In attending our first evening lecture in the Revolutions cycle I was surprised by a number of things. First was the complexity of the argument. I certainly was not expecting to have to have learned about the different philosophers and their theories beforehand, nor was I expecting the conversation to get to heated and open and the end of the lecture. I was also not so much surprised, but interested and excited by the nature of the discussion. In school, most of the time you are not taught to question history, it is something you learn, memorize, and at times interpret, but never question the validity of. In listening to Dan question whether or not the ideas of many of these esteemed philosophers were actually revolutionary, it reminded me of a quote I heard in the movie, “The Big Short.” The quote goes something like “It is not what you do not know what hurts you. It is was you know for sure that just a’int so.” I find this quote to be applicable to Dan’s discussion. You can always learn what you do not know, but it is hard to both unlearn what one perceives to be fact, which is less difficult still than unlearning a way of thinking and framing learning.
To me the next and possibly most important point was the discussion on what it means to be be revolutionary, and whether or not the Scientific Revolution should be categorized as such. I think that revolutions can be both big and small, macro and micro, in both a personal and worldly sense. Two definitions of revolution, “an overthrow of or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed” or “a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence” both seem to me to be extremely macro in the sense that both government and social structure apply to a large population of people. On a personal note, I believe that a liberal arts education can revolutionize the way in which a student can think about learning, as well as the skills a student believes that he or she is capable of developing, and finally how those skills are valued. We are constantly told that a liberal arts educations “teaches you how to think.” This is revolutionary, at least to me, in that it totally changes your previous framework on how you perceive problems and issues, but how one might view themselves as well. It is not a matter of self-confidence or gravitas, it is an issue of totally changing values an inputs. In circling back to whether or not the Scientific Revolution was actually revolutionary, it may have not been revolutionary in the sense that other people around the world had previously come up with these ideas, but it was revolutionary and original in that it totally changed how an extremely influential region of the world thought about thinking.