The age of Science and Reason


Aristotelian Beliefs

  • based on work of Aristotle
  • Universe is homocentric
  • Believed in simple circular motions in space
  • Used empiricism
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Platonic Beliefs

  • Based on Plato's work
  • Theoretical approach
  • Used knowledge based on thought
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Neoplatonic Approach

  • uses Aristotle's ordered and empirical approach with Plato's theoretical approach
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Elements of Scientific Revolution

1) Mathematics featured heavily 

2) Experiment and Observation used to get a better understanding of nature  

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Claudius Ptolemy

  • Earth was centre of the universe
  • Produced table to track and predict position of sun, stars and planets
  • System interpreted as a hypothetical one, but findings generally accepted
  • Extra planets and stars might exist
  • Heavenly bodies moved in perfect circles around Earth
  • Planets moved on epicycle around point halfway between the Earth and the equant
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Nicolaus Copernicus

  • Was a polymath but most significant work was in astronomy
  • 1543 Published 'De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium' (On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres) marks beginning of scientific revolution
  • dedicated book to the Pope - he was committed to Christianity
  • Universe heliocentric with sun at centre
  • Heavenly bodies moved in perfect circles
  • Universe made up of 8 spheres with sun at centre
  • Presented his work as Platonic theory to avoid blasphemy
  • 1616 book banned by the catholic church
  • theoretical conclusions made
  • only ten thinkers accepted his findings as true before 1600
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Tycho Brahe

  • Met Kepler in 1600
  • imperial astronomer for the holy roman empire in 1597
  • all planets circled sun but sun circled earth, which was always stationary
  • 1572 observed a supernova which contradicted idea universe could not change
  • observed comets and concluded they existed outside earth's atmosphere 
  • planets moved independently through space
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Johannes Kepler

  • agreed with copernicus' heliocentric view of world
  • Published 'Mysterium Cosmographicum' (Cosmic Mystery) in 1596 - universe perfectly designed by God 
  • proposed system 6 layers of 3d shapes nestled together would correspond to the path of the 6 planets - later rejected this himself
  • 1609 released 'Astronomia Nova' (New Astronomy) - included two laws of planetary motion:
  • 1) planets travel in elliptical orbits around the sun
  • 2)planets do not travel at consistent speed, varies when they circle the sun
  • provided physical explanations based on his and Brahe's observations
  • Released 'Harmonices Mundi' (Harmonies of the World) which included third law:
  • 3) the distance from a planet to the sun, cubed, is proportional to the time it takes to complete its orbit, squared
  • deeply religious - believed God created universe to a specific mathematical model and relationships between heavenly bodies so perfect they must have been made by God
  • led the way for new generation of natural philosophers and mathematicians 
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Galileo Galilei

  • taught maths at uni of Pisa, then appointed prof of maths at uni of Padua
  • 1610 - Appointed to the court of the Duke of Tuscany
  • 1616 'Discourse on the Tides' Published - believed they were due to Earth speeding up and slowing down as it rotated on axis and orbited the sun
  • Tide theory led to him being held in suspicion by the Catholic Inquisition for 2yrs as it went against Bible
  • Rejected Brahe's theory that planets moved around sun etc
  • 1610 'Siderius Nuncius' (Starry Messenger) published - used his telescope to find:
  • features on moon similar to earth, moon circled around earth, discovered moons of jupiter so earth not unique and discovered new stars
  • 1623 'The Assayer' Argued the study of the universe should be balanced between maths and experiment
  • grateful to other thinkers, especially Copernicus
  • Works added to list of prohibited books
  • Found guilty of heresy and made to sign statement saying he recounted his theories, placed on house arrest
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'Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems' 1632

  • written in form of a dialogue/ debate, between three thinkers and enables him to put across theories in a refreshing and analytical way
  • most influential and controversial work
  • Salvati argues Copernicun view and Galileo's arguments - attacks view of universe as unchangeable and says it's ridiculous to suggest the earth does not rotate and move
  • Simplicio advocates Ptolemaic system and argues against Copernicun model 
  • Sagredo is neutral
  • Galileo ignored many of Kepler's conclusions
  • Proposed acceleration and speed in free fall is constant for all bodies
  • Pope protested against a ceremonial burial for Galileo due to his heretical works
  • works translated into number of languages
  • relied on observation and empiricism 
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Isaac Newton

  • 1672 Elected to the royal society and presented new invention - the reflective telescope and became president in 1703
  • built on Kepler's laws of planetary motion
  • Descartes - nearly published 'the world' in 1653 as a mathematical explanation for events in the universe but withdrew his work in fear of the inquisition 
  • Huygens - ideas on motion ad gravity influenced Newton
  • elected MP for Cambridge in the Convention Parliament 1698 and elected again in 1701
  • 1696 became Warden of the Royal Mint, becomes Master of Mint in 1699
  • Principia Mathematica (1687) established view of gravity, Kepler's planetary motion laws could be proved mathematically, explained centrifugal force, developed theory of acoustics and questioned view earth was different to the rest of universe
  • wouldn't be successful without early thinkers
  • believed in arcane knowledge and power of magic
  • Believed in so-called cosmic harmonies, similar to Kepler's beliefs
  • alchemist
  • dedicated to study of the bible
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Newton's laws of Motion and his universal gravitat

