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Galilean Analogies: Imagination at the Bounds of Sense Author(s): Lorraine J. Daston Source: Isis, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun., 1984), pp. 302-310 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/231828 Accessed: 16/09/2009 03:17

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N. The aim of both was to move from object to image to concept. DASTON In the area of scientific discourse. trans. The main interest of his treatment lies in his extension of standard rhetorical techniques from religion. relied on the power of imagination for their meaning and force. in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo. birds. with special attention to Galileo's use of physicalist analogies in mathematics as the obverse of his better known mathematical approach to physics. however. derived largely from Aristotelian sources. pp. I will describe the special circumstances that brought all three types of analogy to bear on this subject. 1984. examples. where the concept was interpreted as the highest and most accurate similitude of all. were artificial similitudes concocted by an ingenious writer to illuminate a particular set of properties of an object or phenomenon-for example. that severely restricted his use of analogy.Y. the motion of the Jovian moons to the vibrations of a pendulum. politics. A third type. 1957). 237-238. In this essay I will argue that Galileo's vision of a reformed natural philosophy and his distrust of the imagination conspired to all but exclude explanatory analogies from his scientific writings. the universe.: Doubleday.302 LORRAINE J. according to Bacon. The Assayer (1623). ISIS. unlike those used in scientific discovery. and bowls of fish." into "the language of mathematics"' and also by enriching the language of mathematics with concepts and approaches imported from physics. Taking Galileo's discussion of the continuum as my text. 75 : 302-310 . a move wholly in keeping with his doctrine of the unity of knowledge. GALILEAN ANALOGIES: IMAGINATION AT THE BOUNDS OF SENSE By Lorraine J. linking mathematics and the physical world by translating "this grand book. Less potent. superseded explanatory analogies in Galileo's works. Stillman Drake (Garden City. mathematical analogies. 1 Galileo. their utility was ultimately more enduring. and then with evident reluctance. While Galileo was a master of the expository analogy-decking out new scientific ideas in similitudes. and diagrams in order to reach an audience beyond the university lecture hall-he employed explanatory analogies only rarely. iron rods and hemp ropes to "ropes" and "rods" of sand and water. but easier to control. Thus Bacon's use of imagination illustrates his ties to the traditions of Renaissance writing on psychology while also pointing forward to the work of the young Descartes. But both discursive and inductive analogies. The analogies of scientific discourse. the earth to a moving ship populated by butterflies. the idea that the latent configuration of matter is in some respects like the texture of a piece of cloth. Yet Galileo subscribed to a view of the imagination. Bacon ascribed to imagination a more positive and permanent place. although he granted wide scope to analogies of both the expository and mathematical type. Daston GALILEO'S WRITINGS ABOUND in analogies: the moon is compared to a bleached and burnished silver plate. and law to the realm of science.

Galileo's spokesman Salviati firmly steers the discussion of natural accelerated motion away from the "fantasies" of causal hypotheses. and made into science". Discourses. but he did not share Descartes's interest in explaining macroscopic appearances by appealing to microscopic mechanisms. 122. Assayer. 1967). e. the definitions and demonstrated properties of these select phenomena remained in almost all cases at the level of observables. for example. 15. the program's primary aim was descriptive rather than explanatory. I do not mean to suggest that Galileo was unconcerned with intelligibility (see Assayer. Apparently. Stillman Drake and I. trans. of any true science of resistance.6 Consequently. p. 185. p. and (fantasies). when Galileo hazards one of his rare hypotheses. 4 See. 5 Galileo. Dialogue Concerning World Systems.g. p. Dialogue Concerning the TwvoChief World Systems (1632). Berkeley: Univ. 333. Galileo. Stillman Drake (2nd ed. 1974). Stillman Drake (Madison: Univ.."2 This passage epitomizes the Galilean program in natural philosophy (the best we are likely to have. second. Galileo. then as a dot with a 2 Galileo. the form of the description was mathematical.5 Above all. 256-258. Galileo accepted the Aristotelian view that the imagination was at best a combinatorial faculty. Dialogue on Motion (composed ca. since Galileo was not given to sustained methodological reflection): the mathematical redescription of natural phenomena. which. Galileo was an opponent of Aristotelian natural philosophy.3 and. pp. Wisconsin Press. thus narrowing the domain of natural philosophy to regular phenomena. 