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Web Question: The Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment

September 6, 2012

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Below please find some questions written by your classmate, Fabiola Ramos, about the Scientific Revolution (approx. 1550 – 1700) and Enlightenment (approx. 1650 – 1800).

During the European Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, intellectuals began to base their understandings on direct observation and mathematical reasoning. What discoveries did Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton make using these techniques? How did their discoveries influence Enlightenment thinkers who tried to apply their methods to understand human society?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Vera Orlando permalink
    September 8, 2012 2:02 pm

    During the Scientific Revolution, both Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton made huge contributions that affected society around them. Galileo went against the Ptolemaic theory by showing that “heaven” was not a “perfect, unblemished realm” but instead a very complex space people were uninformed of. He used the recently discovered telescope at the time to observe what we all know today, as space. He also touched apon the ideas of terrestrial motion and inertia. Isaac Newton, discovered the laws of gravity which was also unheard of during that time because everyone was so focused on whatever the church taught. Other scientists during this time were so inspired by their discoveries that they too turned away from the church teachings and began searching for reason and explanations for occurrences through proven experiments. These enlightenment thinkers also had an affect on major political and cultural leaders by encouraging them to think rationally and “modern” for that time. The enlightenment caused drastic changes throughout society.

  2. Stacey Davidyants permalink
    September 8, 2012 2:25 pm

    Galileo Galilei was one of the most vital contributors to science during the Scientific Revolution. He played a key role in studying and discovering new techniques in both astronomy and physics. As an astronomer, he was the the first to believe in the controversial theory of heliocentrism, during a time when most scientists subscribed to the belief of geocentrism. He is also considered the inventor of the telescope, which greatly contributed to his interest in astronomy. At the time, believing that the sun was the center of the universe rather than the earth was considered heresy, punishable by the Church. He was tried by the Inquisition, and found guilty of spreading false ideas as fact. Galileo lived at a time during which going against the Church was a dangerous move, and for that he ended up spending a large part of his life under house arrest. While under house arrest, he continued studying science and writing about kinematics which is the study of motion. The discoveries of Galileo have become a classic example of the tensions between science and the Church.
    During Galileo’s studies of physics, he aimed to disprove the idea that an object’s speed of falling was proportional to its weight. Isaac Newton was inspired by these ideas and aimed to continue developing more on his theories. He spent time studying the theory of gravity and the speed of objects falling towards the Earth.
    With the help of dedicated scientists such as Newton and Galileo, the Scientific Revolution helped pave the way for Enlightenment thinkers. From new discoveries made by scientists, Italian philosophers realized that they too, can think for themselves and apply reason to the ideas of society and politics. The most important idea of the Enlightenment is that now, philosophers began to develop a faith in human reason rather than just blindly following the church. Many individuals began to understand that it is important to place a faith in your own beliefs rather than the beliefs of only one side, the Church. As both scientists and philosophers began to develop their own knowledge for the things occurring in the universe, the Church’s theories about the world became much less prominent.

  3. Shira Binyaminy permalink
    September 8, 2012 9:46 pm

    Galileo Galilei was called “The father of modern science”. He contributed greatly to astronomy by being the first one to use the telescope to discover many important discoveries. Part of these discoveries included moons of Jupiter and Venus. During that time Galileo was a professor and had to teach the theory that all the planets revolved around Earth, however with his new telescope he started believing in the heliocentric theory that all the planets revolved around the sun not earth. Galileo started having difficulties with the church over his beliefs, since the church didn’t agree with his way of thinking. He was tried and sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life.
    Sir Isaac Newton was known to be the most influential scientist, because his discoveries in mathematics and physics established modern science and helped with the transformation of the worlds way of thinking. Some of this discoveries were the laws of motion and gravity, and because of that he was able to predict the motion of the planets and the sun. He created the first reflecting telescope. Newton published two books “Optics” and “Principia” with all his discoveries of facts and laws of science.
    Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei’s discoveries were able to help create the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a new way of thinking regarding humans, philosophy and science. That humans can discover theories with rational, and that’s what these two scientists began

  4. Jotty T. F rancois Fils permalink
    September 8, 2012 10:20 pm

    We couldn’t talk about scientific revolution without mentioning the name of Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei who have marked this period by their great scientific discoveries.
    Newton considered by many scientist as the greatest scientific who ever lived, described by mathematical reasoning,the universal gravitation called Newton’s law of gravity.
    The discovery of the telescope by Galileo which allow him to proceed to the observation of the moon and planets. Besides, Galileo defended against the Copernican conception, Heliocentric that showed the earth was not the center of the universe but the sun. The scientific method established during the scientific revolution reformed the life of European. The movement was based on discoveries and knowledge. People realize that not everything they had been told was true. they have been in the darkness for long time where the church only had the floor. To understand human society, enlightenment thinkers use reason, national taught,observation of fact. Religion, superstition were replaced. Those discoveries by Newton and Galileo taught people to ask question, observe, use their mind instead of just accepting revelation from the church, authority.

