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The Scientific Revolution.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Anthony Cantor

The Scientific Revolution F. Bacon (1561-1626) Rene Descartes (1596-1650) Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) N. Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus (1543) Isaac Newton (1642-1727) John Locke (1632-1704) Tabula rasa -S.R. was precondition for Enlightenment, which was precondition for Industrial Rev., Post Industrial Rev., etc. -had to be earlier moment to allow Enlightenment individuals to establish their ideas: S.R. -established empirical method for examining phenomena & events -2 great instigators: 1) Francis Bacon 2) Rene Descartes what linked them (1620-40) was a question that obsessed many Euro. Thinkers: how do we know anything? How can we make a true observation & draw truer correct conclusions about qualities of man & nature? -revolutions are often just another way of looking at a problem -during Middle Ages, search for knowledge & true came about by accepting observations & conclusions of respected authorities that everyone agreed had to be rights, ex. Aristotle, Bible & Scripture (deductive method: start w/ first principles & move beyond those using structures of formal logic) -most recognized deductive method: God must exist b/c it is greater to exist than not to exist (assumptions about definition of God & being) Bacon & Descartes were rev. when suggested that deductive system was backwards (knowledge should be the product of truth, there should never be any first premise you’d accept w/o verification) studies should be from particular to general new method required thinkers & scientists to abandon all authorities, give up all prejudices, not accept anything as true unless they are convinced it is true (proved by empirical observation) almost all knowledge had to be re-tested to meet new criteria of truth (much thought of Middle Ages had to be rejected, which re-enforced humanist rejected & humanists thought humanism had to be re- evaluated b/c it cast classical knowledge as absolute truths) -Bacon was a chancellor, didn’t run into much trouble -Descartes was a philosopher, mathematician (everything could be explained if empirical observation & reason could be applied, provided you don’t start w/ any assumptions) to solve mankind’s most pressing problems: subjective & objective truth (“I think therefore I am.”) 2 realities: 1) of mind, thinking 2) everything outside/objective, becomes subject to objective views (measurement, etc.) if we quantify w/ objective measurements, we can understand that we’re talking about the same thing -made contributions to mind of early-modern Europe, most famous: Discourse on Method (1637) revolutionary: shifted mental processes of Europeans forever, gave platform for scientific method (way of determining reality & describing it so others could investigate it & determine validity) how to proceed in acquisition of knowledge (he gave Europeans a new instrument for finding truths) in book: he only references truth of observation & reason, not truths of church/king, etc. Western civ. Could stand alone b/c it provided means for determining truth -had to leave France -Galileo Galilei, reflects struggle against established force of conservative (intellectual status quo), accepted only what he could prove to be true, got into a lot of trouble (Euro.’s first modern scientists, developed apparatus, generalized from conclusions & published them for others to test) -real interest was motion, esp. planetary motion needed equipment, built a telescope (most of his patrons thought it was a toy), used it to change relationship of man to the universe 1609: published a book that Jupiter had moons, which was completely new knowledge (Europeans had trouble learning new knowledge) more disturbing: our moon is full of craters & mountains (ppl thought it was smooth for theological reasons: God only makes perfect things, humans made Earth imperfect) Descartes said nothing can be true unless it is proven to be so, so Galileo said all the theological stuff was irrelevant b/c it couldn’t be proved Galileo found himself in tension w/ established order (esp. Church) 1597: he believed only way his computations of planetary movements could be correct was if Earth & other planets moved around the Sun, not the Earth (Heliocentrism was true) agreeing w/ results of Copernicus, who was working in Venice (published in 1543 his book on the same conclusion, the only way the numbers worked) couldn’t get away w/ this idea in 1616, near the Thirty Years War -Galileo wasn’t diplomatic, churchmen told him to be careful what he said (became v. unpopular) 1616: Galileo first called before Roman Inquisition, who warned him not to teach his findings anymore Galileo kept quiet but was also working on the Dialogue of the Two Great World Systems (Copernican & majority) printed w/ accidental approval of holy office, but he was called before Inquisition again as a heretic that continued to preach heresy (could either adjure by saying his findings wer
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