Science and The Age of the Enlightenment Essay

This essay has a total of 1509 words and 10 pages.

Science and The Age of the Enlightenment




There were many people involved in the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. Most
of these people were fine scholars. It all started out with Copernicus and his book
called On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. This book marked the beginning of
modern astrology.


The current dispute at times echoes the tensions that existed in the sixteenth century
between believers in the Copernican theory of the universe and the Ptolemaic established
order, which preached that the earth was the center of the galaxy.


His theory was anathema to the church and a threat to the established way of thinking
about the world and the people in it. Skeptical thinkers, such as Galileo and Kepler,
produced treatises that helped build a case for an alternative way of viewing the solar
system. It was a gradual shift in professional allegiances in educational evaluation. No
promises can be made for the power of a new paradigm offers a new set of explanations of
our educational system.


Descartes’ contemporary, the English philosopher Francis Bacon, took a somewhat
stronger line concerning how conclusions should be reached. Bacon rejected deducing
knowledge from self-evident principles and instead argued that only through observation
and repeatable experiments could theories be built.


Bacon thus relied on proofs that could be demonstrated physically, not through deductive
logic. He believed that the pursuit of scientific knowledge would enrich human life
immeasurably.


Galileo’s lunar observations extend from 1609 to 1638 when failing eyesight
compelled him to abandon his astronomical research. During these three decades, he
discovered an important contribution to our understanding of three important aspects of
the moon.


1. The discovery of the mountainous surface of the moon and the first lunar maps;
2. The discovery of the moon’s liberations;
3. The interpretation of the moon’s secondary light.

In 1632, Galileo was still firmly convinced that the moon always shows the same face to
the earth and he sought to explain all the differences in his lunar observations.
Galileo’s important discovery destroyed the age-old belief that the moon always
presented the same aspect to the earth.


One of Newton’s early notebooks, Add. MS 3975 in the Portsmouth collection suggests
a pattern for his early interest in alchemy. Originally, the notebook appears to have
been a continuation of the section entitled Questiones quaedam Philosophiae in an earlier
notebook (Add. MS 3996), a section which records Newton’s introduction to the
mechanical philosophy of nature while he was still an undergraduate.


Meanwhile Newton’s introduction to the art involved a dimension beyond the
intellectual. Among his papers is a collection of alchemical manuscripts, in three
different hands, mostly of tracts, which have never been published.


Since Newton corrected a couple of the poems in the collection against Ashmole, where
these specific ones were published, numbered quite a few of the recipes, and copied some
of the tracts, we can be sure that he studied the collection with care.


John Locke, another English philosopher, considered these ideas but interpreted them
differently. Locke supported the Parliament in the struggles with James II. He
articulated the principles on which supporters of the Glorious Revolution acted in 1688,
publishing them in his Two Treatises of Government in 1690. Much like Hobbes, Locke
believed that people had first lived individually and then made a social contract. He
also believed that people had given up only some of their individual rights and had kept
others.


According to Locke, a ruler who violated these rights violated natural law and broke the
unwritten social contract. The people had the right to overthrow such a ruler and replace
him with one who pledged to observe and protect their rights.


Locke thus defended the actions of those who had forced James II to leave the throne, and
provided a justification for offering the crown to William and Mary. Locke’s ideas
would influence later revolutions in America and France as well.


Voltaire acquired a great admiration for English liberty, commerce, science, and religious
toleration. His angriest words were directed against established Christianity, to which
he attributed many of the ills of French society.


He regarded Christianity as “the Christ-worshiping superstition,” which
someday would be destroyed “by the weapons of reason.” Many Christian dogmas
are incomprehensible, yet Christians have slaughtered one another to enforce obedience to
these doctrines.


After serving two sentences in the Bastille, Voltaire fled for a time to England. He
commented on the political system of England and English customs in Philosophical Letters
(1734), which helped popularize English ideas in France.


When he returned to France, Voltaire attacked everything he considered sham or
superstition. He wrote a variety of works, including plays, histories, essays, poems, and
books. His novel Candide is a satire that ridicules everything from oppressive government
to prejudice and bigotry.


Although England and its allies curbed Louis XIV’s expansion of French rule and
maintained the balance of power, France remained both the strongest political power and
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