggesting that apparently it makes a difference who the speaker is, and what country he comes from; you do not ask


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

simply whether what he says is true or false (275 C). The art of dialectic transcended rhetoric because its aim was truth, and when the dialectician wants to persuade he selects a soul of the right type, and in it he plants and sows his words founded on knowledge, words that can defend both themselves and him who planted them, words that instead of remaining barren contain a seed from which new words grow up in new characters, giving the seed immortality, and its possessor the greatest blessedness attainable by man. The conditions were that first you must know the truth about the subject that you speak or write about; ... secondly you must have a corresponding discernment of the nature of the soul being instructed and arrange your discourse accordingly. Then you will become competent as a scientific practitioner of speech, whether you propose to expound or to persuade (276 E / 7 C). Someone who has thus done his work with a knowledge of the truth, and can defend his statements when challenged, could fittingly be called a philosopher . But a composer of merely literary works on whose phrases he spends hours, twisting them this way and that, pasting them together and pulling them apart, will rightly I suggest be called a poet or speech writer or law writer (278 C - E). Galileo's assessment of the scope and limits of rhetoric was not particularly new and original, for similar ideas were commonly shared by any learned person of his time. A clear and detailed picture of what was generally understood by rhetoric in the learned circles in which Galileo moved can be found in an Italian paraphrase of Aristotle's Rhetoric produced in 1565 by Alessandro Piccolomini, a philosopher whose works were familiar to Galileo and with whom he had many points in common. Piccolomini had acquired a great reputation as a philosopher when, still very young, he published in 1547 an enlightening commentary in Latin to Aristotle's Mechanical Questions, together with a learned treatise also in Latin on the question of what degree of certainty can be achieved in the mathematical sciences. Both these works were very influencial in promoting among philosophers new debates on the principles of mechanics and on the nature of mathematics and its place among other speculative disciplines such as natural philosophy and theology. Subsequently Piccolomini produced a series of works covering the whole range of philosophical disciplines. They were written in Italian and aimed to show that the vernacular was as powerful and as flexible as Latin in conveying philosophical and scientific ideas and arguments. Copies of some of Piccolomini's works

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


were owned by Galileo, whose style of writing in Italian show sometimes a striking resemblance to Piccolomini's. For instance a phrase such as sensate esperienze e certe dimostrazioni which is recurrent in Galileo's writings was coined by Piccolomini4. After publishing treatises in Italian on logic, natural philosophy and cosmology as well as on ethics and politics Piccolomini produced a series of three volumes giving an extensive and detailed commentary or paraphrase on Aristotle's Rhetoric. In the preface to the first volume, published with the title Copiosissima pamfrasi nel primo libro delta Retorica d'Aristotele (Venice 1565), Piccolomini praised Aristotle's style or method of exposition for being straightforward and free from rhetorical embellishments, and preferred it to Plato's poetic style which veiled the truth with obscure fables:
If we consider carefully the reason why of the two greatest luminaries of learning, Plato and Aristotle, the latter has for so many centuries predominated and is still predominating in the schools of sciences, we shall find that undoubtedly this is so not because he is superior in learning: in fact, although there have been and still are many who would not agree to put Plato before Aristotle as far as sciences are concerned, nevertheless no learned man has yet considered Plato inferior in learning. But we shall clearly see that the true reason for Aristotle's superiority is none other than the method, that is the way of presentation that he has followed in his books: he has presented and expounded the matters of his treatises in a clear, neat, proper and ordered manner, free from superfluities, without enveloping them in obscure fables or veiling them with poetical imagery (senza velo di poetica imitatione) and, lastly, without masking them with rhetorical ornaments (senza maschera di retorico omamento).

Aristotle's unrhetorical style of writing was regarded by Piccolomini as the most suitable for the study of nature. He warned natural philosophers against using rhetorical trappings which would unnecessarily increase the natural difficulty of discovering what is hidden in nature: Nature has unfortunately concealed and hidden its things more deeply than man would wish or need: therefore > for learned men, who struggle to discover and explain them, their intrinsic and natural difficulty should be enough, without adding further dif4 ALESSANDRO PICCOLOMINI, La sfera del mondo (Venezia 1566), p. 4: E mancando le frequent! sensate esperientie tnanca ancora la certezza delle conclusion!; p. 246: La certezza ... delle loro dimostrationi puo supplire in gran parte a quanto in prima, per Pimperfettione che portano le cose sensate, si fusse mancato . A. FAVARO, Miscellanea Galileiana inedita, xii: La libreria di Galileo, Memorie del R. Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, XXII (1887), 982-1034, lists three of Piccolomini's works (nos. 384-386) including La sfera del mondo.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modem Thought

ficulty by resorting to poetical and rhetorical complications (con poetici e retorici involgimenti) (p. 2). Piccolomini's warning against the use of rhetoric in natural philosophy was clearly echoed in the passage from Galileo's Dialogo which we quoted at the beginning. The same note was struck by Galileo over and over again in his writings, as we shall see later. For the time being we stay with Piccolomini and we follow his competent guidance in order to get a proper understanding of Aristotelian rhetoric. To justify why he thought it necessary to produce and publish his own account of Aristotle's rhetoric, Piccolomini denounced the inadequacy of existing translations of and commentaries on it. He argued that previous translators had corrupted and made a mess of the Aristotelian text either by producing an unintelligible word for word translation or by giving a misleading interpretation of their own:
When I examined those who have translated these books into another language to see if I could find in their translations anything that could throw light on some passage ... I found that they had really not translated, but rather corrupted the whole text, since most of the passages had been either painted (depinti) or misunderstood (contro il vero sentimento intesi}. By painted I mean those passages which the translators, being aware that they do not understand them, transpose from one language to the other by using the same number of words in the same order. As a result, since different languages require different arrangements of words and different forms of locution, those passages which are translated so closely to the original are rendered unintelligible, besides being misunderstood by the translators themselves. This is the way in which the translators paint the passages which they are aware that they do not understand. On the other hand, as far as those passages are concerned which they presume that they understand though they do not, they depart from the author's true meaning (p. 3).

Faced with the task of expounding Aristotle's Rhetoric, Piccolomini soon realized that he had to adopt a different method of exposition from the one that he had used in his previous works, in which he had given accounts of Aristotle's treatises on logic, natural philosophy, ethics and mechanics, and of Ptolemy's work on astronomy. In those works be had faithfully followed the opinions of the authors so far as the substance of the matters treated was concerned, whereas for the method he had adopted a freer style, writing as it pleased me, by expanding or abridging the original, by adding things or leaving things out, by explaining and clarifying, and by doing anything that could show more clearly the author's meaning and mind and make the matters easier (pp. 7-8).

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


But in expounding Aristotle's Rhetoric it was necessary not only to show clearly, to penetrate, to expand and to disentangle its substance and its pith and marrow, but also to explain step by step Aristotle's meaning and mind. To do this Piccolomini decided that the best method of exposition was to paraphrase, since this was most suited to express the auther's mind by sometimes freely expanding the original in order to unveil and show the substance of his ideas without ever departing from him (p. 8). The kind of paraphrase adopted by Piccolomini was one that allowed him to make long digressions in order to strengthen and clarify Aristotle's opinions by adding arguments and examples of his own without abandoning his footsteps. By doing this Piccolomini was explicitly following the example of the ancient commentator Themistius and particularly of his commentary on Aristotle's De anima. Rhetoric, says Piccolomini at the beginning of his paraphrase closely following Aristotle's text, bears great resemblance and affinity to dialectic in dealing with subjects that are not confined to any particular science, and in using propositions, terms, concepts and arguments that are adapted to the common knowledge of men rather than belonging to any particular science or to the deep and precise knowledge of a specialist (p. 13). Knowledge of rhetoric as well as of dialectic is so easily accessible to everyone that anyone can understand and practise these arts without difficulty. Rhetoric and dialectic are different from particular sciences in that, whereas the latter treat their subject-matters with a precise scientific method which is proper to each of them, rhetoric and dialectic instead form their propositions and arguments in a way that is adapted to the common understanding of men. In fact they use propositions that are not scientific and precise, but apparently true and probable, and by means of such propositions they form probable arguments and proofs, so that their way of proceeding is entirely proportionate and suited to the judgment and understanding of men most of whom are unskilled (p. 14). In rhetoric as well as in dialectic propositions, premises, causes and arguments are derived not from specific sciences and arts, but from common life, and are adapted, formed and used in such a way that anyone can understand them who is not mentally blind and deprived of almost all the senses (p. 15). But whereas dialectic concerns equally all sorts of subject-matters, rhetoric deals more usually with civil affairs (ibid.}.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

The strength of rhetoric consists in the ability of an eloquent public speaker to persuade his listeners by means of arguments that have only the appearance of demonstration, such as that which is called enthymeme, which is an imperfect form of syllogism lacking one of the premises. The enthymeme is different from the syllogism in that, whereas in the syllogism both the premises are explicitly formulated and arranged in their proper order, in the enthymeme one of the premises is always omitted, and it is left to the listener himself to supply it in his own mind. This is so because the speaker does not have to talk in a learned manner nor for the purpose of teaching, as he must in scientific disputations, but he can speak in a popular manner suited to his listeners and therefore very similar to the common way of speaking that is normally used in the activities of everyday life. As a consequence, he does not need to lay out and arrange terms, propositions and arguments according to the schemes and rules of deduction, as one must do when treating or discussing some scientific topic the purpose of which is not just to persuade, but to find truth itself (p. 33). Rhetoric or the art of speaking (arte del dire, as Piccolomini called it from the Latin expression ars dicendi which was often used to translate the title of Aristotle's treatise) deals not just with what is truly probable and persuasive , but also with what is only apparently so. And it requires knowledge not only of the true enthymeme, but also of the apparent one. From this point of view rhetoric is again similar to dialectic which requires knowledge not only of the true syllogism, but also of the syllogism that is not true but has only the appearence of being so. But from another point of view there is a fundamental difference between rhetoric and dialectic which derives ultimately from their different aims, dialectic aiming at gaining the truth, rhetoric at gaining the listener's approval.
Though the dialectician must know the apparent as well as the false syllogism besides the true syllogism, yet he knows it not for the purpose of using it deliberately, but in order to be on his guard against being deceived by it and to be able to expose and demolish it if it is used against him. Someone who uses a false syllogism deliberately must be regarded as a sophist rather than a dialectician, that is as someone who uses false and deceitful arguments. But in the art of speaking things are different: the rhetorician or orator does not aim to win the argument in a dispute by using probable arguments in order to get as near as he can to the truth, but he aims to win the audience over by any possible means. Therefore whether he achieves this result by means of a true enthymeme and of a

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


truly probable or apparently true proof, or by means of an only apparently probable argument, nevertheless he is still essentially an orator or a rhetorician, and is still called by that name (p. 41).

Piccolomini did not agree with other commentators who believed that the difference between a rhetorician and a dialectician in the use of apparent and fallacious arguments was only a difference of names. He maintained that when a dialectician uses apparent arguments, he only changes his name and is called a sophist, while nevertheless remaining truly a dialectician, whereas a rhetorician does not change his name because he uses such arguments. Piccolomini argued instead that their difference lies in the thing itself: the deliberate use of fallacious syllogisms is forbidden to a dialectician, whereas it is allowed to a rhetorician for reasons based on the different aims of these two arts (p. 42): for the dialectician tries to get to the truth, whereas the rhetorician tries to persuade an audience. The practice of the art of speaking required three things: a speaker, an audience and the cause for which one speaks. Correspondingly there are three ways of inducing belief and persuasion: one is based on the good opinion that the audience has of the speaker's behaviour; the second consists in making the audience favourablely disposed towards one's cause; and the third consists in being able to argue and to show that one's cause is reasonable. In order to master these three ways of persuading one must know three things: first, one must be capable of arguing with good reason and of exploiting the strength of syllogisms; secondly, one must know the qualities and conditions of virtues and good behaviour so that one's speech may produce a good opinion of one self ; and finally, one must have a good knowledge of all human feelings, that is one must know what they are, how and by what they are aroused, and what effect they have. Knowledge of the various forms of reasoning and argument depends on dialectic which deals with the nature of the syllogism and therefore helps to strengthen any sort of reasoning and argument. The other two kinds of knowledge, one relating to the behaviour and virtues of man and the other to the motion of the passions, derive their strength from the moral and political disciplines: it belongs indeed to the moral and civil philosopher to know what sort of actions depend on human will and produce an inclination either to vices or to virtues, which entail either praise or blame and induce people to have a good or bad


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

opinion of us. As for the feelings, though it belongs to the natural philosopher to consider in what part of the soul they are placed; nevertheless, since we are influenced by our feelings in taking a good or bad decision in our actions, knowledge of how they are aroused and of what their effects are belongs to the moral or political disciplines. Piccolomini defined the art of rhetoric as a branch or shoot of dialectic and of moral or political philosophy and separated it from natural philosophy. He argued that whereas the natural philosopher studies the feelings from the point of view of the subject in which they are placed, which is the appetite sensitive or physical desire, a faculty of the soul, the rhetorician instead considers them as the stuff of which our virtues and vices are made and as the principles of most human actions. From this point of view they are the concern rather of the civil or political philosopher than of the natural philosopher. Therefore civil and political actions are the subject-matter proper to rhetoric. From what has been said so far we can draw the conclusion that Piccolomini's account of the Aristotelian rhetoric or art of speaking eloquently stresses its distinction from a speculative discipline such as natural philosophy and its close connection with a practical discipline such as political or moral philosophy. Rhetoric has nothing to do with knowledge of nature and with the acquisition of truth, but its main aim is to influence human actions. Rhetorical arguments are entirely different from scientific arguments: they are based on reasonings that are only apparently conclusive and lead to conclusions that may be false, whereas scientific arguments are based on necessary demonstrations leading to true conclusions. A rhetorical speech is addressed generally to an unlearned audience, who can easily be persuaded to take one course of action rather than another by an eloquent speaker who knows how to stir their feelings and passions. But a scientific argument can be followed and understood only by a learned person who is trained in the techniques of necessary demonstrations. It was to this idea of rhetoric so competently described by Piccolomini that Galileo referred in his arguments and disputations every time he wanted to define as clearly and as precisely as possible what he thought natural philosophy was about, that is its proper object, its method and its aim, in order to expose his opponent as incompetent or deceitful in using rhetorical arguments to support a false picture of nature. Galileo's familiarity with and high esteem of

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


Aristotle's Rhetoric is confirmed by one of his earliest biographers, Niccolo Gherardini who, writing in 1654, pointed out that it is far from truth that he ... did not think very highly ... of Aristotle, as some of those who profess to be his followers foolishly say ... Among Aristotle's works he praised above all the Rhetoric and the Ethics, saying that he had written beautifully on this art (XIX. 645). Among the notes and drafts that Galileo jotted down in 1612 while he was engaged in the controversy on the cause of the floating of bodies, there is a passage in which he sets nature's operation in opposition to human actions. Nature, argued Galileo, follows necessary laws and is not influenced by the sort of probable reasons that form the rhetorical arguments by which some tried to persuade other men to follow their deliberations and opinions:
Since nature does not change its operations in the least as a result of men's consultations, what is the point of arguing so fiercely between ourselves in order to win the argument for one of our opinions: in fact our influence on nature's deliberations is no greater than the effect that the disputes and controversies between the members of the Venetian council of nine magistrates have on the resolutions of the Emperor of China. Nature's deliberations are good, univocal and perhaps necessary, so that our opinions and advice have no place in them; nor do probable reasons: hence whatever argument we produce about them is either good and true, or bad and false. If it is bad and false, we must laugh at it and demolish it, but we should not hate whoever has produced it. If it is good and true, the hatred against whoever has put it forward is impious, perfidious and sacriligious. It is nonsense to say that truth is hidden so well that it is difficult to distinguish it from lies: it remains well hidden for as long as nothing but false opinions are produced, leaving large room for probability; but as soon as truth comes forward, its light shines as brightly as the Sun's and dispels the darkness of falsehood (IV, 24).

