Author: Caitlin Lawlor

Sociological Approaches to Conceptions of Science Contrasting Scientific Realist Approaches

Last week Professor Peterson discussed feminist philosophy, especially work of Latour, to suggest that we have never truly been revolutionary. Latour argues that science often works to reinforce the dominant forces in society. If this is true then important scientific progress, which may be considered revolutionary by some, actually only reinforces social dualisms. Many feminist philosophers note that science is always conditioned. This idea contrasts the basic principle of objectivity which is seen as necessary for traditional scientific thought. The unachievable idealism of objectivity does not mean that all science is false or “bad science”.
According to Latour, conditioned knowledge is not false knowledge because it is relevant or applicable in the society where it is born. The sociological approaches to conceptions of scientific thought work to support science, but also to explain the the idealist terms of science derived from scientific realists are illegitimate since they ignore influential social aspects of society. Latour also argues that knowledge production is a socially conditioned and norm governed process.
The ideas of sociological conceptions of science differ vastly from traditional scientific realist conceptions of knowledge even though both are considered epistemological approaches to the conceptions of the production of knowledge. Scientific realists believe that science independent from the social realm, and science only affects society. The sociological approach sees science as a process that is governed by the norms and conditions of a given society, and thus society can influence science and science can affect society. Traditional western thought processes, those of scientific realists, tend to create false dualities that reinforce Western society as the dominant counterpart in all processes. Professor Peterson mentioned that this phenomenon lead to an us versus them distinction that lead Western scientific processes as inherently different from and better than knowledge producing processes in all other tribes and societies.
Feminist philosopher, Val Plumwood, writes of five tenants that create dualisms-relationships between two separate counterparts where one is considered superior to the other- as opposed to dichotomies-relationships that consider two separate but equally respectable entities. In creating the us-them duality, traditional Western scientific thinkers enacted Plumwood’s idea of homogenization to insist that all non-western conceptions of knowledge had less access to true science and were thus inferior or lacking in rational knowledge. The sociological conception of science arose much later than scientific realism, which really became influential during the scientific revolution. Sociological scientists examined this duality and were able to realize that it is not the inherent superiority of one society that leads to differences in conceptions of knowledge but rather the social construction of a given society that influences what kinds of knowledge are explored and how.

The Revolution for Freedom for All

Professor Jeremy T. Popkin’s lecture shed a new light on the subject of the Haitian Revolution that began in 1804. He compared it to the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789. Popkin noted the similarities between the American and French Revolution and how they different from the Haitian Revolution. He also explained that the Haitian Revolution has been belittled throughout history, and silenced as a significant revolutionary event by the Western world until the mid-1990’s, almost 200 years after it occurred.
Many people consider the American Revolution the event that caused revolutions against corrupt leaders throughout the western world. When the colonies proved that they could overcome the British superpower, other oppressed people were inspired to overthrow their monarchies since they has a newfound sense of hope of success. France followed this trend. Soon after the American Revolution, the French people rebelled against their monarch Louis XVI Capet. Unlike the American Revolution, the French Revolution did not end with a solid political structure but continued with rebellions against anyone that claimed power until Napoleon assumed control.
The Haitian people were enslaved members of the French Colony, and playd a role in the French Revolution. Toussaint L’Ouverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution; although, he ironically did not support revolutionaries during the French Revolution. L’Ouverture, in fact, kept ties with the French monarchy even after revolutionaries had taken control of the government. L’Ouverture lead to black insurrection against French colonizers that enslaved black Haitian people. The Haitian Revolution has been defined by violence, where the American and French Revolutions were defined by liberty and freedom. This is ironic since they Haitian Revolutionaries arguably were also fighting for freedom, but from slavery as opposed to an oppressive government. Liberty and freedom are regarded as positive qualities, where violence is considered negative. Perhaps the Haitian Revolution has been defined by its violence to give the revolution less esteem. Throughout history, the Haitian Revolution has been silenced due to racist undertones from those responsible for recognizing its significance. This inherent racism in those that decided important event of history may have lead to the definition of the Haitian Revolution as a violent event.
While the ideology of the American Revolution promoted that “all men are created equal,” the nation post-revolution allowed the continuation of slavery, thus denying that black deserve equal rights. The Haitian Revolution, lead by blacks, truly worked to insist that all people, regardless of race, deserved equal rights. Ironically, the United States was considered the first “free” nation even though a significant population of its people were enslaved.

