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Thought Experiments And Indirect Proofs In Averroes, Aquinas, And Buridan

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Chapter Summary

Galileo occupies a prominent place in the literature on thought experiments. The medieval thought experiments that reappear in Galileo's works can be divided into two groups, namely those that concerned the actual physical world, and those that hinged on worlds that God, in his infinite potency, could have created. One part of Aristotle's physics that was questioned by medieval natural philosophers was his explanation of projectile motion. Medieval authors such as Buridan and Oresme proposed an alternative explanation of projectile motion. The difference between the Galilean and the medieval conception of motion becomes even clearer if we look at another thought experiment, which contrary to the previous one involves a physically impossible situation. By reinterpreting medieval cosmological thought experiments in the light of his new science of motion, Galileo showed that the laws ruling upon terrestrial bodies could be used to explain the behaviour of celestial ones.

Keywords:Buridan; Galileo; medieval thought experiments; Oresme



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