From this contraposition between nature's operations and man's deliberations, between the necessary laws of nature and the contingent laws of men, between demonstrative arguments leading to true consequences and fallacious arguments which, though persuasive and apparently convincing, entail false consequences, Galileo derived the idea that rhetoric has no place in discussions on natural philosophy. This opinion, which he shared with such authoritative philosophers of the time as Piccolomini, was expressed by Galileo with strength and conviction over and over again in many different writings, especially in the Dialogo where three interlocutors respectively voicing Aristotle's opinions and reasonings (Simplicio), Galileo's arguments


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

and ideas (Salviati) and an amateur's observations (Sagredo), gather together for the purpose of arguing , as the full title reads, about the two greatest systems of the world, the Ptolemaic and the Copernican, by producing philosophical and natural reasons for the one and for the other. At the beginning of the Dialogo, after Simplicio has produced Aristotle's argument to prove that the world is perfect from the fact that it has only three dimensions and that three is a perfect number, Salviati exposes the fallacy of this apparent syllogism which turns out to be no more than a rhetorical trick:
I do not feel bound by all these reasonings to grant any more than that what has a beginning, a middle and an end can and must be called perfect: but I cannot grant by any reason that, because beginning, middle and end are three, the number three is perfect and has the power of conferring perfection on those things that have such a number. I can neither understand nor believe, for instance, that for legs the number three is more perfect than the number four or two; nor do I think that the number four is an imperfection in the elements, and that they would be more perfect if they were three. It would have been better, therefore, if Aristotle had left such plaisanteries to the rhetoricians and had proved his point by a necessary demonstration, since this is what one has to do in the demonstrative sciences (VII, 35).

Again Galileo warns against mixing rhetoric with science and against entangling rigorous demonstrations with rhetorical embellishments in the second Day of the Dialogo, during a discussion of some of the traditional objections to the Copernican system of the world. Simplicio relates an argument put forward by an Aristotelian philosopher, Scipione Chiaramonti, in his book De tribus novis stellis (1628): the Copernican hypothesis would bring a great confusion and darkness into the system of the world by placing the Earth, which is the dump of all corruptible matters, among the uncorruptible celestial bodies, which are regarded as noble and pure even by Copernicus, who states that they are arranged in the best order and removes from them any changeable property. What better arrangement, and more suitable to nature and to the Divine architect himself, than to separate the pure from the impure, the mortal from the immortal, as they do in the other schools, where they teach that those impure and perishable matters are enclosed within the narrow bounds of the concave surface of the sphere of the Moon, above which the celestial things rise in an unin-

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


terrupted series (VII, 292). Salviati agrees that the Copernican system brings disruption into the Aristotelian world, but he points out that what is being discussed is the true and real world. He goes on then to expose the fallacy of Chiaramonti's argument:
When this author, following Aristotle, derives the essential difference between the Earth and the celestial bodies from the incorruptibility of the latter and the corruptibility of the former, and then from this difference he pretends to draw the conclusion that motion must belong to the Sun and the fixed stars and immobility to the Earth, he is falling into a paralogism by supposing that which is in dispute. For Aristotle derives the incorruptibility of the celestial bodies from their motion, whereas it is disputed whether motion belongs to them or to the Earth. But we have already talked more than enough about the vanity of these rhetorical illations. Besides, is there anything sillier than to say that the Earth and the elements are separated from the celestial spheres and relegated and confined to the sphere of the Moon? Is not the sphere of the Moon one of the celestial spheres and, according to their opinion, placed in the middle of all the other spheres? This a new way indeed of separating the pure from the impure and the healthy from the sick by providing room for the infected right in the heart of the city! I tought that the lazaret should be removed as far away from it as possible. Copernicus admires the arrangement of the parts of the world because God placed the great lamp, which was to illuminate the whole of his temple with the greatest brightness, right in the middle of it, and not on one side (VII, 292-293).

Salviati rounds off his tirade with the usual attack on the improper use of rhetoric in scientific arguments: But, please, let us not entwine the firm foundations of demonstrations with these rhetorical florid ornaments, and let us leave them to rhetoricians or rather to poets, who have been able to extol and praise worthless, and sometimes even wicked, things by means of their pleasantries (VII, 293). The identification of rhetorical arguments with fallacies and paralogisms which have only the appearance of demonstrations had been strongly stressed by Piccolomini, and was reiterated by Galileo, who exploited it in the many disputes in which he was involved by denouncing his opponents as being more rhetoricians than philosophers. In a draft containing a reply to objections raised against his Discorso on floating bodies by Aristotelian philosophers such as Cristoforo delle Colombe, Galileo stigmatized him for behaving more like a rhetorician than a philosopher, and for using rhetorical tricks to win popular applause:


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

My opponents, moved by those feelings towards me that they clearly show in their writings, try any trick that could gain them popular applause or at least could keep the crowd undecided. One of such tricks is that of shouting frequently in to their ears, pointing out the apparent strangeness of conclusions which are simple and true but which are removed from the commonly accepted opinions of those who have the reputation of being learned. And they do so in order that their listeners will keep to their old ideas and will not bother to listen to any of the contrary arguments. Another trick, which is amazingly exploited by Signer Colombo, is that of answering all the arguments produced by his opponent, even those that are insoluble. I said answering, though neither has he in the least understood those arguments, nor is there anyone who could understand his answer, which are not even understood by him. I think that he has learned at a good school of rhetoricians how effective it is, in order to gain general approval, to speak a lot and with boldness, so that the simple reader remains confused and undecided whether to give or to refuse his assent to that which he thinks he does not understand because of his own limitations (IV, 445). Galileo's concluding remark shows the usual mixture of irony and complacency with which he scores another victory on one of his opponents: I cannot deny that I have taken particular pleasure in seeng with what skill Signer Colombo finds answers where there are none, forms arguments from meaningless ideas and produces doctrines which he has never seen, let alone studied. And he does all this with subtle smartness in order to gain from cunning the profit that he cannot hope to obtain from reasoning (IV, 445). Galileo's disparaging comments on the use of rhetorical arguments in scientific discussions were tactical moves within a wider strategy aiming at defining with clarity and precision the scope and the methods of natural philosophy as distinct from other intellectual activities such as historiography and poetry as well as rhetoric. The purpose of rhetoric was to choose the most effective words and to construct the most apparently persuasive, though often fallacious, arguments in order to influence the decision and judgment of the unlearned crowd. The aim of philosophy, on the other hand, was to read the book of nature, and this task required men of great intellectual skill. The proposition that philosophy is the proper nourishment for men of great intellectual power and is what separates them from

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


common people was vigorously asserted by Galileo right at the outset of the Dialogo, in the dedicatory epistle addressed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He argued that the book of nature was made by an omnipotent Craftsman and that those parts of nature are more noble and worth studying that reveal his craftsmanship to a higher degree. The most noble of all is the system of the world, and accordingly the investigation of this subject is reserved for those who are endowed with the greatest mental powers:
The difference between men and animals, however great, can reasonably be said to be very similar to that between men themselves ... Such differences depend on the different powers of their minds, and I regard this as amounting to being or not to being a philosopher: for philosophy, as a nourishment suited to those who can be nourished by it, separates them from the common people to a higler or lower degree according to the variety of such nourishment. Those who look higher are separated by a greater difference; and to look at the great book of nature, which is the proper object of philosophy, is a way of raising one's eyes: though everything that can be read in such a book is extremely well proportioned, since it has been made by an omnipotent Craftsman, nevertheless that part is better constructed and more worthy in which we can see more clearly his work and craftsmanship. The system of the world can be ranked, in my opinion, among the highest natural things that can be apprehended by our mind: since as a universal container it surpasses everything else in size, as the rule and support of all things it must also surpass everything in nobility. Therefore, if ever there was a man who surpassed everybody else in intellectual ability, Ptolemy and Copernicus were such men, for they raised their eyes so high as to be able to read the book of nature and to philosophize about the system of the world (VII, 27).

If then natural philosophy as a form of intellectual knowledge for which only a few speculative minds are suited was to be kept separated from rhetoric which is a kind of pratical knowledge accessible to common people of lower intellectual capability, likewise, since it is based on sense experience and on necessary demonstrations, it must be clearly distinguished also from historical knowledge which is based on recollection and on authority. At the beginning of the second Day of the Dialogo Simplicio asks with dismay: But if we abandon Aristotle, who is going to be our guide in philosophy? Name some author, please! (VII, 138). Salviati replies: We need to be escorted in unknown and wild countries, but in open and clear places only the blind need a guide. Those who are blind would better stay at home, but those who have


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

eyes in their face and in their mind must use them as their guide . But Salviati's rejection of Aristotle's guidance is immediately qualified as a refusal to subscribe to Aristotle's statements, not as a refusal to understand his arguments:
I do not say that we should not listen to Aristotle; on the contrary, I approve of reading and studying him carefully, and I blame only those who let themselves become enslaved to him so that they blindly subscribe to every statement that he has made and, without looking for other reasons, take it for granted and regard it as a decree that cannot be violated. This is an abuse which entails another extremely dangerous consequence, that is that others give up any effort to try to understand the strength of his demonstrations (ibid.).

Those who rely on Aristotle's authority and quote Aristotelian texts in the course of philosophical disputations should be called rather historians than philosophers, since they replaced arguments with compilations of text:
What is more shameful than to see, during public disputes about conclusions that can be demonstrated, someone coming in with a text written often for another purpose to shut his opponent's mouth with it? But if you want to carry on with this way of studying, you should give up the name of philosophers and call yourselves historians or doctors of memory (VII, 139).

Galileo took care to define as clearly as possible the scope of natural philosophy by separating it not only from rhetoric and history, but also from poetry. Natural philosophy aims at reaching true conclusions about the real world by means of necessary arguments based on mathematical demonstrations; poetry, instead, aims at creating a fictional world by imitating the style of celebrated authors. This point is eloquently illustrated by Galileo in a famous passage in // Saggiatore (1623) (chapter 6) which contains the powerful image of the book of nature written in mathematical language. This passage is usually misunderstood as a declaration of philosophical allegiance to Platonic ideas. A more appropriate understanding of it can be obtained if it is interpreted in the light of Galileo's constant efforts to give a precise characterization of natural philosophy:
I think I perceive in Sarsi the strong belief that in philosophy it is necessary to rely on the opinions of some famous author, so that our mind would remain completely sterile and infertile if it were not married to someone else's reasoning. And perhaps he thinks that philosophy is a book produced by a man's imagination, such as the Iliad and Orlando Furioso, books in

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


which the least important thing is that what is written is true. Signer Sarsi, this is not how the things stand. Philosophy is written in this great book which stands always open in front of our eyes (I mean the universe), but it cannot be understood unless one first learns the language and the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language and the characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which it is impossible for man to understand a single word of it (VI, 232).

As a natural philosopher Galileo would not resort to the kind of rhetorical arguments which he was so keen to expose in his opponents. Similarly he would neither rely on quotations from authorities nor let his imagination create a fictional picture of the world like those concocted from various sources by such Renaissance philosophers as Ficino, Cardano, Telesio and Bruno, all of whom Galileo ignored or at least claimed that he had never read. What has been written by Cardano and Telesio, I have not seen he declared in // Saggiatore (chap. 9), rejecting Sarsi's insinuation that Galileo seemed to have derived something relating to the comets from the sterile and barren philosophy of Cardano and Telesio (VI, 236, 118). But as a natural philosopher Galileo was also constantly engaged in disputes on issues raised by his published works, and in order to fight successfully with his opponents he had to learn the art of arguing. He could find little help in rhetorical tricks, but had to turn to the more subtle techniques of arguing developed by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics, the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations. The theory of scientific demonstration contained in the Posterior Analytics was closely studied by Galileo in a series of still unpublished logical disputations (preserved among the MSS of the Galilean Collection at the National Library in Florence, with the shelfmark MS Gal. 27) on the nature of principles of scientific knowledge and on the structure of scientific demonstrations, that is demonstrations that lead to true conclusions by means of necessary arguments'.As for the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations, there is no evidence that Galileo devoted to them the same attention as he paid to the Posterior Analytics. Nevertheless many of his works, particularly II Saggiatore and the Dialogo, show him as a skilful practitioner of the art of developing the kind of dialectical and sophistical arguments described in these two Aristotelian treatises.
See references in note 1. above; also A. C. CROMBIE, Sources of Galileo's early natural philosophy , in Reason, Experiment and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, ed. M. L. Righini Bonelli and W. R. Shea (New York, Science History Publications, 1975), 157-175, 303-5 : ch. 9 above.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

The Topics treats forms of reasoning which, while syllogistically correct, fall short of the conditions of scientific accuracy. The purpose of the Topics is to discover a method by which we shall be able to argue from probable opinions about any subject or problem presented to us, and shall ourselves, when sustaining a dispute, avoid saying anything self-contradictory (methodum invenire per quam poterimus syllogizare de omni proposito problemate ex probabilibus, et ipsi disputationem sustinentes nihil dicamus repugnans)6. In other words, it has the purpose of making the two participants, the questioner and the answerer, able to sustain their parts in a dialectical discussion. The subject of the Topics was described by Aristotle as the dialectical syllogism based on premises that are merely probable (dialecticus syllogismus est qui ex probabilibus est collectus] and was contrasted with the demonstrative or scientific syllogism, the subject of the Posterior Analytics, which is based on premises that are true and immediate (demonstratio est quando ex veris et primis syllogismus erit}. In the Sophistical Refutations Aristotle deals with the sophistical syllogism, which is based on premises that seem to be probable, but are not really so (litigiosus est syllogismus ex us, quae videntur probabilia, non sunt autem}. A knowledge of this way of arguing was part of the necessary equipment of a philosopher, as was pointed out by Piccolomini, not in order that he might himself make use of it, but that he might avoid it and prevent being trapped in sophistical arguments used by his opponents. Galileo followed Piccolomini's advice and learned the techniques of the dialectical and sophistical syllogisms so that he could expose any fallacy in the arguments produced by his opponents. Throughout the Dialogo Galileo does not miss any chance of showing off his mastery of the art of arguing and disputing by exposing fallacies and paralogisms in most of the arguments put forward by Aristotelians against the motion of the Earth. After arguing that, whether the Earth moves or stands still, the shots of a piece of artillery would not show any observable variation, Salviati warns Simplicio to be cautious in acknowledging as true many experiences produced by those who never made them, but insistently claim that they are exactly as they should be in order to support their case (VII, 208). The simple truth, adds Salviati, is
6 This is the old mediaeval Latin translation of Aristotle which was still largely used in the 16th century: see for example ARISTOTELIS STAGIRITI Opera omnia, i (Lugduni, 1580), 390-1, Topicorum libri, i, c. 1 on demonstratio, syllogismus, dialectus, syllogismus litigiosus and paralogismus.