1969). third. p. limited to permutations of elements drawn from sensation. Wisconsin Press. Drabkin (Madison: Univ. coupled with his suspicion of the imagination on traditional Aristotelian grounds. preferring "to investigate and demonstrate some attributes of a motion so accelerated (whatever be the cause of its acceleration). and other fantastic creatures are but "a composite of things and parts of things seen at different times. 62.." and he commonly lumps the imagination together with "hallucinations" and "fantasies.. Galileo warned that the faculty of imagination is an impoverished source of causal explanations in natural philosophy because nature invents far more causes for the same effect than the human imagination can fathom. 3 Galileo despaired. in Mechanics in Sixteenth-Century Italy. In his writing he repeats the clich6 that centaurs. Galileo. First he describes the image of a candle flame reflected in a clean carafe as a dot of light. and at worst a source of distortion and error in straying too far from sensation. 159." could not be "subjected to firm rules. 1590)." opposing them to the authentic testimony of the senses. California Press. E. Whereas Descartes's critique of Aristotle centered on the unintelligibility of scholastic categories. pp. narrowed the scope for the use of explanatory analogies in his work. p. sirens. trans. 6 Galileo. but only to suggest that their emphases differed. p.GALILEAN ANALOGIES TYPES OF ANALOGY 303 In the Third Day of the Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences (1638). Galileo's complaint was that mere plausibility was allowed to take the place of demonstrative certainty in scholastic arguments. "by reason of its multiple varieties. Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences (1638). he employs explanatory analogy in the most tentative vein. Like Descartes. e. Discourses. 241) nor Descartes with certainty. trans. 224.g. understood. Three aspects of this program should be emphasized here because they greatly constrained Galileo's use of analogies: first. . such as that concerning the causes responsible for the appearance of comets.4 Galileo's vision of natural philosophy as the mathematical redescription of phenomena. not all natural phenomena were regular enough to be mathematized.

Assayer. "evident to the intellect".11 Yet all these expository analogies. p. and characteristically. Galileo supplies diagrams "so that we can more clearly comprehend" a geometric demonstration or picture a concrete object. Similes highlight salient points and help wage arguments: it is easier to count stars fixed on a solid sphere. and diagrams that color and clarify the exposition appear frequently in Galileo's dialogues. just as it is easier to count tiles inlaid in a courtyard than the children running around it. 277. for Galileo subscribed to the Renaissance commonplace that vision was "the sense eminent above all others in the proportion of the finite to the infinite . Almost all of these devices render the point under discussion more visually vivid. be he the apt Sagredo or the obtuse Simplicio. so a densely forested patch on the moon would look darker than surrounding areas. and therefore cannot aspire to the certainty required of any natural philosophy worthy of the name. illustrations drawn from experience. . 261. More familiar examples of the principle in question illuminate the obscure: just as cut velvet appears darker than taffeta cut from the same silk. the illuminated to the obscure. and doubtless there are still others that we cannot imagine. . Galileo's explanation with diagram of the strength of ropes in Discourses. pp. Galileo. 18. Such analogies are sometimes drawn from the operation of machines. in Galileo's Intellectual Revolution (New York: Science History Publications. for example. Letters on Sunspots (1613). The perplexed interlocuter of a Galilean dialogue. However. Galileo thus would have rejected the fourth rule of Descartes's method-to enumerate all possibilities-as humanly impossible. The demands of the new genre and its mixed audience of lay and learned readers taxed Galileo with Bacon's injunction to set forth new scientific ideas through striking comparisons and images. p. 10Galileo. Dialogue. 140. as when Galileo uses a comparison to the workings of a clock to justify an astronomical assumption that it will take the same body longer to trace out a larger circle thn a smaller one. is enlightened by a variety of analogical and graphic aids. 1972). 8 Though not wholly absent: see William R.. p. in Discoveries and Opinions. Winifred Wisan argues that Galileo uses experience to render the mathematical principles of mechanics. 120. I could offer many. DASTON luminous "tail" after the carafe has been streaked by an oily finger. 457. de7 Galileo.g.8 casual analogies. "Galileo's Scientific . 