Essay: Influential enlightenment thinkers: Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler

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  • Published: June 28, 2021*
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  • Influential enlightenment thinkers: Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler
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There were many influential enlightenment thinkers in the 17th century, two of the incomparable thinkers of the era are Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler. They are both inspirational for many different reasons in their respective geographical locations. The thinkers share many differences, would this make them foes or would their similarities bring them together as friends.

Galileo Galilei lived in Italy in the 16th-17th century. Italy, during this time period, was in a state of turmoil. Though this was the time of largely important scientific achievements, such as Galileo’s discoveries. The Italian economy was entered into an extensive recession. Italy was one of the most important industrial countries of the time, but around the 1620’s the industrial recession began. This and the rising popularity of trade with countries foreign to Europe, caused Italian agriculture to stultify. Italy then fell into poverty and crime rates increased. Very soon after, the plague of 1630 ravaged northern italy, had a great affect on Venice and Milan, and claimed nearly one million lives. This plague and the plague of 1656, which struck the kingdom of naples, greatly contributed to Italy’s downfall as a major commercial and political capital. Also, during this time were other noteworthy thinkers such as, Giambattista Vico, who many historians attribute with being the founder of italian philosophy.

Galileo Galilei, born February 15, 1564 and died January 8, 1642, played and major role in the scientific revolution and was an Italian astronomer, philosopher, as well as many other titles. Galileo’s birthplace was in the town of Pisa, which at the time was part of the Duchy of Florence, and was the eldest of six siblings. His father was a man by the name of Vincenzo Galilei, who was a famous composer of the time. Italy has a strong custom to determine the names of children, since Galileo was the eldest, he was accustomed the name of his grandfather, Galileo Bonaiuti, who lived in florence from 1370 to 1450. Galileo, despite being devotedly Roman Catholic, had three children with Marina Gamba. Having two daughters, Virginia and Livia, and a single son, named for his grandfather, Vincenzo. As a young man, Galileo greatly considered becoming a priest, but instead enrolled at the University of Pisa for a medical degree. The heliocentric theory, initially proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, was highly sought after by Galileo. He looked to support this with the theory of tides. The theory of tides was to prove that based on the movements of the ocean were directly affected by the gravitational loading of astronomical bodies, that the earth orbited the sun. This theory provoked much controversy. Religious and scientific objections were widespread. Galileo wrote a book called “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” this book arose much controversy, a character in the book was named for a famous Aristotelian philosopher, Simplicius, though it was not meant to be negative, the portrayal of Simplicius was not held highly, and the book was seen as an attack on Aristotelian geocentrism. Galileo was brought into court before inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani for his writings. On June 22 1633 his sentence was delivered which consisted of, Galileo having to revoke his opinions on the heliocentric theory, he sent to prison, but was commuted to house arrest for the rest of his life, and was denied publication for any writing from his past or his future. Galileo discovered three of Jupiter’s initially believing they were stars, but upon further investigation realized that their patterns would only be possible if they were orbiting Jupiter. Stephen Hawking says that Galileo is responsible for the birth of modern science, Albert Einstein would also agree with this. His discoveries for the Copernican theory have a lasting legacy, including four of Jupiter’s moons. In 2016, a spacecraft, dubbed Juno, that holds inside, a plaque and a LEGO minifigure dedicated to Galileo reached Jupiter’s orbit.

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