Painting vs. Sculpture in the Cigoli Letter
Science, Method, and Argument in Galileo
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This essay is partly a case study of the role of logic in historiography. It is also partly a test case for the thesis of a Galilean correspondence between aesthetic attitude and scientific thought, advanced by Erwin Panofsky, Alexandre Koyré, and John Heilbron. Intrinsically, it is a discussion of the authenticity of the letter to Cigoli dated June 26, 1612, widely attributed to Galileo, containing argumentation about the relative aesthetic merits of painting and sculpture. I undertake a systematic analysis of the letter’s method of argument, comparing and contrasting it with Galileo’s. I argue that the letter does have some Galilean characteristics: critical reasoning; ad hominem argumentation, in the seventeenth-century sense; and appeal to experimentation. However, the letter falls short of the typical Galilean open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, and clarity; crucially, it uses several illative terms which Galileo never uses, and does not use the one he uses most often. The latter features outweigh the former. Moreover, I discuss some aspects of the letter’s substantive content, primarily a theory of vision that disregards the dynamics of perspective and the faculty of binocularity, which Galileo understood and exploited very well.
Galilei, Galileo, 1564-1642; Reasoning
History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | History of Philosophy
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Finocchiaro, M. A.
Painting vs. Sculpture in the Cigoli Letter.
Science, Method, and Argument in Galileo, 40
Cham, Switzerland: Springer, Cham.