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


that the effects of these shots must be exactly the same whether the terrestrial globe moves or is at rest. The same will be true of all the other experiments that have been or can be produced, which at first sight appear to be true in so far as the old idea of the immobility of the Earth keeps us caught among equivocations (VII, 209). Salviati's argument is further supported by Sagredo who joins forces to unmask the fallacy of the traditional argument: I understand very well that whoever will imprint in his imagination this idea of all terrestrial things sharing the daily rotation as something that belongs to them by nature, in the same way as in the old idea they thought that it belonged to them to be at rest around the centre, will discern without difficulty the fallacy and equivocation which made the argument produced for the immobility seem conclusive (ibid.). For all his admiration for Aristotle's skill in arguing, Galileo does not hesitate to attack some of the most commonly established Aristotelian arguments by showing that they are based on paralogisms. After Simplicio has presented Aristotle's argument to prove that heavy bodies move in order to go to the centre of the universe, Salviati not only does not agree with Simplicio in regarding it as a conclusive demonstration, but he declares:
I am amazed that you need to be shown Aristotle's paralogism, since it is so obvious, and that you have not noticed that Aristotle presupposes what is in question (VII, 59).

This direct attack delivered against Aristotle's reputation as the greatest authority on logic and the art of arguing provokes Simplicio's immediate reaction:
I beg you, Signer Salviati, to speak with a greater respect for Aristotle. How could you persuade anyone that he who was the first and only one to explain wonderfully the form of syllogism, demonstration, sophistical refutations, the way of discovering sophisms, paralogisms, and in a word all parts of logic, could then equivocate and make such a serious mistake as to suppose as known that which is in question? (VII, 59).

Simplicio's rhetotical tirade in defence of Aristotle is effectively deflated by Salviati who, wittingly playing on words and deliberately exploiting the equivocal or ambiguous meaning of the word organum traditionally used as the title for the collection of the Aristotelian logical treatises, compares logic to an organ and argues that one thing is to know the rules of an art, another thing is to be skilful in practicing it:


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Logic, as you know very well, is the organ with which we philosophize. But, as it can happen that a craftsman is excellent in building organs, but is not trained to play them, so someone can be a great logician but have little skill in using logic. Similarly, there are many who know the whole of the art of poetry by heart, but are incapable of composing even four lines. There are others who have learned all Leonardo's prescriptions, but would be incapable of painting a single chair. One does not learn to play the organ from those who build organs, but from those who play them; one learns poetry by reading poets all the time; one learns to paint by makins drawings and paintings all the time; one learns to make demonstrations by reading books full of demonstrations, and such are only the mathematical, not the logical, books (VII, 59-60). This impressive and convincing use by Galileo of the literary form of the simile should not be regarded as an example of rhetorical ways of arguing, but only as a document of his mastery of the art of poetry. Galileo's poetical style was not a substitute for philosophical arguments, but an important aspect of them. In fact the simile is used by Salviati as an essential part of his argument aiming at showing that even Aristotle sometimes resorts to paralogisms: Now he goes on returning to the object of our discussion, I say that what Aristotle sees in the motion of light bodies is the moving away of the fire from any place of the surface of the terrestrial globe and its rising straight upwards. This motion is truly towards a circumference greater than the Earth; indeed Aristotle Jihnself makes it move towards the concave surface of the sphere of the Moon. But that such a circumference is that of the world or is concentric with it, so that to move towards it is also to move towards the circumference of the world, this cannot be stated unless one presupposes first that the centre of the Earth, from which we see light bodies rise and move away, is the same as the centre of the world, that is to say that the terrestrial globe is placed in the centre of the world. This is what we doubt, and what Aristotle intends to prove. And do you say that this is not a manifest paralogism? (VII, 60). This stringent argument leaves Simplicio's position defenceless; his reaction is an acknowledgment of defeat: This way of philosophizing aims to overthrow the whole of natural philosophy and to ruin the heavens and the Earth, and the whole world (VII, 62). Salviati, being the winner, can afford to be more confident and to reassure Simplicio that philosophy itself cannot but benefit from our disputes, for if our ideas are true, we shall have gained new ac-

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


quisitions; if they are false, by refuting them the old doctrines will be further confirmed. You should instead worry about some of the philosophers and should try to help and support them, for as far as science itself is concerned it cannot but advance (VII, 62). Salviati's remark about the benefits to be derived from philosofical disputes is further stressed by a marginal note stating that philosophy can receive increment from disputes and oppositions between philosophers. This remark draws our attention to an important aspect of Galileo's way of philosophizing, that is to the fact that throughout his life he produced and developed his ideas of science and of nature by engaging in disputes with his opponents. Most of his works, from the Discorso on floating bodies of 1612 to the Dialogo of 1632, are in the form of disputations on specific and precise questions, for which different and opposing arguments are analyzed. In them Galileo displays all his skill in the art of arguing. He seemed to take such pleasure in the practice of this art that often in his disputes he aimed clearly to win not only the truth but also the argument. This is particularly noticeable in those cases where he is so keen to show off his virtuosity in arguing that he first pretends to add arguments apparently supporting his opponent's point of view, only to surprise in the end both him and his audience by revealing their faults and paralogisms and thus destroying the thesis being maintained. An example of this way of arguing is offered by Salviati when he discusses in the second Day of the Dialogo Ptolemy's objection that a rotation of the Earth would fling off everything on its surface. At first Salviati pretends to add further support to the argument, which Simplicio considers so strong as to be irrefutable: I want also, Signor Simplicio, to strengthen even further the knot of the argument, by showing in a way which is even more obvious to the senses how true it is that heavy bodies which are turned at a great speed around a stable centre acquire an impetus or impulse to move away from this centre, even though by nature they have a tendency to go there (VII, 216). Salviati's refutation of the argument is all the more surprising as it is accomplished through reasoning based on simple mathematical ideas which even Simplicio can understand and accept. Salviati brings Simplicio step by step to acknowledge that, in the case of the rotation of the Earth, the impulse to fly off along the tangent to the surface is overcome by the tendency to move towards the centre of the world, so that all heavy bodies lying on the surface of the Earth are kept firmly in their


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

place. At the end of a long and complicated discussion where all the concessions apparently made by Salviati to Simplicio turn out to weaken and finally destroy the latter's position and to consolidate that of the former, Salviati cannot hide his satisfaction and pride in having won:
You can see now how great is the strength of truth, for while you try to knock it down, your very attacks help it to stand up and to become stronger (VII, 230).

The disputational style of the Dialogo was not just a literary form based on rhetorical conventions, as some recent critics believe, but was required by the nature of Galileo's scientific enterprise, which aimed to provide new solutions to old problems by showing that the old solutions were based on unacceptable principles and on fallacious arguments, and by building new arguments on the ruins of the old ones. That style also reflects Galileo's experience of public debates in which he was engaged at crucial moments of his life. A vivid portrait of Galileo in the act of disputing and of displying his extraordinary skill in arguing to overpower his opponents emerges from Antonio Quarengo's letters written from Rome between December 1615 and January 1616 to inform the Cardinal Alessandro d'Este about the developments of the discussions which Galileo was having with opponents of the Copernican system in order to persuade influental members of the Church to take a position in favour of it. Galileo is here , announced Querengo on the 30th of December, and often in gatherings of people endowed with intellectual curiosity he produces stupenduous arguments about the Copernican opinion, which he believes to be true (XII, 212). On the 20th of January Querengo sent a description of what was going on in these gatherings that would be perfectly fitting for most of the discussions in the Dialogo between Salviati and Simplicio:
You would enjoy it greatly if you could hear Galileo argue, as he often does, among fifteen or twenty people who deliver cruel assaults on him, sometimes in one house sometimes in another house. But his position is so fortified that he can make fun of everybody: though the novelty of his opinion is not very convincing, nevertheless he convincingly shows that most of the arguments by which his opponents try to knock him down are fallacious. Particularly last Monday, in Signor Federico Ghislieri's house, he put on a wonderful show. What gave me the greatest pleasure was that, before answering his opponent's reasons, he amplified and strengthened

Galileo and the Art of Rhetoric


them with new arguments which seemed very well grounded, but only in order to destroy them later and make his opponents appear the more ridiculous (XII, 226-7).

Galileo was after all sincere in his deposition at the trial in Rome on the 30th of April 1633, when he acknowledged that his main mistake in writing the Dialogo had been to indulge in that natural complacency which everybody has of his own subtelties, by showing that I was more clever than any common man in finding ingenious and apparently probable arguments even for false conclusions (XIX, 342).

D E L L O S T V D I O DI P I S A .

Filofofo, e Matematico frimario dd



Doue ne i congreflidi quattrogiornate fidifcorre fopra i due


7rofonendo indetertninatamente le ragioni TilofoficJjc, e Naturali tantoper I'vna, quanto per I'altrapartf.




Galileo Galilei, Dialogo (1632): title page: the disputation that precipitated Galileo's trial, and made him a cultural symbol to suit many tastes.


Galileo Galilei: A Philosophical Symbol

Commenting some half century ago on the conventionalist view of the Copernican system put forward by Cardinal Bellarmine1, following the example of Osiander, Pierre Duhem famously declared2 that it was they, and not the scientific realists Galileo and Kepler, who had grasped the exact significance on the experimental method. Protesting, in his recent study3, against this assertion, Professor de Santillana has pointed out that a wider reading of Bellarmine's writings shows that his view of astronomy, so much in keeping with Duhem's own philosophy of science, is an isolated island of conventionalism surrounded by a sea of scholastic metaphysical realism concerning all other subjects. De Santillana questions, moreover, whether Duhem's conventionalist or positivist conception of science could in fact give an adequate account of the work of the great constructive geniuses who have actually created our experimental science - of the work of Galileo, for example, as distinct from that of critics like Bellarmine or of other, more systematic, logicians. It is an indication of the permanent philosophical interest of Galileo's writings that any historical account of his scientific activity must involve the issue of interpreting his philosophy of science. Was his new science of inertal motion, the 'very new science dealing with a very ancient subject'4 upon which he pinned his conviction of the physical truth of the Copernican system, a discovery of the real physical world or a conceptual invention, a fiction that enabled him to predict? If it were necessary to defend Galileo's intransigently absolute conception of verified scientific theories against such critics as Duhem, one could legitimately do so by pointing out that with the concrete philosophical and scientific

Roberto Bellarmino a Paolo Antonio Foscarini, 12 aprile 1615\ in Le Opera di Galileo Galilei, ed. naz., (Firenze, 1902, xii), pp. 172-2. 2 P. Duhem, Essai sur la notion de theorie physique de Platan a Galilee, 'Annales de philosophic chretienne', vi (1908), 588, 584-5. 3 G. de Santillana, The Crime of Galileo, (Chicago, 1955), pp. 107-8. 4 Galileo, Discorsi e dimonstrazioni matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze, iii (Opere, ed. naz., viii), p. 190.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

situation and the actual methodological and technical problems which he had to face, it was the one most calculated to be effective. But when one looks at the many different and contradictory interpretations that have been given of Galileo's philosophy of science and of its significance in the history of thought, one is tempted to conclude that no such defence is is really necessary. The critics may safely be left to cancel each other out. In fact Galileo has been made to occupy almost every position on the line of antithesis between his and Bellarmine's contributions to the Copernican debate. Philosophers looking for historical precedent for some interpretation or reform of science, which they themselves are advocating, have all, however much they have differed from each other, been able to find in Galileo their heart's desire. For his contemporaries, Galileo's fame was chiefly that of the telescopic observer of the heavens, the discoverer of the mountains on the moon, the rotation of the sunspots. Jupiter's satellites and the author of the mathematical law of free fall, who had destroyed the Aristotelian cosmology and won the martyr's palm by his advocacy of the new system of Copernicus5. By a direct appeal to observation he had ruined the dogmatic belief of the schools that the great problems of physics could be solved by pure reason alone, and by the use of mathematics he had shown how to solve them. Although Mersenne failed to be able to get Galileo's results when he repeated his famous experiments with a ball rolling down an inclinical plane6, Galileo was regarded by the end of the seventeenth century, for example in the Royal Society, as the founder, with Francis Bacon, of the experimental method, of the New or Experimental Philosophy7. This was his chief reputation during the eighteenth century also, when Voltaire8 and David Hume9 pointed out that whereas Bacon had only preached the use of experiment, Galileo had both practised it and married it with mathematical reasoning. Montucla10 and Lagrange11 asserted that the laws Galileo discovered in mechanics implied a profounder genius than the novelties he detected in the sky. It was no doubt his reputation as the founder of the experimental method, accepted for example in Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840)12, that encouraged the strange elaboration in the
R. Dugas, Le mecanique au XVHe siecle, (Neuchatel, 1954), p. 88. Marin Mersenne, Traitez de la nature des sons, et des mouvements de toutes sortes de corps', ii, prop, vii, corollaire i, ii, Harmonic Universelle (Paris, 1636), i, 112; A. Koyre, Etudes Galileennes, (Paris, 1939), ii, 73. 7 Cf. Dr Wallis's Account of some Passages of his own Life in Peter Langtoft's Chronicle, ed. Thomas Hearne, (London, 1725), I, clxi. 8 Siecle de Louis XVI (1752), Ch. 31, Oeuvres, (Geneva, 1769), xii, 36-38; Essai sur les moeurs et I'esprit des nations (1756), Ch. 121, Oeuvres, ix, 371-2. 9 History of Great Britain, under the House of Stuart, 2nd. ed., (London, 1759), i, 129. 10 S.F. Montucla, Histoire des mathematiques, (Paris, 1758), ii, 260. 11 J.L. Lagrange, Mecanique analytique, 2nd. ed. (Paris, 1811), i, 221. 12 Book xii, Ch. 10 (London, 1840), pp. 379-83; cf. Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences (1837), Book v, Ch. iii, 3 and Book vi, Ch. ii, 5. For other examples see J.F.W. Herschel, A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, (London, 1830), pp. 113 sqq., 167-8; Biographic universelle, 2nd by M. Michaud, (Paris, 1856), xv, 412, 417.
6 5

