The Trial of Galileo
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Church Team #3
Identify what principles are appropriate in interpreting observations, especially when they fit alternative explanations.

  • Summarize the arguments of Nicholas of Cusa (1400-1464) and others in the Medieval tradition about regulating the use of reason.
  • Summarize the views of Nicole [Nicolas] Oresme (1320-1382), who once considered, but then rejected sun-centered astronomy. (Focus on the principles of observations, noting that Team #4 will addressing principles of interpreting scripture.)

For context, consult Team #2 on the dilemma of the indeterminacy of relative motion and Team #1 on the alternative planetary systems.


  • Review Day 1 of the Dialogue. On deception of senses, see pp.~288-298 (Day 2).
  • On the concept of "saving appearances," see McMullin's Chap. 6 in McMullin's The Church and Galileo

    On Cusa and the Medieval tradition, see:
  • Edward Grant's God in the Middle Ages
  • Cusa's treatise on On Learned Ignorance (online) or in Hugh Lawrence Bond, Nicholas of Cusa: Selected Spiritual Writings. esp. Book I, Ch. 1-3; Book II, Ch. 11-12.
  • The Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    On Oresme, see:
  • Nicole Oresme, "The Compatibility of the Earth's Diurnal Rotation With Astronomical Phenomena and Terrestrial Physics," pp. 503-510 in Sourcebook on Medieval Science (Edward Grant, ed.); or a translation by Menut and Denomy, pp. 600-06 in Marshall Clagett, The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages. The 1377 treatise, Le livre du ciel et du monde [in French], is in the U.Minn. library.