    • Jotty T. F rancois Fils permalink
      September 9, 2012 8:38 pm

      I meant to say Galileo defended the Copernican conception, Heliocentric that showed the earth was not the center of the universe but the sun. He was not against it

  5. Fuad Hamid permalink
    September 9, 2012 12:39 pm

    Galileo invented the telescope and with it he discovered that planetary orbits were elliptical as opposed to Ptolemy’s theory that they were circular. He also discredited Ptolemy’s idea that “heavenly bodies” (sun and moon) were smooth, immaculate and unchanging with his observations of spots on the sun and moon.
    Isaac Newton used accurate observation and mathematical reasoning to discover many of the natural laws of physics. One of his most important findings was the law of universal gravitation which he suggested “governed movements of bodies on the earth.” This also led him to formulate many ideas in astronomy and mechanics.
    The discoveries of of Newton and Galileo encouraged people to ask more questions about the world around them and try to look for a logical answer rather than accept everything the church or monarch tells you.

  6. Joseph DeAngelo permalink
    September 9, 2012 2:55 pm

    During the European Scientific Revolution, the Church and ancient philosophers’ beliefs were tested in the face of direct observation and mathematical reasoning. Galileo Galilei, an italian scientist, and Isaac Newton, an English mathematician, spearheaded this type of thought and changed science forever. Galilei brought to light the following: the imperfection of “heaven” (e.g., how the moon is not perfectly spherical) and its changing nature; Jupiter’s four moons; previously unknown stars; terrestrial motion; theoretical predecessors to the law of universal gravitation, in accordance to velocity; the law of inertia; etc. Using accurate observation and mathematical reasoning, upon which he was dependent, Isaac Newton published his *Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy* in which he argues the law of universal gravitation is a regulatory administrator of bodily motions throughout the universe; thereby proving a large array of follow ups such as the correlation of gravity and tides with the moon and the orbits of planets and comets. With that being said, all of this newly discovered information resulted in endless amounts of confusion, societal discomfort, and religious disagreement. The inspired Enlightenment thinkers imminently related these groundbreaking discoveries to the rational analysis of human behavior–highlighting the “natural world.” In a prime example, English philosopher John Locke attacked the divine-right theories and discovered natural law of politics. Moreover, Adam Smith publicized how supply and demand determined what happens in a marketplace; Baron de Montesquieu sought political science and principles that would stimulate political liberty in a state of stability; and Voltaire, who noted the Church as “damned,” championed individual freedom and the direct attack on oppressive institutions and policies. Thus, the scientific revolution emerged passed theoretical science and into areas such as religion, philosophy, math, politics, psychology, and literature that helped understand human society as a whole.

  7. Victoria Karcz permalink
    September 9, 2012 10:35 pm

    Within the birth of the Scientific Revolution, a period of time brought about by the dependance on observation and mathematics to study the natural world, scientists such as Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton promoted a new mindset for Enlightenment thinkers. Galileo astronomical discoveries altered the previous perception of the universe proposed by the Ptolemaic astronomers. The unblemished “heaven” that once seemed ever so perfect was actually a changing world of unsuspected sights. These sights were discovered by Galileo by using the previously invented telescope in a different manner. He simply turned the telescope towards the sky and concluded that the sun and moon which were thought to be smooth and spherical, were not so immaculate after all. The sun has “spots” and the moon has “mountains.” Moreover, Galileo discovered Jupiter’s four orbiting moons. Besides these astronomical discoveries, Galileo’s interest in physics fostered his contribution to society’s understanding of terrestrial motion. Instead of a falling objects weight being the determinant of its velocity, he proved that the height from which the object falls corresponds with velocity. Furthermore, he continued to study and make conclusions about moving bodies versus gravity, and basically proposed the law of Intertia; that a moving body will continue to move upon a straight line unless a force intervenes with it.
    On the other hand, Isaac Newton, constructed a synthesis of astronomy and mechanics, outlining his observations of the natural world in his “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.” His work united the earth with the universe beyond it and argued that there is a law of universal gravitation, governing all moving bodies. Along with synthesizing the sciences of astronomy and mechanics, Newton used his laws to explain earth’s phenomenon, setting the framework for physics. With the accounts of scientists Galileo and Newton, the use of mathematics and observation was applied by European scientists who aspired to the strategies of Galileo and Newton. To understand human society the enlightenment thinkers no longer had to rely on beliefs of the world proposed by earlier scientists, and could now use observation and mathematics to strengthen their arguments about the natural world. This was a new way of looking at the world.

  8. Irena Pergjika permalink
    September 10, 2012 1:28 am

    What discoveries did Galileo Galilee and Isaac Newton make using these techniques?