Building a Future from the Past

Jeffrey Schnapp’s lecture addressed the purpose of monuments, and how they have lasting effects on society, especially when they commemorate events or time periods that people would rather forget. The scale and magnificence of classical monuments work to honor memories of greatness. The Arc de Triomphe for example, exists on a larger scale than the surrounding buildings in Paris. It commemorates the independence established following the french revolution. Modern monuments tend to be less exuberant, many of which do not work to celebrate past success, but rather to remember important events that shaped in society in either positive or negative ways. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial exemplifies this conflict. The war is not considered a great American success, and by some it is even regarded as a wasteful war that resulted in unnecessary death and destruction. Mia Lin’s monument is somber, dark, and buried–reflecting feelings of the war. Her architecture is considered controversial since it differs vastly from those of classical and grandiose monuments. The change from large classical monuments to a more subtle style can be traced back to the beginning of the industrial revolution. After this era people believed that monuments worshipped the past and that energy should be thrust into the fast-approaching future. Monuments honored the dead, and some regarded this as a waste since they arguably serve no function for the living. While a monument may not directly benefit a society, the memory of events, positive or negative can serve to remind people of triumphs or mistakes. These memories of the past can be used as motivation or prevention in modern societies.
Schnapp discussed the Monumento alla Vittoria of Bolzano, which perfectly demonstrates how monuments can serve to help societies remember past mistakes to avoid recurrence. This monument was designed by Marcello Piacentini under the orders of Benito Mussolini himself. It originally was meant to glorify the transition of the Germanic city Boltzen, to the Italian city Bolzano after WWI. Monumento alla Vittoria was constructed with a Fascist style, and served as a meeting place for Nazi’s. Today, this monument serves as a reminder of the dangers of fascism and the effects that it has had on the world. Some people of Bolzano would rather forget about this statue’s original purpose as it is shameful to the history of their nation. Over the years, this statue has been vandalized, and even blockaded for protection. It can be very difficult to cope with a painful past, if there are nothing to take anger out on. This specific monument, and others like it, serve as material entities that people have decided to vandalize to expiate their anger–sometimes it feels good to break something even if the enemy and his or her ideology is long-dead.
The restoration of Monumento alla Vittoria ironically wed the city to its past. Refurbishing the statue forced the city to acknowledge its past mistakes since it now had a giant and new-looking reminder. The architects responsible for the restoration also put a ring on the statue–figuratively wedding the city to the monument. The symbolization of the ring upset many people. Some argued that the monument should not have been restored if only to be vandalized by the addition of the ring. Even though controversial, engaging a city to its tumultuous past forces people to acknowledge past mistakes instead of erase them. Through acknowledgement and commemoration of the past, people are able to learn from mistakes and build a better future.

