Book ID: CBB398649572

"Libertà di filosofare in naturalibus": i mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo (2014)


Paolo Galluzzi’s most recent publication is a deep immersion into the first quarter of the seventeenth century, with a narrative that switches back and forth between Florence and Rome and between Federico Cesi, founder and soul of the Accademia dei Lincei, and Galileo Galilei, member of the same academy. The book begins with an outline of the research program of the world’s oldest scientific academy, the Accademia dei Lincei, from its foundation in 1603 until Galileo’s membership in 1611. Galluzzi, however, immediately does away with the historiographical image of the Accademia dei Lincei as having shaped its programs and visions after 1611 around Galileo’s goals. Galluzzi shows clearly how the initial objectives of the Accademia, animated for instance by the works of Giovanbattista della Porta, Telesio, and Paracelsus, marked not only the main direction of the research of its founding members but also its program up until Cesi’s death in 1630. In particular, the concepts of nature and the methods of investigation of the Accademia’s founders were and remained irreconcilable with those of Galileo. Galluzzi’s work has a strong biographical perspective that focuses on Cesi and Galileo and shows that the most relevant raison d’être for their common work was ethical: the desire to freely investigate in naturalibus. Thanks to the book’s constant switching of perspective, Galileo’s aspirations are observed from the context of the court(s) of Rome, where Cesi was an able and recognized protagonist. The reconstruction of the events during Galileo’s first three visits to Rome and of the role played by the Accademia dei Lincei at all levels during the dispute on the comets—which finally led to the publication of Saggiatore—are all original and detailed pieces that will certainly enter into future reconstructions of the entire Galileo Affair. The vibrant pages that deal with Galileo’s ethical motivations for fighting uncompromisingly to avoid the condemnation of Copernicus’s work, despite Cesi’s well-grounded invitations to prudence and patience, constitute one of the highlights of this book. From now on, Galluzzi’s reconstruction of the role of the Accademia and works like the Carteggio Linceo, whose importance he emphasizes, will be essential instruments for both scholars of Galileo and for all early modernists. Seen from Galileo’s perspective, the scientific work of Federico Cesi is depicted as secondary. From time to time, even Cesi’s role, for instance during Galileo’s visits to Rome, seems comparable to that of an event manager. In the last chapters, however, Galluzzi is able to fully disclose the richness of Federico Cesi’s original research program, the results he was able to disseminate, especially after 1625 and during his last years of life, as well as the fundamental contributions of other members of the Accademia such as Fabio Colonna. Particularly impressive is Galluzzi’s reconstruction of Cesi’s all-encompassing conception of nature and of the role the world of vegetables plays in it. From the beginning of mathematically oriented botanics to a view that assigned a soul to all plants, Galluzzi explores all aspects of and the possible and impossible relations between the fundaments of Cesi’s philosophy of nature and Galileo’s ideas, especially in reference to the corpuscularism expressed in Saggiatore. Galileo and Cesi’s collaboration was not simply motivated by ethical reasons. Galileo’s visions also exerted a direct and content-related influence on Cesi’s research, although its general frame remained far removed from Galileo’s. While Cesi worked “to reconcile truths of nature with the Holy Scriptures,” Galileo claimed “a full autonomy of natural investigations from the statements of the Holy Scriptures” (p. 514). Although Galluzzi does not specifically address questions concerning the mechanisms and functioning of the academy or, more generally, the running of an institution like an academy in the frame of the scientific developments of the early seventeenth century, his work certainly represents an important contribution in this direction, too. The Accademia dei Lincei rotated around the figure of Prince Cesi, who provided all of its funding, and therefore functioned similarly to a small early modern court. But the reasons for the existence of the academy were clearly based on the need to protect natural philosophical investigations from the interference, if not intrusion, of other much more powerful institutions such as the church. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, this attitude implied avoiding debates involving issues dealt with by such powerful institutions. At the end of the century, however, this endeavor turned out to be of primary importance for the pursuit of “libertà di filosofare in naturalibus.”

Reviewed By

Review Alessandro Ottaviani (2016) Review of ""Libertà di filosofare in naturalibus": i mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo". Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period (pp. 385-386). unapi

Review Antonio Clericuzio (2015) Review of ""Libertà di filosofare in naturalibus": i mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo". Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza (pp. 709-714). unapi

Review Matteo Valleriani (2015) Review of ""Libertà di filosofare in naturalibus": i mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 919-920). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Guerrini, Luigi
Guardo, Marco
Trabucco, Oreste
Cesi, Federico
Cook, Alan H.
Ottaviani, Alessandro
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteitgeschiedenis
Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome)
La Città del Sole
University of California, Los Angeles
Scienze e lettere
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
Societies; institutions; academies
Science and religion
Science and politics
Science and culture
Natural history
Science and society
Cesi, Federico
Galilei, Galileo
Della Porta, Giovan Battista
Dal Pozzo, Cassiano
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
18th century
Rome (Italy)
Florence (Italy)
Tuscany (Italy)
Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome)
Royal Society of London
Institut de France, Paris

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