Professor Wax III
Focus Question #2 – Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
What was the old Ptolemaic/medieval conception of the universe?
This suggested that the earth was the center of the universe and that ten perfect heavenly bodies orbited it in a circular motion. The earth was composed of earth, air, fire, and water and was imperfect and constantly changing. The tenth sphere was called the 'prime mover' and it moved itself and imparted motion to the remaining spheres. Beyond the spheres was the Empyrean Heaven which held God and the saved souls. This agreed with the Christian theory on the composition of the universe and it was finite.
What was the Copernican view of the universe? How did it differ from Ptolemy's? Why was it so controversial?
Copernican’s view was that the sun was the center of the universe and was surrounded by only eight spheres. The moon still revolved around the earth. He explained the appearance of the sun and stars rotating around the earth because of the earth turning on its own axis and the journey of the earth around the sun each year.
Why were philosophers, astronomers, anatomists, and other scientific thinkers hesitant to dispute and displace the ideas of ancient thinkers?
Philosophers, astronomers, anatomists, and scientists were hesitant to dispute and displace the ideas of ancient thinkers because they could get in a lot of trouble forgoing against the accepted thinking, such as Catholic Church. A good example of this is Galileo, whose writings were banned after he stated that the Earth moved around the sun.
What were Francis Bacon's views regarding the human pursuit of knowledge, the methods of science, and the purposes to which science should be applied?
Bacon argued that science must be open and that all ideas must be allowed hearing. For example, science must have human goals, such as the improvement of humanity’s material condition and the advancement of trade and industry. Also, Bacon saw the need for science to possess an inductive methodology grounded in experience. For instance, the scientist should first be a collector of facts. In addition, Francis Bacon saw that the main purpose of the science was the inventing of useful things for the improvement of mankind's estate.
What method of arriving at eternal truths did René Descartes take? What assumptions did he make as he began his intellectual journey?
I think, therefore I am (cogito, ergo sum) was René Descartes means of epistemology, and that by assuming that because all ideas of perfection came from god, that god must exist.
Descartes assumed, when he began his journey, that nothing sensed by our conscious that makes us aware of things, could be truly proved due to parallax. He started to doubt everything, including his own existence, to the point where he began to think that because he was thinking, that makes him exist. That’s why his famous quote of “I think, therefore I am”...