The Modern Data Dilemma

The revolutions explored so far this semester have mostly addressed events in the past; the periods of adjustment following these have ended, and their effects have been implemented in society. Khalid Albaih’s lecture addressed a current ongoing political revolution in Egypt. The societal implications of political revolutions can be overtly demonstrated to the rest of the world using images, publications, art. Other, more abstract, can be difficult to detect and their effects on society sometimes go unacknowledged. The world is currently going through one of these more abstract revolutions. With the development of technology, humans have obtained the ability to gather massive amounts of data, so much data, in fact, that we cannot review and process it all.
What is data? In latin it translates to “a thing given.” Facts and evidence are the results of sets of data, which help demonstrate the significance of data to society. The use of data arose as a tool in science around the 17th century. During the era of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution people could no longer rely on their assumptions to explain phenomena of the natural world, they needed quantifiable proof.
Francis Bacon emphasized the use of images and visual representations of matter to describe natural phenomenon. The use of words to explain processes was considered to be less scientific than visual representations. Robert Hooke’s Micrographia was a perfect example of how images worked better than words to describe scientific knowledge. His book contained images of flies under a microscope, which allowed normal people to actually see what they looked like up close instead of relying on the words of scientists in combination their own imaginations for descriptions. Visual representations were seen as more scientifically accurate since they relinquished the influence of subjective imagination that follows literary descriptions.
Today, illustrations or pictures, like Hooke’s, are not considered to be the most effective way of demonstrating scientific knowledge to a community. To further purge subjectivity from scientific processes, people have started to show information in purely quantitative and measurable terms, numbers. Now, graph and charts are used to explain processes. For example, in the 19th and early 20th century scientists looked images of embryos at different under a microscope to visualize patterns of allometric growth. This comparing images would sufficiently serve as evidence of allometric growth patterns. Today, these images would need supplemental graphs comparing the precise measurements of allometric structures at different stages of growth. As data has become more complex, the modes are portraying the meanings of data have also evolved.
The development of complex software and computational tools have changed the way that we handle data. In the 17th century, scientists dealt with the question of whether or not a set of data was obtained under subjective procedures. Today, people rely on technology, which is assumed to be objective, to gather sets of data. The questions now are, what do we do with it all, how do we decide which data sets are worth exploring, and how can we portray this “big data” to society? Storing data is also a modern dilemma. The massive amounts of data produces with modern technology may be overwhelming and most of it probably serves no use for society at large. However, if people are able to create programs that can effectively collate and organize “big data,” more of it could be useful to society.

The Scientific and Societal Impacts of the Unification of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology

Professor Stone’s lecture began by reframing the iconic image of evolution: the walking man. This image represents a false sense of evolution in that it suggests that the process of evolution is a ladder, that it has a goal and thus and end, and it reinforces the typological thinking pattern that one species can be represented with a perfect type. In reality, evolution is a branching process where do species diverge from a common ancestor, it is not a ladder-like line where one species develops completely into another in one step working towards an idealized form. Darwin’s idea of branching and natural selection makes it possible to relate different species by exploring their common ancestors–a theory that resulted in a massive paradigm shift. Darwin’s ideas also contrasted Plato’s philosophy on forms, which was widely accepted at the time. The application of Plato’s theory in evolution suggests that there is an ideal essence which development works to achieve, and thus evolution has an end. In this realm of thought, each species would also have an ideal form. Darwin overthrew these theories by demonstrating variation within species. He showed that this interspecies variation actually drives evolutionary processes since different combinations of traits contribute to different levels of fitness. When a specific combination leads to increased fitness, it becomes more prevalent in a population throughout time. If this population is isolated it can lead to speciation.
The synthesis of genetics with evolutionary biology lead to massive paradigm shifts in scientific thought and culture. When the study of phenotypes is combined with patterns of inheritance the source of certain traits can be extracted. The synthesis of genetic and biology has lead scientists to discover the origin of the human species, from 14 populations in Africa, and see how this species spread throughout the world. The most pertinent discovery that stemmed from the unification of evolutionary biology and genetics was the realization that there is no biological reality to race. This discovery not only lead to shifts in medicine, but also caused some controversy in society. Before this discovery typological thinkers had developed different medicines for people of different “races.” These medicines were not based on individuals, but rather trends of efficacy within their “races.” Now that genetic information is accessible scientists can see that there is no “race” for which a certain medicine works best, but that it depends on the genome of each individual. There are trends in diseases that groups of people may acquire based on their environments; however, this does not mean that only certain types of people are susceptible to these diseases.
The discovery of the absence of race also contributed to a paradigm shift throughout society. Before this realization, categories for types of people were established based on their phenotypes. The leading classes of each society used these categories to arrange the social hierarchy, which only further socially segregated groups of people and contributed to racism. In reality phenotypic variation lies on a continuum, thus it is impossible to assign a race to every human since there are infinite combinations of these phenotypes. The synthesis of genetics and evolutionary biology also lead to the realization that phenotypes do not always rely on specific genes, there are many complex causes. Professor Stone referenced the spurious results of twin studies which assumed that two individuals with identical genomes would have the same phenotypes for everything. The results from these studies are inconclusive since they fail to realize that environmental factors contribute to phenotypes.
Professor Browne introduced the idea of the unification of genetics and evolutionary biology several weeks ago. The study of genetics was considered revolutionary when it was first introduced, and Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection caused massive paradigm shifts within the scientific community and the world at large. Professor Stone’s lecture explained how the unification of two revolutionary branches of science lead to massive shifts in scientific thought and the construct of society.

