This provided some of the philosophical backing for European
imperialism and colonialism for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
By: Briana, Alexus, Luis, Rudy
The scientific revolution was the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed views of society and nature
Sir Isaac Newton's work was the capstone of the Scientific Revolution, utilizing the advances made before him in mathematics, astronomy, and physics to derive a comprehensive understanding of the physical world.
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The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment marked a major change in Western thought. Scientists, like Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, redefined our conceptions of the Universe and life on Earth while political philosophers, like John Locke and Karl Marx, changed the way society and government was viewed.
As we have said, in European history the term 'Scientific Revolution' refers to the period between Copernicus and Newton. But the chronological period has varied dramatically over the last 50 years. The broadest period acknowledged usually runs from Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) and his to Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Some historians have cut this back, claiming that it properly extends only to the publication of Newton's (1687) or to his (1704) or to Newton's death (1727). More radical proposals have suggested that the Scientific Revolution might apply to the so-called Enlightenment 'Newtonians' thus extending to roughly 1750. Further, as we shall see below, some historians have cut back the earlier period. Some have all but removed Copernicus from their chronological definition, claiming that the 'Copernican Revolution' virtually began and ended in 1610 with the work of Galileo and Kepler. Historians have consistently disputed the presumed beginning and ending dates of the much-disputed 'Scientific Revolution'.
Was there a Scientific Revolution that replaced pre-scientificthinking about nature and society and thus marked the transition tomodernity? Which later developments, if any, are truly revolutionary?Are attributions of revolution usually a sign of insufficienthistoriographical understanding? In any case, how are such episodes tobe explained historically and epistemologically? Are they contingent,that is, historical accidents and thus perhaps avoidable; or are theysomehow necessary to a “progressive” science? And, if so,why? Is there an overall pattern of scientific development? If so, isit basically one of creative displacement, as Kuhn claimed? Do allrevolutions have the same structure and function, or are there diverseforms of rupture, discontinuity, or rapid change in science? Do theyrepresent great leaps forward or, on the contrary, does theirexistence undercut the claim that science progresses? Does theexistence of revolutions in mature sciences support a postmodern or“post-critical” (Polanyi) rather than a modern,neo-Enlightenment conception of science in relation to other humanenterprises? Does their existence support a strongly constructionistversus a realist conception of scientific knowledge claims? Arerevolutions an exercise in rationality or are they so excessive as tobe labeled irrational? Do they invite epistemological relativism? Whatare the implications of revolution for science policy? This entry willsurvey some but not all of these issues.
The difficulties in identifying and conceptualizing scientificrevolutions involve many of the most challenging issues inepistemology, methodology, ontology, philosophy of language, and evenvalue theory. With revolution we immediately confront the problem ofdeep, possibly noncumulative, conceptual and practical change, now inmodern science itself, a locus that Enlightenment thinkers would havefound surprising. And since revolution is typically driven by newresults, or by a conceptual-cum-social reorganization of old ones,often highly unexpected, we also confront the hard problem ofunderstanding creative innovation. Third, major revolutions supposedlychange the normative landscape of research by altering the goals andmethodological standards of the enterprise, so we face also thedifficult problem of relating descriptive claims to normative claimsand practices, and changes in the former to changes in the latter.
Immanuel Kant explicitly enacts a revolution in epistemology modeledon the Copernican in astronomy. As characteristic of Enlightenmentepistemology, Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason (1781,second edition 1787) undertakes both to determine the limits of ourknowledge, and at the same time to provide a foundation of scientificknowledge of nature, and he attempts to do this by examining our humanfaculties of knowledge critically. Even as he draws strict limits torational knowledge, he attempts to defend reason as a faculty ofknowledge, as playing a necessary role in natural science, in the faceof skeptical challenges that reason faces in the period. According toKant, scientific knowledge of nature is not merely knowledge of whatin fact happens in nature, but knowledge of the causal lawsof nature according to which what in fact happens musthappen. But how is knowledge of necessary causal connection in naturepossible? Hume’s investigation of the idea of cause had madeclear that we cannot know causal necessity through experience;experience teaches us at most what in fact happens, not whatmust happen. In addition, Kant’s own earlier critiqueof principles of rationalism had convinced him that the principles of(“general”) logic also cannot justify knowledge ofreal necessary connections (in nature); the formal principleof non-contradiction can ground at best the deduction of oneproposition from another, but not the claim that oneproperty or event must follow from another in thecourse of nature. The generalized epistemological problem Kantaddresses in the Critique of Pure Reason is: how is sciencepossible (including natural science, mathematics, metaphysics), giventhat all such knowledge must be (or include) knowledge of real,substantive (not merely logical or formal) necessities. Put in theterms Kant defines, the problem is: how is synthetic, a prioriknowledge possible?
The greatest contribution given the Enlightenment by the scientific revolution was the notion to question the Christian dogma by means of logic, which the philosophes would take further to satirize/question their own governments in many instances as well.
The general problem presented by Kuhn’s critique of traditionalphilosophy of science is that, although the various sciences have beensuccessful, we do not understand how they have accomplishedthis or even how to characterize this success. Enlightenment-styleexplanations have failed. For example, Kuhn and Feyerabend (1975),preceded by Popper, were among the first philosophers to expose thebankruptcy of the claim that it was the discovery of a specialscientific method that explains that success, a view that is stillwidely taught in secondary schools today. And that conclusion (onethat cheered those postmodernists who regard scientific progress as anillusion) left Kuhn and the science studies profession with theproblem of how science really does work. To explain how and why it hadbeen so successful became an urgent problem for him—again, aproblem largely rejected as bogus by many science studies scholarsother than philosophers.
Somewhat ironically, Kuhn’s attempt to revolutionize theepistemology of science has had a wider socio-cultural impact thanmany scientific revolutions themselves. While some of Kuhn’sdoctrines step into the postmodern era, he still had a foot in theEnlightenment, which helps to explain his dismay at the criticalreaction to his work and to radical developments in the new-wavesociology of science of the 1970s and ‘80s. For, unlike manypostmodernists (some of whom make use of his work), Kuhn retained ascientific exceptionalism. He did not doubt that the sciences havebeen uniquely successful since the Scientific Revolution. For him,unlike for many of his critics, revolutions in his radical sense weregreat epistemological leaps forward rather than deep scientificfailures. On the science policy front, he intended his work to helppreserve the integrity of this socially valuable enterprise. It is onscience policy issues that Steve Fuller is most critical of Kuhn(Fuller 2000).
According to Kant’s Copernican Revolution in epistemologyaddressed to this problem, objects must conform themselves to humanknowledge rather than knowledge to objects. Certain cognitive formslie ready in the human mind – prominent examples are the pureconcepts of substance and cause and the forms of intuition, space andtime; given sensible representations must conform themselves to theseforms in order for human experience (as empirical knowledge of nature)to be possible at all. We can acquire scientific knowledge of naturebecause we constitute it a priori according to certain cognitiveforms; for example, we can know nature as a causally ordered domainbecause we originally synthesize a priori the given manifold ofsensibility according to the category of causality, which has itssource in the human mind.
It was also a period that saw to the abolishment of traditional science values of dichotomy and the worship of atomisation in science, replacing reductive micro deterministic views of personhood with holistic top-down view (Overskeid, 2008) The aim of this essay is to give an account of what constitutes the cognitive revolution, and also assess the contributions that the cognitive revolution has made to the scientific study of psychology....