99. which require no further confirmation. as in his use of the inclined plane experiments to introduce the concept of inertia. and someone oiling it with his finger. I merely offer this as an example of Nature's bounty and variety of methods for producing her effects.10 Experimental illustrations refocus the mind's eye on the relevant aspects of experience. p. thus forming a comet. See also the very tentative tone in which Galileo compares sunspots to smoke or clouds. Shea's interesting discussion of the lever as a model for hydrostatic phenomena in the Discourse on Floating Bodies (1612). the technical Latin treatise from the pen of "the Academician" quoted by Salviati at length in the Discourses. 9 Galileo. many unknown to us. e. Assayer. qualifies the analogy: "I do not mean to imply by this that there is in the sky a huge carafe. But then he immediately. and written in the vernacular in order to reach a far broader audience than. 16-18. explanatory analogies are at best singled out of a myriad of possibilities. pp."7 Because nature's ingenuity outstrips human imagination.304 LORRAINE J."9 Galileo's major scientific works were cast in the form of dialogues among characters drawn from the educated gentry as well as from the university. while explanatory analogies are few and far between in Galileo's scientific writings. 11See. breaking off the analogy lest he "mix dubious things with those which are definite and certain".

like most of his contemporaries. Mathematical redescription provides the middle term in such alliances. differ distinctly from explanatory analogies. 238.14 The third type of mathematical analogy. p.12 those that regroup within a single category phenomena previously seen as disparate. 1959. but suggestive: see. these boundary conditions coincide in Galileo's discussion of the continuum." Thales. Mathematics and the imagination.g. p. were thus naturally paired in both theories. eds. but for Galileo it often is. 15See Maurice Clavelin. obliging him to have reluctant recourse to the imagination. which seek to probe the unobserved causes of observed effects through what Galileo deemed to be an unreliable exercise of the imagination. and other geometric figures".13 The second type. "Le probleme du discontinu et les paradoxes de l'infini chez Galilee. typically occurs when Galileo approaches the boundaries of contemporary mathematical knowledge (as in his analysis of instantaneous velocities) or what he believes to be the boundaries of human understanding itself. For example. Dialogue. because he uses it in tandem with the first type of mathematical analogy. 207. They are of three kinds: those that translate a physical effect into the "characters" of "triangles. 1978). and I will not enlarge upon that literature here except to note that redefinition plays a critical role both in recasting physical effects in mathematical terms and in judging which physical effects will prove tractable to such treatment. resistance. Discourses. for a discussion of the influence of Galileo's view of acceleration as the infinite sum of instantaneous velocities on his treatment of the continuum. As we shall see. 43. e. and cohesion hinge on original mathematical claims. who "must deduct the material hindrances. Assayer.15 Although Galileo. Galileo's mathematical analogies constitute the third category alongside his rare explanatory analogies and his ubiquitous expository ones. for it was at once key to his understanding of both accelerated motion and the internal cohesion of matter. The apparent invisibility of mathematics per se in Galileo's writings may stem not only from his predominantly physical interests but also from the fact that the mathematics is presented in physicalist dress. 12 Galileo. 241. 13 Galileo's comments on the importance of mathematical definition are scattered. The first type of mathematical analogy has been the subject of much comment since Koyre's studies. circles. which inverts the order of the first by interpreting mathematical entities in terms of physical ones. Robert E." in New Perspectives on Galileo. Thus his discussions of motion." and they then become two examples of the same demonstrated properties. being extended and therefore Method: A Re-examination. Butts and Joseph Pitt (Dordrecht: Reidel. 14Galileo. a silver rod used for gilding and a flatbottomed grain sack can both be abstracted into cylinders by the talented natural philosopher. 36. As Katharine Park's essay demonstrates. Galileo was compelled to take up the question of the continuum. need not be mathematical. p. Renaissance psychology of both the Aristotelian and Neoplatonist varieties would have supported Galileo's use of the imagination in this capacity. and those that fortify and extend mathematical notions and techniques with physical parallels. which occupied parallel positions between sensation and pure intellect. p. Geometric figures. the reclassifying analogy. 10:1-26. Assayer. Despite the risks of a forced reliance upon the imagination. . p..GALILEAN ANALOGIES 305 signed to clarify and instruct. showed little interest in pure mathematics for its own sake. he wielded it as a means toward developing a demonstratively certain mechanics.