The Truth of Climate Science as the Product of Many Minds

Professor Emanuel began the lecture by noting that science proceeds as series of revolutions and collective small steps taken by a large body of scientists. In a course about revolutions we tend to focus on the big jumps that caused controversy and redefined the science of an era; however, the sum progress of these “small steps” outweighs the advancement by any single jump, these small steps just tend to go unnoticed. Newton, a revolutionary scientist, accredited the large body of scientists that created the base for his knowledge when he said that “if [he] [had] seen further, it [was] by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The sum of small scientific discoveries, or even corrections of previous thought, creates a collective body of knowledge, without which large jumps in scientific knowledge could not occur.
Climate science, like all science, had progressed since around the 18th century in both small steps and large leaps. It all began with curiosity. 18th Century scientists noticed large markings, striations, on massive rocks and wondered how they got there. This sparked research into glaciers, and eventually precipitated the idea of ice ages. In 1875 James Croll published Climate and Time–an accessible book that caused in revolutionary thought by explaining climate shifts over time. Croll, however, was not a revolutionary scientists, he was a gifted writing that could explain the revolutionary ideas of the scientists before him for the greater public to understand. Without the contributions of his many predecessors, Climate and Time would not have been written, and the revolutionary ideas never circulated throughout society-at least not for some time.
Fourier and Kirchloff were among the first scientists to explore radiation of heat. Their work was not directed at explaining climate change, but rather exploring curious phenomena. Their theories and equations contributed to the work done by later scientists, like Tyndall, Stefan and Boltzmann, Planck, Arrhenius, Milankocíc and Urey who were able to, collectively, explain how the concepts proposed by previous scientists contributed to the increasing temperature of the earth.
The idea that humans have caused major and disproportionate changes earth’s climate is a revolutionary and, for some, controversial fact that prevails in the modern world. The advancement of climate science stemmed from revolutions, and small steps, in geology, physics, and chemistry. Climate change is the most relevant issue relating to the future of humankind in the modern world, or at least it’s up there with total nuclear destruction. Have we exploited the planet irreversibly, and thus ruined the existence of our kind? How much more can the planet take? What can we do to change and reverse our mistakes? Further research into climate science, geology, physics, and chemistry might be able to supply the world with some answers, but are we willing to accept them?

