3. Galileo

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Book Chapter

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Of all the early proponents of the Copernican theory, Galileo was perhaps the most renowned and certainly one of the most effective.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was educated in the classical, Aristotelian manner. He showed good promise, and began the study of medicine. The medical sciences failed to hold his interest, and he became intrigued with the study of physics and mathematics. He progressed so well in these fields that when twenty-five he was teaching at the University of Pisa. Even as he studied and taught the current physics and astronomy, he became convinced of the inadequacies of many Aristotelian principles. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Some material in the original text is restricted by copyright. Here are links to earlier editions or translations of the same material:

Galileo Galilei Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican (Modern Library, 1953).


This is a part of Section VIII: The Development of Modern Science. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.