Modernism was a movement that occurred in the late nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century. It contrasted with the movement of neoclassicism from the eighteenth century. The latter strongly emphasized order, reason, the following of convention and optimism about human nature. Modernism did the opposite.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) wrote several works in which he expressed very modernistic ideas: chaos, disorder, the passions, irrationality and aggressiveness.
Another theme found in modernism, particularly in Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, was a dismissal of the Christian code of morality. Nietzsche believed that people should make their own morality code to follow.
The modernistic disorder can also be found in science. Isaac Newton in the eighteenth century had said that the universe followed orderly laws. In 1913, Niels Bohr found that the electrons did not abide by Newton’s laws of motion. Therefore, he and many other scientists of that era concluded that the universe was not orderly. Continue reading
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