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Homage to Galileo Galilei 1564-2014

Per quelle confuse carte... The Galilean De motu in Raffaello Caverni’s Reading

Francesco Crapanzano
p. 17-33


In my view, among the contributions related to De motu and its related issues, we may include Raffaello Caverni’s (1837-1900) confused, “lengthy” and not always accurate writing on the subject in his Histoire de la méthode expérimentale en Italie. The monumental work of the Tuscan priest was published in six formidable volumes (the last posthumously) and immediately met both praise and criticism. Leaving aside certain odd judgments and risky assumptions, the Caverni’s ideas on De motu can legitimately be considered as useful material. This is not so much the case for his “review” but rather for his reconstruction of the theoretical framework within which Galileo worked in order to hypothesize how he undertook the construction of the new physics and for a more accurate “history of effects”.

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1 Introduction: De motu and its fortune
2 A “maverick”: Raffaello Caverni and his Storia del metodo sperimentale in Italia
3 A difficult task: the role of De motu in the history of mechanics
4 Conclusion

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1 Introduction: De motu and its fortune

The so-called De motu appeared in 1642, after Galileo’s death when Vincenzo Viviani, the last follower of the great Pisan scientist, decided to collect all his writings in order to:

[...] reprint all Galileo’s works in the form of sheets with greater fullness and magnificence in two columns for the two languages, the former Tuscan, in which the author wrote, the latter Latin to be translated by some of our compatriots and lastly with the addition of a great number of writings by the same author which I gathered from different parts with great difficulty. [Viviani 1674, 104-105], [Favaro 1885, 19, 158-159, my translation]

This was an onerous but rather heartfelt task and led him to happen on some papers by Galileo collected in quinternions entitled De motu antiquiora while he was working on the bibliography of a major study on the fifth book of Euclid’s Elements. Viviani immediately thought they were early studies of the Master about motion, alr...

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Electronic reference

Francesco Crapanzano, « Per quelle confuse carte... The Galilean De motu in Raffaello Caverni’s Reading », Philosophia Scientiæ [Online], 21-1 | 2017, Online since 15 February 2019, connection on 22 February 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/philosophiascientiae.1237

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About the author

Francesco Crapanzano

University of Messina (Italy)

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