Galileo’s Troubles

Galileo’s Troubles

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Metaviews 012. 2001.02.25. Approximately 1905 words.

Below is an article on some new archival research about Galileo¬πsTroubles with the Church. The article is written by Mariano Aritgas,Rafael Martivez, and William Shea. There has been a lot of recentscholarship, which puts into question the story of Galileo as amartyr for science. The piece below contributes to thisdemythologization of the Galileo affair with an interesting discoveryin the Vatican archives. Included below is a short essay, a copy ofthe Latin document in question, and an English translation of theLatin document.

Mariano Artigas is a professor of philosophy of science at theUniversity of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. He is the author of 13 books,most recently THE MIND OF THE UNIVERSE (Templeton Foundation Press2000: Artigas discovered the new documentdiscussed below in the Vatican archives and is the author of thebrief essay on it below. <>.

Rafael Martinez is a professor of philosophy of science at thePontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. He is author andeditor of several books. He has transcribed the document from theoriginal Latin and collaborated with its interpretation.<>.

William Shea is director of the International Academy of History ofScience, professor of history of science at the University LouisPasteur, Strasbourg, France. Shea is the author of the often quotedTHE INTELLECTUAL REVOLUTION OF GALILEO. He is collaborating withprof. Artigas on a new book on Galileo, including study of the newdocument, with the support of the Templeton Foundation Press..

The full study of the document below will be published in a fewmonths by Acta Philosophica (Rome).

— Billy Grassie

From: Mariano Artigas <>Subject: Revisiting Galileo’s Troubles with the Church

A SHORT ESSAY by Mariano Artigas and William Shea

It may seem incredible, but a previously unknown 17th-centurydocument on Galileo has turned up. At the beginning of November 1999,Mariano Artigas, a distinguished philosopher and theologian, wasworking in the Archives of the Holy Office in Rome, just next toSaint Peter’s, and in the very building where Galileo wasinterrogated and condemned for writing about the motion of the earth.Artigas was writing a book with William Shea, an historian ofscience, and he decided to check up on a document that was discoveredby Pietro Redondi in some twenty years ago. What is curious aboutthis document is that it contains a criticism of Galileo, not foradvocating Copernicanism, but for subscribing to atomism, which theanonymous author thought incompatible with Catholic doctrine on theEucharist. The Council of Trent which ended in 1563, a year beforeGalileo’s birth, decreed that Christ’s words at the Last Supper,This is my body; this is my blood, were to be understood in arealistic way, and that after their repetition at mass Christ becomesonce more present because the substance of the bread and wine arechanged into the substance of his body and blood. What is left arethe secondary qualities of colour, taste, odour and so on. TheCouncil of Trent did not intend to explain away the mystery of theEucharist but to emphasize the presence of Christ among the faithful.Theologians tended to use Aristotelian categories to interpret thedecree and this gave rise to debates that were often acrimonious.

In the Saggiatore that he published in 1623, Galileo argued that ourperceptions of sound, colour, flavour, etc, are not objectiveproperties that belong to external objects but our subjectiveresponse to atoms that impinge on our sense organs. Some zealoustheologians saw this as subversive of the doctrine on the Eucharist,and the document by Redondi, usually referred to as G3, is one suchdenunciation.

The Archives, which were once closed to the public, are nowaccessible to anyone who wishes to consult them, and Artigas waspresented with the volume that contain G3. To his surprise, he foundanother Latin document next to it. Neatly folded it has escaped theattention of scholars! It also deals with the problem of primary andsecondary qualities and it written by a consultant of theCongregation of the Index. We are pleased to publish it today alongwith an English translation. A detailed analysis of the content and aquest for the identity of the author is being conducted by MarianoArtigas, Rafael Martinez and William Shea.

ACDF, Index, EE, f.291r-vTranscription made by prof. Rafael Martinez, Rome

[f.291r] Vidi discursum Lyncei et agnovi Philosophiam esse eiushominis qui nunquam non verae philosophiae imposuit, sive errore,sive ignorantia, semper temerarie.

Errat in primis negando qualitates primas et secundas etiam in iiscorporibus quae agunt in materiam externam, velut cum negat caloreminesse igni, qui in nos agit calefaciendo.

2. Errat dicendo non posse conceptu separari a substantiis corporeisaccidentia modificantia, velut quantitatem et quae ad quantitatemconsequuntur; quae opinio est absolute contra fidem, exemploEucharistiae, ubi quantitas non solum realiter distinguitur a suasubstantia, sed etiam separata existit.

3. Errat cum dicit saporem, odorem, colorem, esse pura nomina, etquasi denominationes extrinsecas a corporibus sentientibus, quibussublatis ipsa quoque huiusmodi accidentia tolli et annihilari,praesertim si sint distincta a primis veris et realibus accidentibus.Ex quo errore duo alii consequuntur: 1. Corpora eandem quantitatem etfiguram habentia habere eosdem sapores, odores etc. 2. Corporaamittentia odorem et saporem, amittere etiam quantitatem et figuram,a quibus sapor, odor etc. non distinguuntur in phantasia Lyncei.

4. Errat quod sensationes in corpore animalis vocet actiones, cumpatitur ab obiecto extrinseco, velut cum titillatur a penna aut aliocorpore. Sed hoc condonandum ruditati philosophi.

