Give your response to the following
questions all based on similar contexts that Galileo experiences
in the play. Put yourself in this situation - how would you
You come across a list of questions for the up-coming SAC on Bertolt Brecht's "Life of Galileo" written by your teacher. You read them, but you know that you should not. Nobody else is around. The SAC is in two days. What do you do and why?
You are a teacher in a religious school who is an agnostic and become involved in a difficult issue between yourself and another teacher, over whether you should teach the theory of evolution from a scientific standpoint or from a creationist standpoint. You are asked to justify your scientific position on evolution before the Principal or lose your job. What would you do?
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As with all events and people, popular culture can distort and trivialize the historical, so view any video or popularizations with an open mind and decide for yourself the relative
truth and authority of the illustration!
Brecht's "Galileo" is after all a distortion; a distortion with
educationalintent and one that you
will further distort to process your own understanding of
YouTube Videos: Visualization?
Indigo Girls: "Galileo" Songwriter: EMILY ANN SALIERS (1992: Lyrics
So why Galileo? How does Galileo
still feature after almost 400 years? Why should he be
important to you?
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Bertolt Brecht's Perspective on History
A Worker Reads History (1936)
Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956)
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed,
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses, 5
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song, 10
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the sea rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone? 15
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Philip of Spain wept as his fleet
Was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War. Who 20
Triumphed with him?
Each page a victory,
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper? 25
So many particulars.
So many questions.
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What does this suggest about "him" and "his" character?
GALILEO (in lecture style, bands folded over his paunch) In my free time, and I've got plenty of that, I have reviewed my case and asked myself how the world of science, of which I no longer consider myself a member, will judge it. Even a wool merchant, in addition to buying cheap and selling dear, has to worry about the obstacles that may be put in the way of the wool trade itself. In this sense, the pursuit of science seems to call for special courage.
Science trades in knowledge distilled from doubt. Providing everybody with knowledge of everything, science aims at making doubters of everybody. But princes, landlords and priests keep the majority of the people in a pearly haze of superstition and outworn words to cover up their own machinations. The misery of the many is as old as the hills and is proclaimed in church and lecture hall to be as indestructible as the hills. Our new art of doubting delighted the common people. They grabbed the telescope out of our hands and focused it on their tormentors—princes, landlords, priests. Those self-seeking violent men greedily exploited the fruits of science for their own ends but at the same time they felt the cold stare of science focused upon the millennial, yet artificial miseries which mankind could obviously get rid of by getting rid of them. They showered us with threats and bribes, which weak souls cannot resist. But can we turn our backs on the people and still remain scientists? The movements of the heavenly bodies have become more comprehensible; but the movements of their rulers remain unpredictable to the people. The battle to measure the sky was won by doubt; but credulity still prevents the Roman housewife from winning her battle for milk.
Science, Sarti, is involved in both battles. If mankind goes on stumbling in a pearly haze of superstition and outworn words and remains too ignorant to make full use of its own strength, it will never be able to use the forces of nature which science has discovered. What end are you scientists working for? To my mind, the only purpose of science is to lighten the toil of human existence. If scientists, browbeaten by selfish rulers, confine themselves to the accumulation of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, science will be crippled and your new machines will only mean new hardships. Given time, you may well discover everything there is to discover, but your progress will be a progression away from humanity. The gulf between you and humanity may one day be so wide that the response to your exultation about some new achievement will be a universal outcry of horror.
As a scientist, I had a unique opportunity. In my time astronomy reached the market place. Under these very special circumstances, one man's steadfastness might have had tremendous repercussions. If I had held out, scientists might have developed something like the physicians' Hippocratic oath, the vow to use their knowledge only for the good of mankind. As things stand now, the best we can hope for is a generation of inventive dwarfs who can be hired for any purpose. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion, Sarti, that I was never in any real danger. For a few years I was as strong as the authorities. And yet I handed the powerful my knowledge to use, or not to use, or to misuse as served their purposes. (Virginia has come in with a dish and stops now) I have betrayed my calling. A man who does what I have done, cannot be tolerated in the ranks of science.