History of Science - Study Guide - Outline - Origins to Newton - Dr Robert A. Hatch
 T H E    S C I E N T I F I C   R E V O L U T I O N COPERNICUS  TO  NEWTON  -  A  BRIEF  OUTLINE Dr Robert A. Hatch  -  University of Florida

 THE   SCIENTIFlC   REVOLUTION  -  AN  OVERVIEW

 I. Astronomy/Physics: A. Copernicus: Bequeathed the problem of explaining away Aristotelian physics in moving earth system.  The problem, as Galileo later stated it, was to 'move the earth without a thousand inconveniences.' B. Kepler: 1. Creative but ineffectual stab at explaining planetary system via 'magnetic' physics --notion of local gravity; 'magnetic' force of sun pulling planets around in coaxial orbits. 2. Three Laws: a. Ellipses: The planets move on elliptical paths. b. Areas: A radius vector from the sun to a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal times. c. Periods: For any two planets, the times squared are proportion to the cube of the mean distance from the sun. C. Galileo: Fundamental solution of Copernican problem. 1. Circular Inertia. 2. Free-Fall; uniformly accelerated motion. 3. Nature is fundamentally mathematical. II. Metaphysics/Epistemology: II.  Metaphysics/Epistemology: A. Skepticism: 1. Reformation/Counter-Reformation debate - theological skepticism. 2. General anti-scholastic/anti-Aristotelian sentiment stemming partly from Humanism and partly from introduction of Neo-Platonic/Hermetic corpus. 3. Revival of ancient 'Empirical' skepticism through new translations of works of Pyrrho--'Pyrrhonist' skepticism (for example, Montaigne). B. Two essential outcomes of skeptical movement: 1. 'Constructive Skepticism' -  Descartes:  a. Deny everything until you can no longer deny:  1. Therefore, I am; 2. Therefore, God is, and is perfect, not a deceiver; 3. Therefore, the world is real, and reality is characterized and known by its clearness and distinctness.  (What is clear and distinct about reality?  Its geometricity.) 4. Therefore, the world is really only matter (EXTENSION) and motion. b. Mathematics, as a perfect science, becomes the guideline for Descartes' thinking, causing his search for explanations in terms equaling the clarity and distinctness of mathematical proof. 1. Thus his physics, physiology, etc., were necessarily highly deductive; induction serves only a minor function in giving initial grounds for deduction. 2. Mechanism: a. Vortices: 1. Three 'elements' -- a modified form of corpuscular atomism. 2. Animals are machines. 3. Mind/Body dualism in man. c. Thus Descartes leaves a vast legacy of mechanistic physics to his disciples--Cartesians--who flourish throughout the 17th century and into the first half of the 18th. 2. 'Phenomenalist/Positivist' Reaction: a. Search for some hypothetical model that is not necessarily metaphysically true but that is totally functional/fruitful for science or general knowledge. b. Atomism: Space-Matter dichotomy: 1. Conducive to the kinematic analysis of Nature. 2. Mathematically oriented in terms of physical explanation. 3. 'Mechanical Philosophy.' III. Methodology: A. Hermetism: 1. Alchemy--kitchen recipe approach to chemistry with heavy mystical overtones. a. In practical terms, however, it was highly empirical with constant 'laboratory' testing of chemical combinations and distillations. 1. Consequent development of various assaying techniques, invention of nitric acid in 16th century, etc. 2. Natural Magic: Manipulation of Nature, not so much by mystical as by practical means. Man becomes master of Nature and approaches divinity. B. Anti-Aristotelian Sentiment: 1. Invective by men like Peter Ramus who felt that Aristotelian methodology was totally sterile--attempts to devise new and better methodologies. a. This sort of attitude was reflected in alchemists like Agrippa and Paracelsus who extolled practical experience over book-learning. C. Francis Bacon: 1. Spokesman and symbol for Experimentation (inductive)--probable roots in the Natural Magic tradition. 2. Utilitarianism: Science must be beneficial to society--ideal of progress. 3. Thus Bacon's methodology, though simple, was conceived to be totally new and anti-Aristotelian. D. Scientific Societies: 1. 'Institutionalization' of science within various scientific societies, especially the Royal Society, which claimed Baconian roots. 2. Establishment of learned journals (for example, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (London 1665) and Journal des Scavans (Paris 1665) served to disseminate knowledge and determine scientific priority.

 MAJOR   FIGURES   OF   THE   SCIENTIFIC   REVOLUTION Dr Robert A. Hatch  -  University of Florida