Koyré and Galileo: The Myth of the Leaning Tower’s Scientific Experiment



Koyré’s belief about the apriorism of scientific discoveries should not be regarded as a fantasy or a bias: as early as 1937, that is, a few years before the publication of his Études galiléennes, he addressed the issue in an article entitled “Galilée et l’expérience de Pise.” Investigating on how to value the experiment in the context of the foundation of mechanics, therefore, is not confined to the level of theoretical statements, but translates into considering the genesis of some Galilean theories whose conceptual aspect Koyré stresses to the detriment of their experimental one. One of the best known examples is that of the experiments on falling bodies made around 1589 at the Tower of Pisa, reported by Galileo ’s first biographer and disciple, Vincenzio Viviani . Koyré comes to the conclusion that they were never carried out; the Vulgate, of course, was and remains the one handed down to us by Viviani , but can we relegate Koyré’s observations to the margins? Can the “history of effects” (Wirkungsgeschichte) wipe the well-grounded doubt that this tale is celebratory or a iocularis quaedam audacia?


Galileo Koyré Experiment Tower of Pisa Mechanics 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies (COSPECS)Messina UniversityMessinaItaly

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