Tag: Scientific

Was “The Scientific Revolution” actually the, scientific or revolutionary?

The first lecture of the Continuing Revolutions seminar was about “The Scientific Revolution”, by Dan Cohen. The main idea of the lecture was actually proof-checking whether that event that we so proudly call the scientific revolution was that special after all. In order to answer this question we primarily have to actually be sure we know what do we mean by the term revolution. Revolution represents a sudden radical change in absolutely new direction that affects an enormous number of people who are not interconnected. Now, what Cohen successfully explains in his lecture is that we should not take things we hear for granted, but question them, not for the sake of the argument or just to spite the others, but in order to check if a certain statement is true or not. Even John Stuart Mill has come to this conclusion in his book “On Liberty”. He states that if something that is taken as a truth is not questioned or is protected from questioning, it becomes a dead dogma where the truth actually loses its strength because the ones who believe in it, believe in it without actually understanding why they think that is truth. It is important to notice that here we do not talk about the revolutions that might exist on the personal level and whether they can actually be called revolutions, as that is a completely different discussion.

So, was “The scientific revolution” the, scientific or revolutionary?

As it was shown during the lecture, many scientific parts of this revolution were not exactly that scientific. The scientists of that time had many bigot perspectives and have actually not made any experiments (something essential to any scientific process), but just tried to support the hypothesis they had in any possible way. They actually even ridiculed the scientist who, as we can see now, were right the whole time. That was the time when it was more important who you were and who supports than what you were saying. Continuing further, we can see that there were many different events in our history that can be seen as more important for the scientific community than the one we call “The one”. The difference does exist between them: Only The revolution took place in the western world, while when the major mathematic discoveries were created together with incredible advances in medicine much before this revolution in Arabic world, for example, nobody even thought of calling that “The one”. Following this argument, one can say that The scientific revolution was not even that revolutionary, as some of the things were only rediscovered by the western scientists – in other parts of the world knowledgable people knew about those things long time before that.

Nevertheless, The scientific revolution was definitely an important time in the history of mankind, but was not necessarily the only time when changes of that kind were made, or when the changes of that size were made. The truth is, however, that the history is written by the winners and we all know who colonized the rest of the world – white male christian western European. Thus, what these people have considered to be the most important remained written in the history books that we read now as the most important, even though it did not have to be. Hopefully, we learned from that and are ready now to appreciate revolutions wherever they are, just for the sake of their utility and impact.

How many Scientific Revolutions Will There Be?

Before last Tuesday night, I didn’t know much about the Scientific Revolution. However, Professor Cohen’s lecture “How Revolutionary-and how Scientific-was the Scientific Revolution?”, was very informative and made the cogs in my head start to turn. In his lecture, Professor Cohen distinguished that “The” Scientific Revolution wasn’t the first or last Scientific Revolution to occur, and that it should really be renamed to “A” Scientific Revolution.

This event, that revolutionized natural science through mathematically precise, experimentally-based discoveries may have been seen as unique in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it seems that almost every era is categorized by such a revolution. This revolution brought the medieval world to the modern world. However, now that we’re in the modern world, where is there to go? This brings me to my question: How many more scientific revolutions will there be?

The world has definitely come a long way since the 16th century, but we still have a long way to go. There are many world issues that we need to focus on and “revolutionize”, and not all of these are dealing with hard sciences. Many people think physics, biology, and chemistry when their hear “science”, but I think of agriculture, technology, and infrastructure.

For example, we need to have an agricultural/farm science revolution. In the United States we have a somewhat sustainable food system, but other countries do not. There are entire populations that go day to day without food, clean drinking water, and the basic necessities required to live. There needs to be a scientific push to help further process in developing nations and at home. While the common adage is “think of the starving children in Africa,” what about the starving children in America? There is no reason for Americans to be hungry while we have an enormous amount of food waste in this country. Perhaps this revolution could focus on reducing food waste, encouraging people to donate expired goods instead of throwing them away, and finding a way to produce larger quantities of food without completely depleting the land of all natural resources.

As a planet as a whole we also need to focus on an energy revolution. We are much too dependent on fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, such as petroleum, gasoline, and coal.  The last I heard, fossil fuels are expected to be depleted in 300 years, and while that might seem like a long time from now, our consumption of and dependence on these fuels continues to grow. However, if we change our main energy sources to more sustainable renewable energies such as hydro, solar, wind, and natural gas, we won’t have to worry and we’ll also reduce the damage that we inflict on the Earth. These energies are already being used on a small scale, we just need to expand outwards. There is always the excuse that producing them is too expensive, but if adequate research and research are put into the process, and once we make the switch it’ll be much more affordable.

Overall, while there have been many scientific revolutions in the past, I believe that there will be many more in the future. We’re definitely an intellectually advanced society, but there is always room for improvement. Until the world is perfect and free from struggle, we need to challenge ourselves to ask what revolutions still need to happen and how they’re going to impacts us.



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.