In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

13o JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28:1 JANUARY 1990 ceived scope of philosophy in the Renaissance, in comparison with the Middle Ages and early modern periods. Most impressive of all, aside from the extremely high quality of all its parts, is this volume's fidelity to its subject and the placement of that subject in an accurate historical context. For that we have to thank each contributor, and, most of all, the vision of Charles Schmitt. In addition to setdng a new standard for a reference work of this type, The CambridgeHistory of ReniassancePhilosophymay well prove to be his most enduring legacy. MARCIA L. COLISn Oberlin College Pietro Redondi. GalileoHeretic. Translated by Raymond Rosenthal. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. Pp. x + 356. $29.95. The trial of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633 is a classic episode that invites continual reinterpretation and reevaluation for all sorts of reasons. Karl yon Gebler's Galileoand the Roman Curia (1879) was partly a response to the availability of new documents; Giorgio de Santillana's Crime of Galileo (1955) was partly meant to shed light on the phenomenon of McCarthyism; Arthur Koestler's Sleepwalkers (1959) was partly intended to come to terms with the crisis of secularism; Jerome Langford's Galileo, Science, and the Church (1966) was partly an updating of the apologetic interpretation; Stillman Drake's Galileo(198o) was partly a personal synthesis of his and others' recent contributions to scholarship. Such reappraisals perform a valuable function, and so one welcomes this translation of a 1983 Italian book, for it advances a radically new interpretation. Redondi was motivated by his accidental discovery of a document in the Roman of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--the current name of the Inquisition. The document is an anonymous complaint about Galileo's Assayer(1623). The complaint is that this book advances an atomic theory of matter, that this theory conflicts with the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, and that therefore the book is heretical. The specific element of atomism that worries the writer is the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, including the thesis that secondary qualities do not really exist in the object but only in the subject. The doctrine of the Eucharist asserts that the consecration of bread and wine (which occurs during mass) involves the miracle of transubstantiation: the bread and wine retain all their accidental qualities, but their substance changes into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The conflict is that atomism would make transubstantiation impossible, for all accidental qualities of bread and wine are sensory manifestations of their atoms. Thus, if the qualities do not change, neither do the atoms. But if the atoms do not change, neither does the substance. This complaint is anonymous only in the sense that the document lacks a signature, and there is no other way for us to know the identity of the author. But the complaint is written in the form of a letter to an authoritative churchman, and the author asks the addressee to let him know whether his accusation is correct and what action should be taken about the matter. Thus, it is obvious that the plaintiff was known to the addressee. BOOK REVIEWS 131 Normally such a discovery would lead one to search the archives in question to learn from other documents as much relevant information as possible: not only the identity of the letter's author and addressee, but its date, its repercussions, and so on. But the Roman Archives of the Inquisition are, understandably, not generally open to scholars. Redondi himself had been granted a rare privilege by being allowed to consult some specific manuscripts in connection with his project which, though related, did not involve Galileo's trial as such. Therefore, in the excitement of his discovery, Redondi did the next best thing he could do. He was led to the following. According to Redondi, the complaint's author was Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit with whom Galileo had a bitter dispute about comets, which occasioned The Assayer, among other works. The complaint was written in 1624 or a6~5, at which time no action was taken by the Inquisition, partly...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 130-131
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.