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Lecture 8

HIS244H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Critical Inquiry, Tabula Rasa, Geocentric Model

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HIS244H1: Lecture #8 Monday June 11th/2012
A Revolution of the Mind
Writings of Aristotle dominated the revolution
During the middle ages scientifically inquiry served theological ends
Medieval cosmology was based on Aristotle and Ptomely’s theories
o Believed that earth was at the center of the universe
o Aristotle: hierarchal understanding of the cosmos - in the heavens
(beyond the moon) there is an entirely different substance, difference
between earthly sphere and celestial sphere
o Ptomely: talked about how the planets were orbiting on circular orbits
and how he tried to explain why you would see planets further and
sometimes further back (no constant order) explained that with cycles
(non-circular orbit imperfect)
o These theories were challenged in the 16th century
Copernicus: observations made with his eye, and paper and pen, current theory
held that the moons and the stars and the planets moved around the earth
his observations are not consistent with that model contradicted the Aristolian
universe heliocentric model: the earth is not the center of the universe the
sun is, the earth is another planet revolving around the sun on an axis, bold and
explicit assertions
o Suggested that you could apply math to the study of the heavens
o Cosmology and the natural sciences could be understood through the
applications of mathematics
o Inspired by Archimedes and Pythagoras
o Theories seemed to reduce the place of mankind in the universe
o Careful not to adopt a triumphalist account
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) did not think the sun was the center of the universe, he
reconciled the earth being the center by stating that some planets go around the
sun, which ultimately goes around the earth
o Recorded his observations systematically extensive data used by his
o A number of Tycho’s observations were inaccurate (many mistakes)
Johannes Kepler was his assistant, but did not agree with Tycho’s model
o His ideas made him persecuted by the Protestants, but he was protected
by the Jesuits
o Returned to Copernicus’ model
o Claimed that planets were not orbiting on circular orbits this was an
attack on pure and perfect heavens
o In the 3 laws of planetary motion he suggested that God was not
needed to regulate the movement of the planets
o Movement without the direct intervention of God
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): went to the University of Padua he is a professor,
but he was also a student it was a leader center of scientific learning
o Perfected Copernicus’ model, but didn’t believe in vulgarizing his ideas
o Believed his theories were too complicated for most people, thought it
was better that they were ignorant
o 1633 put on trial by the Roman Inquisition for his Dialogue concerning
two world systems
o Character of Simplicio is a thinly veiled criticism of the Ptolemaic system
o Urban VIII (Pope) did what he could to make Galileo’s situation easier
o Galileo recants his beliefs, and is saved from being burned at the stake,
but he is put on house arrest for the rest of his life
Important why? Catholic Church is losing believers, and is increasingly
marginalized in the face of the dynastic rulers who dictate European policies,
the papacy has a less prominent role
o As a result of it’s position, it puts itself in a corner by defending a theory
that is no longer defensible
Universities contribute very little to the diffusion of the scientific method
For the scientific revolution + enlightenment we see that the most important
centers are those outside the church
We don’t need God to intervene all the time to keep the world going
Francis Bacon (1561-1626): rejected tradition the idea that you could base
knowledge on received and accumulated knowledge
o Question authorities and approach them critically
o Search for truth through inductive reasoning: proceed from observations
and experimentations to truth
o Don’t accept authority of the Bible, look into actual working of the world,
and the results of your experimentations
o Contribution: it is limited to the philosophy of knowledge
o Conducted very few experiments
o Died from a pneumonia when stuffing a chicken with snow
Descartes: postulated that each man has to start as a blank slate
o Deductive reasoning: doubt everything, submit everything to a critical
o I think, therefore I am
o Example: Syllogism 1. All men are mortal, 2. Socrates is a man, 3.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal the conclusion must be true because it
comes from true premises
o Believes that God is a Grand Horloger (Clockmaker) who created the
universe according to a set theories of laws and mathematical principles
that the human mind could discover through human reasoning after
creating the universe God then stepped back from his creation he is
saying that natural phenomenon can still work with God, he doesn’t
ALWAYS have to intervene
Newton (1642-1727): Principia Mathematica
o Brought together Galileo’s discoveries of earth
o God had created a mechanism and then withdrawn
o Contributions to options, explained rainbows, and understood how the
spectrum was made of 4 primary colours
o Not keen on publishing his ideas…unless someone else was on the brink
of publishing
o Not good with footnoting
o Became famous, and was knighted his fame marked the victory over
the scientific method
o Celebrating the sciences
18th century: decline of witch hunt trials educated prosecutors much more
skeptical about witchcraft
Opens up the possibility of mastering nature for human benefits: changing
nature as opposed to only observing it conquer and celebrate
Newton wrote more on religion than on science, but largely unpublished very
o Mysteries in the book of revelation (concerned with)
Peter the Great: opens Russia to western science
o Westernize his state (campaign)
o Mechanics, chemistry, mathematics
o Russian Academy of Sciences (1666)
Locke bridges the scientific revolution claims that society is a disciplined
Thinkers of the enlightenment looked at the writers of the 17th century
o Inspiration from Descartes and Locke
o Applied them to the study of human society (social sciences)
o Sought to find the laws that apply to human beings
o Enlightenment is not a monolithic movement great diversity, some
general consensus around a common set of values
Deism belief in a clockmaker type God
Important to formulate a severe criticism of religious institutions more found
of the idea of a natural religion than the Catholic or Protestant church
o Religion should be something that is private, and separate and doesn’t
interfere with the state
o Power comes from people, not from God or any other source of authority,
rulers are responsible for their people
The Enlightenment is a collaborative, and social and intellectual movement ***
against the isolation of the scholar work together for the betterment of society
o Many disagreements among the community, for example the ideal
political community
o Phase 1: directly influenced by scientific revolution
Greatly influenced by John Locke