The Scientific Revolution refers to a period of time, between the 16th and 17th centuries, in which the development of fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, among others, gave rise to the foundation of classical science ; and this, to the detriment of the predominant ideas established by the Church and religion.
The Scientific Revolution, therefore, refers to a period of time in which, as its name indicates, the sciences play a determining role. And it is that, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the middle of the Modern Age, the development of fields such as chemistry, anatomy, astronomy, as well as those previously mentioned, laid the foundations of classical science. And all this, to the detriment of a Church, as well as a religion, which offered answers that were obsolete.
In this way, the Scientific Revolution caused knowledge construction methods to be based on observation, experimentation and rationality. Methods that were highly questioned, as the Church had great power and ability to influence the thinking of the population. And it is that, in numerous investigations, the Scientific Revolution opposed certain postulates that the Church considered valid and, therefore, the population as well.
For this reason, the Inquisition, through the control of books, among other practices, tried to stop the advance of these scientists. In this way, he tried to ensure that the faithful did not lose faith in the face of new theories. That is why characters such as Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, among other renowned scientists, had to confront these currents of thought offered by the Church; although this, as happened on certain occasions, cost them their lives.
The concept of Scientific Revolution was coined by the historian Alexandre Koyré in 1939.
Characteristics of the Scientific Revolution
Next, let’s see the main characteristics of this revolution:
- It refers to a period of time between the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Thanks to this period, the foundations of classical science are laid, and of the theories that could be considered the first approaches to modern science.
- The Church, through the Inquisition, tried to stop the advance of these sciences.
- This revolution was possible thanks to the development of certain fields such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, among others. However, those fields in which the most changes occurred were mathematics, astronomy and physics. And all this, giving rise to the scientific method.
- Since then, the construction of knowledge has been based on observation, experimentation and rational explanation.
- The Church, due to the advance of this revolution, began to lose power; losing their ideas sense thanks to the observation of many scientists of the time. Among these scientists, René Descartes and Galileo Galilei stand out.
- Many of these scientists cost their lives defending their theories.
Stages of the Scientific Revolution
Because all changes do not occur at the same time, the Scientific Revolution can be divided into 4 main stages.
These 4 stages are named based on the contribution that occurred in that stage:
- Copernican Revolution : Initiated by Nicolás Copernicus, and highly focused on fields such as astronomy and physics. At this stage scientists such as Newton or Galileo stand out.
- Darwinian Revolution : It gets its name from the contributions of Charles Darwin. It focuses on fields such as biology and earth sciences. In this sense, its main contribution is the theory of evolution.
- Einsteinian Revolution : It refers to the theories developed by Albert Einstein. It focuses on fields such as physics.
- Indeterministic Revolution : It refers to the position taken by scientists, contrary to the position that science was deterministic. In this sense, that conception was overcome, giving rise to a science in which that indeterminacy was contemplated.
Some characters of the Scientific Revolution
In order to give names and surnames to those scientists who drove this revolution, let’s look at some of them, as well as the fields in which they were involved:
- Galileo Galilei : A philosopher, mathematician, inventor and physicist who told us that the earth was round, and not flat as was believed then.
- René Descartes : Philosopher and mathematician. Father of modern rationalism.
- Francis Bacon : Father of empiricism. Considered the father of the experimental scientific method.
- Isaac Newton : Physicist and mathematician. He was an elementary researcher for the development of modern science.
Main contributions of the Scientific Revolution
Among the main contributions of this revolution, it should be noted that not only do we find theories, but we also have tools that made science more precise.
In this sense, we can highlight the following:
- Nicolás Copernicus published his studies on the movements of the planets.
- Galileo Galilei made observations in which he was able to conclude with reasoning that today persists as that our planet has a round body, and not flat as was believed.
- Johannes Kepler, like Copernicus, developed great theories in fields such as astronomy and the movement of the planets.
- Isaac Newton develops, based on Kepler and Galileo, the law of universal gravitation.
- René Descartes, thanks to his research, establishes what is known as the scientific method.
In addition, among those tools that we mentioned, we find the following experiments:
- Galileo Galilei, for the development of his theories, improved the telescope remarkably.
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek developed microscopes with great success.
- Blaise Pascal invented what was known as the mechanical calculator.
- Otto von Guericke’s invention of the vacuum pump allowed for highly developed research.
- In turn, the development of industrial machines, and of Denis Papin’s steam digester, gave rise to what would later drive the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine.
Criticisms of the Scientific Revolution
Among the most valid criticisms is the continuity thesis. This thesis shows us that, during this stage, there are not great changes in the development of science that they receive the qualification of "revolutionaries."
According to this theory, advances are nothing more than the natural development of science, and not, as many other historians and scientists define, a consequence of a revolution.
Therefore, according to this thesis, science has been developing, without pause, throughout history. And these changes that take place here, like others in the past and in the future, are not the consequence of a revolution, but of the natural development of science.