The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment Science tries to explain the world without reference to God or gods. It sees the world as an object, and tries to explain how it moves and interacts. Science is therefore distinct from technology which is a way of manipulating the world. Many cultures had technological knowledge, but scientific thinking was first developed in an extensive way by the Ancient Greeks. It was the Greeks thoughts which dominated Europe up until the Scientific Revolution. The big issue for the Greeks was trying to explain how and why things moved.
Since they believed everything happened for a reason, they thought there had to be an explanation for any motion at all. This is seen stated in the Perry book, “In that view, a stationary earth stood in the center of the universe just above hell. Revolving around the earth were seven planets: the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Because people believed that earth did not move, it was not considered a planet.
Each planet was attached to a transparent sphere that turned around the earth. (Perry ch. 2; pg. 28). It was overturning this idea that was Isaac Newton’s greatest triumph. From this the Enlightenment was born, which further analyzed the facts stated during the Scientific Revolution The Scientific Revolution during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a time of greater learning and understanding that led to a better understanding about the natural world. By directly observing nature and carefully controlled experiments mysteries were unraveled that previously stumped scholars.
Between the publication of Copernicus On the Revolution of the Heavenly Orbs in 1543, which proposed that the earth and other planets went around the Sun but did not show how or why, and the publication of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in 1687, which provided an explanation about European thought about the natural world underwent a revolution. People viewed much of the revolution with skepticism and questions. How could knowledge that had been known for centuries be contradicted?
At first the revolution was not welcome. Gradually it became accepted until scholars and politicians fought to have their opinions set in stone. The scientific revolution also affected religious truths that governed what people thought for years about how nature worked around them. This is evident through this textual quote, “Whereas medieval scholars looked to authoritative texts like the Bible or the classics, seventeenth-century natural philosophers preformed experiments and relied on increasingly complex mathematical calculations. (McKay ch. 18; pg. 589). What these seventeenth-century scholars had as their main weapon for justifying scientific knowledge and making it reliable was the scientific method. Discovered by Newton, the scientific method led a campaign of discoveries. By using a set order of steps, these scholars were able to scientifically prove their reasoning. This did not nesiccarily save them from persecution, but made their ideas a lot more believable. The child or product of the scientific revolution is known as the enlightenment.
During this time, philosophes, “tried to transfer the scientific method- the reliance on experience and the critical use of the intellect to the realm of society. ” (Perry ch. 3; pg. 51). This age caused people to question all aspects of life. Newton questioned the natural laws that regulated nature. Others became motivated to question society and those who governed it, which produced political philosophers. These philosophers believed that the universe was designed to follow a fixed set of laws, and not ruled by chaos.
These philosophers also believed in another idea as stated by Perry, “The “Enlightened” philosophers articulated basic principles of the modern outlook, confidence in the self-suffiency of the human mind, belief that individuals poses natural rights that governments should not violate, and the desire to reform society in accordance with rational principals. ” (Perry ch. 3; pg. 51-52). The government was greatly affected by the Enlightenment to the point where the Enlightenment attempted to explain the purpose of government, and describe the best form of it.
Another important thing the Enlightenment affected was religion. Religion was seriously injured when the Civil Constitution of the Clergy came out. The French clergy were already limited in their ability to practice religious law in society. This restriction was enforced on them by the 1682 Declaration of the Clergy of France. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was also preceded by abolishing any money contributions tat the churches members were expected to pay.
This is what keeps churches alive. Galileo was one of the great scientists who could not prove most of his beliefs, and feared being called a heretic. Though most of his ideas were not proven, Isaac Newton was inspired by Galileo’s ideas, and continued to improve on Galileo’s ideas. Galileo therefore influenced Newton by leaving theories on the differences between the mysteries of color, the center of the universe, and the motions of gravity.
When the Age of Enlightenment came, the church adopted the ideas of Aristotle and believed that colors were a mixture of light and darkness. Colors were created depending on the mix of light or lack of light. Galileo believed that light and darkness, had nothing to do with colors. Darkness was the absence of light in a certain spot. The people and church rejected his belief because he could not prove it. These events encouraged Newton to find proof to support Galileo and his ideas.
He tried an experiment involving a prism and a small amount of light and discovered that the light, which entered the prism and turned into a bunch of colors against the wall. He concluded that a light ray could be bent and would create a certain color. The experiment influenced Newton, through Galileo’s unfinished work. Galileo left Newton work to finish which had stirred anger amongst the church. This evidence helps support the connection between the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.
All of the great minds of the Scientific Revolution provided the facts or stepping stones to allow those of the Enlightenment to further the knowledge of the Scientific Revolution. The Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution were both times of great discovery that uncovered a veil that revealed many truths to the world. Without the discoveries from those such as Newton and Galileo, the world might still believe that the universe was run by chaos. Technology would be at a slower pace due to the lack of those important discoveries made during these two time periods.
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