2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

"Just Sensational:" Defending Galileo’s Theory of Sense-Related Properties


Kimberly R. Ramos
Dr. Chad Mohler, Faculty Mentor

 In The Assayer, Galileo puts forth a radical notion in the face of scholasticism: sensation exists only in the perceiver. He relegates sensations such as odors, tastes, and colors to secondary properties that are nothing but designations in human language. Sensation, according to Galileo, is the interaction between a body’s corpuscles and human sensory organs. Therefore, sensory properties are caused by corpuscular properties of a body but do not truly reside within that body. While Galileo found his assertions logical, there are two main objections to his theory of corpuscularianism: physicalism and idealism. Physicalism argues that sensory properties truly reside in a body, while idealism asserts that physical bodies are nonexistent and sensory properties exist independently in the mind of a perceiver. Though Galileo’s corpuscularian theory of sensation must make certain concessions to these objections, it emerges from disputes intact.

Keywords: Galileo , Sensation, Physicalism , Idealism , Sensory Property, Corpuscle, Corpuscularianism , Perception

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 110-1
Location: MC 211
Time: 8:30

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