Galileo Galilei: A Philosophical Symbol


nineteenth century of the story of Galileo dropping two different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in order to prove, as his law of falling bodies stated, that all bodies fall with the same acceleration, and to disprove the Aristotelian teaching that the speed would be proportional to the weight. In his account of the history of this story, Lane Cooper13 has shown that half a page written sixty years after the date of the alleged event by Galileo's disciple and biographer, Viviani, is the origin of the full nineteenth-century version14 of the young professor toiling up the winding stair of the Leaning Tower with two different weights (in some accounts the larger one was almost as large as himself) to make his great challenge to the elderly Aristotelians, and of the gasp of surprise and indignation from the vast assembly of the professors and students gathered below when the two objects struck the ground with the same resounding blow. An experiment of this kind had in fact been mentioned in various writings since late classical times, and in his De Motu, written about 1590 when he was at Pisa, Galileo claims to have performed it 'from a high tower'15. In 1612, and again in 1641, two acquaintances of Galileo claimed to have dropped weights from the Leaning Tower.16 The results were always the same. The heavier body always reached the ground considerably before the lighter. 'Oh how readily are true demonstrations drawn from true principles!'17, exclaimed Galileo in 1590, when in fact he was not disagreeing with Aristotle on this point. The truth is that it was not on experimental grounds, but because he came to re-think the whole theory of motion, that Galileo finally parted company with Aristotle. The experimental results in fact disagreed with both the old and the new dynamics, for the Aristotelians had predicted an incorrect proportion between the velocities of different weights, and Galileo predicted that the velocities would be the same. But this did not upset Galileo at all. He incorporated the inconsistency into his new dynamics, and made it agree with his experiment, by attributing it to air resistance.18 In making this move he showed that genius not for pure experiment but for theoretical reasoning using experiment, and that confidence in theoretical reasoning even in the face of immediate experimental contradiction, which marks the success of all his scientific inquiries. One reason for the nineteenth-century elaboration of this story is undoubtedly that Galileo's reputation as the founder of the experimental method had led Auguste Comte, equally unembarrassed by any great knowledge of the actual historical circumstances of his experiments, to annex him in 1830 as also a founder of positivism. Comte held that the real object of science had always been 'savior, pour prevoir', knowing in order to foresee, and foreseeing in
13 14 15 16 17 18

Lane Cooper, Aristotle, Galileo, and the Tower of Pisa, (Ithaca, 1935), pp. 26-7. See Lane Cooper, op. cit.; cf. O.M. Mitchell, The Orbs of Heaven, (London, 1851), pp. 63-5. Galileo, De Motu (Opere, i), p. 334: Lane Cooper, op. cit., pp. 86-7, 54-5. Lane Cooper, op. cit., pp. 28-32. De Motu, p. 334. Galileo, Discorsi, i (Opere, viii), p. 116; iv, p. 279.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

order to gain control. His view of the history of the matter was very clearly described by his friend J.S. Mill. The fundamental doctrine of a true philosophy, according to M. Comte', wrote Mill, 'and the character by which he defines Positive Philosophy, is the following: - We have no knowledge of anything but Phaenomena: and our knowledge of phaenomena is relative, not absolute. We know not the essence, nor the real mode of production, of any fact, but only its relations to other facts in the way of succession or of similitude. These relations are constant: that is, always the same in the same circumstances. The constant resemblances which link phaenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite then as antecedent and consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phaenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature, and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are unknown and inscrutable to us'. 'M. Comte claims no originality for this conception of human knowledge. He avows that it has been virtually acted on from the earliest period by all who have made any real contribution to science, and became distinctly present to the minds of speculative men from the time of Bacon, Descartes, and Galileo, whom he regards as collectively the founders of the Positive Philosophy'.19 Even more explicit was the positivist interpretation of Galileo given towards the end of the century by the great Viennese historian and critic of mechanics, Ernst Mach, the grandfather of the modern school of logical empiricism. 'The modern spirit that Galileo discovers is evidenced here, at the very outset', he wrote of Galileo's treatment of the problem of falling bodies, 'by the fact that he does not ask why heavy bodies fall, but propounds the questions, How do heavy bodies fall? in agreement with what law do freely falling bodies more? The method he employs to ascertain this law is this. He makes certain assumptions. He does not, however, like Aristotle, rest there, but endeavours to ascertain by trial whether they are correct or not. We see thus . . . that Galileo does not supply us with a theory of the falling bodies, but investigated and established, wholly without preconceived opinions, the actual facts of falling'.20 The great opponent of Comte and Mill in the philosophy of science and the interpretation of scientists was William Whewell21, and Whewell's views were largely influenced by Kant, who is the principal source of the modern school most opposed to positivism. Embracing the apparent paradox that it was Aristotelian science and not Galileo's that was primarily empirical, Kant characterised the the significance of Galileo's methods as residing in their recognition of the essentially theoretical character of scientific inquiry. The

J.S. Mill, Auguste Comte and Positivism, 2nd. ed., (London, 1866), p. 6; cf. Auguste Comte, Cours de philosophic positive, (Paris, 1830), i, Premiere lecon. 20 E. Mach, The Science of Mechanics, Ch. 2, 2,8, transl. from the second German ed. by T. J. McCormack, (London, 1893), pp. 130, 140. 21 Prilosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 2nd. ed., (London, 1847), ii, 295 sqq., 317, 320 sqq.


Galileo Galilei: A Philosophical Symbol


'new light that flashed upon all students of nature', with the great work of Galileo and his contemporaries, as seen for example in Galileo's treatment of falling bodies, was their recognition that physics must determine its objects a priori. 'They comprehended', he wrote, 'that reason has insight into that only, which she herself produces on he own plan. . . . Reason, holding in one hand its principles, according to which concordant phenomena alone can be admitted as laws of nature, and in the other hand the experiment, which it has devised according to those principles, must approach nature, in order to be taught by it: but not in the character of a pupil, who agrees to everything the master likes, but as an appointed judge, who compells the witness to answer the questions which he himself proposes'.22 Developing this line of thought, that Galileo's chief merits were rather as a theorist than an experimenter, some modern critics have been tempted to suppose that Galileo was really indifferent to experimental tests.23 'Io senza experienza son sicuro che 1'effetto seguira come vi dico', said Salviati, Galileo's spokesman in the Dialogue, 'perche cosi e necessario che segua'.24 And indeed it is very often difficult to distinguish Galileo's thought experiments from his actual ones. Turning from this sample of Galileo's critics to his own words and deeds, it is clear that he was neither an early Comtean positivist nor a Machian phenomenalist nor a Kantian rationalist, neither a Millian empiricist nor an unempirical theorist, neither an unqualified Platonist nor a wholesale enemy of Aristotle. Galileo's normal method was to deal with problems piecemeal, and he often used different arguments for tactical reasons which cannot each be generalised into a total point of view. When he decided to ignore the cause of the acceleration of falling bodies and concentrate on the descriptive law, 'whatever the cause may be',25 as he said, and when he showed up the Aristotelian causes and substances in physics as mere names, he wrote like a positivist. But this was in order to put aside irrelevant questions and isolate his problem. It was certainly no positivist who debated so passionately the truth of the Copernican system or who claimed to be reading in mathematical language the real book of Nature and to be discovering in verified theories the real physical world of the primary qualities and their laws. These were no economical summaries such as Mach conceived scientific laws to be, but a world of real substances and causes, Platonic in that they were mathematicall determined, Aristotelian in that they were inherent in matter, but Archimedean in their mathematical form.

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Preface to the second edition (1787). Cf. Koyre, Etudes Galileennes, ii, 72-3, iii, 60, 66-67; Dugas, Le mecanique au XVIIe siecle, pp. 80-89. 24 Galileo, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, ii (Opere, ed. naz.), p. 171. 25 Discorsi, iii (Opere, viii) 202. See A.C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700, (Oxford, 1953), pp. 285, 303-10.



Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Similarly, when Galileo wrote cavalierly of experiment, he did so to assert the superiority of the theoretician, able to foresee yet unobserved results, over the pure empiricist who can see only the facts already observed.26 On other occasions he wrote that one negative instance was enough to demolish a theory.27 It is clear, as Kant perspicaciously indicated, that the method of theoretical and experimental enquiry which Galileo described in so many passages is what we should now call hypothetico-deductive, and the final test of a true hypothesis was by agreement with experiment. It is the utterly metaphysical character of a science that was so technically successful that is the most arresting feature of all Galileo's inquiries. We may disagree with his conviction that a verified theory is an absolute truth, we may treat his Neoplatonic realism as a regulative belief and his mathematical primary qualities as physical models, we may see his methods as a new syntax and as the origin of philosophies that developed only after he was dead. All these are the insights we may get into our own problems from the study of a great thinker of the past. But these insights are not the same as the dead man's own philosophy. Faithful to the paradoxical battle-cry of reform, stare super vias antiquas, philosophers have extracted from Galileo's writings an almost endless variety of meanings suited to present objectives. To justify this use of history, Comte proposed the dangerous formula, that if no precedent can be found in what the chosen authority states his methods and aims to be, then precedent can be claimed in what he must really have been doing to be successful28, even if he denies it. Certainly this distinction is not totally invalid. But the formula universally applied would destroy the validity of historical evidence altogether and would make all historical distinctions and precedents entirely meaningless. It is not by reading our own problems backwards that historical experience is enlightening, but by exposing ourselves to the surprise that thinkers so effective should have had aims and presuppositions so different from our own. Postscript See above, ch. 10, with Appendix (a), for the dating of Galileo's writings.

Discorsi, iv (Opere, viii), p. 296. Dialogo, ii (Opere, vii), p. 148. 28 i.e. what the scientist was 'really' doing according to the interpreter's view of the methods and content of science.


Alexandre Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne
I REMEMBER vividly the occasion when I first encountered the work of Alexandre Koyr6. It must have been in 1946. By this time I had been introduced at Cambridge by CD. Broad to the classical study of the history of philosophy through conceptual analysis, and I had been much taken by the advice given by R.G. Collingwood to look in the study of texts for the questions assumed in the answers given. I had become particularly interested in the approach to the subject made by L6on Brunschvicg in Les etapes de la philosophie mathematique and by the work of Etienne Gilson on the history of medieval philosophy. In 1946 I had just accepted an academic post in the history and philosophy of science, and I was completing my last biological paper, which was published in 1947. I was checking some French publications which had arrived in the Cambridge University Library after the gap of the war years, among them the Actualites scientifiques et industrielles, where in the volumes for 1939 I found the three parts of Koyre"'s Etudes Galileennes. About the same time I encountered also another French wartime publication, Robert Lenoble's Marin Mersenne ou la naissance du mecanisme (1943). Contact with these captivating intelligences (as I said on another occasion) was like Galileo's description of the stimulation given to the ear by the musical interval of the fifth, seeming at the same time to kiss and to bite, at once seducing and awakening.1 They showed the enlightenment that can be gained only by looking beneath the surface of immediate scientific results and by seeking to identify the intellectual assumptions and the technical capabilities that made certain discoveries possible and explanations acceptable to a particular generation or group, and the assumptions and capabilities that made them impossible or unacceptable to earlier generations. They focused attention on the need to study in depth the particular intellectual contexts in
1. Galileo Galilei, Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (1638), i, in Le opere, direttore A. Favaro, 20 vol., Firenze, G. Barbera, 18901909, ristampa 1968, viii, p. 149; A.C. Crombie, "Premio Galileo, 1968", Physis, 1970, xii, p. 106-108.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

which scientific changes have been brought about, and with them the assumptions about both the nature of scientific knowledge and the nature of the world that have generated resistence to change. This conception of the history of science was very inspiring, and it was especially Koyre who through his series of publications and his personal influence inspired those of us in Great Britain, as also in the U.S.A. and of course in France, who took up the subject professionally just after the Second World War. Koyre and Lenoble, and also we should add Edwin Burtt with his much earlier Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science (1924, revised 1932), intellectualized the historiography of science. They made it part, and showed that it had to be often a central part, of a more general historiography of thought. I knew them all, and especially Alexandre Koyre, whom I first met in Brussels, and then many times in Paris, London, Oxford and Princeton during the 1950s and later. In many long conversations I discovered this extraordinary man, always fascinating in the intellectual perceptions deployed over his formidable range of learning, not easily persuaded to change but always open to disagreement, from which with his beguiling smile he would draw some fresh and unexpected insight. I spent some time with him in Paris about six months before he died, when he was being treated for leukemia, and I saw him for the last time in hospital just before his death on 28 April 1964. He greeted me with his usual courage and gentleness, and we said farewell.2 One might say that by intellectualizing the historiography of science Koyre risked disembodying the history of scientific ideas. It is true that his example may have entailed a risk, despite the perception and skill evident in all his work, although I cannot think of any damage that may have come from his particular style of deploying his insights. But one can both benefit and differ from even the most inspiring of examples. This I shall illustrate briefly from some more recent work on Galileo and Mersenne, but first I want to establish a viewpoint, relevant to Koyre's own vision of the history of science. The Western scientific movement with which we are concerned has been, as I have said elsewhere, the history of men's relations with nature and their fellow beings as perceiver and knower and agent, mediated through particular visions of existence from which the arts

2. Cf. C.C. Gillispie, "Koyre, Alexandre (1892-1964)" om Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, vii, p. 482-490; for publications A. Koyre, De la mystique a la science, ed. P. Redondi, Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 1986, p. 216-221; and for comments on myself and on the historiography of science A. Koyre, "Les origines de la science moderne", Diogene, 1956, xvi, p. 3-31, and "Commentary" in A.C. Crombie (ed.), Scientific Change, London, Heinemann, 1963, p. 847-865.