The Paradigm Shift from Darwin

Janet Browne began the discussion by noting that Darwin himself foresaw the rise of the revolution that would stem from his discoveries. He “dimly [foresaw] a revolution in natural history” that would result from the scientific community’s and public’s acceptance of his work. Darwin did not, however, understand the shift that his discoveries would bring not only in science, but also in economics, political theory, business theory, and even culture.
Today, Darwin’s theory of natural selection, or descent with modification, has support of the scientific community and even the Catholic Church. This theory has played a key role in the direction of scientific research since its amalgamation with genetics. The idea of the “survival of the fittest” and concepts of natural selection have been applied to economic, political, and business theory, which dictate the market and financial status of the many nations. Darwin has also become an icon of classic scientific discovery; towns, mountains, buildings, cafés, and even twitter handles have been named or created in his honor. Darwin’s wife and children worked to establish the legacy of Darwin that we know today. Darwin’s funeral reflects his importance to Britain. Despite being an agnostic scientist, he was buried among the heroes and religious icon of Britain in Westminster Abbey–this established his status as a kind of secular saint. In 1885 a magnificent statue of Darwin was erected and moved into the Natural History Museum of London, where it presided over a cathedral-like room and an altar-like platform. Fifty years after Darwin’s death one of his descendants organized a commemoration event with a famous geneticist to promote Darwinian science as the field of genetics began to gain popularity. In 1950 UChicago held a celebration of Darwin with a panel of the world’s brightest biological scientists. Today, ideas of Darwinism persist in science, economics, political, business and culture.
Darwin precipitated the idea of natural selection, or descent with modification, when reading an economics book. He delayed publishing this concept for years out of fear of how society might react. When he finally did publish, the scientific community did not immediately accept his work; in fact, many people vehemently rejected the notion that humans were related to apes. In 1925 a teacher was prosecuted for having a textbook that mentioned the concept of evolution–this case, the Scopes trial, represents the resistance to natural selection that remained many decades after the theory had been accepted, and even celebrated by the scientific community. Some may argue that the Darwinian Revolution wasn’t really “Darwinian.” During the period of Darwin’s greatest discoveries other scientists were exploring similar ideas. Some argue that if Darwin and had existed another person would have made the same discoveries and drawn the same conclusions–in other words, Darwin was not unique; he was just the first to make an inevitable discovery. People may also argue that the introduction of natural selection and evolution did not really cause a revolution. Darwin’s ideas were not really globally accepted until the 1940’s. The world’s most famous revolutions did not occur overnight; many of them took years or even decades, so to say that Darwin’s ideas took too long to catch on ignores the timeframe about great revolutions. His ideas also resulted in the paradigm shift from God as the creator of man to descent with modification. This shift directs modern scientific research.

The Emergence of Art as a Revolutionary Language

Political cartoonist, Khalid Albaih, employs the use of social media to express to spread revolutionary thought through nations with strict and oppressive censorship. Albaih views the internet and social media as a “visa,” which allows the oppressed to demonstrate the truth of their nations to the rest of the world and gain support in their respective revolutions. In many of these nations published newspapers are heavily censored by the repressive governments, and serve only as propaganda, not an actual account of the nation’s state. Albaih discussed the emergence of the Arab Spring Revolution, and how this was really the first large-scale revolution that arose over social media.
A key aspect of the start of the Arab Spring was the involvement of a young democratically aimed population. Young, and educated people employed social media tools, like Facebook, to connect and organize a revolution behind the back of their government. Since Egyptian leadership had little knowledge of social media they remained oblivious to the coming revolution and had difficulty quelling the extinguishing the uprising. Many repressive governments blame social media for the rebellions in the nations. Social media provides a space to organize and discuss revolutionary ideas; however, it is not the cause of these ideas and thus cannot take the blame. Ultimately it is the repressive governments that must assume the blame for revolutions since they serve as the entity that inflicts harsh rules, thus causing angst throughout their respective societies.
When asked if he thought the Arab Spring failed, Albaih remarked that real revolution takes time. The Arab Spring only started in 2010, and throughout history the biggest revolutions have occurred over decades and arguably centuries. The people in Egypt have been “broken” by living under an oppressive rule for a very long time, thus their revolution will need more than six years to reach an end. The Tunisian revolution was mentioned as an example of precipitous revolution. The difference between this revolution and the Arab spring is the Tunisia was already a very small and open-minded nation, which had systems in place that could be utilized once their tyrannical leadership fled. Since the nation is so small it also did not have a very active military to oppose the revolutionary citizens. Egypt on the other hand, has a much larger population with over 18 million citizens. The large nation has a very powerful army to control its citizens, and there are no systems in place to replace leadership once tyranny is expelled. Having a large population means that it is also more difficult to spread revolutionary idea throughout citizens, especially since more of the population is uneducated. While the people of Egypt still struggle to oppose oppressive leadership, social media still serves as an important tool in maintaining the revolution and involving other nations.
Albaih uses political cartoons instead of blogs or other writing since image can serve as a “universal language”. Humans have developed an extremely short attention span in regards to what they view on social media, and images work best to reach the largest variety to people the fastest. Images also have the power to show as opposed to tell. An image is more effective since its message relies on the interpretation of the audience. This can lead to many different interpretations of one image, some of which may not unveil the artist’s intent, but this also makes the message more personal for each looker since their conscious plays a role in the message. When someone is simply told something, he or she is more likely to become skeptical of the message depending on how much they trust their source. The audience of something told also plays no role in the message itself, thus it means less to each member and is less likely to incite change.

