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Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,198 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in Florence in 1632, was the most proximate cause of his being brought to trial before the Inquisition. Using the dialogue form, a genre common in classical philosophical works, Galileo masterfully demonstrates the truth of the Copernican system over the Ptolemaic one, proving, for the first time, that th ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1632)
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4.08  · 
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 ·  1,198 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Roy Lotz
I should think that anyone who considered it more reasonable for the whole universe to move in order to let the earth remain fixed would be more irrational than one who should climb to the top of your cupola just to get a view of the city and its environs, and then demand that the whole countryside should revolve around him so that he would not have to take the trouble to turn his head.

It often seems hard to justify reading old works of science. After all, science continually advances; pioneer
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone seriously interested in the history of science
Recommended to Manny by: Bertrand Russell, A.D. White, David Wallace and others
[A pleasant Venetian villa; through the open window, we see tourists photographing each other with their iPads while gondolas traverse a canal in the background. SALVIATI effusively greets his guests, SAGREDO and SIMPLICIO]

SALVIATI: Welcome, dear friends, and many thanks for answering my urgent convocation! It is my earnest wish that we now devote some hours to mutual discussion, as we have so often done before, but this time on a different topic: to wit, that book written by Galileo in 1629, wh
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
The end of Scholasticism starts with this book. The Aristotelian thought (or as the book usually calls them The Peripatetics) and its appeal to authority and the appearance of the phenomena as truth are overturned. Sometimes what we see (such as the sun rising in the east) is not what is.

I loved the way Galileo uses the Aristotelian logic to poke holes in the Ptolemaic science (particularly, using proof by contradiction). Often in the other books I've read they'll make a statement such that Gal
Mar 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Why hadn't I read this book before? Not just one of the greatest texts in the history of science but fabulously written and entertaining as a dialogue. We hear about Galileo in high school, but that isn't like getting it right from the source.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I read parts of this book in 2016, when I was self-studying physics. I used a textbook that often referred to the main historical works of figures like Copernicus, Kepler and Galilei, and I thought it interesting to read (parts of) these references as well.

I found Galilei's books surprisingly accessible and fun to read. Works of Copernicus and Kepler are hard to read for modern day readers due to the heavy use of outdated and complex mathematics. Galileo uses the form of a dialogue to bring his
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two New Sciences is definitely a unique physical treatise in that it is written as a Platonic style dialogue. As the title suggests, the dialogue serves to highlight a shift in thought and the format does prove suitable to allow ideas and opinions to clash freely. Simplicio is the clear-cut Aristotelian of the group. Sagredo and Salviati seem like mouthpieces for conflicting ideas with which Galileo himself had to reckon to arrive at his conclusions which are given in the text written by the "Ac ...more
Mark Woodland
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is still a fascinating read over 400 years later. They don't write them like this anymore; the classic "dialogue" format that one finds in classic writings such as those by Plato was not in general use. However, given the clash between the two dominant models of the order of the universe at the time, it was a perfect choice, and well "argued" on each side. Of course, the Copernican system was proved out, but the process by which it was done is an excellent example of the use of logic, and t ...more
Brian Maicke
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to start with for those interested in the scientific classics. Written as a dialogue and in the vernacular rather than Latin, Dialogues is a much more accessible read than the Copernicus text I started with. There is still a bit of geometry that may be off putting to some readers, but even those without a science background should be able to follow the discussion if they have an interest.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
According to Socrates Everybody can grasp philosophical truths if they just use their innate reason , and that is what Galileo " tried " to do with Simplicio , he ( Galileo ) worked exactly like Socrates ( and his mother before him ) as a midwife , and tried to give birth to Simplicio`s reason in time which scriptures was sacred and reason was forbidden .
James Violand
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
Believe it or not, I found this to be one of the most interesting books I have ever read. Easily understood, it is a seminal work in the history of science. Excellent.
Myat Thura Aung
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Needless to say, this book is of such great importance to the history of science and to the scientific literature.Galileo is smart enough to write it in the form of a dialogue so that the book is a bit entertaining and accessible to a layman person (despite containing a little geometry).The silly arguments of the character Simplicio and the satirical remarks of Sagredo are quite amusing at times.To learn Galileo's arguments alone is worth enough to give it a shot.So I'd recommend this to anyone ...more
Petra Hermans
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I believe in a new kind of science, every time an old religion
has been overcome.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the year 1632, Galileo Galilei wrote this book called "Dialogue", arguing that the Earth rotates around the Sun instead of the vice versa as described in religious scriptures. Within a year, his book was banned and Galileo was kept under house arrest till his death in 1642.

"Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of sun and earth, you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the ear
Sid Nuncius
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's not the most alluring of titles, I admit, and even though most people have heard of Galileo and many know enough of his achievements to admire him, I suspect few people would consider reading a book by him. However, I urge you very strongly to buy this book and at least give it a try. It's a wonderful work, full of fascinating and brilliant insights and Stillman Drake's superlative translation makes it extremely readable. It gives a fascinating insight into what Galileo *really* did to anno ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Salviati, Sagredo and Simplicio serve as Galileo’s vehicles to discuss the conflict between the Ptolemic/ Aristotelian universe and the Copernican. Separated into discussions over four days, Salviati is Galileo’s proxy as he disassembles Simplicio’s geocentrism to win over the undecided Sagredo.