    Galileo Galilei focused on a myriad of subjects from philosophy, through physics and mathematics, he pursued phenomena which govern the world. He realized he had to be able to observe more in order to make discoveries. Subsequently, he upgraded the telescopes commonly used around his time with better lenses, increasing their magnification, thus improving this tool for use by others. Thanks to his ingenuity, he was the first human capable of peering deep into the universe. The concomitant discovery of Europa, lo , Ganymede and Callisto orbiting around Jupiter worked to upset the Aristotelian geocentric view of the world where in all celestial bodies are supposed to orbit the Earth. He relied heavily on mathematics in order to back up his claims, and went as far as standardizing time between laboratories in order to synchronize observations. This standardization was crucial for his mathematical formulas to be precise.

    Isaac Newton, who is most famous for his work on gravity and the invention of calculus, was set on discovering the rules which governed the universe. He saw the world as a structured series of events which can be explained by a set of laws governing the outcomes. His laws of motion are the basis for all of physics and are still used to this day. As in the case of Galileo, Newton’s findings were on their way to upset the Aristotelian status quo. The first two laws of motion state that a force acting on a body will only act to change the direction of the body’s motion, which was a clear break with the Aristotelian view where it was thought that a force was necessary to maintain motion. In order to present his findings and observations, Newton created the mathematics of Calculus, which deals with change of motion over time. Using this new powerful tool he was able to verify his theories of motion and propel them to become universal laws.

    How did their discoveries influence Enlightenment thinkers who tried to apply their methods to understand human society?

    Philosophers at the time took such findings and used them to question the current train of thought dictated by the church. Voltaire’s fascination with universal laws and undiscovered truths, shaped his thinking. Thanks to great scientists like Galileo and Newton, philosophers such as Voltaire were able to gather these discoveries and create coherent ideas with which to influence society for centuries to come

  9. Fabiola Ramos permalink
    September 14, 2012 9:40 am

    During the Scientific Revolution, scientist like Galileo Galilei and Issac Newton began to make discoveries that would later lead to the scientific discoveries scientist have discovered today. Galileo Galilei used a telescope to disprove the idea that heavenly bodies were perfectly spherical and unchanging. he also discovered several moons that were orbitting Jupiter and discovered distant stars which allowed everyone to see that the univerese was larger than they thought. One of Galileis most important contribution was the understanding of terrestial motion. Through his experiments he concluded that the velocity of falling objects depended on the heigh in which they fall from, not the objects weight. Another one of his contributions was the idea that a “moving body will continue to move in a straight likne until some force intervenes to… alter its motion.”
    Isaac Newton was another important scientist during this time.Newton depended on direct observations and mathematical reasoning during his experiments. He created the Law of Universal Gravitation which according to him regulated the motion of the bodies in the universe. Through his experiments and observations and by using new methods for his discoveries, Newton opened the door for future scientist to move away from the classical science and start creating their own waysof doing science.
    These scientist influenced the enlightment thinkers by allowing them to move away from Aristotelian Philosophy, Christian Theology, and other classical ideas to explain human behavior. These new philosophers trie to discover new reasons to explain human behavior.

  10. Winine Fu permalink
    September 15, 2012 3:27 am

    Copernicus’s theory had inspired astronomers to further explore the heavens, Galileo Galilei and Issac Newton were able to use observation and mathematical reasoning to discover what we still use today. Galileo Galilei using what little instrumental was able during that time to look into the heavens, his invention of a telescope gave him a more closer look at the sun and the moon. He found an understanding of terrestrial motion and did many experiments to show the velocity of a falling item is determine by the height it falls from rather than by the weight. In addition to his experiment he had come to the conclusion the law of inertia, which is an object in motion stays in motion until it is intervened. Issac Newton made an outline of his views and titled it “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”. Newton also included an argument about the earth’s gravitational pull, which effects the pull of the moon, as well as the orbits of planets and comets. Newton’s argument brought many attention to those who had revolved themselves in the church’s teaching and make their own discoveries and an understanding of the universe through their own eyes and reasoning. These discoveries made and shared had made people realize there is more to discover and to experiment and reason with, that the possibilities of these discoveries are now possible to be found by themselves instead of being told. Enlightenment has begun to make changes to the society in way people would’ve never dare to think about, this is the beginning of a reconstruction into a more modern world.

  11. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 2:04 pm

    Galileo created one of the first telescopes and would create the idea that the solar system or the “Heavens” did not have perfect spheres of influence was but was big empty space between each other and that the solar system was Heliocentric and not geocentric.His ideas would help future astronomers who look at the sky understand the workings a bit better. In fact Galileo would inspire Issac Newton a bit and help further him along. Issac would create a theory on gravity and have 3 laws behind it. He also believed the universe worked like a machine. His work would help furthers Galileo’s and change the way the world viewed the skies.

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