"Galileo, Urban VIII, and the Prosecution of Natural Philosophers"
I will propose a comparison of the Galileo condemnation with the prosecution of Italian natural philosophers at that time, especially Cesare Cremonini, using some recently discovered documents. This comparison can bring new light to our understanding of the verdict of abjuration Urban VIII returned against Galileo on June 16th, 1633.
"Galileo’s Trial: A Plea-bargain Gone Awry?"
The documents which report the testimony given at Galileo's trial indicate that a legal impasse arose over the inconsistent instructions given by the Church to Galileo about Copernicanism seventeen years earlier. As a result the prosecutor tried to arrange a plea bargain with Galileo to resolve the impasse. But the plea bargain appears to have been sabotaged at the last stage of the trial, leaving Galileo exposed.
"The Church’s Attempts to Dispel the Galileo Myth"
In 1979 John Paul II expressed his opinion that the Galileo affair was a myth, which propagated the otherwise unfounded view that there existed a conflict between science and religion, and he also expressed his desire to see an objective evaluation of the case in order to dispel the myth. In 1981 the Pope established the Galileo Commission to carry out his desire. The myth, unfortunately, remains, perhaps even strengthened, because the real circumstances behind the Galileo affair have not been understood by the Church, at least as far as can be interpreted by the discourses of 31 October 1992, which terminated the work of the Galileo Commission and which, apparently, offered its official report.
In those discourses the apparent conflict between the Church and science in the Galileo affair is said to be a “tragic mutual incomprehension.” This is specified by what I identify as the following four principal conclusions of the discourses: (1) Galileo is said not to have understood that, at that time, Copernicanism was only “hypothetical” and that he did not have scientific proofs for it. (2) It is further claimed that “theologians” were not able, at that time, to correctly understand Scripture. (3) Robert Bellarmine is said to have understood what was “really at stake.” (4) When scientific proofs for Copernicanism became known, the Church hastened to accept Copernicanism and to implicity admit it erred in condemning it.
I will attempt to establish that a correct reading of historical circumstances does not support any of these four conclusions and that, therefore, the myth remains. I propose that it will cease to be a myth only when there is respect for historical accuracy and when the basic differences between authority in the Church and authority in science are realized.
"The Disputed Injunction and its Role in Galileo’s Trial"
On February 1616, Galileo was given by cardinal Bellarmine a precept not to hold or defend the Copernican opinion. According to a document found sixteen years later, it appears that immediately after the Bellarmine precept Galileo received a much sterner injunction by the then Commissary of the Holy Office, Michelangelo Segizzi. In my lecture I show that the document is quite probably authentic and that it did not have by itself alone a decisive influence in Galileo’s condemnation, but offered a much-needed face-saving to the Pope Urban VIII.
"Galileo and the Case for Copernicus"
Copernicus called his heliocentric blueprint “a theory pleasing to the mind.” Even Galileo said he admired those who accepted it “despite the evidence of their senses.” Bellarmine’s demand for a deductive proof and Urban’s declaration that God could have created phenomena such as the tides in many ways, including those beyond human intellect, placed a severe obstacle and challenge before Galileo, who nevertheless always hoped to find a convincing demonstration for the motion of the earth. In the end his rhetoric persuaded by its coherency, not by proof.
"The Ban on Copernicanism: Grounds and Consequences"
The banning in 1616 of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus and the accompanying declaration under the authority of the Holy Office that the Copernican claims regarding the motion of the earth and the stability of the sun were "contrary to Scripture" were at the center of what a later generation would call the "Galileo affair". In objective terms, it would soon appear that a serious error had been made. How did this happen? Galileo had already presented what would seem to us fairly persuasive reasons for caution in regard to such a potentially damaging step on the part of the Church. So why did the Holy Office proceed as it did? Many factors seem to have played a role and historians are far from agreement about their relative importance. Where does that discussion now stand?
Panel Discussion: Richard Bodek, John Rouse, Holger Teschke
"The Dramatist as Social Critic"
Bertolt Brecht's play, Galileo, is often faulted for its alleged historical inaccuracy. A more sympathetic, but equally problematic, analysis of the play assumes that Brecht paints Galileo as a failure who had the opportunity to change the world but whose cowardice prevented him from standing up to authority. This is in keeping with the general assumption that Brecht's work is more concerned with political lines than with human frailty. When read in conjunction with some of his poetry and short stories, as well as in conjunction with his experiences with authoritarian govermnents, it is possible to rethink Galileo as a play about the circumspect victory of truth over darkness.
Brecht's theatre for social change is grounded in a set of performance relationships between production, play, and spectator. All the well-known elements of Brecht's "epic theatre" were developed to sustain this performance relationship, including both theatrical devices and dramaturgic principles. I will focus on one of these, "historicization," which works to critically illuminate the spectator's own situation through the lens of a seemingly "historical" story. In this sense, Life of Galileo is a play about its audience, not the historical Galileo. But Brecht did use—or abuse—a historical figure, and a historical situation for this particular play, and it will be interesting to discuss the consequences for spectators whose own situation is conditioned in part by their interest in using the play to work through questions of historical accuracy, thereby seemingly reversing Brecht's notion of historicization. I will suggest that the reversal may not be quite what it seems.
"Setting the Scene: Tuscany, the Veneto, and Rome in the Age of Galileo"
To set the background for Galileo in time and space, this talk offers thumbnail sketches of the three very different regimes in which Galileo lived and moved—the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Venetian Republic, and the Papal States. To make these differences more concrete, I will personalize them with a focus on three important acquaintances of Galileo who set the tone in each territory: the Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine (the mother of Cosimo II) in Florence, the Servite friar Paolo Sarpi in Venice, and Cardinal Maffeo Barberini—later Urban VIII— in Rome.
"Galileo’s 'Rehabilitation': Elbow-room for Theology"
I will take John Henry Newman's emphasis on 'elbow-room' in theology to throw further light on how the Church exercised authority in the condemnation of heliocentrism. Attention will be given to the way in which the Church's ruling eventually came to be ignored. Pope John Paul's 'rehabilitation' of Galileo will be revisited and put in the context of the Pope's encouragement of dialogue between faith and science. A concluding look at Newman will suggest further questions.
"Sister Maria Celeste’s Father"
Combined with the 124 surviving letters of Galileo's daughter Virginia (Sister Maria Celeste) from the period 1623-1633, seven letters from his son, Vincenzio, written between 1630 and 1636, suggest Galileo's private thoughts around the time of his trial, and express the family verdict on his standing with Church and state.