Alexander Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne


and sciences have followed.3 It can be identified most precisely as an approach to nature effectively competent to solve problems of two kinds: those presented by particular phenomena, and those concerned with general systems of explanation. By the scientific movement I mean then the history of a specific vision created within Western culture, initially by the ancient Greeks, at once of knowledge and of the object of that knowledge, a vision at once of natural science and of nature. We can trace this vision to the commitment of some ancient Greeks, within a much wider intellectual movement, to the decision of questions of all kinds, ethical and practical as well as scientific and metaphysical, by argument and evidence as distinct from custom, edict, revelation or some other habitual means. The Greek philosophers, mathematicians and medical thinkers developed thereby the notion of a problem as distinct from a doctrine, and the consequent habit of envisaging thought and action in all situations as the perceiving and solving of problems. They developed with this the conception of a rational scientific system incorporating the solutions of particular problems, a system in which formal reasoning matched natural causation. From these two fundamental matching conceptions, of formal proof and of causal demonstration, each entailing a capacity for self-correction, have followed all the essential character and style of Western philosophy, mathematics and natural science and their competence to control subject-matters of all kinds, from abstract ideas to material things. This specific and selective Western scientific vision at the same time closed elsewhere open questions of what kind of world men found themselves inhabiting and so of what means they should use to explore, explain and control it. Historical questions arise then at different levels, some given by nature, and some made by man. At the level of scientific thinking, both in the perception and solution,of problems within the technical possibilities available, and in the justification of the enterprise whether intellectual or moral or practical, the history of science has been the history of argument. Scientific argument has been diversified explicitly through its history into different particular forms in accordance with the demands of different subject-matters, of different theories of scientific demonstration, and of different conceptions of the nature of things as the object of scientific inquiry. It has proceeded by postulating principles as in the Greek mathematical sciences, by deploying within its discourse designed observation and
3. Cf. A.C. Crombie, "Historical commitments of European science", Annali dell' Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, 1982, vii. 2, p. 29-51, "What is the history of science?", History of European Ideas, 1986, vii, p. 21-31, "Experimental science and the rational artist in early modern Europe", Daedalus, cxv. 3, Summer 1986, pp. 49-74; Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition, London, G. Duckworth, 1994.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

experiment using appropriate instruments and apparatus, by hypothetical modelling and analogy, by taxonomy, by probabilistic and statistical analysis, by historical derivation as in the study of languages and of living organisms. It has been aimed in different social contexts almost as much at persuasion as at demonstration. But always if an argument was either to demonstrate or to persuade acceptably it has been expected to satisfy the stable criteria of logical consistency and agreement with the evidence: criteria formalized by the Greeks themselves and their successors within the scientific movement. Of course this kind of stratospheric view of nearly three millenia of intellectual history sweeps insouciantly over periods or circumstances of incompetence or indifference; but whenever Western scientific thinking has been revived or refocused or transferred from one culture to another, this has been done explicitly as the revival or appropriation of an existing tradition. This is not very surprising since the tradition has had its existence both in living people and in texts available for recovery and translation, and whether from the one or from the other there has been an explicit continuation of education in the same styles of thought and practice. The historiography of science is concerned then with the history of scientific argument, and with intellectual and moral behaviour in relation to such argument. On this I shall make two further comments. First, if we insist upon the cultural specificity of the Western scientific tradition in its origins and initial development, and upon its enduring identity in diffusion to other cultures, we do not have to look far below the surface of scientific inquiry and its immediate results to see that the whole historical process has gone on in a context of intellectual and moral commitments, expectations, dispositions and memories that have varied greatly with different periods, societies and circumstances. These have affected both the problems perceived and the solutions found acceptable, and also the evaluations of desirable and undesirable ends and their motivations. The whole affair as I have said elsewhere is an invitation to treat the historiography of science as a kind of comparative historical anthropology of scientific thinking. Before all we must be concerned with people and their vision, with their perceptions of problems and their expectations in the uncertainty of an unknown future, and with their response both in accepting and in opposing innovation and change. As ourselves products of a particular time and culture, we may then give ourselves the therapeutic surprise that effective scientific thinking could be based on assumptions and have aims and motivations so various and so different from our own. Secondly, accepting all this, we do not likewise have to look far into the scientific tradition to see that the whole programme has presupposed the stability at once of nature and of human thinking.

Alexander Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne


Nobody knows what nature is, Koyre once said to me, except that it is whatever it is that falsifies our hypotheses. The scientific movement has comprised distinct kinds of knowledge which have had to be tested in different ways. Propositions asserting factual regularities could be tested directly by observation and have been the most stable. Propositions asserting theoretical explanations must be tested by their observable consequences and have tended to be replaced with the development of more precise or more general theories. Propositions asserting beliefs about the fundamental nature of the world have not usually been proposed for testing but have been assumed in the development of theories, until they have been replaced by the rethinking of the foundations. From whatever level of its activity, the Western scientific movement has generated through its history a progressive accumulation of objective and reproducible knowledge, and of methods and techniques for acquiring and developing it, that are communicable to all mankind. This is an historical phenomenon of the profoundest human importance of which historians and philosophers are, or should be if they have any intellectual responsibility, obliged to take account. When Galileo insisted that we cannot cheat nature, however much we may cheat our fellow men, he was defining the identity at once of nature and of natural science.4 For it was impossible to solve problems in nature whether theoretical or practical by magic or by commercial bargaining or political convenience or chicanery. A large part of the argument within the scientific movement, notably in the 17th century, has been directed towards establishing its identity as distinct from other forms of contemporary erudition. The specific history of science as a problem-solving activity is not then the same as the history of ideas or ideology lacking its identifying modes of self-correction and criteria of acceptability. Only someone with no grasp of scientific knowledge, little of the history of thought, and motivated no doubt by some catastrophic ideology, would want to think it was.5 The illumination given by Koyre to our understanding of Galileo came from his perception of Galileo as primarily a theoretical thinker by contrast with the dedicated experimenter then currently presented. There can be no doubt of the importance and influence of that illumination, which has guided the reshaping of all subsequent studies of

Galileo, Le mecaniche, in Le opere, ii, p. 155, cf. Lettera a Madame Cristina di Lorean (1615), in ibid. \, p. 326-327. 5 Unawareness of a specifically scientific movement seems to be exemplified by Paolo Rossi-Monti, so far as one can diagnose from his somewhat undiscriminating comments on Koyre, Ernst Cassirer, J.H. Randall and myself: see his "Aristotelici e moderni: le ipotesi e la natura" in L. Olivieri (ed.), Aristotelismo veneto e scienza moderna, Padova, Antenore, 1983, i, p. 125-129, published also in English in Annali... (as above n. 3), 1982, vii. 1, p. 3-7.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Galileo and of much else. In his brilliant demolition of this older image of Galileo, he argued ingeniously that Galileo's Platonism had led him to believe that experiments were really unnecessary to confirm demonstrations established by reason.61 suppose that no one would now agree with that extreme interpretation. Koyre also showed that Galileo's principal model for mathematical physics was not Plato but Archimedes. This gives us a better insight into Galileo's conception of the place of experiment in a scientific argument. Archimedes, for example in his treatise On the Equilibrium of Planes, set out by purely theoretical analysis to reduce the possible postulates that could yield the phenomena of the balance to an unique set, rationally certified either by self-evidence or by sufficient reason: for what sort of world would we have if they were not true? Then, since he had so discovered the one possible set of true postulates, he could derive from these a complete account of the experimental phenomena without any need for experiments. Galileo took the "superhuman Archimedes"7 as his model, but he realized very clearly that in the more complex subject-matter of the science of motion he could not reduce the postulates to the one true set by a purely theoretical analysis. He went as far as he could in postulating possible theoretical worlds but, as he pointed out on several occasions, notably in describing how he discovered the ratio of distance to time in falling bodies, he had to decide by experiment whether his postulated ratio was that found in the one actual world.8 To control theoretical postulation was then one way in which Galileo brought experiment into a scientific argument, but he did so even more extensively in another way: in order to explore ever more complex subject-matters by experiment, as distinct from controlling a primarily theoretical exploration. This was ignored by Koyre, but

A. Koyr6, "Galileo and Plato", Journal of the History of Ideas, 1943, v, p. 400428; cf. A.C. Crombie and A. Carugo, Galileo's Natural Philosophy, (forthcoming), with full bibliography. 7. Galileo, De motu gravium, in Le opere, i, p. 300. 8. Cf. Galileo to Pierre Carcavy, 5 June 1637, in Le opere, vii, p. 90-91, and to G.B. Baliani, 7 January 1639, in ibid, xviii, p. 11-13; A.C. Crombie, "The primary properties and secondary qualities in Galileo Galilei's natural philosophy", in C. Maccagni (ed.), Saggi su Galileo Galilei, Firenze, G. Barbera, preprint 1969, "Sources of Galileo's early natural philosophy", in M.L. Righini Bonelli and W.R. Shea (ed.), Reason, Experiment, and Mysticism in the Scientific Revolution, New York, Science History Publications, 1975, p. 157-175, 303-305, "Philosophical presuppostions and shifting interpretations of Galileo", in J. Hintikka, D. Gruender and E. Agazzi (ed.), Theory Change, Ancient Axiomatics, and Galileo's Methodology: Proceedings of the 1978 Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht, D. Reidel, 1981, i, p. 271-286; A. Carugo and A.C. Crombie, "The Jesuits and Galileo's ideas of science and of nature", Annali... (as above n. 3), 1983, viii. 2, p. 3-68, with further references; A.C. Crombie and A. Carugo, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (forthcoming).

Alexander Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne


without it any account of Galileo would be incomplete, and in relation to Koyre's image of Galileo it is interesting because here Galileo was strongly Aristotelian. In his inquiries into hydrostatics and sunspots, into comets, and into the connection between the motions of the tides and of the Earth, he conducted his experimental and observational analysis of the causes of effects according to the "laws of logic" or "physical logic",9 which were the Aristotelian rules of inference as developed by scholastic natural philosophers: presence or absence, and concomitant variations in degree, together with the reductio ad contradictionem or ad impossible. Thus Galileo used two main forms of scientific argument: (1) the Archimedean theoretical postulation controlled by experiment for the simpler phenomena of motion; and (2) these Aristotelian rules of inference for the more complex phenomena of material change. Both can be found together in De motu graviwn. Both led to demonstration, with a shift during the years 1612-16 from an Aristotelian scholastic conception of the demonstrative progression and of analysis and synthesis (or resolution and composition) to a mathematical conception akin to that described by Pappus and Proclus. But Galileo retained to the end of his life the fundamentally Aristotelian expectation, coming from a conception of a completed and closed system of knowledge, that scientific inquiry could discover the one "true constitution of the universe" which "could not possibly be otherwise"10 and could be established by "necessary demonstrations".11 Yet despite this apodeictic talk, he based his scientific practice on the open-ended conception of inquiry coming from mathematics and experiment and on range of confirmation as the test of a theory. The paradox is that Galileo never seems to have recognized the difference being made to the traditional logic and epistemology of science by the mathematical thinking in physics of which he was himself a supreme virtuoso. I have discussed much of this long ago in various papers and most recently in my joint paper with Adriano Carugo on "The Jesuits and Galileo's ideas of science and of nature" (1983).12 Clearly of the greatest significance for Galileo's intellectual biography is Carugo's discovery of Galileo's use for his scholastic essays on natural philosophy, and for De motu gravium, of well known- textbooks by Jesuit
9. Galileo, // Saggiatore (1623), questioni 12 and 42, in Le opere, vi, p. 252, 333. 10. Galileo, Prima Lettera circa le Macchie Solari (1612) in Le opere, v, p. 102. 11. Galileo, Lettera a Madame Cristina di Lorena (1615), in Le opere, v, p. 330; cf. Crombie, 1975, and Carugo and Crombie, 1983, note 8 above. 12. Note 8 above, with Crombie 1975 and other references; also Galilee devant les critiques de la posterite, Paris, Les conferences du Palais de la D6couverte, , ser. D, no. 45, 1956, Augustine to Galileo, 2nd ed., London, Heinemann Educational Books, and Cambridge, Mass., 1959, reprinted with revisions 1979.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

professors, Benito Pereira and Francesco di Toledo, of the Collegio Romano. This wholly unexpected new perspective focused attention on that institution, and was followed by my own identification of Christopher Clavius as another and very influential source there; and finally by Carugo's identification of Ludovico Carbone as a further source, again connected with the Collegio Romano, for his logical Disputationes de praecognitionibus et de demonstratione, essentially a commentary on the Posterior Analytics. All this we have discussed in the revised version of our book, Galileo's Natural Philosophy, in which we are publishing Carugo's edition of the Disputationes, with an English translation.13 If this new work, and that of other scholars, notably Winifred Wisan and Maurice Clavelin, seems to take us beyond the image of Galileo presented so brilliantly by Alexandre Koyre, that indeed is just what he would have wished, and it does nothing to dim the light he cast upon the whole subject and thereby upon the whole historiography of science. In conclusion I shall move again farther from Koyre's own contributions, yet to a subject on which he again cast light: Galileo's relations with Mersenne. I shall not retread Koyre's ground. Mersenne as I have said elsewhere makes an interesting contrast in scientific style with both Galileo and Descartes: they aimed at certainty in physical science; he, disbelieving in the possibility of certainty, aimed at precision.14 Hence the priority he gave to experimental measurement, and his criticism of Galileo's experiments. I am going to sketch a detective story about the discovery of the ratio of the period to the length of the pendulum and some related matters in the science of music. It was Cornelis de Waard who noted that Mersenne had published this ratio in his Harmonic universelle (1636) and Harmonicorum libri (1636) two years before Galileo published it in his Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (1638) and one year before he mentioned it in his letter of 5 June 1637 to Laurens React.15 In fact Mersenne published this ratio four years before Galileo, by 30 June 1634, in Les mechaniques de Galilee.^ I have established from correspondence and references
13. This book was awarded the Galileo Prize in 1969, and is deposited in the Domus Galileana, Pisa; cf. note 1 above. 14. Cf. A.C. Crombie, "Mersenne Marin, (1588-1648)", in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1974, ix, p. 316-322, with further references, "Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) and the seventeenth-century problem of scientific acceptability", Physis, 1975, xvii, p. 186-204, Marin Mersenne: Science, Music and Language (forthcoming). 15. Galileo, Le opere, xvii, p. 100-102; cf. Marin Mersenne, Correspondance, ed. C. de Waard, 1955, iv, p. 444-455, appendice iii: "Les etudes de Mersenne sur le funependule"; cf. notes by A. Carugo in Galileo, Discorsi... (1638), ed. Carugo e L. Geymonat, 1958, Torino, Paolo Boringhieri, p. 699-708. 16. Ed. B. Rochot, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1966, viie Addition.

