4. Historiographical debates on the methodology of science
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With all due respect for the fine-grained and exacting philosophical analyses of men like Lovejoy and Koyré, they were, I feel, to some degree different from Sarton's ideal of historians of science drawing their main and adequate inspiration from within the pale of the history of science, or science itself perhaps. Koyré was undoubtedly a great historian of science, interested in a limited part of that vast field, who was a powerful source of inspiration for an important generation of science historians and one who did exemplary work . But he seems to have looked down to a considerable extent on the importance of experiment in Galileo's work, and, together with Cassirer to have exaggerated Galileo's Platonism. More recent research seems, indeed, to indicate that the place of experiment in Galileo's work was o considerable moment and that the situation was not at all like that pictured by Koyré .
W. H. Donahue writes, "In the nineteenth century he [Galileo] was commonly depicted as a champion of fact (as opposed to weightless theory), discovering natural laws by watching chandeliers swing and dropping objects from the Pisan campanile. Later, Alexandre Koyré showed us quite a different Galileo, a Platonist whose regard for theory was such that he scornfully rejected the need for empirical verification. Although this view gradually gained wide acceptance, in more recent years, and especially during the last decade, it has been shown to be a serious misrepresentation. Research by Thomas Settle and others has revealed the large extent to which Galileo relied upon experiment, and there is little evidence to suggest that Galileo believed in a Platonic mathematical archetype for the universe. The result has been an increasingly clear picture of what Galileo was not, and much lively controversy as to the philosophical basis (if any) for his views ."
Richard S. Westfall's appraisal of the question reads as follows:
"The larger work... is infused with Drake's own interpretation of Galileo. Not everyone will accept it. Drake is well aware that he represents a minority position; a polemicist like his hero, he has drawn all his details together into a vigorous and frequently pungent exposition of the experimentalist view of Galileo: The enemy is Alexandre Koyré and his followers, who emphasize Galileo's debt to Platonic philosophy and question whether he ever performed experiments. As far as I am concerned Drake settles the issue once and for all. From the manuscripts he draws manifold evidence of experiments (among others, with inclined planes) that are beyond reasonable denial. One cannot avoid the conclusion that Koyré's insistence on thought experiments in Galileo was exaggerated, indeed greatly exaggerated. I speak, let me say, as one deeply influenced by Koyré's writings.
"At the same time, it appears to me that Drake is guilty of equal excess in attempting to paint a narrowly empirical Galileo as the model of the modern experimental scientist. It was the great virtue of Koyré's work to teach us that profound philosophic questions not to be settled by observations in the laboratory lay behind the shift in views that ushered in modern science. The fact that Galileo did in fact experiment in no way negates that point… ."
There is much wisdom and discernment in these words. It seems to me that it may be rightfully claimed, nevertheless, that as a result of Koyré's distorted view Galileo's methodology, in so far as recourse to experiment is concerned, a more adequately or judiciously balanced picture of Galileo's work may be claimed to given by, e.g., E. Gerland in 1913, than by the pretentious monographs of Koyré,  written twenty six years latter.
Koyré writes: "Indeed, an experiment -as Galileo so beautifully has expressed it- being a question put before nature, it is perfectly clear that the activity which results in the asking of this question is a function of the elaboration of the language in which it is formulated. Experimentation is a teleological process of which the goal is determined by theory. The "activism" of modern science, so well noticed -scientia activa, operative, - and so deeply misinterpreted by Bacon is only the counterpart of its theoretic development.
"It is well known with what extreme ingenuity, being unable to perform direct measurements, Galileo substitutes for the free fall the motion on an inclined plane on one hand, and that of the pendulum on the other. It is only justice to recognize his immense merit and genial insight, which are not diminished by the fact that they are based on two wrong assumptions. But it is justice too to turn our attention to the amazing and pitiful poverty of the experimental means at his disposal.