The first day is a lively debate which sets the stage for the intellectual battle between established “scientific” belief and the persuasiveness of observable and geometric facts. With only polite restra
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
For genius level of thought and scientific practice, this is obviously five stars. I give it four only because for a modern reader, it does go on a bit. Despite that, it's very readable for a 400 year old book. And the length is interesting because it's caused by the extensive nature of the arguments Galileo had to make to convince people of this crazy proposition that the Earth moves. Though not an idea original to Galileo, even in his time it was not something people believed. Galileo used act ...more
Autumn Kotsiuba
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
These sort of books are a bit tricky for me. On one hand, I ask myself how the ancients--or even those in Galilei's time--could believe that the earth was the center of the universe. But that wondering quickly ceases when I realize how little I understand. I mean, when I read Galilei, or Turing, or Einstein, I wonder how on earth I'll contribute anything to the human race when I've spent my life thus far just trying to wrap my head around what we've already learned. And anyways, I'm sure people ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A review of all of the learning of his youth, he writes this as a dialogue between three scientific explorers playing the role of teacher, experimenter, and student. He covers a lot of content in relatively few pages. More than anything else here, we see the process of the curious mind discovering physical truth incrementally through experimentation. Consider the humorous example of he and his friend convincing themselves that light probably is instantaneous as a result of their distant lantern ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, classics
Galileo is brilliant and surprisingly clear in his exposition of the Copernican system against the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic. The dialogue form suits the discussion well - Salviati makes some impressive deduction, Sagredo exclaims how impressive it is and adds his own thoughts, and Simplicio quotes Aristotle. That's a bit harsh to Simplicio - Galileo goes out of his way to introduce a ton of objections to his/Salviati's theories, which are duly refuted by Salviati. Sagredo also brings a nice practi ...more
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Pisa 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642 Florence (Arcetri)

Stillman Drake, trans.
Albert Einstein, introduction
Stephen Jay Gould, series ed.

Those that deny the motion of the earth would point out that birds could not keep up with 24 hours of flying so fast, and would look as if they were rapidly being carried westward.
To reiterate, when we travel on horseback, we feel a wind against our face: what a wind we would feel if we were being borne in such rapid course (earth must complete revolution i
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-writing
Galileo is a seriously good writer, he's got a great sense of rhythm and the imagery he employs to get his points across about everything from how logic works, to what happens when a canon is fired, are brilliant. The dialogue format also works really well here, its actually really refreshing to see several different voices working through a series of problems instead of just reading one long, bloated tract. Best of all, he attacks intellectual dogmatism head on, and makes the case that when a s ...more
Han beng Koe
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very good book written by the "father of modern physics" which clearly shows how brilliant Galileo not only in his knowledge and importantly how he conveyed his idea to the reader, even Einstein wrote a foreword for this masterpiece by Galileo!

It is not a very heavy material although some thinking is still needed, but all the argument is written beautifully and easy to understand.

I recommend this book to everyone (in fact to every scientist!) who is interested how does the modern science kind
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great translation, well annotated by the translator with historical contexts and explanations of asides the participants in the dialogues make to one another in reference to current events and debates. It also has a thought-provoking forward by Albert Einstein, and a luminous Introduction by Dava Sobel.

I've told most people who ask that the most difficult thing for me to do, reading this, was forget how much more I know than even Galileo did. I think of this book as one of the earliest
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Fairly slow going, but it's fascinating to watch an early 17th-century natural philosopher work through an explanation of (what we would now call) gravitation without recourse to calculus or decimal fractions, with no finer measurement of time than the human heartbeat. Galileo's thought experiments work equally well as powerful mental images; his best is the traveler on a boat belowdecks.

In this edition, the note to p. 360 explains an ingenious thumb-operatoed water clock that he devised to meas
It took me finally sit down and read this book, but I was so happy once I understood the format and the topic of discussion. I learned so much, especially about movements of the sun verified by sun spots and completely different movements of the moon, whose front side is all those on earth can see.

Very interesting process of using a dialogue to voice the opinions of the skeptic as well.

well, i've only read the first couple of days, and am uncertain as to when i'll finish it, but it is an incredible work. just to witness galileo demolish aristotle is such an amazing feat that makes this book a lesson in rhetoric. of course, having read the a' man's physics will help make this book more intelligible.
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
One would expect such an old text to be a bore, but in this modern version it reads really easy and the discussions are fascinating to follow. It gives more of an idea in why the followers of Aristoteles were thinking they were right, but also shows some early science, which isn't always right either, but interesting nonetheless.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only does this work make clear Galileo's incredible mind for science and philosophy, but it's also a riot! Who knew that one of the fathers of modern scientific thought had such a hilarious wit! It's delightfully and clearly written, easy for a layperson to follow and certainly worth anyone's time.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you want to understand the beginning of the modern science, you have to read this dialogue. You should put yourself in Galileo's shoes, already sentenced by the Church and still be able to explain his ideas, using the form of dialogue to workaround the censorship of his time.
Daniel Ramírez Martins
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a very easy-to-read book with beautiful scientific explanations. It has a lot of political controversy, and it directly attacks the Catholic Church through the character of Simplicio. Otherwise the character of Salviati represents Galileo and his beliefs on defending the copernican system.
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Galileo Galilei was a Tuscan (Italian) physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", the "father of scienc ...more
“To our natural and human reason, I say that these terms ‘large,’ ‘small,’ ‘immense,’ ‘minute,’ etc. are not absolute but relative; the same thing in comparison with various others may be called at one time ‘immense’ and at another ‘imperceptible.” 10 likes
“After an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves:

Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Christians, this vehement suspicion, justly conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error, heresy, and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church, and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to fulfill and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or that shall be, imposed upon me by this Holy Office. And, in the event of my contravening, any of these my promises and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents.”
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