Christopher M. Graney
Mathematical Disquisitions: The Booklet of Theses Immortalized by Galileo offers a new English translation of the 1614 Disquisitiones Mathematicae, which Johann Georg Locher wrote under the guidance of the German Jesuit astronomer Christoph Scheiner. The booklet, an anti-Copernican astronomical work, is of interest in large part because Galileo Galilei, who came into conflict with Scheiner over the discovery of sunspots, devoted numerous pages within his famous 1632 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems—Ptolemaic and Copernican to ridiculing Disquisitiones. The brief text (the original was approximately one hundred pages) is heavily illustrated with dozens of original figures, making it an accessible example of “geocentric astronomy in the wake of the telescope.”
The treatise provides valuable insight into the astronomical debates of the seventeenth century, a time when the question of the Earth’s motion was still very much in flux. Whereas Galileo’s works are readily available, there are far fewer translations of works arguing the other side. Christopher Graney’s translation focuses on the mathematical and astronomical core of Locher’s work and is suitable for undergraduate students in courses on the history of science, philosophy of science, astronomy, and physics.
“Christopher Graney has translated foreign terms and concepts in efficient, modern ways, often trimming from them the complicated metaphysical and rhetorical context. Many of Graney’s notes explain mathematical concepts and astronomical phenomena in reference to what astronomers understand today, which will make the text more digestible to an audience familiar with and interested in modern astronomy. The text offers a nice counterbalance to the standard canon of Galileo readings students encounter.” — Darin Hayton, Haverford College
“This well annotated and widely accessible translation of Johann Georg Locher’s 1614 Mathematical Disquisitions makes a forgotten text at the heart of the Galileo Affair newly available to scholars and students alike. By bringing the subtlety and complexity of Locher’s anti-Coperincan positions into view again, Christopher Graney adds enormously to our understanding of the historical complexities and contingencies at the root of this foundational debate in the history of science.” — J. B. Shank, University of Minnesota
“The conventional concentration on the ‘big names’ leads to oversimplification and distortions in the history of astronomy, especially in the debates over the various world systems in the first half of the seventeenth century. Following up on his excellent Setting Aside All Authority, Christopher Graney brings us, with Mathematical Disquisitions, the voice of another bit player in those debates, broadening and filling out our picture of the period. It is to be hoped that others will follow his lead in this excellent endeavor.” — Thony Christie, author of the blog The Renaissance Mathematicus