Scientific Revolution Is a Change in Intellectual Term Paper

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Scientific Revolution is a change in intellectual thought attributed to the 16th and 17th centuries. However, scientific thought had been around for some time before this time with notable contributions by Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Ptolemy (90-168 AD). Both made significant contributions to science, with Aristotle's book, The Physics, appearing about 350 B.C., describing the principles of change, movement and the elements such as earth, wind, and fire, to name a few of the subjects covered.

Ptolemy orderly arranged the geocentric view of the universe so that they were understandable and rationalized the motions of the planets as they were known in his time. Ptolemy's book Almagest was the basis of pre-modern astronomy, posing that the whole universe revolves around the earth and developing eighty epicycles to explain the motions of the sun, moon and planets.

Not only has significant scientific thought been around before the so called Scientific Revolution, it post dates it as well. Of note, Charles Darwin published a book in 1859 called The Origin of Species that infused the scientific community with a new theory of evolution based on natural selection.

So, why do we have what's called a Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries as opposed to a natural evolutionary progress? The answer lies in understand what science really is and the challenges in bringing it about.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Prior to the Scientific Revolution, there was no formal notion of a discipline called science in which one must compare one's ideas to the actual world through experimentation, and no one described themselves as being scientists or scientific. For example, Aristototle's use of the term science implied philosophy and reasoning and his discussions about science were only qualitative, not quantatative. Further, his work was not concerned with scientific observation. In his book The History of Animals he claimed that human males have more teeth than female, a statement that could have easily proven false by direct observatiion. But, Aristotelian philosophy did not require experiementation. Instead, it depended only upon the assumption that man's mind could account for all the laws of the universe, based on simple observation through reason alone.

Throughout the Middle Ages (500-1350 AD), scientific knowledge had experienced little change, and the Catholic Church had preserved acceptance of a system of beliefs based on the teachings of the ancient Greeks and Romans such as Aristotle and Ptolemy which it had incorporated into religious doctrine. During this period there was little scientific inquiry and experimentation. Rather, students of the sciences were expected to read the works of the alleged authorities and accept their word as gospel. But, by the time of the Renaissance, scientific observers began to resist traditional works, finding that their conclusions often lacked validity.

Thus, the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution broke with religious and metaphysical beliefs of the past through examination.

The man who is most given credit for starting the Scientific Revolution is Nocolai Copernicus, a Polish astronomer. Copernicus' heliocentric theory published in 1543 in the book On the Revolutions of Celestial Bodies led to the downfall of the Ptolemaic system. Instead of the universe revolving around the earth the heliocentric theory created a model of the universe that placed the sun at the center with the earth rotating daily and revolving yearly around it. Another important feature of the heliocentric theory is that it allowed a new ordering of the planets according to their periods of revolution. In Copernicus's universe, unlike Ptolemy's, the greater the radius of a planet's orbit, the greater the time the planet takes to make one circuit around the sun. Accepting the concept of a moving earth blatantly challenged the authority of the Church.

Galileo Galilei would next challenge the works of Aristotle and the beliefs of the Church. In 1591, he demonstrated, from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, that a one-pound weight and a one-hundred-pound weight dropped at the same moment, also hit the ground at the same moment. This discovery refuted the contention of the Aristotelian system that the rate of fall of an object is dependent upon its weight. Galileo described his telescope observations of the moon's surface and of Jupiter's moons in the book Messenger of the Heavens in 1610.

Further, Galileo espoused the work of Copernicus. In 1616 a committee of consultants declared to the Inquisition that the propositions that the sun is the center of the universe and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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