" Melanges Alexandre Koyre (Paris: Hermann. Geometrical Lectures (1670). 18 See Isaac Barrow. see I. 75b14."16 Mixed mathematics in the Galilean mode would have been wholly congenial to this account of the mathematical imagination." That is. pp. 40." Osiris. "projections" of the ideas of the intellect into sensory forms purified of imprecision and exhibiting "many likenesses of divine things and also many paradigms of physical relations. optics. 19See John Murdoch. "Superposition. Drabkin. when they still bore the specific imprint of their immediate origins. as in Barrow's views on the generation of mathematical magnitudes and Roberval's and Torricelli's methods of finding tangents. Here perhaps a cautionary note is in order concerning the tendency to conflate the "mixed mathematics" of the seventeenth century with modern "applied mathematics. Rather. A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements. Congruence. and Continuity in the Middle Ages. mathematics." The latter presupposes a body of pure mathematics that is conceptually. J. 137139. Press. which trafficked only in pure and indivisible simples. Columbia University. "Galileo's Theory of Indivisibles: Revolution or Compromise?" Journal of the History of Ideas. pp. however. I.19 Galileo. E. Indeed. 29. statics. according to Proclus's prologue to his commentary on Euclid. 1970). they were. A Study of the "Traite des indivisibles" of Gilles Persone de Roberval (New York: Teachers College. The problems had been closely associated in Averroist discussions of minima naturalia in the fourteenth century and in sixteenth-century discussions at the University of Padua. M. such as the study of local motion. if not historically. since mathematics is a texture of all these strands and adapts its discourse to the whole range of things. p. Mark Smith. Child (Chicago/London: Open Court. 9:162-198. DASTON divisible. Francis Barozzi (Barocius) translated Proclus into a Latin edition published at Padua in 1560.7. A. . nor to imperfect. 37:571-588. pp. Posterior Analytics. 1976.18 THE PROBLEM OF THE CONTINUUM Thus it is not surprising to find Galileo's discussion of the structure of continuum tightly interwoven with his treatment of the structure of matter in the First Day of the Discourses. here mathematical forms followed physical intuitions. 416-441. could render sensible objects intelligible and pure ideas visible.306 LORRAINE J. Mathematical demonstrations reflect this double mission: "Proofs must vary with the problem handled and be differentiated according to the kinds of being concerned.17 However. it is precisely this independence that accounts for the broad range of such applications for a single mathematical technique. mixed mathematics also embraced areas into which mathematics had been only partially introduced and which were rapidly evolving. 1964). Vol." as Aristotle called them. 17 Aristotle.17. trans. through the agency of the imagination. astronomy-Galileo and his contemporaries gave precedence to arithmetic and geometry over such "subordinate sciences. Such physical notions as instantaneous velocities and interstitial vacua supplied not only the occasion but also the content for new mathematical techniques. 1916). For certain classes of problems within the classical canon of exact sciences-harmonics. 37-38. "Aristotle's Wheel: Notes on the History of a Paradox. properly belonged neither to the intellect. 1. went beyond the 16 Proclus. This was particularly true of the embryonic stages in the development of such techniques. mutable sensation. The incorporation of physical notions into mathematics was not uncontroversial at the time: Cardan for one objected to invoking physical postulates in what he viewed as the strictly mathematical problem of Aristotle's wheel. Morrow (Princeton: Princeton Univ. 127-130. Glenn R. 1932). and Evelyn Walker. trans. distinct from its applications. 1950.