Revolutionary Thought Arising from Crisis

How does the climate effect human nature? When humanity is thrust into a period of poor the struggle leads to violence, but also a shared understanding of suffering. Climate crises have deep effects of the structure and production of the societies in which they occur. Only the eruption of Mount Tambora wreaked the havoc over the globe to the magnitude of the current universal climate crisis. The eruption caused a weather crisis that lead to six failed growing seasons in 1816–a time period in which the world heavily depended on agriculture for food. After the eruption, an ash cloud blocked out the sun for months, which resulted in a prolonged period of stormy cold weather during which crop production was nearly impossible. The prolonged effects on the climate lead to a disastrous famine, wild-spread disease, and a refugee crisis. Creative sympathy, proto-revolutionary violence, and “the flight into hell” serve as the stages of climate shock response to the eruption of Tambora and the ensuing climate crisis.
Violence and rioting increased throughout European society as a response to lack of food and resources. The social and physical effects of the revolution were especially prevalent in the land-locked, and agriculturally dependent, nation of Switzerland. Peasants were “driven to beasts” with hunger and disease, which lead to a stark division between the peasantry and middle class. Middle and upper class citizens grew to fear peasants as “a threat to civil society.” Inflation drove the price of grain out of reach of the peasants; people that could still afford to eat looked down upon the starving as beasts. In 1816 many Europeans, especially the British, vacationed to Geneva. Many of these tourists were authors. The literature produced during the post-Tambora era reflects the fear of loss of civil society. As a tourist in Geneva, Mary Shirley wrote Frankenstein, a story of a monster that causes chaos for society. One interpretation of this work is that the monster serves as a metaphor for the starving and sick, who rioted and disrupted “civil society.” Throughout Europe riots and mobs erupted in response to the economic inflation and lack of resources. Increasing chaos lead some governments to fear their citizens and respond in a harsh and militaristic style. The British army opened fire of a crown protesting the export of grain from Ireland. During this era people were often hanged for insurrection, and jails overflowed with convicts. Women, unable to feed their starving children, committed infanticide to avoid watching their children suffer.
In urban areas the lack of resources lead to loud and calamitous revolts; however, in the countryside the climate crisis silent, but disastrous effects. In the cities people had enough energy to raise riots, but in the country people truly starved and lacked to energy to do anything but die silently. The decimation of the countryside resulted in a mass exodus and a refugee crisis. People knew that they could not survive if they stayed so groups, thousands strong, walked to roads in search of anything that could support life.
The Baroness Juliana De Krudener became of savior for those on the “flight into hell.” She delivered apocalyptic sermons and gained a massive cult of followers. She also raised money to help feed the sick and starving, even using her personal fortune to ameliorate the suffering of many. In the process, she gained a great number of enemies who distained her for the political and cultural effects of the survival of the poor and starving. She serves as the figurehead for the creative sympathy that arose following the Tambora Eruption. Some nations, like Austria, developed early welfare programs to help their citizens. This was one of the first attempts for a government to assume the role of protecting its citizens. The concept of government-sponsored welfare did not arise in the United States until the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, over 100 years later. Other innovative ideas were also construed to ameliorate the disparity of Europe after the Tambora eruption. Many livestock and horses perished during the famine leaving many people without a mode of transportation. Early prototypes of the bicycle arose during this era to provide transportation in place of livestock.
While the climate crisis of 1815 and the following years lead to violence, starvation, and disease, it also gave rise to literary, humanitarian, and technological innovations that played key roles in the time period of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Today, the world suffers from another prolonged climate crisis; however, the end is nowhere in sight. Our generation has the unique opportunity and obligation to reform the way that people interact with their environment.

