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The Scientific Revolution Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

The Scientific Revolution

When comparing the views presented by both Aristotle and Copernicus, one must consider the circumstances under which these men lived to understand the differences. The most obvious of these is the time in history. Aristotle came almost 2000 years earlier in the astronomy field. While Copernicus had set out to glorify the great religion of his time, Aristotle's views came 200 years before Christ was even born! Although the book gives the impression nothing of significance in astronomy happened in the time between Aristotle and Copernicus, professional astronomy was a developing institution during that time. For nearly 2000 years astronomers had been tracking and organizing and refining the prevailing thoughts in astronomy so that Copernicus could look at them and make his judgment. This touches on perhaps the largest difference between Copernicus and Aristotle; while Aristotle was a pioneer in his field and was bringing a whole new theory about to explain the world to the people, Copernicus was merely evaluating and analyzing other people's theories. In fact, some would say there is no such thing as the Copernican theory, but merely a theory Copernicus believed. The major point where Copernicus disagreed with Aristotelian theory—that the Sun was the center of the universe—was taken from the Greeks. Even after deviating from the Aristotelian view, Copernicus did not question any of the other elements, such as celestial spheres and divine circular motion. While Aristotle and his views revolutionized the thinking of mankind for nearly 2000 years, Copernicus was so timid he did not even publish his works until the year of his death. Finally, while the Aristotelian theory was embraced by religious leaders due to its convenient synergy with religious doctrines, the Copernican theory was denounced, often without even prior reading, by nearly every major religious leader. But Copernicus did not merely select one of two competing theories. He was showing signs ahead of his time of the scientific theory. To question something that seemed to make so much sense, at a time where it was unheard of to do so, was revolutionary, even if he did publish his work immediately.
Another person who unknowingly contributed to the formation of the scientific theory was Tyco Brahe. Perhaps the most fundamental principle of the scientific theory is that of observation before conclusion. Tyco Brahe did not understand mathematics well enough to propose complicated theorems of celestial movement, such as Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD. What he did possess was the greatest observatory of his time and a keen ability to make detailed observations. Before his unfortunate demise at the dinner table of the emperor ("Let's Go Europe, 2000"), he amassed a great amount of data so that other astronomers wouldn't have to. Isaac Newton realized the importance of work such as Brahe's when he said, "If I have seen farther [than...

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