The Scientific Revolution. Essay

1891 words - 8 pages

The Scientific way of thinking which was developed in the late fifteenth century, was critical to the disintegration of the cohesive medieval view of the world prior to that (Perry, Chase, Jacob, Jacob & Von Laue 2000: 411). The beginning of the Scientific Revolution signified the new mechanical approach to nature, which enabled westerners to discover and explain the laws of nature through logic and experimentation. Although the scientific way of thinking was essentially different from medieval cosmology in the sense that it was more methodical, it was primarily built upon the ancient traditions of alchemy, astrology and magic which existed at that time. The main difference in the scientific way of thinking to that of natural philosophy was the emphasis on mathematics, which formed the empirical view of the world.The pioneers of modern science, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton, did not attempt to completely separate science from natural philosophy and theology. According to Charlesworth (1982: 6), these experimentalists looked upon themselves as 'natural philosophers' or 'natural historians', and not solely as 'scientists'. This clearly shows that the scientific methods developed by them, had close relation to the earlier traditions of pseudo-science. In fact, most of the concepts developed are based on the earlier theories of Aristotle. For example, Aristotle attempted to give explanations for the motion of heavy bodies (Perry et al. 2000: 412), by arguing that it was in the nature of things to move in a certain way. In the second century A.D., Ptolemy of Alexandria further developed this reasoning, by making the assumption that a motionless earth stood at the centre of the universe. By the Middle Ages, due to the strong influence of religion in that period, medieval thinkers incorporated the theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy into a Christian framework, suggesting that the Earth was a lowly celestial body that could not be compared to the heavens and that God was situated in the centre of the universe. However all this changed after the Renaissance Neo-Platonism.The Renaissance initiated the revival of ancient learning that compromised of mathematical, experimental and magical concepts. According to Debus (1977: 35), the Renaissance interest in natural magic raised an unavoidable theological conflict. This interest in magic resulted in the fostering of modern application in mathematics, which was critical to the scientific way of thinking. One of the main results of this influence was the Copernican Revolution, under Nicolaus Copernicus, whose interest in mathematics and astronomy was stimulated by Ptolemy. Copernicus became convinced that the sun was in the centre of the universe and hence devoted all his time into finding mathematical explanations of how a heliocentric universe operated. In essence, Copernicus built upon the basic ideas of Aristotle and Ptolemy, but he proposed a sun-centred universe and his model helped to clear the...

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