Alexander Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne

2 71

within their works that Mersenne must have written his theorems, deriving the ratio by considering bodies falling perpendicularly, on an inclined plane, and then in a circle, by the end of 1633,17 whereas Galileo seems almost certainly to have written his first statement of it between 7 April and 9 June 1635. The former date is established by his correspondence with Fulgenzio Micanzio in Venice who with others there commented on his progress in writing the First Day of the Discorsi (dealing with the pendulum and acoustics) as he sent him successive pages of his manuscript; the latter date is established by Galileo's letter to Elie Diodati saying that on it he had sent a manuscript including the First Day to Giovanni Pieroni in Germany. This survives in Florence as the only extant manuscript of the Discorsi.18 There is no positive evidence that Galileo knew the pendulum ratio before he wrote this part of the Discorsi, and there is negative evidence that he did not.19 But Diodati sent Galileo a copy of Mersenne's Les mechaniques de Galilee on 10 April 1635, just when he would have reached the appropriate point in his manuscript.20 Galileo has left no comment. Apart from these dates, other circumstances and coincidences are sufficiently arresting to invite the suspicion that Galileo learnt the ratio from Mersenne. First, his bare announcement in the Discorsi of so important a proposition contrasts strikingly with his usual practice of offering full mathamatical and experimental demonstrations of his novelties. Again, even if he never received or never read Les mechaniques de Galilee, Mersenne had sent in advance of publication printed sections of his Harmonie universelle containing his theorems both to Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc in Aix-en-Provence and to Giovanni Battista Doni in Rome during 1634.21 Both were in touch with Galileo and his close friends in Florence, and these in turn were in touch with over17. See for the pendulum ratio Mersenne, Harmonie universelle, "Traite des instrumens", i, props, xix-xx, and "Traitez de la nature des sons et des mouvemens de toutes sortes de corps", ii, props, xii-xvi; and Mersenne to Peiresc, 10 March 1634, and subsequent correspondence in Correspondance, iv, p. 81-82, 105, 134, 175-177, 181-182, 186-187, 218-219, 225-227, 240-241, 253-255, 259-260, 267-269, 280-281, 286-287, 345, 368, 379, 388, 392-394, v, p. 33, 35, 136-137; cf. A.C. Crombie, "Mathematics, music and medical science", in Actes du XII* Congres International d'Histoire des Sciences, Paris, 1968, Paris, Albert Blanchard, 1971, i. B, p. 295-310 (reprinted in Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modem Thought, London, Hambledon Press, 1990), Crombie 1974 (note 14 above), Styles . . . ch. 10, (note 3 above), Marin Mersenne (note 14 above), Crombie and Carugo, Galileo's Natural Philosophy (notes 8,13 above). 18. MS Banco Raro 31; cf- Galileo, Le opere, xvi, pp. 271-274 with Pieromi to Galileo, 11 and 18 August and 15 December 1635, ibid. pp. 300-304, 359-361; Crombie 1971, n. 24, with other references in note 17 above. 19. Cf. Crombie, Styles . . . ch. 10,1994 (note 3 above), Crombie and Carugo, ibid. 20. Galileo, Le opere, xvi, p. 255; Mersenne, Correspondance, v, 132, cf. vi, 242. 21. Cf. Crombie, Crombie and Carugo (notes 17, 19 above).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

lapping circles of Galileo's friends in Rome, round Benedetto Castelli which included Rafaello Magiotti, round Cardinal Francesco Barberini which included Doni, and round Francois de Noailles. These circles included friends with whom Mersenne corresponded about his work, besides Doni especially two Frenchmen, JeanJacques Bouchard and Pierre Michon Bourdelot.21 The correspondence in particular of Magiotti shows how aware Galileo's friends were of Mersenne and his writings, an awareness sharpened by hostility and suspicion after his criticisms of Galileo's experiments. It also points to a possible channel of relevant information from Rome to Galileo. On 5 November 1634, Magiotti wrote to Galileo urging him to get his work into print, because there were people ready and eager to trick him out of "a great part of your long labours". He added that the young mathematician Famiano Michelini, just returning to Florence after a visit to Rome, "will talk to you more openly about this".22 In Rome Michelini had formed a warm friendship with Castelli, who appreciated especially his attachment to Galileo.23 Before he left Rome a relevant section of Mersenne's Harmonic universelle and probably also Les mechaniques de Galilee had reached Doni.24 If it was Mersenne who was Magiotti's putative plagiarist, Michelini could have got information about his writings from Doni, Bouchard or Michon Bourdelot. There is no evidence that either he or Galileo did receive any such information from Rome, but later in 1637 Magiotti directly accused Mersenne in letters to Galileo and to Michelini of both denigrating and appropriating Galileo's work. He had read his "large and numerous bad books" in French.25 Mersenne himself in his comments on the Discorsi, which he read first in manuscript during the winter of 16361637, claimed priority only for some of the contributions to the science of music which Galileo also announced in the First Day.26 These are a further complication of the story which I do not have

22. Galileo, Le opere, xvi, p. 152; Michelini was known in his order as Francesco di San Giuseppe or delle Scuole Pie. 23. Cf. Castelli to Galileo and Michelini to Galileo, both 8 April 1634, in Le opere, xvi, p. 75-76. 24. Mersenne to Peiresc, 28 July 1634, Correspondence, iv, p. 267-268, Doni to Mersenne, ibid., p. 384-385, and 392-394 on Harmonie universelle, "Traite des instrumens", ii; cf. note 17 above. 25. Magiotti to Galileo, and to Michelini, both 25 April 1637, in Le opere, xvii, p. 6364, and again to Galileo, 16 May 1637, in ibid., p. 80-81; also in Mersenne, Correspondance, vi, p. 241-243, 255. 26. See Mersenne, "Premiere observation" and "Seconde observation" inserted in the second volume of Harmonie universelle (1637) immediately following the "Table des matieres", and Les nouvelles pensees de Galilee (1639), livre i, arts. 17, 2024, ed. P. Costabel et M.-P. Lerner, Paris, J. Vrin, 1973; cf. Crombie, references in notes 14 and 17 above.

Alexander Koyre and Great Britain: Galileo and Mersenne


space to discuss here. So impressed was Mersenne with Galileo that he seems to have supposed that Galileo must have discovered the pendulum ratio for himself. The evidence points otherwise. We have then a detective story about a possible murder without a body, but with strong circumstantial grounds for suspicion.

Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo della musica antica, et della moderna (1581): title pageGalileo's father Vincenzo Galilei (c. 1520-1591) was a leading and controversial musical theorist, experimenter and scholar, and a skilled lutanist. It was he who may have introduced Galileo to experimental science by his investigations into the laws of vibrating strings, while Galileo was living in his house during 158589. Galileo reported results, corresponding to those described in his father's books and manuscripts, in his DLscorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (1638).


Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language

Mersenne made language an exemplary subject of analysis into its elements and of modelling from those elements.1 There were a number of distinct questions: whether there was an original natural language of mankind, the relation of the diverse existing languages to each other and to any supposed original language, the language of the deaf and dumb, the relation of human to animal language, and the invention of an artificial universal language for communication among all men and of a philosophical language capable of representing the truth of things clearly and without equivocation. Treatment of these questions came from a variety of approaches guided by the basic principles enunciated by Aristotle in De interpretatione (c.l, 16a 4-8), that spoken sounds were symbols of affections of the soul and written marks were symbols of spoken sounds, and that although these symbols were not the same for all men, the affections and the things they referred to were the same. The question whether there was a natural original human language in which the names of things signified their natures, or whether all languages had grown up by fortuitous use in which words acquired their meaning by convention, went back to ancient Greek discussions of the origins of mankind and of civilisation. The former view was implied by the story in Herodotus's History (ii.l) of the isolation of children from birth to find out what unprompted words they would first utter, and was presented ambiguously by Plato together with the latter especially in the Cratylus. The conventional theory of language and its origin, asserted briefly in the Hippocratic treatise The Art (2), had been developed especially by the Greek atomists and was reported by Lucretius (v. 1028-90), Diodorus Siculus (i.8) and Diogenes Laertius (x.75-6). The question became complicated by the account in Genesis (2. 19-20) of how God arranged for Adam to name all the other creatures, which led to the Patristic and scholastic supposition that the original and natural language of mankind was Hebrew, and again from the thirteenth century by the Neoplatonic and Cabalistic

1 This essay is based on my book Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition, ch. 14 (London, 1994) with full bibliography; the subject is elaborated in my Marin Mersenne: Science, Music and Language (forthcoming).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

assertion that possession of the true name gave occult power over the thing named.2 The need for an effective means of intellectual communication among men of different languages and cultures had been stressed by Augustine (De civitate Dei, xix.7), and the problem was recognised with renewed urgency in the thirteenth century in the theological and geographical context of Western Christendom. The natural language of mankind might be Hebrew, but its pristine universality had been lost in the confusion of Babel. The universality of Latin stopped at the boundaries of the West. Christians had a religious obligation to communicate the truth revealed to them. At the same time, whether there was a natural language of mankind and whether it was Hebrew, again became disputed questions. The Emperor Frederick II was said to have 'tried to find out by experiment what language or speech boys would have when they grew up, if they could speak to no one'.3 Roger Bacon located the problem within Augustine's distinction in De doctrina Christiana (ii.2-4) between natural and conventional or given signs. Natural signs were those which, 'without any desire or intention of signifying, make us aware of something beyond themselves', as smoke signified fire, or a track a passing animal. Given signs were those which living creatures made to each other intentionally in order 'to produce and transfer to another mind what happens in the mind of the person who makes the sign'. Bacon, after citing Augustine, went on to ask what was 'the first language of Adam and how he gave names to things; and whether boys reared in solitude would use any language by themselves, and if they met each other how they would indicate their natural states of mind'.4 Dante, in De vulgari eloquentia (i.6), had no doubt that the original human language was Hebrew, for 'a certain form of speech was created by God, together with the first soul', comprising both names and grammatical structure, and this was inherited after the confusion of Babel only by the Hebrews. Others took a different view in a much more scientific spirit. Thus his French contemporary Jean de Jandun in his questions 'Super De sensu' returned critically to the case of the isolated child, which he compared to that of a deaf mute:
It has been said that because such a mute has not heard any meaningful speech, he cannot utter any. In question is: if a boy were reared in a forest, where he had never heard any kind of language, whether he would speak any language. . . . Some say that he would speak Hebrew, and that that language is natural; but this is not true, because then it would be adapted to all men and all would speak naturally that, which is false and evident to sense. Likewise there is no habit of
2 Cf. Roger Bacon, Opus mains, iv, ed. John Henry Bridges (Oxford), i, p. 395-7, Opus tertium c.26 (as below n. 4); Marsilio Ficino, De vita coelitus comparanda, iii.21 in Opera (Basileae, 1576); Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, De occulta philosophia, i.69-74 (Antwerpiae, 1531). 3 Salimbene de Adam, Cronica, a cura di Giuseppe Scalia (Bari, 1966), i, p. 510. 4 Roger Bacon, Opus tertium, c.27 in Opera quaedam hactenus inedita, ed. J.S. Brewer (London, 1859), i, p. 100-2.

Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language


any speech unless through the social intercourse of men, and hence I say that he would not speak a language; he could well from natural appetite form sounds, but no consistent expressions unless he were later to have intercourse with others 5


Later in the fourteenth century, in a commentary attributed to Nicole Oresme and Albert of Saxony, Hebrew was again rejected and the case of the isolated child analysed further:
It must be said therefore that that boy would speak a single language entirely peculiar to himself, and when he saw outside things he would have concepts naturally representing them and therefore he would be able to impose on them an idea and express them by a word; and if two boys were brought together and fed at the same time, they would speak a language common to both; the same would happen if there were several boys. But if they were placed separate, then it would be possible for them to speak a similar language and it would be possible for them to speak totally different ones. From this it seems to follow that it would be possible for there to be two men, of which one never saw nor knew the other, who would speak each in his own way, and yet they would mutually understand each other and agree in language (q.3).6

Another contemporary philosopher, Marsilius of Inghen, yet again rejected the naturalness of Hebrew as 'silly and ridiculous' and concluded 'that that boy would remain mute until he was established by other men in a definite language; but if there were two boys placed together . . . these could mutually set up between themselves a new language'.7 Renewed linguistic efforts made in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries towards restoring the religious unity of Europe, and towards realising through conversion the ancient ideal of the unity of mankind, by finding a common means of communication for all nations and peoples, took two directions. One was the examination of the relation of existing languages to each other; the other was the attempt to devise a new artificial universal language. The deaf and dumb would likewise be restored to humanity by scientific knowledge and by devising means of communicating through the eyes and other senses. A new search for the common elements of diverse human languages began with the comparative studies of ancient and modern tongues carried out among others notably by Sigismundus Gelenius in his Lexicon symphonicum (1537), by
Joannes de Janduno, Quaestiones super Parvis naturalibus (Venetiis, 1589), f. A7r; cf. Agrimi as in next note. 6 Le 'Quaestiones De sensu' attribute a Oresme e Alberto di Sassonia, a cura di Jole Agrimi (Firenze, 1983), pp. 71-2.1 am grateful to Chiara Cristiani for this important reference. There are certain parallels in the story by the 12th-century Hispano-Muslim philosopher Ibn Tufail, Hayy Ibn Yaqzdn, texte arabe . . . et traduction franchise par Leon Gauthier, 2e ed. (Beirut, 1936). The story was translated first into Latin by Edward Pococke (1671); cf. Gul A. Russell,' "The Rusty Mirror of the Mind": Ibn Tufayl and Avicenna's Psychology' in Interdesciplinary Perspectives on Ibn Tufayl, ed. Lawrence I. Conrad (Oxford, forthcoming). 7 Marsilius of Inghen, Questiones De sensu et sensato, q. 3, quodlibet 1, MS Erfurt F. 334, f. 7(8)r: translated from Agrimi as in preceding note.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Conrad Gessner in his Mitridates (1555) where he applied the methods of natural history to the problem, and by Joseph Just Scaliger in his 'Diatriba de Europaeorum lingua' (1599) published in his Opuscula varia (1610). From this work emerged the recognition that languages formed groups, each united by grammatical structure and vocabulary in which it differed from others, so that all ancient and modern European languages (and Persian) formed one group, all Semitic languages another, Chinese and related languages yet another. Scaliger introduced an important principle by distinguishing in the first group more ancient matrices linguae from their more recent derivatives, an idea that was to be taken up by Mersenne's friend Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc,8 and was to control subsequent inquiries into the genetic history of human languages, into the supposed original language of mankind, and into the causes of its diversification through time and place. Parallel with this line of comparative analysis was that into the anatomy and physiology of the human and animal vocal organs and into the language of animals. Following Aristotle in the Historia animalium (iv.9; cf. De anima, ii.8), Girolamo Fabrici took up the first subject in his De visione, voce, auditu (1600) and De locutione et ejus instruments liber (1601), and the second in his De brutorum loquela (1603). In an area dominated from antiquity by philosophical disputes over sceptical doubts cast on the uniqueness of human language and reasoning by alleged examples of the same in animals, and over the alleged occult magical power of words and related issues, Fabrici introduced systematic observations of the actual ways in which such animals as the domestic hen and dog communicated with each other. The conception of a new universal language that could compensate for the division into national tongues had its dual origin in the Aristotelian linguistic principles developed by the scholastic grammarians, and the scholastic vision of the unity of truth evident in such as Roger Bacon and Ramon Lull. 'In order to convert the infidels easily and quickly from universal principles' wrote Lull, 'one should make a treatise which is universal to all sciences, and which leads by necessary conclusion to the truth, and can teach the way to find the specific object desired'.9 Lull offered in his combinatory symbolic logic an infallible art providing a universal method capable of demonstrating the one and certain truth to all who learnt to use it. The grammarians who advanced on scholastic ideas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries came to offer essentially universal lexicons as means of multilingual communication. It was Francis Bacon, in the Advancement of Learning (1605), who gave a fresh direction to the project by insisting that a true universal language must be more than simply verbal, but must be capable of communicating true notions of the real world
See Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Lettres a Claude Saumaise et a son entourage (16201637), ed. A. Bresson, (Firenze, 1992). 9 Raimundus Lullus, Tractatus de modo convertandi infideles' (1292) in Opera latina, ed. Maioricensis Scholae Lullisticae, Mallorca, Publicaciones de la Consejo Superior de Investicaciones Cientificas, 1954, fasc. iii, p. 104-5.

Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language


based on a proper understanding of nature, that is on true scientific observation and reasoning. Hence his analysis of language became an essential part of his novum organum or new scientific method, and an ideal artificial language became what was to be called not simply a universal but also a philosophical language. Mersenne entered these disputes and projects in order to refute both the magical and the sceptical assertions of those whom he regarded as enemies of truth, continued Fabrici's empirical methods and a form of combinatory calculus, and developed his own theory of language. The originality of Mersenne's approach to language and its modelling by symbols or gestures lay in his combination of scientific with historical analysis, starting in his earliest publications. He encountered the question of natural human language first in the Cabalistic belief in the power of words, a doctrine which in Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim (1623) he violently rejected along with the whole of magic and the occult. He left open the possibility that God might have revealed the natural names of things to Adam in Hebrew, and he remained at first undecided whether language had developed by chance or by revelation. He still supposed in his discussion of Timposition des noms' in La verite des sciences (1625) that, since 'les noms ne nous servent que pour entendre et signifier ce que nous voulons dire, et ce que nous avons dans I'esprit', in our dealings with other men 'plus les noms approachent des choses qu'ils signifient, et plus les representent ils naiifvement, et meillieurs sont-ils'. Perhaps with the ancients, before they were given Hebrew letters,
du moins leurs prononciations representoient les choses: c'est peut estre pourquoy les Chinois ont quasi autant de characteres que de choses. . . . On pourroit aussi former autant de dictions diverses comme il y a de diverses individus au monde, mais on ne peut en inventer, qui signifient la nature, et 1'essence des choses, d'autant que nous ne la cognoissons pas; il n'y a que Dieu qui le puisse faire, ou qui le puisse commander aux anges: peut estre que les noms qu'Adam imposa, avoient ce privilege: mais depuis ce temps la les noms se sont tellement eloignez de leur premiere origine, que nous n'en recognoissons plus aucun vestige. Nous voyons neantmoins que les peuples inventent diverses langues a cause de leurs divers temperamens. . . . Voyla d'ou sont venues en partie les diverses langues, ce qui a commence a la confusion de Babel avec une grande perte des sciences, car s'il n'y avoit qu'une langue au monde, on s'entrecommuniqueroit plus facilement les sciences, et on emploieroit tout le temps a les apprendre, qu'on passe a etudier aus langues etrangeres (i.6).

Later in his unpublished continuation of Quaestiones in Genesim he hardened his position, insisted that spoken words were simply physical sounds made with the mouth and tongue which functioned as arbitrary signs by means of which the same meaning could be expressed in different languages, and firmly concluded that 'there is no language natural to men besides this or that which they learn from parents or teachers'.10 It was false to say that Hebrew was natural.

Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, MS lat. 17, 262, pp. 511, 536, cf. MS lat. 17, 261, pp. 3-6;


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Mersenne set out his notable theory of the origins, history and empirical science of language finally in his Harmonie universelle (1636-37) and Harmonicorum libri (1636). He insisted that a true language must be a vehicle of conscious meaning, and that this was possible only for human beings. Spoken words were physical sounds just as written words were visible symbols which had been given meanings in the course of human history arbitrarily by use. The sounds made by animals, like their visible signals, were means of communication with functions in their bodily lives, but they operated within systems of unconscious physical stimulus and response. They were no more a language in the human sense than the communications within a machine, even though the analogy of animal and mechanical communication could provide a means of analysis of true human language. He proposed to model meaning. Just as the effects of music varied with race, way of life, period and culture, so different groups of men had come to express their common understanding of meaning in a variety of languages diversified by their different historical experiences, environments, needs, temperaments and customs. Because men shared reason it was possible to translate the expression of a common meaning from any language into any other, but no existing language was naturally prior to all others. He ingeniously explored the acquisition of language in Harmonie universelle. Traitez de la voix, et des chantes', i: 'De la voix, des parties qui servent a la former, de sa definition, de ses proprietez, et de 1'ouye'. He insisted:
La voix des animaux est necessaire, et celle des homines est libre; c'est a dire que 1'homme parle librement, et que les animaux crient, chantent, et se servent de leurs voix necessairement . . . ; car leur appetit sensitif estant echauffe par 1'impression de 1'imagination, commande necessairement a la faculte motrice de mouvoir toutes les parties qui sont necessaires a la voix (prop. viii).

This led to the question: 'A scavoir si 1'homme pourrait parler ou chanter s'il n'entendoit point de sons ni de paroles'. The answer seemed to depend on a virtually impossible experiment, that was to isolate a child from all sounds and words from the day of its birth for twenty or thirty years.
C'est pourquoy il faut se servir de la seule raison, qui dicte qu'un homme ne parleroit point s'il n'avoit iamais ouy de paroles, parce qu'il ne s'imagineroit pas que les paroles peussent servir a expliquer les pensees de 1'esprit, et les desirs de la volonte: et quand il se 1'imagineroit, il ne sc.auroit pas de quelles dictions il devroit se servir pour se faire entendre. On peut done ce semble conclure que 1'homme ne parleroit point s'il n'avoit appris a parler.

Nevertheless, since birds sang naturally, and a man could imagine that high and low notes could represent different things, Ton peut dire que 1'homme parleroit encore qu'il n'eust point oily parler, pourveu qu'il eust quelqu'un a
Robert Lenoble, Mann Mersenne ou la naissance du mecanisme (Paris, 1943), p. 514-5, 517.

Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language


qui il addressast ses paroles' (prop. x). If the experiment with one isolated child was too difficult:
Suppose que Ton nourrist des enfans en un lieu ou ils n'entendissent point parler, a sc.avoir, de quelle langue ils se serviroient pour parler entr'eux. le suppose que les enfans . . . inventeroient des sons, et des dictions pour signifier leurs desirs, car nous ne sommes plus dans la difficulte precedente, qui considere un homme tout seul qui n'a personne a qui parler. Or si nous ne supposions la verite de la foy, qui nous apprend que le premier homme a este cree droit, juste et servant, nous croirions avec les philosophes payens, que les premiers hommes ont invente la premiere langue, qui peut estre appellee langue originaire ou matrice, d'ou les autres ont este tirees: . . . ie dy premierement qu'ils formerent des sons pour se communiquer leurs pensees. Secondement, qu'il est impossible de sc.avoir de quels sons ou de quelles paroles ils useroient pour se faire entendre les uns aus autres; car toutes les paroles estant indifferentes pour signifier tout ce que Ton veut, il n'y a que la seule volonte qui les puisse determiner a signifier une chose plustost qu'une entre (prop. xi).

This led again to the question of a natural language, or failing that whether through 'la science des sons dont les langues sont formees . . . un musicien philosophe . . . peut inventer la meillieure langue de toutes les possibles'. He was not asking for 'une langue qui signifie naturellement les choses', for 'il n'est pas necessaire qu'une langue soit naturelle pour estre la meillieure de toutes, mais il suffit qu'elle exprime le plus nettement et le plus briefvement qui peut se faire les pensees de 1'esprit, et les desirs de la volonte'. But by means of a combinatory calculus described in the Traitez . . . ' book ii, 'Des chants', showing how many dictions could be made with any number of letters, it could be possible 'establir une langue universelle, qui seroit la meillieure de toutes les possibles, si 1'on sc,avoit 1'ordre des idees que Dieu a de toutes choses' (prop. xii). He went on to ask:
Si nous avions une langue naturelle, . . . si nous la pourrions establir, suppose qu'elle se perdist: et parce que nous confessons que nous ne sgaurions maintenant trouver une langue naturelle, encore que nous soyons de mesme condition que celle ou nous serions apres 1'avoir perdue, il faut semblablement avoiier que 1'art et la raison que nous avons ne pourroit nous fournir les mesmes voix qui nous servent naturellement a expliquer nos passions, si nous en avions perdu 1'usage.

For no one could foresee that, among various possible signs, tears and sobs would indicate sadness and laughter joy. Moreover 'si Ton remarque les voix dont les animaux expriment leurs passions et leurs affections, on les iugera aussi indifferentes pour signifier lesdites passions, comme sont les paroles pour signifier nos conceptions, ou les autres choses dont nous voulons parler'. Thus the syllable kik, by which a hen (as described by Fabrici in De brutorum loquela) told her chickens to run and hide, had no more relation to events than the syllable glo by which she called them back. The fundamental difference between animal and human speech was not that 'la nature les auroit privez des organes necessaires a la parole', as we might have thought if we had not taught birds to speak, but that TAuteur de la nature, ou la nature intelligente


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

determine les animaux, et les conduit tellement, qu'ils n'ont nulle liberte en leurs actions' (prop. xiv). He went on to discuss in some detail how the muscles of the vocal organs of different peoples became habituated to pronouncing their own languages and refractory to pronouncing others (prop, xxxvii), and to raise again the question, presented by the comparative anatomy studied by Fabrici, of what was lacking in some birds and in all quadrupeds that prevented them from being taught to imitate human speech. As for animal language, 'il n'y a nul doute que le jargon des oiseaux, et les cris des animaux, leurs servent de paroles, que Ton peut appeller la langue, et I'idiome des bestes, car Ton experimente que celles qui sont de mesme espece s'entendent aussi bien par leur voix differentes, que les hommes par leurs paroles' (prop, xxxix). The elements of speech could be explored also by the imitation of the animal and human voice by musical instruments, and by the methodical study of comparative anatomy and physiology. For 'la langue et les autres instrumens de la voix usent de differens mouvemens en prononc,ant les syllables et les lettres, comme il est difficile de les expliquer, a raison que nous ne pouvons voir ces mouvemens' (prop, xliii). Mersenne saw in his analysis of human knowledge and of its expression through the common elements of language an opening into the possibility of inventing a perfect system of communication for all men, a new universal language capable of conveying information without error. He began experimenting with the idea of making a new artificial universal language by means of the combinatory calculus showing the number of possible permutations and combinations of a given set of elements with which he had tried, in La verite des sciences (iii.10), to devise the best tune from among the number that could be composed from a given set of notes. In 1629 he forwarded to Descartes a project by an unnamed author for a new universal language. Descartes in his reply proposed as a model for the true, as distinct from an artificial, universal language, not the generalised structure that could be extracted from existing languages, but mathematics. But Tinvention de cette langue depend de la vraie philosophic', and even if it were achieved so that it represented to the judgement 'si distinctement toutes choses, qu'il lui serait presque impossible de se tromper', this could be expected only in 'un paradis terrestre'.11 Mersenne went ahead on the assumption that such an universal language could be usefully established before the perfection of the true philosophy. He argued that the only certain knowledge of things available to us was of their measurable quantities. He proposed then to combine his linguistic with his musical investigations by using his combinatory calculus to construct a system of sounds and notation for representing such quantities. Thus he wrote in Harmonie universelle, 'Traitez de la nature des sons', i: 'L'on peut se servir des sons de chaque instrument de musique, et des differens mouvenmens que 1'on

Descartes a Mersenne 20 novembre 1629, in P. Marin Mersenne, Correspondance, edits et annote par Cornelis de Waard avec la collaboration de Rene Pintard (Paris, 1945), ii, pp. 327-8.


Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language


leur donne pour discourir de toutes sortes de suiets, et pour enseigner et apprendre les sciences' (prop. xxii). Then
Ton peut representer tout ce qui est au monde, et consequemment toutes les sciences par le moyen des sons, car puis que toutes choses consistent en poids, en nombre et en mesure, et que les sons representent ces trois proprietez, ils peuvent signifier tout ce que Ton voudra, si Ton excepte la metaphysique. . . . D'ou il s'ensuit que le parfait musicien peut inventer des dictions, et une langue parfait, que signifie naturellement les choses, et qu'il peut enseigner les sciences sans user d'autre langage que celuy d'un luth, ou de quelque autre instrument (prop. xxiv).

'Je me suis imagine une sorte d'escripture et un certain idiome universel', he wrote of this language of quantities in a dedication to Peiresc, 'en dressant un alphabet qui contient tous les idiomes possibles, et toutes les dictions qui peuvent servir a exprimer chasque chose en telle langue qu'on vouldra. II a ceste propriete que sa seule lecture peut tellement enseigner la philosophic accomodee a son ordre, qu'on ne peut 1'oublier ou si on 1'oublie, qu'on peult la restablir sans 1'ayde d'aulcun'. He hoped that it would help 'pour inventer la maniere de communiquer avec tous les peuples du Nouveau Monde'.12 He described this language in his 'Livre de la voix', propositions xlvii, where he showed that Ton peut inventer la meillieure langue de toutes les possibles', and xlviii-xlix, and in his 'Livre des chants', propositions xiii-xix, specifying that the best language must be both economical and clear, applying to languages his tables for all possible tunes, and providing tables for all possible pronunciations. Besides mathematics and music and the comparative philology of ancient and modern phonetic tongues, the discovery of Chinese characters as both ideophones and ideographs had opened European eyes yet further to the variety of human language and its potentiality for constructed innovation. Mersenne's insights into the question were to have a decisive influence on later English projects for universal languages.13 Mersenne's study both of the physiology and comparative phonetics of natural human speech, and of the imitation of human vowels and consonants by musical instruments and by animals, led him to a further question: that of deaf mutes and how to communicate with them. Here again his empirical approach promoted scientific and experimental analysis by contrast with philosophical speculation. Thus he rejected the widely accepted ancient idea that there was a sympathetic association between the nerves of the ear and the vocal organs, so that the deaf were incurably dumb. This had been questioned from the end of the thirteenth century. Thus Jean de Jandun asked in his Quaestiones super Parvis naturalibus, 'Super De sensu', q.7:
12 A Monsieur de Peiresc vers 20 avril 1635, in Mersenne, Correspondance, ed. cit., 1959, v, p. 136-7. 13 Cf. Hans Aasleft, 'Wilkins, John (1614-1672)' in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York, 1976), xiv, pp. 366-8; Mary M. Slaughter, Universal Languages and Scientific Taxonomy in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1982).