The Mindful Revolution

The Scientific Revolution- was it really scientific, revolutionary and unique? Professor Dan Cohen addressed these questions in lecture this past week. The questions of the Scientific Revolution’s science, revolt, and rarity precipitated the need for concrete definitions of the concepts of science, revolution, and uniqueness. These concepts are difficult to define since each have transformed throughout history and rely on their relativity to past definitions. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries science evolved into a strict mathematically precise, empirically based, and objective practice. Or, at least the thinkers of that era like to think. The idea of the title “The Scientific Revolution” implies during this era there was a precipitous change in scientific thought the reshaped man’s understanding of the natural world.
Was the Scientific Revolution really scientific? Well, that depends on whom, but more importantly when you ask. Before and during Galileo’s life it was considered a “scientific” fact that the Earth was at the center of the universe. Modern physics disproves the idea of anthropocentrism, which goes to show that what is considered hard science during one period, can become superstition in another. Some of the greatest minds of the 16th and 17th centuries used rather subjective language, like terms of beauty, worth, and analogy, for descriptions for scientific processes even presence of subjectivity was expelled from scientific reasoning during this era.
For many the Scientific Revolution was defined by its break from medieval thought; however, many of the “new” ideas of the Scientific Revolution, relate back to or build upon Medieval and even ancient ideas from the times of Aristotle. Professor Basil Willey notes that thoughts of the time period were a blend of Medieval thought the ended at the triumph of the modern. According to Willey modern progressive thinking was a reversion back to ancient Greek and Roman classical thinking. There are two definitions of the word revolution to be considered in the treatment of The Scientific Revolution: that revolution refers to the process of revolving and revisiting the old with a new perspective, and that revolution involved a sudden break or overthrow of the status quo. Isaac Newton, a key member contributor to the science of the 16th and 17 centuries claimed that “if [he] [has] seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In other words, the greatest discoveries of the Scientific Revolution would not have been possible without the contributions Medieval and ancient minds. The revolution of the Scientific Revolution applies not as a break from past thought, but as an alteration and addition to ancient ideas and questions.
How did the discoveries of the 16th and 17th centuries differ from scientific progressions throughout the rest of history? The Scientific Revolution involved leaps throughout the realms of science, like physics, metaphysics, and scientific methodology, which had not simultaneously occurred before in single era of history. Wootten endeared this time period as “the birth of modern science.” Many of the discoveries of this era were compared to ancient discoveries and even myths. Newton for example mirrors Moses in his discovery and deliverance of God’s laws to the human world. The discoveries of the Scientific Revolution were not unique from discoveries in the level of progress, but differed in that many important discoveries were made throughout every type of science over a brief time period.
The Scientific Revolution embraces the definitions of scientific thought when compared to the science of the medieval time period; however, many aspects of this era may be considered to subjective in modern terms of science. The revolutionary aspect of 16th and 17th century science applies only if a revolution is defined as a revision and addition of past ideas. The particularity of the Scientific Revolution comes not from the complex individual progression, but from the progress of many areas of science in a relatively short time period. The most revolutionary aspect of The Scientific Revolution occurred not in science, but in the way the people thought about the way they thought. The largest impact of the Scientific Revolution had nothing to do with math or quality of science, but rather with human psychology and perception of thought.