The Life of Galileo

by

Bertolt Brecht

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The Proving Stone Symbol Analysis

The Proving Stone Symbol Icon

Much like apples, Galileo uses stones as a teaching tool. But where the apples represent forbidden truth, stones represent widely accepted knowledge that’s wrong. Galileo uses stones most often as an attack on those who accept the teachings of Aristotle blindly when physical evidence easily disproves such ideas. Nobody of his time, Galileo laments, wants to truly know how a stone falls—instead, they merely want to know “what Aristotle wrote about it.” Thus, when Galileo is forced into an argument with Aristotelians, he pulls a stone from his pocket, lets it fall to the ground, and then claims that it has risen, rather than fallen. This is a way for Galileo to mock the individual in question without doing so openly—it’s his attempt to point out the hypocrisy of insisting that one thing is true when all evidence points to the contrary.

The Proving Stone Quotes in The Life of Galileo

The The Life of Galileo quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Proving Stone. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Life of Galileo published in 2008.
Scene 1 Quotes

On our old continent a rumor sprang up: there might be new ones. And since our ships began sailing to them the laughing continents have got the message: the great ocean they feared, is a little puddle. And a vast desire has sprung up to know the reasons for everything: why a stone falls when you let it go and why it rises when you toss it up.

Related Characters: Galileo Galilei (speaker), Andrea Sarti
Related Symbols: The Proving Stone
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Proving Stone Symbol Timeline in The Life of Galileo

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Proving Stone appears in The Life of Galileo. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 6
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
Persecution Theme Icon
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
Greatness Theme Icon
...see what Clavius hopes to gain by looking through it. Galileo, listening in, lets a stone drop from his hand. When a scholar mentions that he’s dropped something, Galileo replies that... (full context)
Scene 9
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
Greatness Theme Icon
...there’s no need: he’s perfectly in line with the Church’s teachings. Galileo pulls his proving stone from his pocket, drops it to the ground, and tells the student that he is... (full context)
Scene 13
Persecution Theme Icon
Greatness Theme Icon
...mean his death. The Little Monk wonders if they’ll allow him to keep his proving stone. Virginia prays that Galileo will recant. It is his twenty-fourth day in prison. (full context)