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4.2 The Scientific Revolution

#scientificrevolution

#individualism

#empiricaltheory

#ageofenlightenment

⏱️  3 min read

written by

Bretnea Turner

bretnea turner

May 11, 2020


New Ideas and Methods

Individualism and a belief in logic among humans inspired intellectuals of the time to read and study Classical writings💭. Many found discrepancies and flaws in these writings and began experimenting with their own observations and tests to prove or disprove the writings.

In 1621, a lawyer and philosopher, Francis Bacon, published the scientific method. It was a formal series of steps in which one could form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, and develop a conclusion based on that test. Then, one could take that conclusion, if insufficient, and retest using different methods or criteria. 

Bacon believed in the Empirical Theory- that all knowledge is derived from observation and sense-based information. He also believed that information should be tested through this method, and once tested, conclusions should be made. This style of reasoning  is called inductive- where limited evidence is needed to prove something true, and generalizations are made based on observations. 

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Example: I see a bird outside and it is white, therefore, all birds I see are white. 

In 1637, a mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes, published his method of reasoning, also using the Scientific Method. Descartes believed in deductive reasoning, in which information is collected, patterns are recognized, and then the scientific method is used. This is called deductive reasoning and is much more accurate.

Example: I study birds🐦 of different kinds from different locations and notice many different colors. I note that colored birds are from tropical areas, white birds are close to oceans, and black birds remain inland. While not all patterns are true for each bird, it is much more accurate than inductive reasoning. 

Anatomy and Medicine

The previously accepted humoral theory of disease was based on the theory that there were four main liquids in the body that required balance: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Pain was believed to happen when the fluids were out of balance, contaminated, or not mixed properly.

During the Scientific Revolution, scientists began studying the human anatomy, bodily systems, and medicine to better understand how to combat illnesses. 

The most important discovery of this time regarding human anatomy and medicine was through William Harvey’s discovery of blood circulation. This disproved the formerly accepted humoral theory and led other scientists to begin studying functions of the human body.

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Astrology and Alchemy

Nicholas Copernicus developed the Heliocentric Theory in opposition to the Geocentric Theory. Copernicus shared his theory that all planets in our solar system revolve around the sun with other scientists and they began looking at ways to prove this theory. The Catholic Church’s doctrine stated that Ptolemy’s 2nd century Geocentric Theory, in which all planets revolve around Earth, is accepted, and no one had challenged it with any authenticity before Copernicus. 

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Image Courtesy of Little Thinkers Blog

Galileo, another astronomer, developed a modern telescope in which to track planetary motion and realized that everything moved both horizontally and vertically based on their patterns- proving that the Earth did, in fact, move as well. Isaac Newton, through the use of mathematics, later developed the Three Laws of Motion that also proved Earth revolves around the Sun. 

While none of these ideas were accepted by the Catholic Church at the time, they later became widely accepted by society. Galileo was silenced by the Inquisition of the Church and placed on house arrest after a trial in which he was forced to redact his original statements supporting the Heliocentric Theory. Copernicus didn’t even publish his own works. They were actually published on his behalf after his death due to his fear of persecution and excommunication from the Catholic Church.

🎥 Watch: AP Euro - Scientific Revolution

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