Galileo's representative Salviati introduces a highly tentative solution to the problem of cohesion in guarded tones. the voids cannot be extended. I do this not as the true solution. second. Correspondance. in order to render the invisible and unintelligible visible and comprehensible. 46. Barbera."21 Salviati goes on to suggest that materials may be held together by innumerable tiny interstitial vacua-in fact. 22 Galileo. but Galileo apparently believes that if they shrink to indivisibles each will be. Thus he conflates the physical and mathematical continua and surreptitiously adds the element of motion. Galileo takes a dim view of whatever aid the flawed human imagination might offer in such straits. despite his misgivings. p. and moreover draws heavily upon the resources of the imagination in order to make his points. moreover."23 In order to explain how finite extension could encompass an infinite number of such voids. 66. and he has. and a theory of a continuum neither actually nor potentially composed of indivisibles. and it is just this marginality that forces Galileo to enlist the imagination. 1963)." Ambix. pp. Vol. see William R. on the one hand. and that must warn us how gravely one errs in trying to reason about infinites by using the same attributes that we apply to finites. ed. 23 Marin Mersenne. an infinite number of infinitesimal vacua-which act according to the principle that nature abhors a vacuum. on the other. for. Discourses. 21 Galileo. The letter is dated 11 Oct. as one of Galileo's rare explanatory analogies that sought a subsensory explanation for manifest effects. as a striking illustration of the interplay of mathematical physics and physical mathematics in both concept and method. 27. VIII. however cautiously. p. Shea. expressed as the resistance of solid bodies to dissolution. rarefaction. p. as Salviati is made to remark apropos of such paradoxes: "These are among the marvels that surpass the bounds of our imagination.GALILEAN ANALOGIES 307 medieval identification of physical minima and mathematical points into a theory of cohesion. Galileo is now doubly imperiled. and condensation. "Galileo's Atomic Hypothesis. By his own lights. delving into the forbidden domains of the subsensible and the infinite. VIII."22 Yet Galileo perseveres.20 The continuum lies at the margin of Galilean science. my translation. . ed. As Descartes tartly observed to Mersenne concerning this passage: "He [Galileo] errs in all that he says about the infinite. Galileo turns to the venerable paradox of Aristotle's wheel. Vol. below nature's notice. Discourses. 1898). Opere di Galileo Galilei. 97-98. Antonio Favaro (Florence: G. Galileo's 20 This is one of only a handful of instances in which Galileo broached the question of atomism. he goes right on to discuss it as if he did. but rather as a kind of fantasy [fantasia] full of undigested things that I subject to your higher reflections. As usual. taken from the pseudo-Aristotelian De mechanica. for notwithstanding his admission that the finite human mind is not capable of understanding it. for the nature of these have no necessary relation between them. Cornelis de Waard (Paris: Editions du Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. even though their summed effect will be formidable. echoing those in which Galileo couched his few other explanatory analogies: "I shall tell you what has sometimes passed through my mind [persato per l'imaginatione] on this. 17:13-27. Galileo's treatment of these problems is a particularly revealing example of his use of analogical reasoning in two ways: first. broached the "paradoxical" questions of infinites and indivisibles. 1970. 1638. so to speak. He has descended to the subsensory level of microscopic causes to explain macroscopic effects. Because of this very principle.

