Novelties in the Heavens: Rhetoric and Science in the Copernican Controversy

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Overview


In this fascinating work, Jean Dietz Moss shows how the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus brought about another revolution as well—one in which rhetoric, previously used simply to explain scientific thought, became a tool for persuading a skeptical public of the superiority of the Copernican system.

Moss describes the nature of dialectical and rhetorical discourse in the period of the Copernican debate to shed new light on the argumentative strategies used by the participants. Against the background of Ptolemy's Almagest, she analyzes the gradual increase of rhetoric beginning with Copernicus's De Revolutionibus and Galileo's Siderius nuncius, through Galileo's debates with the Jesuits Scheiner and Grassi, to the most persuasive work of all, Galileo's Dialogue. The arguments of the Dominicans Bruno and Campanella, the testimony of Johannes Kepler, and the pleas of Scriptural exegetes and the speculations of John Wilkins furnish a counterpoint to the writings of Galileo, the centerpiece of this study.

The author places the controversy within its historical frame, creating a coherent narrative movement. She illuminates the reactions of key ecclesiastical and academic figures figures and the general public to the issues.

Blending history and rhetorical analysis, this first study to look at rhetoric as defined by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century participants is an original contribution to our understanding of the use of persuasion as an instrument of scientific debate.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226542348
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1 The Expansion of Rhetoric into Science 1
Pt. 1 The Celestial Revolution
Ch. 2 Copernicus's Revolutionary Thesis 27
Ch. 3 Evidence from the Heavens: Galileo and Kepler 65
Ch. 4 The Significance of the Sunspot Quarrel 97
Pt. 2 The Hermeneutical Crisis
Ch. 5 Interpreting Scripture 129
Ch. 6 Dominicans on the Side of Galileo 148
Ch. 7 Galileo's Appeal to the Church 181
Pt. 3 The Triumph of Rhetoric
Ch. 8 The Delicate Balance: Galileo versus Grassi 215
Ch. 9 The Final Salvo: Galileo's Dialogue 257
Ch. 10 Galileo Interpreted for Englishmen 301
Postscript: Dialectic and Rhetoric in Modern Science 330
Bibliography 333
Index 343
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