Galileo Galilei: New methods for a new science
Because Galileo thought the way some of his predecessors thought and also anticipated the thinking of some of his successors, his views are of special interest in understanding scientific method. He sought respectable authority for his way of establishing conclusions in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians, and there are, too, connections between his ideas and those of his more immediate predecessors and contemporaries in Italy. But he also helped to develop the role of experiment, particularly as a useful means for discovering and exploring new connections in nature, and partly because of this we detect in him ideas and methods which were further developed by his successors. There is no doubt that his claims about what is true and why it is true were particularly influential in the seventeenth century. His ideas played an important part in the early development of scientific method although, as we shall see, the differences between Galileo's views and those familiar to us are at least as significant as the similarities.