5. Errat cum eandem velit esse rationem odoris et saporis, actitillationis causatae ab agentibus extrinsecis; haec enim sentiturin passo iuxta dispositionem corporis organici, ad cuiusmodisensationem per accidens se habet hoc vel illud agens in individuo:at sapores et odores etc. oriuntur ex qualitatibus obiectorum,ratione mixtionis hoc vel illo modo temperatae; ad quod viceversa peraccidens se habet hoc vel illud organum sensationis in individuo,unde iuxta varias dispositiones, unus altero plus vel minus sentit.

6. Errat cum dicit, ferrum e. g. candens tantum califaceret animaliasensu praedita; nam quodvis corpus appositum igni, dummodo sit mixtumet non quintae alicuius essentiae recipit calorem . Idem dico siiuxta ponatur quodvis aliud corpus cuivis agenti per speciessensibiles, a quo recipit easdem qualitates.

[f.291v] 7. Recte deducitur ex opinione huius authoris, non manereaccidentia in Eucharistia sine substantia panis. Patet, agunt enim inorganum sensationis resolutione minimarum partium, quae cum sintheterogeneae a quantitate, alioqui[n] non afficerent nisi sensumtactus, erunt substantiae, non nisi ex substantia panis, quae enimalia potest assignari, proinde habetur intentum. Idemque sequitur nonminus evidenter in ea sententia quae ponit partes substantiaeentitativas, distinctas a quantitate dimensiva, nec distinctasrealiter a substantia.

8. Recte etiam deducitur non manere alia accidentia in Eucharistianisi quantitatem, figuram etc. nam sapor odor, sunt pura vocabula sinon habeatur relatio ad sensum, in opinione scilicet erronea Lyncei;proinde absolute non sunt distincta accidentia a quantitate figuraetc.

Si author per partes minimas intelligat species sensibiles, habebitpatronos quosdam ex philosophia Aboriginum, sed plura cogeturasserere absurda nec salva in fide. Interim sufficiant ista ex quibusulterior inquisitio fieri potest coram S. Officio.


ACDF, Index, EE, f.291r-vENGLISH TRANSLATION by prof. William Shea

I saw the discourse of the Lyncean and I realized that it was thephilosophy of someone who does not stick to the true philosophy.Whether this be through error or ignorance, it is always rash.

He errs in the first place, in denying primary and secondaryqualities even in bodies that act on external matter, as when hedenies that heat inheres in the fire that acts on us to warm us.

2. He errs when he says that it is not possible to conceptuallyseparate corporeal substances from the accidental properties thatmodify them, such as quantity and those that follow quantity. Such anopinion is absolutely contrary to faith, for instance in the case ofthe Eucharist, where quantity is not only really distinguished fromsubstance but, moreover, exists separately.

3. He errs when he says that taste, smell, and colour are pure names,or are like extrinsic denominations taken from bodies that can havesensations, so that if these bodies were destroyed the accidentalproperties would also removed and annihilated, especially since theyare said to be distinct from the primary, true, and real accidents. From this error two other follows: 1. That bodies that have the samequantity and the same figure will have the same taste, smell, etc. 2.That the bodies that lose their smell and taste will also lose theirquantity and their figure, which, in the Lyncean’s imagination, arenot distinguished from taste, odour, etc.

4. He errs in calling actions the sensations of a living body whichis acted upon by some external object, for instance when it istickled by a feather or some other body. But this can be excused bythe philosopher’s lack of sophistication.

5. He errs when he claims that the cause of smell and taste is thesame as that of tickling, which is caused by external agents sincetickling is felt by the patient according to the disposition of hisorganic body, so that the sensation is accidentally related towhatever acts on the individual. But tastes and smells proceed fromthe qualities of objects and result from the way they are mixed.Likewise the organ of sensation in a given individual is accidentallydisposed in this or that way so that one person feels more or lessthan another one according to these different dispositions.

6. He errs when he says, for example, that a heated iron can onlywarm sentient beings, for any object, placed before a fire, willreceive heat as long as it is a mixed body, and not composed ofsome fifth essence. And I say that the same happens whenever a body,placed next to a substance that acts by sensible qualities, receivesthe same qualities as that substance.

7. It immediately follows from the opinion of this author that in theEucharist the accidental properties do not remain without thesubstance of the bread. This is evident for the accidental propertiesare said to act on the organ of sensation by being divided into verysmall particles which, since they are not the same as quantity(otherwise they would only act on the sense of touch) must be partsof the substance. And this can only be the substance of bread, forwhat else could it be? The same follows no less clearly from thestatement that posits that the parts of the substance are distinctfrom dimensional quantity but not really distinct from the substance

8. It also follows immediately that in the Eucharist there remain noother accidental qualities beyond quantity, figure, etc., becausetaste and smell are mere words if they are not related to the senses,as the Lyncean erroneously believes. Therefore the accidentalproperties are absolutely not distinct from quantity, figure, etc.

If the author understands the smallest particles as sensible species,he will find some supporters in ancient philosophy, but he will haveto affirm many things that are absurd and contrary to the Faith. Thisseems enough for now and, in the light of this, matters could befurther investigated by the Holy Office.