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Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution

Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
Scientific revolution and enlightenment gave a solid foundation for a modern worldview
based on secularism and rationalism. It caused significant changes and great contributions
throughout Western European society. Tracing back from history, it can be seen that the scientific
revolution “enlightens” the Age of Enlightenment. It highlights reasoning as the principal source
of authority and legitimacy. Also, the importance of the scientific method was emphasized.
The scientific revolution led the European society to a new way to see humankind’s place
in the universe (Galileo, 1974). There are plenty of advancements in this century such as in the
field of medicine, physics, and mathematics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new
understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which
established the foundations of modern chemistry (Porter, 2014). There are plenty of changes that
occurred in how the Western European society viewed the universe which was different before the
18th century where they rely and believed in religion and superstitions with the church at the
During the 18th century, humanity began to make great steps in progress because of the
scientific revolution. It created plenty of discoveries that shifted European thought. Newton’s
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica and Diderot’s Encyclopedia were both the major
components of characteristics that led to the development of the desire to understand life, earth,
and a sense of independence from the knowledge of the church. In Newton’s Principia, he
demonstrated and explained gravity which spurred the thinking of Upper-class Europeans. The
discoveries and laws set by Newton gave a foundation of the universal guidelines that inspired
others to do experiments based on their observations. According to Holmes (2016), there are four
rules set in his Principia:
a. We are to admit that no more causes of natural things are both true and sufficient to
explain their phenomena.
b. The same natural effects must be assigned to the same causes.
c. The qualities of bodies are should be taken as qualities of all bodies universally.
d. In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction
contradict them.
These four rules of reasoning set the framework for the enlightenment where Western European
Society seeks answers with the use of the scientific method and other rules or laws created. Also,
European scholars already believed the ideas set out by ancient Greek thinkers.
The enlightenment born out the ideas in the scientific revolution developed in the late 17th
to human behavior and society in the 18th century.
The Scientific Revolution started the
development of the Enlightenment values of individualism because it demonstrated the power of
the human mind (Spark Notes, 2017). Sir Isaac Newton influenced the enlightenment in Europe
because he believed in natural laws. European scholars and scientists were able to come up with
their conclusions instead of relying to the instilled authority decreasing the resilience of the
traditional teachings of the church. People discovered ideas and principles that alters the global
mindset and serves as a turning point for Western European society. Scientists were able to create
discoveries in mechanics, physics, biology, and chemistry.
One of the major influencers during the enlightenment period was John Locke on his great
stance about the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. In his essay entitled Concerning Human
Understanding (1690) states that “to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human
knowledge; together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent” (Rogers, 2021).
For Locke, the mind derives the materials of reason and knowledge from experience (Herrin,
2020). On the other hand, enlightenment also had a political influence on Europe such as the
theory of republican legitimacy by Jean Jacques Rousseau. However, the majority of Europeans
accepted monarchy. During the entire enlightenment period, there are plenty of changes in
technology and medicine that directly influenced society. Galileo was able to invent the telescope
during this time and was able to see the moon slowly around Jupiter. This made him questioned
the teachings of the church and found truth in human logic, mathematics, and science. Overall, the
intellectuals in the 18th century turned the ideas in the scientific revolution to reexamine and
evaluate all aspects of life.
The scientific revolution and enlightenment “enlighten” the Western European society
through overthrowing religious beliefs, superstitions, and traditional authority. Science became a
leading role in people’s thoughts and discourse. A great advancement and progress were seen that
valued empiricism and rational thought. Philosophy and science spearheaded Europe with a new
belief system.
Galileo, G. (1974). Two New Sciences, trans. Stillman Drake. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.
Herrin, J. (2020, November 26). History of Europe. Retrieved from Britannica:
Holmes, S. (2016, January 27). Newton's Four Rules in Philosophy. Retrieved from The Blog of
Porter, J. (2014, September 4). History of Western Civilization II. Retrieved from Lumen Learning:
Spark Notes. (2017, February). Retrieved from The Scientific Revolution (1550-1700):