Humans and Nature during the Scientific Revolution
The Scientific Revolution took place in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was not a "revolution" in the classic sense as it did not involve rapid political changes nor large numbers of people, but it was revolutionary in the sense that it completely changed people's way of thinking and their outlook on the world we live in. It was definitely one of the most important events in history as it marked the birth of modern science. With the Scientific Revolution, man became more curious about nature. He wanted to learn more about natural phenomena and the mechanisms of nature, and he also adopted a new method for the study of nature.
The Scientific Revolution began with "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres" (1543), which was written by Nicolaus Copernicus' (1473-1543). He was the first to challenge the Ptolemaic view of an earth-centered universe and claim that the earth revolves around the sun. He did not come up with any revolutionary scientific discovery but he triggered the Scientific Revolution by stirring an incredible amount of thinking. His work allowed people who were dissatisfied with the Ptolemaic view to consider other possibilities.
Another important figure of the Scientific Revolution is Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). He was the first to use the telescope to observe the stars and come up with the idea that the universe is completely subject to mathematical laws, and he was an ardent supporter of this novel concept. The heavens before the Scientific Revolution had been considered as the most mysterious part of the universe. With the heavens explained, people started to believe that it would be easy to understand humans as well. They felt that science could explain humans the same way it was able to explain nature.
The Scientific Revolution changed people's perspective about nature. Previously, nature had been considered as dark, mysterious, evil and vengeful but the Scientific Revolution changed this by showing that natural phenomena could be explained and nature was rational. There was hence nothing to fear about it but instead, its perfect mechanism was to be admired. Since nature was rational, the one who had created it, that is God, also had to be rational and people came to the conclusion that man had to be rational as well. Sir Isaac Newton was among the first to come to this conclusion. Newton (1642-1727) was a British scientist who is most famous for coming up with the theory of gravity to explain the motion of planets and heavenly bodies and he was one of the most important thinkers of the Scientific Revolution. The rational thinking of Newton also strongly influenced the philosophes of the Enlightenment. Newton’s role in helping us gain a better understanding of nature was recognized by everyone. In 1727, the year of Newton's death, the English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) composed an epitaph for Newton's grave at Westminster Abbey. His epitaph was...