"A bronze ball rolling in a "smooth and polished" wooden groove! A vessel of water with a small hole through which it runs out and which one collects in a small glass in order to weigh it afterwards and thus measure the times of descent (the Roman water clock, that of Ctesebius, had been already a much better instrument): what an accumulation of sources of error and in exactitude!
"It is obvious that the Galilean experiments are completely worthless. The very perfection of their results is a rigorous proof of their in correction (sic) ."
Sarton's convictions concerning scientific method were in tune with the more traditional and classical views. They may be described as in conformity with the beliefs and feelings concerning scientific spirit and procedures of research as practiced, or, at least, idealized by men of science themselves. He would therefore not be expected to adhere to such extreme ideas as being, e.g., against mathematics as a key to understanding nature, or looking askance at attaching paramount importance to experimentation or careful observation. For him these the pillars on which the glorious edifice of science and scientific thought had to rest.
Stillman Drake, writing in 1973 speaks of some previously unknown notes of Galileo and says: "This unpublished material includes at least one group of notes which cannot satisfactorily be accounted for except as representing a series of experiments designed to test a fundamental assumption, which led to a new, important discovery. In these documents empirical data are given numerically, comparisons are made with calculated values derived from theory, a source of discrepancy from still another excepted result is noted, a new experiment is designed to eliminate this, and further empirical data are recorded. The last-named data, although proving to be beyond Galileo's powers of mathematical analysis at the time, when subjected to modern analysis turn out to be remarkably precise. If this does not represent the experimental prowess in its fully modern sense, it is hard to imagine what standards historians require to be met.
"The discovery of these notes confirms the opinions of earlier historians. They read only Galileo's published works, but did so without a preconceived notion of continuity in the history of ideas. The opinion of our more sophisticated colleagues has its role support in philosophical interpretations that fit with preconceived views of orderly long-term scientific developments… ."
It is of course a widely known fact, on the other hand, that Galileo's trail-blazing and diligent work in the field of telescope astronomy constitutes undeniably clear evidence to the fact that he attached great importance to the empirical foundations of scientific knowledge .
It should be of interest in this connection that in the Royaumont Symposium on the Sixteenth Century Science held in 1953 Koyré refused to attach any importance to a remark made touching the fact that Walter Hermann Ryff had, in 1537, just one hundred years before the appearance of Galileo's Dialogue on Two-New Sciences, spoken of the empirically established conclusion that the maximum range of a projectile corresponds to 45° angle of elevation of the gun barrel. He declined to concede that suchlike experiences of gunners could be of relevance, as ready experimental data, for Galileo in his work on the trajectory of projectiles.
As to Galileo's Platonism, I have already quoted a statement of W. H. Donahue which is relevant to this question, I shall merely make the following additional quotation from Ernest A. Moody, to show at least that the relevancy, to the issue in hand, of Galileo's Platonism would seem to be a controversial matter:
"To wed sense to reason, and to tie reason to reality -this is an ideal that transcends the oppositions between Aristotelians and Platonists, and it was his devotion to this ideal of true science that enabled Galileo to earn full right to the title of the 'founder of modern mechanics' ."
It may not be out of place to wonder whether Koyré as an example for such an issue would not constitute a type that would well-night defeat its own purpose, considering the fact that I am favourably disposed towards defending Sarton's viewpoint. In the present context, however, its value rests mainly in its constituting a caustic test for the cogency of Sarton's viewpoint, and I believe also that it serves to bring out certain fine points on which there seems to have been some misunderstandings. Moreover, as I have pointed out above, Sarton also expressed the belief that the greater degree of freedom available to those who cultivate the history of science did, at times, serve as an advantage to the growth of the history of science, as a new discipline.
Koyré had, I assume, a philosophical basic training which somehow made him look down on the empirical side of scientific work. But a person with a scientific basic training in mathematics and with a mathematical type of predilection may well feel pretty much the same way. And mathematicians too are known to have been wont to split among themselves into different schools of thought. According to Charles Singer, it has been said that "everyone is by nature a disciple either of Plato or of Aristotle' . Cultural backgrounds of this nature too could possibly account for such variations of intellectual taste.
