Category Archives: The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution


Ptolemaic System- was an astronomical theory of the universe, named after the Greek

astronomer Ptolemy. He assumed Earth was the center point of a ball shaped universe composed of three layers: heaven, earth, hell.

Nicholas Copernicus- was a mathematician, astronomer, and scholar who formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system. In his heliocentric model he placed the sun at the center of the system, not the earth.

Tycho Brahe/Johannes Kepler- Tycho Brahe was a Danish astronomer known for his accurate planetary and astronomical observations. Johannes Kepler is known for his laws of planetary motion. Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe both worked together in Prague. Kepler was Brahe’s student and apprentice.

Galileo Galilei- was a Italian astronomer and engineer. Galilei is known for improving the optics of primitive telescopes during his time. He he first discovered the moons of Jupiter and named them after the children of the Medici family. Galilei openly spoke out against the Catholic Church which led to his house arrest.

Isaac Newton- was an English mathematician and physicist. Newton formulated the three laws of motion in his book Principia Mathematica. Isaac Newton also explained the laws of planetary motion and astrophysics. He shares credit for developing calculus with Gottfried Leibniz.

Francis Bacon/Empiricism- Francis Bacon was and English philosopher and scientist. Francis Bacon has been called the father of Empiricism. Empiricism is a theory which states that knowledge only comes from our senses. Instead of receiving knowledge from god, humans begin with a clean slate at birth and gain knowledge throughout life. Bacon also developed the Scientific Method.

Rene Descartes/deduction- Rene Descartes was a French philosopher and mathematician. Rene Descartes is sometimes called the father of geometry by using the Cartesian coordinate system. Rene Descartes created the deductive approach of the Scientific Method by breaking a problem down into parts and making a conclusion.

Blaise Pascal – Wager- Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and physicist. He made

very important discoveries with fluids. It is a better bet Pascal argued, to believe in god and to place everything on his mercy than not to do so. This is because if god does exist, the believer will gain everything whereas if god does exist little would be lost for the believer. Pascal was a Jansenist.

Jansenists- were followers of Jansenism. Jansenism appeared in the 1630s, and followed the teachings of St. Augustine, who stressed the role of divine grace played in human salvation. Jansenists were opposed to Jesuits.

Cunning folk- are a group of people in England who helped the “common folk” with disabilities and diseases by using magical powers.


1. Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton: who do you think made the most important contributions to the Scientific Revolution? Why?

Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton were the main influential figures of the Scientific Revolution. They all contributed to the era of knowledge known as the Scientific Revolution. Of all of the scientific discoveries made by the people stated above, only one of which’s do we use every day. Isaac Newton’s breakthrough with the the discovery of calculus and the formulation of the laws of motion has allowed us build and go places humans would not have other wise been able to. Without the discovery of astronomical and orbital calculations humans would not have been able to launch and retrieve objects from space. Newton discovered the mathematics of change: calculus. Without it we would not know how to model objects in motion with math.

2. Compare and contrast Bacon’s empiricism with Descartes’ method of scientific deduction.

There are many differences between Bacon’s empiricism and Descartes’ method of scientific deduction but they do share similarities. Both men wanted a new and improved way of gathering and discovering new science compared to the sloppy older way of doing so. Bacon and Descartes rejected Aristotle’s scientific assumptions. Bacon and Descartes both believed that without the evolution and gain of knowledge man kind would perish. The largest difference between Bacon empiricism and Descartes’ method of scientific deduction. Bacon stressed that humans should experiment and observe to gain intellect. Descartes thought that humans should use human reasoning to gain intellect.

3. How would you define the term scientific revolution? In what ways was the event truly revolutionary? Which is more enduring, a political revolution or an intellectual one?

The term scientific revolution is best described as a period of vast intellect and learning. The scientific revolution left behind knowledge which would have not been otherwise discovered. A scientific revolution has a more enduring affect on society and the population compared to a political revolution. A political revolution only effects the population in that given country whereas a scientific revolution affects the entirety of society of a vast region. An intellectual revolution allows the people of the future benefit from past discoveries. An intellectual revolution is much longer and has more of a profound effect.

4. What factors prevented women from fully participating in the new science? How did family relationships help some women become involved in the advance of natural philosophy?

Women were prevented from fully participating in the scientific revolution due to lack of rights and education. Most women during this time did not have access to education. The thought process of the period was that an education would be wasted if given to a woman. Also during the era of the scientific revolution women did not have equal rights compared to men. Family relationships helped some women become involved in the advancement of natural philosophy. Wealthy families who believed in the education of their daughters would sometimes set up a woman with the proper resources in order to contribute to science. Margaret Cavendish was a philosopher during the scientific revolution who was able to contribute to science by her wealthy and political position by being married to the duke of Newcastle.

5. What were the chief factors accounting for the condemnation of Galileo? How did Pascal seek to reconcile faith and reason? How did English natural theology support economic expansion?

The chief factors leading to the condemnation of Galileo was the fact that he openly accused the church of begin incorrect with their conservative teachings. Galileo’s radical heliocentric theory questioned the Catholic Church’s teachings. Pascal sought to reconcile faith and reason by formulating Pascal’s Wager. He said it is a better bet Pascal argued, to believe in god and to place everything on his mercy than not to do so. This is because if god does exist, the believer will gain everything whereas if god does exist little would be lost for the believer.

He tried to use reason to contribute to the teachings of faith. English natural theology supported economic expansion. The belief of English natural theology was that god had placed humans onto earth to learn and discover. People thought human beings were meant to improve the world. This belief provided religious justification of the economic improvement of the western world.

6. How do you explain the phenomena of witchcraft and witch-hunts in an age of scientific enlightenment? Why did the witch panics occur in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries? How might the Reformation have contributed to them?

Although we see the era of the scientific revolution as a time of great knowledge among all people this is simply not true. Only a minuscule fraction of Europe’s population had a direct impact on contributing to the scientific enlightenment. Most of Europe’s population was living in ignorance and believed in folk stories of witches, dragons, and magic. Witch panics occurred in Europe in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries because of the ignorance and fear. This combination of the two made a volatile concoction which led to the death of over 100,000 people who were accused of practicing magic. The period of turmoil and violence during the Reformation and the Wars of Religion carried over into the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The fear and violence associated with the Wars of Religion led to the violent witch hunts of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.


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