The Age Of Enlightenment Essay Research Paper

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The Age Of Enlightenment Essay, Research Paper The Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment The Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, which was initiated by the Renaissance, greatly advanced the movement toward modernity. No longer was there a medieval view of the universe, but instead scientific method of understanding. It was then thought that “rigorous and systematic observation and experimentation were the essential means of unlocking nature’s secrets” (Western Civilization, 276). Western thinkers increasingly felt that “nature was a mechanical system governed by laws that could be expressed mathematically” (Western Civilization, 276). Science was now the main source of knowledge as opposed to the more primitive method of “theology,”

which resulted in many prominent scientists to emerge. The Medieval view of the universe blended theories of ancient Greeks, Aristotle and Ptolemy. The medieval mind knew the planets to be in qualitative order, ascending order toward Heaven, with Hell just below Earth. The two philosophers held that planets moved in circular orbits and at uniform speeds around the earth, which was stationary. This model was known as the geocentric model. The Renaissance did indeed contribute to the Scientific Revolution in several ways. The revival of interest in antiquity, which fostered new ideas in mechanics and anatomy, and Renaissance art, which linked an exact representation of the human body to mathematical proportions and required accurate observation of natural phenomena. The Renaissance

revival of ancient Pythagorean and Platonic ideas, which also contributed to the Scientific Revolution, stressed mathematics as the key to comprehending reality. These qualities together helped to make up the “New View of Nature.” Modern astronomy began with Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish mathematician, astronomer, and church canon. Copernicus claimed that earth is a planet that orbits a centrally located sun together with the other planets. This was known as a heliocentric theory, and would replace the medieval view of the universe. In 1543, Copernicus published his masterpiece, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Just as he had feared, his views stirred up controversy. For going against God, Copernicus’ work was put on the Index of Prohibited Books. The seventeenth

was sometimes referred to as “the century of genius.” The principal reason for this was because of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei. “Galileo rejected the medieval division of the universe into higher and lower realms and proclaimed the modern idea of nature’s uniformity” (Western Civilization, 278). Galileo built a telescope for himself to observe the heavens—the first person to do so. He concluded that the surface of the moon was not smooth and uniform, but instead rough and uneven. Nature was not a hierarchical order according to Galileo. He felt that it was a homogeneous system, the same throughout. A pioneer of advanced physics, Galileo advanced the modern idea that knowledge of motion should be derived from direct observation and mathematics. He also

proposed that motion is the relationship of bodies to time and distance. Galileo ascribed absolute authority to mathematics. Galileo had insisted that physical truth is arrived at through observation, experimentation, and reason. Therefore he strongly denounced reliance on authority. He also argued that passages from the bible had no authority in questions involving nature. Copernicanism, which was the basis of Galileo’s works, was condemned by the church in 1616. An aging Galileo was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment-mostly house arrest at his own villa near Florence. In addition, Galileo was forbidden to write on Copernicanism. In the early 1600’s, “Johannes Kepler, a German mathematician and astronomer combined the Pythagorean-Platonic quest to comprehend the