The Scientific Revolution occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although like everything else, it had origins much earlier and lingered for a long time after. It is called a revolution not because people were scientifically stupid and then became scholars, but because it brought about a great step forward in science.
One key individual in bringing forth the Scientific Revolution was Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626). He began dissuading people from blindly believing ancient scholars such as Aristotle and Galen, without personal experimentation.
Bacon wrote a book called Novum Organum, which contradicted Aristotle’s work Organon. The Organon was a collection of six works on logic by Aristotle. In his book, Bacon brought forth a new logic—inductive reasoning. Aristotle had taught deductive reasoning. Here is an example of inductive and deductive reasoning:
- Inductive: 100% of biological life forms that we know depend on liquid water to exist. Therefore, if we discover a new biological life form, it will probably depend on liquid water to exist.
- Deductive: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
One of the most famous scientific advances that occurred during the Scientific Revolution involved heliocentrism. As taught by figures such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, the earth was fixed and motionless. Surrounding it were perfectly spherical planets orbiting the earth in concentric, circular orbits at a constant speed. This was called geocentrism.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) wrote a work called On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. This book, dedicated to the pope, focused on the topic of heliocentrism: a system in which the sun was at the center. Continue reading
John Locke was an anti-absolutist. This meant that he was against an absolute monarchy, a monarchy in which the ruler is sovereign and not subject to any other power, whether his own laws, traditions, customs or the popes.
The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1558 – 1679) was Locke’s contemporary. However, he did not share Locke’s anti-absolutist beliefs. Hobbes was, in essence, an absolutist. He is most known for his political philosophy. Like Locke, it began with the ‘state of nature.’
Hobbes’ ‘state of nature’ was however an opposite of Locke’s. While in the latter philosophy there were individual rights, natural law, etc, in Hobbes’ Continue reading
The influential English philosopher John Locke (1632 – 1704) was an anti-absolutist. This meant that he was against an absolutist monarchy, unlike the rest of Europe. Locke wrote many works, among which were his two main treatises.
The First Treatise on Civil Government was a response by Locke to Sir Robert Filmer´s work Patriarch. Locke argued against Filmer on the topic of the divine right of kings.
Locke’s most famous writing is the Second Treatise on Civil Government (1690). The main topic of this work is the ‘state of nature’. This is a pre-political condition, or a state before the institution of a civil government. In the ‘state of nature’ there is natural law, a law of right and wrong that has been established before all time. (To see more on this read this article: The Levellers)
Another aspect of the ‘state of nature’ is that every person, down to the smallest child, Continue reading
The Glorious Revolution of England took place during the year 1688, under the rule of King James II (r. 1685-1688). King James was the successor of Charles II, who had re-established the English monarchy in 1660 after the dictatorship of the Puritan army general Oliver Cromwell.
King James II (James, Duke of York) had converted to Catholicism in 1667. When this Catholic king came into power, the Protestant majority of England became worried. They did not want the Catholic Church to overtake England. So, when in 1688 the king had a son, Continue reading
The Levellers were a group of political thinkers in the seventeenth century, during the English Civil War. They are often considered the first influential Western libertarian movement.
The root of the Levellers’ philosophy came, for the most part, from the idea of self-ownership. In other words: you own yourself. They also believed in the right to do what you want with your own property. “You can do what you want, as long as it doesn’t violate another’s individual rights.” Continue reading