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Science In Modern European History Essay

1460 words - 6 pages

Throughout modern European history science has gradually developed into “the dominant representation of the social world”. Intellectuals are continually discovering new approaches of explaining and viewing the world. Previously, the common belief was the medieval view of nature, or that nature could be explained simply by appearances. As stated in Perry, “the Scientific Revolution brought a new, mechanical concept of nature that enabled westerners to discover and explain the laws of nature mathematically” (401). During this course of modern European history science has signified knowledge, power, and a challenge of religion; challenging religion also typically involved challenging ...view middle of the document...

Scientific thought was also bringing magic, witchcraft, astrology, and other popular beliefs into doubt. Science was now the popular idea and an era of rational thought was on the horizon.
The Scientific Revolution paved the way for the age of Enlightenment to begin. The Enlightenment was a period of toleration and rational thinking. Heretic ideas gradually became more and more accepted. Salons, fraternities, and scientific academies were created to share and discuss these views in open environments. As opposed to blindly accepting preconceived ideas, intellectuals began to use logic to come to conclusions. Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau and Smith were the leading political writers that believed in individual rights and rational thought. A major point of the Enlightenment was centered on using reason to develop rational thoughts. Previously, religious explanations were just accepted. As the period went on intellectuals began to question these explanations and look towards science for the truth. Locke used religion to argue that God gave man reason to make decisions. Locke explains that, “God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and convenience. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being” (Locke, Section 26).Like Newton, Locke is not against god creating the earth, but rather God created the earth and the ability for man to use science to come to logical conclusions. The Enlightenment laid the groundwork for political writers and thinkers to go beyond the teachings of the church to search for knowledge and rationality. This shift was then expanded to include liberty and equality.
The long nineteenth century added to the Enlightenment ideals of reason and began to include the fight for liberty and equality; equality between classes and men and women. The French Revolution was twenty five years of almost consistent war and is the definition of nationalism. France was divided into three Estates, and the Third Estate fought for more equality between the three. In the Declaration of the Rights of Woman, Olympe de Gouges lays out the basic rights that women deserve. One of the main points is that woman need to be seen as equals to men. Nationalism played a huge role in the revolution. The country fought as a nation, not separate villages. Nationalism was also prevalent in science. The theory of evolution changed everything. Charles Darwin claimed that the earth was around long before people and that humans evolved overtime into what we are today. This theory was highly controversial and challenged everything that Christianity stood for. In The Descent of Man, Darwin states that “…man is the co-descendant with other mammals of a common progenitor” (201).Darwin believed in explain the natural laws without using religion. All of his work questioned the church. Evolution also strengthened nationalistic views. Evolution...

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