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Chapter 14 New Directions in Thought and Culture in the 16 th and 17 th Century

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Chapter 14 New Directions in Thought and Culture in the 16 th and 17 th Century

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  1. Chapter 14New Directions in Thought and Culture in the 16th and 17th Century Mrs. Tucker AP European History Victor Valley High School

  2. Main Points • The astronomical theories of Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. • The emergence of new scientific institutions. • The role of women in early science. • The relationship between science and religion. • New directions in philosophy and political science. • Witch-hunts in the early modern era

  3. Scientific Revolution • What we now call "science" – the process of understanding the natural world through observation, analysis, and, most important, repeatable experimentation – emerged as a field of inquiry in the 17th century. • At the time it was called "natural philosophy." • New observations and theories in astronomy challenged scholarship that went back to Ptolemy and Aristotle. • Copernicus, hoping to simplify the mathematics and modeling involved in predicting planetary motion in the Ptolemey's geocentric system, had tentatively proposed in the 16th century that the sun might be the center of circular planetary motion.

  4. Scientific Revolution • Brahe disagreed strongly, and performed extensive observations attempting to support the geocentric model. • Brahe's assistant Kepler used Brahe's data to propose, in a 1609 book, that the sun was at the center of elliptical planetary orbits. • Also in 1609, Galileo was the first to study astronomy through a telescope. • Galileo became a strong advocate for the heliocentric universe and – just as important – popularized the idea that the universe is rational and subject to the laws of mathematics. • Finally, Newton combined mathematical modeling and scientific observation to derive his famous laws of motion and theory of universal gravitation.

  5. Philosophy • Scientists of the 17th century were called natural philosophers, and there was some overlap between philosophers and natural philosophers. • For this reason, and because of the challenges to traditional thinking posed by scientific work in this period, were profoundly influenced by the Scientific Revolution.

  6. Philosophy • Galileo's mathematical modeling of the physical world translated into a mechanistic worldview that was widespread among philosophers. • Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke all articulated philosophies that took aspects of the new science into account and also had implications for social and political organization.

  7. New Institutions • Through the Reformation, most intellectuals had believed that their task was to recover and elaborate on knowledge from the Classical/Biblical period. • The expansion of natural knowledge changed universities and existing centers of learning, and led to the creation of new "institutions of sharing." • Scientific societies encouraged new kinds of social mingling, and the cross-fertilization of ideas.

  8. Women • European universities had offered little room for scholarship by women; the institutions of science soon turned out to be even more exclusionary. • Not only were women prevented from becoming members of scientific societies and discouraged from practicing science on their own, but also women became objects of study and description – under the assumption that they were inferior beings! • Two categories of women were occasionally able to work around these constraints, noblewomen and female artisans. • Women did write important scientific works and popularizations.

  9. Science and Religious Faith • The new science challenged religion in three ways: some scientific observations contradicted biblical descriptions (e.g., of the heavens); it was unclear who should resolve any potential conflicts between science and religion, natural philosophers or church authorities; and the new philosophy's materialism seemed to some to preclude spirituality. • Most natural philosophers worked hard to reconcile their work with religious views, and they were generally successful. • Galileo's condemnation by the church, however, was a dramatic – and long-remembered! – exception to the general rule of accommodation between the science and religion.

  10. Superstition • Through the 17th century, most Europeans believed in some form of magic and in the power of demons. • "Magic," in the form of transubstantiation, was indeed at the heart of Christian ritual. • Though these beliefs had been present for centuries, witch-hunts and panics soared in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. • Most of the victims were women.

  11. Superstition • Possible explanations for this phenomenon include misogyny, the impact of wars and upheaval, spiritual insecurity in the aftermath of the Reformation, women's roles as midwives (in which they were intimately involved in life-and-death situations), and villagers' sublimated hostility towards urban leaders. • There are also a variety of possible explanations for why witch-hunts petered out in the 17th century.ößlin_Rosgarten_Childbirth.jpg/220px-Eucharius_Rößlin_Rosgarten_Childbirth.jpg

  12. Concluding Facts • Scientists ("natural philosophers") and philosophers in the late 16th and 17th centuries developed theories about the natural world and socio-political organization that, over the following centuries, slowly transformed the world. • European culture was the first to be challenged by these developments; the new astronomy "discovered" a physical universe that was incompatible with the heavens described in the bible.

  13. Concluding Facts • Scientific observations challenged church teachings on other levels as well, though the natural philosophers and contemporary writers of philosophy did their best to reconcile some form of Christian faith with a mechanistic world. • This tension is probably at least part of the explanation for the witch-hunts that claimed tens of thousands of lives – mostly of female villagers – between 1400 and 1700.