The effects of the Scientific Revolution on philosophy from 1550-1715 Zoe Macfarlane 11/15/09 7th The Scientific Revolution changed Europe in many different aspects. Improvements in science are obviously the most commonly recognized. Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, and other scientists at the time permanently changed science, which at the time was based on religion. These scientists used proven facts to support their laws and theories. However, for some reason, people tend to forget the major impact the revolution had on philosophical thought.
Prior to the Revolution much of philosophy was based on religious ideas and concepts. The leading frontier in post scientific revolution philosophical thought was Rene Descartes. Descartes laid the foundation of applying science to philosophy. Francis Bacon also applied newfound ideas from science to social philosophy. However, there was still some skepticism with the applications from the revolution. Blaise Pascal believed science could only explain so much, and people were already relying too heavily on it.
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The Scientific Revolution changed Europe’s philosophical thought by basing philosophy on thought and reason as opposed to religion and God. Francis Bacon was the first to apply the new discoveries in science to society and life. Although Bacon wasn’t a scientist, he was a leading advocate on the great potential of applying science to society. He never had a philosophy, but he wrote about how to create a philosophy. Bacon believed a philosopher should use inductive reasoning from facts to make laws. In 1627, the year after he died, his book New Atlantis was published.
In the book, Bacon described and utopian society where science saved humanity. Research scientists would be the most important and respected people in society and would have government support to discover as much information on the physical world. Bacon’s ideas of research being a collective enterprise influenced many later scientists. The first attempt to apply the new learned methods from science was made by the French philosopher Rene Descartes. The basis of Descartes work laid in his discovered fact that human senses can be deceived.
Knowing this he applied the principle of doubt to all of his experiment to find the truth. His assumption “I think, therefore I am,” lead him to believe that the act of doubting proved he was thinking, and justified his existence. From the proof of his own existence, he believed that whatever was thought, must ne true, which in turn justified the existence of God. In his book Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, he showed that his application of doubt didn’t contradict religious belief.
He also said that there is a distinct division between spirit and matter. Descartes divided science and faith farther than Bacon and Galileo already had. Descartes divided not only science form faith, but also from out perception of reality. Descartes was the first to apply the methods of science to all knowledge. During a time when the new methods and usage of science were being embraced, Blaise Pascal was one of the few who firmly opposed the new science. Pascal was a French mathematician and experimenter who studied probability in games, and contributed to the formation of the basis of calculus.
He also invented a calculating machine, and helped discover barometric pressure. Pascal became satisfied with his research and had a religious awakening. He wrote a collection of reflections, Pensees, or reflections, which were gathered and published after his death. In his writings Pascal expressed his deep concern for the increasing influence of science. Pascal wanted people to understand that science could only explain so much, and the truths perceived by faith were more important.
The quote “The heart has its reasons that reason can not know”, explains Pascal’s view of faith and understanding. New methods in science that had been discovered during the Scientific Revolution were applied to society and humanity by pioneers of philosophy. Francis Bacon showed in his book, New Atlantis, the potential science had to improve society. Rene Descartes, first did the application of science to knowledge, and also used the principle of doubt to find truth.
Many philosophers agreed with the ideas of reason and knowledge, which came from the revolution, however some still weren’t convinced. Blaise Pascal believed that faith was more important than research since science isn’t able to explain everything. Philosophy after the Scientific Revolution began to look for facts and evidence as opposed to trusting just faith alone, which was what had previously done. This continued to increase the separation between science and faith, which had been a goal of the Scientific Revolution.