Galileo’s First Confrontation with the Inquisition (1616): Four Orders and Three Issues

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Galilaeana: Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Science



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On February 25, 1616, pope Paul V ordered that cardinal-inquisitor Bellarmine warn Galileo to stop accepting Copernicanism; that if Galileo refused, Inquisition commissary Seghizzi enjoin him not to discuss the topic; and that if Galileo still refused, he be arrested. According to a February 26 memorandum, Bellarmine warned Galileo, and immediately thereafter Seghizzi enjoined him not to hold, defend, or teach Copernicanism in any way. There are several irregularities with Seghizzi's injunction: chiefly, it was not motivated by Galileo refusing Bellarmine's warning; and its content deviates from the pope's intended injunction. Moreover, Seghizzi's injunction conflicts with Bellarmine's testimony: on March 3, Bellarmine reported to the Inquisition that Galileo acquiesced when given the warning, but said nothing about Seghizzi's injunction; and on May 26, Bellarmine wrote a certificate clarifying that Galileo had been warned not to believe, support, or defend Copernicanism as true or scripturally compatible, but only as an hypothesis. Even if the February 26 document is authentic and accurate, Seghizzi's injunction thus seems illegitimate. The latest major effort to show its legitimacy (Thomas Mayer's Roman Inquisition: Trying Galileo) is deeply flawed: Mayer failed to appreciate the differences in conceptual content among these four orders, and the distinction among the three issues of documentary authenticity, factual accuracy, and legal validity.


Philosophy | Philosophy of Science



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