The Scientific Revolution was, as Professor Cohen explained, not a single, observable moment or occurrence. It was rather, a blurry movement propagated by great philosophers who theorized about the universe based on empirical observations of the world and the heavens. If there was a particular instance that can be identified as a start to the Revolution, historians agree it was the supernova of 1572. Signified by the appearance of a new star in the night sky, the supernova of 1572 caused extreme confusion and interest within the philosophic community. It was a phenomenon that could not be explained, and therefore started a standard of precise record keeping for coming up with better and more accurate theories.


After 1572, progress, or should I say, a change from traditional views to newer views that explained the world with fewer inexplicable phenomena, certainly happened; no question. There is debate however, acknowledged by professor Cohen, of whether this change could be considered scientific and/or revolutionary.


It is worth examining, I think, as David Wootton does, that this is perhaps a sticky issue, because the language has changed from then until now. What was considered science back then, included things such as natural philosophy and logical reasoning. So indeed, if we could ask someone like Aristotle or Galileo, or even Newton, if they thought the Scientific Revolution was scientific, their answer would most likely be different than ours, because there interpretation of the word scientific was different than ours. The same can also be said of revolution. Thus, our perception of how scientific the Scientific Revolution was has no definite answer. However, I do think there is agreement that the Scientific Revolution was revolutionary. For one thing, we have labeled it as such. As Professor Cohen suggested, perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of the Scientific Revolution was that we acknowledged it as a revolution. The prominent scientists and philosophers of the time understood that their work was on the cusp of something big, and for that to come to fruition is, in my opinion, certainly revolutionary. To be clear, they didn’t know exactly what was to become, nor did they set out to achieve any specific goal, but they did theorize about phenomena and establish laws that are the basis of science to this day, such as those of gravity and heliocentrism.


Ultimately, the Scientific Revolution highlighted the ability of human reasoning, specifically supporting the idea that it is sufficient enough to learn the ways of nature. Part of this included an effort to rid teleological explanations, i.e. Aristotle’s final cause, from explanations of the ways of nature. In this way they made a radical break from the medieval worldview, and gave precedent to modern ideas. And although technology and modern science has drastically increased since the 16th and 17th centuries, the ideas generated by during the Scientific Revolution are still the foundation of ideas we hold today. Ideas such as human inquiry through empiricism and rationality, as well as the idea that progress is always achievable, and there are always things to be learned and discovered.