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Whether all the congenitally deaf are dumb. Some have maintained that speech is convertible, namely that all the deaf are dumb and vice versa because, since some powers are mutually connected, if there is an impediment in one there will also be one in the other. . . . But this is not valid. . . . And therefore I say that someone congenitally deaf is necessarily dumb because anyone who cannot learn how to form meaningful speech at will is in that way necessarily dumb. This is selfevident, because knowing how to form meaningful speech at will comes about only through habit and social intercourse with people, but someone congenitally deaf cannot become accustomed to the expression of meaningful speech, because this requires that he hears speech of this kind.14 Again in the sixteenth century some medical authorities recognised that the deaf were dumb only because they had never heard speech. Girolamo Cardano insisted that deaf mutes were just as intelligent as the rest of humanity and could be educated through vision.15 Mersenne reported with enthusiasm the pioneering Spanish work in teaching deaf-mutes to speak. He cited in 'De la voix' the account given by the king's physician Francisco Valles of the method devised by Pedro Ponce de Leon: Quant aux muets, encore que plusieurs croyent qu'ils n'est pas possible qu'ils parlent autrement que par les signes ordinaires qu'ils font avec les mains, les yeux, et les autres parties du corps, parce qu'ils ne peuvent oiiir aucune instruction, a raison qu'ils sont sourds; il n'y a neantmoins nul doute que Ton peut tellement leur apprendre a remuer la langue, qu'ils formeront des paroles, dont on pourra leur apprendre la signification en leur presentant devant les yeux, ou leur faisant toucher les choses qu'elles signifient. D'ou Ton peut conclure qu'il faut commencer par 1'escriture pour faire parler les sourds, comme Ton commence par la parole pour enseigner a parler aux autres: de sorte que la parole et 1'escriture sont quasi une mesme chose. . . . Or 1'unique moyen d'enseigner a lire et a escrire aux sourds et aux muets consiste a leur faire comprendre que les caracteres dont on use, representent ce que Ton leur montre, et ce qu'ils voyent: car la pronunciation des lettres et des vocables, c'est a dire la parole, ne represente pas plus naturellement les choses signifiees que 1'escriture quelle qu'elle soil, puis qu'elles dependent toutes deux egalement de la volonte et de 1'institution des hommes, sans laquelle elles ne significient rien. . . . Cecy estant pose, il est facile d'enseigner a escrire toutes sortes de choses aux sourds, pourveu qu'elles puissant tomber sous le sens de la veue, ou du toucher, ou qu'elles puissent estre goustees, ou flairee; main il est plus mal-aise de les faire parler, dautant que Ton ne peut leur monstrer tous les mouvemens de la langue, et des autres parties qui forment la parole. . . . Valesius dit que son amy Ponce enseignoit tellement les sourds par le moyen de 1'escriture, qu'il les faisoit parler en leur monstrant premierement au doigt les choses qui estoient signifiees par 1'escriture, et puis en leur faisant remuer la langue jusques a ce qu'ils eussent profere quelque parole, ou fait quelque espece de son ou de voix (prop, li).16
Cf. above n. 5; and for the supposed irremediable link between the ear and the vocal organs Galen, Deplacitis Hippocratis et Platonis, ii.4. 12-15, 40-2, 5.1-97, De usu partium, xvi.3-4, ix.12, xi.10, De locis affectis, iv.9. 15 Cardano, Opera omnia, ii (Lugduni, 1663), pp. 72-3, x, p. 462. 16 Cf. Franciscus Vallesius, De sacra philosophia, c.3 (Lugduni, 1588), p. 78; Lorenzo Hervas y Panduro, Escuola Espanola de sordomudos (Madrid, 1795), 2t.; Abraham Farrar, 'Histrocial Introduction' to Juan Pablo Bonet, ^implication of the Letters of the Alphabet and Method of

Marin Mersenne and the Origins of Language


It was especially in France that effective teaching methods were to be developed systematically, as described by the Abbe Charles-Michel de 1'Epee in La veritable maniere d'instruire les sourds-muets, confirmee par une longue experience (1784). These, as Mersenne indicated, were a consequence of the empirical theory of language which he had done so much to promote, and which thus restored the deaf and dumb to the full human dignity and responsibility of which they had been for so long deprived by nature and society.

Teaching Deaf-Mutes to Speak, transl. H.N. Dixon (Harrogate, 1890); Ruth Elaine Bender, The Conquest of Deafness (Cleveland, Ohio, 2nd ed., 1970); Harlan Lane, When the Mind Hears: A History of the Dea/(New York, 1984); with also A.C. Crombie, 'Mathematics, Music and Medical Science' (1971), reprinted in Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought (London, 1990), pp..363-78.


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

Further References
Mersenne, Les mechaniques de Galilee, ed. B. Rochot (Paris, 1966), Les nouvelles pensees de Galilee (Paris, 1639), ed. P. Costabel et M.-P. Lerner, 2 vol. (Paris, 1973); C.S.F. Burnett, M. Fend and P. Gouk, The Second Sense: Studies in hearing and musical judgement from antiquity to the seventeenth century (London, 1991); V. Coelho (ed.), Music and Science in the Age of Galileo (Dordrecht, 1992); H.F. Cohen, Quantifying Music (Dordrecht, 1984); P. Dear, Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools (Ithaca, NY., 1988); A.E. Moyer, Musica scientia: Musical scholarship in the Italian Renaissance (Ithaca, N. Y., 1992); and for language K. O. Apel, Die Idee der Sprache in der Tradition des Humanismus von Dante bis Vico (Bonn, 1963, 3rd ed. 1980); H. Arens, Sprachwissenschaft (Miinchen, 1955, 2nd ed. Freiburg, 1969); A. Borst, Der Turmbau von Bable, 4 vol. (Stuttgart, 1957-63); O.V.C.M. Funke, Zum Weltsprachenproblem in England im 17'.Jahrhundert (Anglistische Forschungen, xlix; Heidelberg, 1929); G. Gusdorf, Les sciences humaines et la pensee occidentale, ii, iii.2 (Paris, 1967-69); J.R. Knowlson, Universal Language Schemes in England and France 1600-1800 (Toronto, 1975); G. Mounin, Histoire de la linguistique (Paris, 1967); R.H. Robins, A Short History of Linguistics (New York, 1967); Paolo Rossi, Clavis universalis (Milano/Napoli, 1960), V.G. Salmon, The Study of Language in 17th-Century England (Amsterdam, 1979); M.M. Slaughter, Universal Languages and Scientific Taxonomy in the 17th Century (Cambridge, 1982); G.F. Strasser, Lingua universalis, Kryptologie und Theorie der Universalsprachen in 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden, 1988); F.A. Yates, Giordano Bruno (London, 1964), The Art of Memory (London, 1966), Theatre of the World (London, 1969), Collected Essays, 3 vol. (London, 1982-84); see also A.C. Crombie, Science, Optics and Music. . . chs. 9, 13, 14, 15 (1990), Styles of Scientific Thinking . . . chs. 10, 14 (1994), and above ch. 13, below ch. 15.

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc Lettres a Claude Saumaise et a son entourage (1620-1637), edited by Agnes Bresson (Florence, 1992). A Monsieur, M. Nicolas Claude Fabry Sieur de Peiresc et de Callas, Baron de Rians, Abbe et Seigneur de Guistres, et Conseiller du Roy en la Cour de Parlement d'Aix en Provence. 'In this dedication to Peiresc of the Traitez des Consonances. . . . ', which formed part of his great Harmonic universelle (1636), Marin Mersenne offered a portrait of his friend, whose 'liberalite' had provided so much for the 'honnestes gens' and 'hommes sgavans' of all of Europe. 'Car vous ne leur fournissez seulement pas les tres-rares manuscrits, 1 es medailles et les autres reliques de la venerable antiquite dont votre Cabinet est enrichi . . . mais vous leur faites venir tout ce qu'il y a plus curieux au Levant, et dans toutes les autres parties de la terre, sans en pretendre autre chose que d'ayder a faire valoir le talent d'un chacun, et a faire paroistre la portee et 1'estendue de 1'esprit humain.' Anyone who visited Peiresc was left with the impression 'que vous n'ayez dresse vostre Cabinet que pour luy, et que tous vos biens soient aussi communs aux sgavans, que 1'air et 1'eau a tous ceux qui respirent'. Belonging to a family original from Pisa, Nicolas-Claude Fabri (1580-1637) took the name Peiresc from a village in the Alpes de Provence inherited from his mother. Education, travel and a wide circle of friendships established his style of erudition essentially as a collector, patron and organiser, but also as a practical researcher, over almost the whole range of the liberal arts and sciences. His interests were eclectic in the style of his sixteenth-century predecessors, by contrast with that of the contemporary generation of systematic philosophers, but his curiosity had a purpose and could be sharply focused. A Jesuit schooling introduced him to astronomy. On a journey to Italy during 1599-1600, he met at Padua the antiquarian Giovanni Vincenzo Pinelli and Galileo, and visited galleries, stimulating an interest in Antiquity, and in the diversity of nature, that was to mature in the study of law at Montpellier under the philologist Jules Pacius. Travel to England and the Netherlands brought him in touch with Dutch botanists, to whom he was to send seeds and the names of Provencal plants. After reading Galileo's Sidereus nuncius, he and the Provencal astronomer Joseph Gaultier were the first in


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

France to observe in 1610 the four satellites of Jupiter with a telescope. Afterwards, by organising systematic observations of their positions, and of a lunar eclipse, from different points of the Mediterranean, he and Gaultier, with Pierre Gassendi, were able to calculate the length of that sea with considerably improved accuracy. Other scientific investigations carried out at Belgentier, his country house near Aix-en-Provence, led to the discovery of the lacteal vessels in man; to comparative dissections of the eyes of a variety of animals; and to the collecting for his impressive garden of seeds and plants, and of some exotic animals, from many parts of the world. With equal energy, he collected objects of art and archaeology of all kinds, materials for comparative investigations into the origins and filiations of languages, and manuscripts and books for his library, all of which he made generously available. In the early seventeenth century, scholarly and scientific communication still took place mainly be personal correspondence, and that of Peiresc, as of Galileo, Mersenne and Descartes, is a major source for the intellectual and practical life of the time. His regular exchange of letters with Mersenne over twenty years has been published in the admirable edition of Mersenne's Correspondance, begun by Cornelis de Waard and now completed by Armand Beaulieu. Mersenne sent him material concerning the science and art of music for forwarding to Rome; they discussed Galileo; Peiresc tried through Cardinal Francesco Barberini to ease the restrictions imposed on Galileo after his trial. A large part of his correspondence was published a century ago as Lettres de Peiresc by Philippe Tamizey de Larroque in seven volumes (188898), with many inconvenient omissions; this was accompanied by Les correspondants de Peiresc in twenty-one parts (1879-97). Raymond Lebegue published Les correspondants de Peiresc dans les anciens Pays-Bas (1943), and shortly before his death completed with Agnes Bresson a supplement with corrections to Volume Seven of the Lettres (1985). Now Agnes Bresson has published a major and immaculate edition, dedicated to the memory of her late preceptor, who has written a foreword, of Peiresc's letters to the philologist Claude Saumaise. This edition of Peiresc's Lettres a Claude Saumaise et a son entourage (16201637) is a major event. It begins with a perceptive and informative historical and textual introduction, which is followed by sixty-six previously unpublished letters to Saumaise occupying 375 pages, omitting those from Saumaise which are available in Tamizey de Larroque, but including in an appendix important and relevant unpublished materials by him. The letters are accompanied by historical exegeses in notes of extraordinary richness and erudition often as long as the letters themselves. The result is a model of expert editing and historical analysis, and a major contribution to intellectual and cultural history. Equally impressive are the source and bibliographical materials, glossary and indexes, comprising a further 170 pages. These, with their clear analytical presentation and ample coverage, will be a necessary instrument of research for all future students of the intellectual and cultural history of the



period. The volume will be of particular value for the new historical interest in collectors, collections and museums, for the history of science, for the history of languages and for orientalists. Peiresc is properly located for the first time in this splendid volume in the variegated life especially of the Mediterranean world in the early seventeenth century. He emerges as a savant for whom the natural sciences belonged as much as literary learning to a humanist culture, and who organized his collecting in the service of the whole Republic of Letters. The enthusiastic intelligence of these letters and their vivid detailing of so many objects of his curiosity make them a continuous pleasure to read. We meet his competition with Lord Arundel for the purchase of the Arundel marbles now in the Ashmolean Museum; postal facilities and travel in the Mediterranean area; Turkish pirates who captured and threw overboard Pinelli's library, and the recovery from the sea of those sections of it now in the Ambrosiana and Marciana libraries. Pursuit of aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean area, Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, leads to requests for information and manuscripts about systems of money, numerals and computing, weights and measures, military arms and uniforms, strategy and tactics, chronology, astronomy, music, divination, plants and animals. Peiresc acquired in manuscript 'un livre arabe assez ample de 1'histoire des animaulx ou il se trouvera possible quelque chose de plus que ce que nous en avons dans les anciens grecs, puis qu'ils sont sur les lieux ou les animaulx estranges habitent'. There is a long saga of attempts to identify a particular 'animal etrange' which arrived from Ethiopia at Marseilles for the King: a kind of antelope now called Oryx beisa. He collected ancient inscriptions, medals, coins and bronzes, ivories, enamels, paintings and other works of art; he researched into the history of medicine, drugs, epidemics and hygiene; and from all these inquiries built up an important collection of manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Italian, Arabic, Coptic and other European and oriental languages. It was in his investigations into the origins and filiations of languages that Peiresc appears at his most inventive in this remarkable correspondence. He was a pioneer in historical derivation by the comparative method. This had been initiated for languages in the sixteenth century by Sigismundus Gelenius and Guillaume Postel, and developed among others by Conrad Gessner, using the methods of Aristotelian biological taxonomy. By the end of the century, it had been recognised that there were correspondences between apparently diverse languages, such as German and Persian, as between Arabic and Hebrew. The guiding principle was introduced in 1599 by Joseph-Juste Scaliger, by using common elements of European languages to show that these could be arranged in a genetic order of more ancient matrices linguae and their more recent derivatives. Scholars then looked for rules of etymological derivation to explain the transition of one language into another. The first approaches to historical philology could be arbitrarily formal and limited only to the derivation of words, but the horizon was expanded empirically by such


Science, Art and Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought

scholars as Saumaise, and later conceptually by the recognition, notably by Leibniz, that linguistic affinities must be determined also by grammatical structure. Meanwhile, attention was given both to the circumstances promoting the p