V^ D. or how the earth might contract to the radius of a nutshell. contains gaps that increase in number and decrease in size as the number of sides multiplies. see Drabkin. K Y Z X . revolving circles.308 LORRAINE J." Subtle fire-particles go "snaking among the minimum particles of this or that metal" and dissociate them by filling the indivisible voids. 68.~~~/ ~Galileo -~ f DA ATreatment Figure 1. and cohesion with a new model of the continuum that is neither unequivocally physical nor unequivocally mathematical. p. like water or mercury". between the physical and the mathematical. even over his own protests that such matters are "inherently incomprehensible..." to polygons of a finite number of extended sides. "the effect of which is intelligible and already understood" (see Fig. Generalized to the case of the circle. ed. which he calls "polygons of infinitely many sides.) This frontier case penetrates below the level of the senses. The new model accounts not only for how an ounce of gold might expand to fill the celestial spheres.-' ~\ ^. Discourses.. B ^y ______ F VIII. Thus Galileo attempts to simultaneously solve the mathematical paradox of Aristotle's wheel (how can the trajectories of the two E D ?? Cp ~..g. 1). A( ( .... Galileo must appeal constantly to the imagination to unfold his argument by forging analogies between the macroscopic and the microscopic. p. 33. Opere di Galilei (Florence: G." the gaps become indivisibles and infinite in number. and between the finite and the infinite. i O A _ T B . a line is 24Galileo. FC \ N . Galileo argues that the trajectory of the inscribed polygon. the infinitude of unity dissolves into "a single continuum.. which is pictured as a polygon in which each point on the circumference counts as a "side. extends beyond the range of extant mathematics. 1898). S' vV ! ^/-. .24 In essence. Vol.. From Antonio Favaro. and the trajectories of the large and small circles become equal. but also for the perplexing properties of lines and numbers (e. These indivisible holes in the line correspond to the infinite and indivisible voids that riddle all matter. . The hexagon HIKLMN traces five and a fraction gaps in its path as it is rolled around by the larger hexagon ABCDEF... fluid perhaps.. and skirts the infinitely large and the infinitely small. DASTON strategy is first to reduce the concentric. Galileo's of Aristotle's Wheel. He then uses this more intelligible case of the polygon to illustrate his view of the continuum (both physical and mathematical) as a porous tissue of "full" and "empty" indivisibles. "Aristotle's Wheel... how integers and their squares may be put into one-toone correspondence." for a history and analysis of the paradox. condensation. circles be equal after one revolution of each when their circumferences are patently unequal?) and the physical puzzles of rarefaction. Barbera. driven by the circumscribed one.Q.

It enabled him.27 Galileo supplementedthis familiarcomplementarity of the methods of analysis and synthesis (in which analysis has been expanded to include observations as well as known true propositions as points of departure)with the distinctive method of approximativeseries." thus sidestepping (or so Galileo hopes) the scholastic distinction between actual and potential infinites. the application of the principle of continuity leads to an apparentequality of a point 25Galileo.25 Galileo's new model of the continuumwas motivatedby physical problems and imbuedwith physical notions: its dotted-lineconstructionderives from a problem in mechanics. 1960). 54. but in this case from mechanics to mathematics rather than the reverse. 27. which permittedhim to extrapolate from a carefully ordered sequence of physical effects to the unattainable ideal case. Renaissance Concepts of Method (New York: Columbia Univ. of the hazards of assumingthe continuity of finite and infinitecases. in the apropos of Aristotle's argumentsfor the incorruptibility demonstrative sciences a posteriori observations and experiments usually precede a priori reasons because of the happy fact that true conclusions lead to true arguments. Aristotle and Pythagoras. 3.28This method. for example. . Press.GALILEAN ANALOGIES 309 "bent" into an infinite number of parts "at one fell swoop. p.as well as the reverse. Ch. 11." 27Galileo. between which "no necessary relation"exists. Method. pp. Walter Ong. Mass. condensation. each composed of an infinite number of indivisibles. Galileo's reasoning on the nature of infinity runs along similar lines. 1958). for example. its porous fine structure expands and contracts like gunpowderor dew to solve problemsof the correspondenceof two unequalline segments. Ramus. 47. In his writings Galileo seems to prefer paradox to discontinuity: when. Press. it dictates that the properties of unity should be those of a fluid. As Salviati tells Simplicio of the heavens. quoted earlier. and the case of the continuum shows these connections to good advantage as well.: Harvard Univ. Conversely. Discourses. and rarefaction. These series distill the essential from the merely accidental and provide "tangible evidence" that Galileo's mathematicalidealizationsare at least continuous with observed effects ranged in the proper order. this physicalized continuum served Galileo as a mathematicalmodel for the physical effects of cohesion. "Galileo's Scientific Method. Chs. to reason from inclined planes of ever steeper slopes to the perpendicularcase of free fall. 7. yielded some of Galileo's most ingenious physical arguments. Dialogue. 51. or from times of descent of unequal weights in media of decreasing density to the case of equal times in a vacuum. ANALOGIES OF METHOD AND SUBSTANCE Analogies of method also unite the mathematicaland the physical in Galileo's writings.physicist and mathematician. see Wisan. 38. despite his warnings. 28 See Neal Gilbert. both profit from this symmetry of analytic and synthetic methods. 26 For a comprehensive account.26The belief that mechanics and mathematicswere both demonstrative sciences licensed Galileo to extend the parallel from methods of justificationto those of discovery as well. and the Decay of Dialogue (Cambridge. Galileo's conviction that mechanics should aspire to the demonstrative certainty of mathematics through the demonstrative methods of mathematicsis well known.

