Graduate studies at Western
Perspectives on Science 12 (2):212-237 (2004)
|Abstract||: In the concluding pages of his Epistolae duae de motu impresso a motore translato (1642), Pierre Gassendi provides a brief summary of the explanation of the tides found in Galileo's Dialogue over the Two Chief World Systems (1632). A comparison between the two texts reveals, however, that Gassendi surreptitiously modifies Galileo's theory in some crucial points in the vain hope of rendering it more compatible with the observed phenomena. But why did Gassendi not acknowledge his departures from the Galilean model? The present article argues that cautiousness was just one of the reasons that stopped the French priest from turning Galileo's theory into his own theory. He was probably also aware of the fact that Kepler's model of planetary motion, which he endorsed in the Epistolae, could not be reconciled with Galileo's explanation of the tides. In the postumously published Syntagma philosophicum (1658), Gassendi tried to mend this major inconsistency by arguing that Galileo's theory of the tides not only remained valid, but became even more coherent, if one attributed to the Earth an elliptic orbit. But given that in the Syntagma Gassendi officially adhered to the Tychonic system, his effort to reconcile Kepler and Galileo, while already unconvincing by itself, appears completely futile|
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