1) every object will remain in a uniform straight line or at rest unless an external force compels it to change direction

2) the external force on an object is equal to the mass of the object times its rate of acceleration

3) for every force (action) in nature, there is an equal and opposite force (reaction)

  • Showed that planets are pulled towards the gravity of the sun. Natural path of planets forms a circular orbit because just enough force is placed on the planet by gravity - same principle applies to the Earth and Moon's relationship
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Francis Bacon

  • active much earlier than Newton
  • became barrister, to MP and then member of Privy Council
  • Emphasis on inductive reasoning  - wished to pursue experimental and rational concepts
  • believed scientific discovery was best aided by accumulating data
  • rejected preconceived theories or conclusions about the subject matter
  • methodological observations of facts is the best way to understand natural phenomena
  • ideas/ Baconian Method, not widely implemented before 1640
  • produced 'Tables of Instances' to record information about a subject then draw theories, e.g as seen with his conclusion heat is a form of motion
  • method allowed for unexplained or supernatural phenomena to exist as long as they were observed as part of the scientific process
  • 'The Advancement of Learning' (1605) - argued in here that empricial knowledge is the most superior form of knowledge 
  • 'Novum Organum' (The New Instrument) 1620 -argues for his experimental method and became a guidebook for the royal society 
  • 'The New Atlantis' 1626 - descriped a utopian state where scientific knowledge is exploited and valued 
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Gresham College

  • 1645 - group of natural philosophers ' the invisible college' had connections to Gresham College 
  • Many went on to form the royal society - early followers of the society called Greshamites
  • Sir Thomas Gresham opened Royal Exchange in 1571 and after his death he bequeathed all of his estate to City of London Authorities and in return they were expected to support the profits of the Royal Exchange 7 professors 
  • College opened to establish a permanent organsiation responsible for the research in mathematical sciences
  • astronomy and geometry only recognised as professorships when created by Gresham 
  • first prof of geometry, Henry Briggs, popularised use of logarithms 
  • William Bedwell translated mathematical works into english and created a new ruler for geometric calculations 
  • edmund gunter, prof of astronomy in 1619, worked to improve navigation
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Royal Society

  • Formally proposed in 1660 at a lecture by architect Christopher Wren, established July 1662
  • Met once a week and had members from range of intellectual study areas
  • divided into number of committees for different areas of study
  • most early experiments followed Bacon's method
  • after 1684, society dedicated itself to solely scientific persuits
  • channel for scientists to air their discoveries
  • Baconian aim to gather all knowledge made them extremely well respected 
  • encouraged foreign scholars to share discoveries and from 1665, these were presented in scientific journal, 'Philosophical Transactions' - gave them great strength, e.g Marcello Malpighi's observation of capillary action in lungs of frogs helped to complete William Harvey's theory of blood circulation
  • acted as a model for other establishements, e.g French royal academy of sciences 1666
  • funded by wealthy supporters 
  • society undermined belief in witchcraft and magi through focus on ciritcal investigation
  • many early members, e.g newton, were interested in magical areas of study
  • 1666 Glanvil made reputation as a member of society when he argued for existence of witches, but disregarded by society
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Thomas Hobbes

  • was secretary to Bacon and then as a tutor to young Charles II
  • 1651 'Leviathan' published which advocated a strong government led by a single leader
  • focus on deductive reasoning (application of existing rules, testing of proportions, use of preconceived theories and facts to prove theory)
  • disagreed with Descartes views, but agreed knowledge should be based on certain indisputable principles
  • believed Bacon's method was too experimental, never provides secure knowledge and there will always be doubt when facts cannot be explained
  • it is not the system but the person themselves that are the problem, all men born flawed
  • used deductive reasoning to pormote his own ideological view
  • important concept was materialism and that everything is created by matter
  • no room for magic or supernatural beliefs as they were not founded on matter
  • webster, holt and bekker all used a rational mindset influenced by Hobbes work 
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John Locke, 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding'

  • wrote works on political philosophy
  • entered the service of the Earl of Shaftesbury, and when the earl's career began to decline, Locke fled England and returned after the Glorious Revolution, accompanying new queen Mary
  • theories and political ideas applied in glorious revolution
  • made conclusions from experience or experiences of others
  • ethical and philosophical ideas published in 'Treatises of Government' 1689
  • in His 'Essay' he cocnludes experience is most important source of human knowledge
  • Divided into 4 books: 1) humans not born with any knowledge, 2) knowledge only comes from experience, 3) focus on language and why 1 word can categorise many things, 4) questions whether knowledge can ever be entirely accurate or truthful
  • all things consist of only matter
  • secondary qualities, smell taste etc, are perceived depending on conditions
  • no allowances for supernatural (materialist and empiricist)
  • impossible to arrive at certain knowledge of spirits as he had no experience himself
  • views could be considered heretical as he suggested man not God was responsible for learning
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Science and Reason and declining belief in witchcr

  • science provided rational explanations for things previosuly blamed on supernatural
  • growth of science and rational beliefs seen in sceptical publications 
  • decline faster after 1660
  • inductive methods meant it was easier to put forward supernatural explanations
  • other explanations for the decline:
  • poverty improved
  • greater prosperity 
  • growth of insurance meant losses were covered 
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do you mean heliocentric instead of homocentric?

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