I do not believe that Galileo's use of physicalist analogy was altogether exceptional among mathematicians of this period. continuity underwrote Galileo's generalizations from ordered specifics to limiting case. I. But. as well as the reverse." he voices Galileo's own reservations concerning the trustworthiness of the imagination in natural philosophy. p. Torricelli and Roberval. we think differently of both water and ropes thereafter. the problem of cohesion provided just such an occasion. Every successful analogy modifies both of its terms in connecting them: for example. Correspondance. if any number may be called infinite. he defends the procedure as "consistent. 1968). See Pierre Costabel. when Salviati observes that the number of squares and cubes proportionally decreases as we count higher-that is. he could only regard such forays into the shadowy realm of infinites. 1981). 45. As I mentioned earlier. for a complete account of French responses to Galileo's treatment of the continuum. p. and to a lesser extent Cavalieri. the kinship between indirect proof and crucial experiment might also be explored. DASTON and a line."30 From the observable to the ideal in mechanics. 41. 277-288. albeit with mixed results.32 Such physico-mathematical hybrids might be reasonably sought in attempts to extend mathematics to new kinds of physical problems."33 29 Galileo. . From this it follows that turning back (since our direction took us always farther from our desired goal). it is unity. Vol. 36-37. In addition to the extension of mathematical analysis and synthesis to physical resolution and composition. Theories of Light from Descartes to Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. and subsensibles with grave doubt. 32 See A.31 In this essay I have emphasized the neglected side of the analogy that Galileo creates between mathematics and the physical world in order to redress the balance as well as to illustrate the full range of Galileo's analogical reasoning. 31 Ibid. Thus Descartes unwittingly echoed Galileo's own worst fears when he wrote to Mersenne that all of Galileo's speculations on the infinite were utterly false-that they were. in Galileo's discussion of the continuum. 30 Ibid.. nothing but "pure imagination. pp. The field for investigation of analogies between the methods of mathematics and the physical sciences in the early seventeenth century is broader still. Analogies of substance and method thus link mathematics to physics.. 98. For Galileo. VIII. that the series was not in some sense converging toward the intended goal-he reverses the direction of his search for the infinite: "Hence it is manifest that to the extent that we go to the greater numbers. seem to be particularly promising subjects of further study in this regard. Discourses. indivisibles. pp. wedded as he was to a theory of the imagination and a vision of natural philosophy that restricted the legitimate uses of analogy to exposition. 23." despite the "repugnance and contrariety of nature encountered by a bounded quantity in passing over to the infinite. when Galileo likens a "rope" or "rod" of water or sand to iron rods and hemp ropes in his treatment of the strength of materials. in Descartes's words. by that much and more do we depart from the infinite number. 33Mersenne. 46.310 LORRAINE J. Press. from the finite to the infinite in mathematics-in both spheres. p. suspending judgment as to "whether in fact nature proceeds in any such way. When Sagredo accepts Salviati's "fantasy" in the provisional spirit in which it was tendered." in Galilke: Aspects de sa vie et de son oeuvre (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Sabra."29 Similarly. "La roue d'Aristote et les critiques franqaises l'argument de Galilee. p.

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