01:506:101 Lecture 7: Ch7

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Chapter VII. The Scientific View of the World
pp. 287 - 313
Introduction: “The Seventeenth Century has been called the century of genius.” Between the birth of Galileo
and the death of Newton, science became “modern.” When Galileo was young, scientists were alone and the
proper methodology was not clear; by the death of Newton (1727) scientists were a community, science had
prestige, methods of inquiry had been defined, the store of knowledge had been vastly increased, the first
modern coherent theory of the physical universe had been presented, scientific knowledge was applied to
practical fields, science was accepted as basic to progress, and science was “popularized,” accepted by non-
scientists. The impact was wide-spread, affecting thinking about religion (the nature of the relationship between
God and man), and leading to the view that the universe was an orderly, rational place where ideas could change
man--thus the foundations of belief in free, democratic institutions.
32. Prophets of a Scientific Civilization: Bacon and Descartes
pp. 287 - 292
A. Science before the Seventeenth Century
1. Leonardo: universal genius but isolated, ideas not transmitted
2. Skepticism: belief no certain knowledge could be reached: Montaigne
3. Tendency to over-belief
a. Lack of dividing lines between chemistry/alchemy, astronomy/astrology
b. Charlatans: Nostradamus and Paracelsus; belief in witches
B. Bacon and Descartes
1. Both doubted non-religious beliefs of preceding generations. They ridiculed faith in ancient texts.
Medieval Scholastic philosophers had embraced Aristotle so enthusiastically that they neglected to
subject his ideas to tests. Likewise, they rejected the deductive, rationalistic, logic of the Scholastics
(which proceeded from definitions and general propositions to deduce logically). Deductive logic
was replaced by inductive reasoning, in which truth is revealed by experimental testing and
investigations of hypotheses.
2. Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
a. Bacon wrote Novum Organum, in which he insisted on inductive reasoning, from the
concrete, particular to the abstract, general; rejected traditional ideas and preconceptions; and
favored empiricism, with knowledge to be derived from observation and experience. He also
wrote New Atlantis, portraying a scientific utopia where there was no break between pure
science and technological invention
b. Bacon had no influence on actual science; he lacked knowledge of the new work being done in
his time; and he failed to understand the role of mathematics, which involves deductive logic
rather than empiricism.
3. René Descartes (1596-1650)
Descartes was primarily a mathematician, founder of co-ordinate geometry; believed nature could
be reduced to mathematical form. He wrote Discourse on Method in which he advanced the
principle of systematic doubt. Cogito ergo sum was the basis for his logical proof of God. From
this came his Cartesian dualism, a system of two realities: subjective experience, mind and spirit
and extended substance, all outside the mind and thus objective--occupying space and thus
quantifiable, reducible to formulae and equations. But he agreed with Bacon that science should
lead to a practical philosophy to enable mankind to become “the masters and possessors of nature.
33. The Road to Newton: The Law of Universal Gravitation
pp. 293 - 300
A. Scientific Advances:
1. With the increased trade and travel of the Age of Exploration, botany boomed, often for purely
utilitarian motives.
2. An intensive, open-minded observation of anatomy began by 1500. Vesalius De Fabrice (On the Structure
of the Human Body) (1543) replaced reliance on the often-inaccurate work of the Hellenistic scientist Galen
(2d century AD). The work of English physician William Harvey, described in On the Movement of the
Heart and Blood (1628), established the notion of blood circulation. Using the new
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