It should certainly not be unduly optimistic to think or hope that the history of science of the self-centered and self-reliant type as conceived by Sarton in particular can effectively help broaden the perspective or background against which such differences of value judgments of the philosophy of science may be compared or appraised. It should therefore be commendable to create circumstances conducive to form or evaluate such judgments through the intellectual, atmosphere emerging from the facts of the history of science itself, as much as possible, rather than have scholars trained in other fields try to introduce or impose preformed ideas into or upon the history of science. For, to say the least, this will add a new dimension to our way of looking into such matters. The same should be valid of course, and perhaps with greater force, for other more stereotyped varieties of ideologies.
 Arnold Thackray, "Making History", Ms, vol. 72, 1981, pp. 7, 8.
 "See, Thomas B. Settle, "An Experiment in the History of Science", Science, 6 January 1961, No 3445, pp. 19-23; David C. Lindberg, "Galileo's Experiments on Falling Bodies", Isis, vol. 56,1965, pp. 352-354; Stillman Drake, "Free Fall in Galileo's Dialogues", Isis, vol. 57,1966, pp. 269-271; Stillman Drake, "Galileo's Discovery of the Law of Free Fall; Scientific American, May 1973, pp. 85-92; Stillman Drake, "Galileo's Experimental Confirmation of Horizontal Inertia: Unpublished Manuscripts (Galileo Gleanings XXII)", Isis, vol. 64,1973, pp. 290-305; James MacLachlan, "A Test of an 'Imaginary' Experiment of Galileo's", his, vol. 64, 1973, pp. 374-379; Stillman Drake and James MacLachlan, "Galileo's Discovery of the Parabolic Trajectory", Scientific American, March 1975, pp. 102-110; Ronald Naylor, "Galileo: Real Experiment and Didactic Demonstration", Isis, vol. 67, 1976, pp. 398-419. David K. Hill, "A Note on a Galilean Worksheet," Isis, vol. 70, 1979, pp. 269-270; David K. Hill, "Galileo's Work on 116 v; A New Analysis," Isis, vol. 77, 1986. pp. 283-291; Ronald H. Naylor, "Galileo's Method of Analysis and Synthesis," Isis, vol. 81, 1990, pp. 695-707.
 W. H. Donahue, review of Stillman Drake's Galileo against the Philosophers..., Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. 10, 1979, p. 44.
 Richard S. Westfall, review of Drake's Galileo at Work, Isis, vol. 70, 1979, p, 275.
 See, Gerland's Geschichte der Physik.
 Alexandre Koyré, "An Experiment in Measurement", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 9% Number 2, 1953, pp. 222, 224.
 Stillman Drake, "Galileo's Experimental Confirmation of Horizontal Inertia: Unpublished Manuscripts," Isis, vol. 64, 1973, p. 292.
 A brand new item of evidence for this may be mentioned as Galileo's accurate observations of Neptune 234 years before it was identified as a planet. The following statement s made in this connection: "The reliability of Galileo's observations makes his sightings f Neptune much more than a historical curiosity. His observations call into question the accuracy of the modern calculated orbit of Neptune." See, Stillman Drake and Charles T. Kowal, "Galileo's Sighting of Neptune," Scientific American, December 1980, pp. 52-59.
 Ernest A. Moody, "Galileo and Avempace", Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 12, 1951, p. 422. See also, ibid., pp. 163-183, 192-193, and Stillman Drake and W. H. Donahue, op. cit. (Donahue's review of Stillman Drake's Galileo against the Philosophers), Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. 10, 1979, pp. 44-47.
 Charles Singer, a Short History of Science to the Nineteenth Century, Oxford 1941, p. 34.
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by: FSTC, Mon 04 August, 2008