Skip to main content

Novelties in the Heavens

Rhetoric and Science in the Copernican Controversy

In this fascinating work, Jean Dietz Moss shows how the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus brought about another revolution as well—one in which rhetoric, previously used simply to explain scientific thought, became a tool for persuading a skeptical public of the superiority of the Copernican system.

Moss describes the nature of dialectical and rhetorical discourse in the period of the Copernican debate to shed new light on the argumentative strategies used by the participants. Against the background of Ptolemy’s Almagest, she analyzes the gradual increase of rhetoric beginning with Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and Galileo’s Siderius nuncius, through Galileo’s debates with the Jesuits Scheiner and Grassi, to the most persuasive work of all, Galileo’s Dialogue. The arguments of the Dominicans Bruno and Campanella, the testimony of Johannes Kepler, and the pleas of Scriptural exegetes and the speculations of John Wilkins furnish a counterpoint to the writings of Galileo, the centerpiece of this study.

The author places the controversy within its historical frame, creating a coherent narrative movement. She illuminates the reactions of key ecclesiastical and academic figures figures and the general public to the issues.

Blending history and rhetorical analysis, this first study to look at rhetoric as defined by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century participants is an original contribution to our understanding of the use of persuasion as an instrument of scientific debate.

368 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1993

History: History of Ideas

History of Science

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Expansion of Rhetoric into Science
Part One: The Celestial Revolution
Chapter 2: Copernicus’ Revolutionary Thesis
Chapter 3: Evidence from the Heavens: Galileo and Kepler
Chapter 4: The Significance of the Sunspot Quarrel
Part Two: The Hermeneutical Crisis
Chapter 5: Interpreting Scripture
Chapter 6: Dominicans on the Side of Galileo Chapter
Chapter 7: Galileo’s Appeal to the Church
Part Three: The Triumph of Rhetoric
Chapter 8: The Delicate Balance: Galileo versus Grassi
Chapter 9: The Final Salve: Galileo’s Dialogue
Chapter 10: Galileo Interpreted for Englishmen
Postscript: Dialectic and Rhetoric in Modern Science

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press