The relationship between the development of the Enlightenment Period and the Scientific Revolution was that the Scientific Revolution was an aspect of the Enlightenment on a whole. The Scientific Revolution helped in the process of the Enlightenment by bringing new advances in areas such as Nicolas Copernicus and his new theory that would soon discarded the old geocentric theory that placed the Earth at the center of the solar system and replaced it with a heliocentric theory in which the Earth was simply one of a number of planets orbiting the sun. Another great advancement during the Scientific Revolution was in the field of astronomy. Johannes Kepler proved the orbits of the planets were elliptical, but was unable to come up with an effective model of the solar system. That was left to Galileo, who in 1630 published his Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World, in which he supported the Copernican, or heliocentric theory of the universe, and denounced the Aristotelian system, which maintained the geocentric theory. Galileo supported his claims with elaborate evidence derived from the study of physics.
Also the achievements made in mathematics and physics were revolutionary. In the form of the development of algebra, trigonometry, the advance of geometry and the linkage of form and motion with quantifiable numeric values undertaken by Rene Descartes. Armed with these tools, the science of physics began to advance rapidly. The primary concepts changing social mores marked the beginning of the Enlightenment, as individualism, which stressed the importance of the individual and his rights as a citizen. Relativism, which was the concept that different ideas, cultures, beliefs, and value systems had equal merit. And rationalism, which was the conviction that using the power of reason, humans could arrive at truth and make progress toward improving human life. These views gained widespread adherence in the wake of the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Exploration, the weakening of traditional religion, and the decline of monarchical rule.
All of these trends served to prepare Europe for the Enlightenment period. One key achievement during the Scientific Revolution was John Locke’s writings of the (Second Treatise on Civil Government) Locke’s writing argued that a government run by the people was the beast system for us to live by. Locke’s writings remain as fresh and popular today as when he wrote them in 1688. Another key achievement during the Scientific Revolution was Sir Isaac Newton’s theories on astronomy that went a step further and formulated an accurate comprehensive model of the workings of the universe based on the law of universal gravitation. Newton explained his theories in the 1687 revolutionary work called simply the Principia. This work also went along way toward developing calculus.
The difference in the perspective of Catholics and Protestants during the Enlightenment was very little. Both cults felt that any idea or ideals that might elevate man to a level of self realization or thinking that might deviate from that of the church views was both dangerous and unholy. In response to this, the church ordered genocide and mass torture upon those who it deemed outside of god’s word. Do you think that there are similar cultural or religious barriers against scientific discovery today? All I can say is this. Despite scientific and physical truths of dinosaurs and the Ice Age, masses of people refuse to believe that the earth in older than a few thousand years… But then, they also worship blindly to a silent god.
(1) Western Humanities Vol. II fifth edition
(2) (The Panorama of the Renaissance) Edited by: Margaret Aston, Abradale Press
(3) Various internet research sites.
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