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Martyrs to Science Day?

February 17, 2017



On this day in 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome for asserting the plurality of worlds in defiance of official church teaching.  Perhaps he’s as clear a case of a martyr to the cause of science as you could imagine?  Although the definition of “Science Martyr” is interesting and problematic and worthy of some entertaining if melancholy discussion.

Some people are even a bit sceptical of Bruno’s claims – suggesting that although he believed in things we now agree are “true” – he got there improperly – and was too invested in hermetic scholarship to be a proper empirical scientist.  He got to the truth “the wrong way” in other words.  This seems very harsh – and in any case assumes a standard of methodological rectitude which many famous scientists might fall short of in any case.  Time to re-read Thomas Kuhn I think.  Who really “thinks…

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