Impact of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment
During the Renaissance Age from the 1300s until the early 1500s, science was utilized to help people reach a better understanding of God and not of their surrounding world. Science was viewed as a branch of religion and scientific thought was based on faith. As scientists and philosophers began to reject these faith based beliefs, critical thinking began challenging the traditional thoughts and ideals about the world and its workings. By the 16th and 17th centuries, political, philosophical, and scientific theories were radically shifting from religious to secular. Significant ideas, developments, and achievements of various scientists and philosophers of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment greatly transformed the views of society.
The Scientific Revolution can best be defined as the birth of modern science following the Renaissance Age. During this period, advancements in chemistry, biology, human anatomy, physics, astronomy, and mathematics transfigured views about the natural world. The Scientific Revolution followed the Renaissance Period in Europe and stretched through the late 1700s. Curiosity, investigation, and questioning of old beliefs are some of the causes that ignited this insurgence. Famous contributors of the Scientific Revolution included Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Descartes. These men were trailblazers in their fields of study and directly inspired society to consider the extraordinary in terms of scientific knowledge.
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The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was viewed as an intellectual and philosophical movement that monopolized the European world during the late 17th and 18th centuries (www.britannica.com). This phase was influenced by the Scientific Revolution and represented a shift in prior world views. The Enlightenment movement challenged traditional religious views and emphasized reason as an avenue for human beings to discover the realities of the world. Famous contributors of the Age of Enlightenment include Locke, Hobbes, Smith, Voltaire, and Wollstonecraft. These men were intellectual leaders who encouraged the world to look past religion and through the looking glass of reason.
The Scientific Revolution was primarily an analytical movement, while the Enlightenment was a worldly one. Perhaps one of the greatest consequences of the Scientific Revolution included the expansion of knowledge. Developments were made in the sciences that altered outdated views of nature. Experimentation became revolutionary and accepted throughout the scientific community as well as society. Inventions such as telescopes and the calculator, to name a few, would prove monumental in laying the foundation for advancements in modern science. Perhaps one of the greatest consequences of the Enlightenment included new ideas in art, music, economics, and government. While Europe was forever changed by these developments, America course was also altered. Scientists and other intellectual thinkers were studying the advancements in Europe and changing their own old positions.
Without a doubt, significant ideas, developments, and advancements of various scientists and philosophers of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment profoundly reconstructed the views of society. Not only did the theories of these two movements shape Europe, but eventually led to the American Revolution and its independence. The Founding Fathers of America embraced many of the concepts of the philosophers of these two movements and utilized the ideas of freedom and democracy in the writings of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Without the influences of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, America may have taken an alternate route in history.