Document 1 (page 30)

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Layla Quinones


Professor Timothy Coogan

January 17, 2009

Sources Homework 3
Chapter 2

Document 1 (page 30)

1. On what grounds did Cardinal Bellarmine reject the Copernican Theory?

Cardinal Bellarmine’s grounds for determining that the Copernican theory was false were based on the theological interpretation of the world that was seen during medieval times. He first asserted it was extremely dangerous to proclaim that the world was not the center of the universe. This would only undermine the authority of the church and the interpretation of the bible at that time; making him a heretic who could be tried and prosecuted. Second, he informs that the bible itself states in specific places, how the earth does not move rather, the sun moves around the earth very quickly. If the Copernican theory was true, therefore, the bible would be incorrect consequently making the church’s interpretation of the bible wrong. This would lead to the church ultimately losing power and the trust of the people. Lastly, Bellarmine determined that the earth is too heavy to move and that if it did, everything would also move around without any of the stability that is obviously seen on earth. In addition, he concludes that without proof that the Earth is in fact not the center of the universe, there would be no acceptance of the Copernican theory by the church.

Document 2 (page 34)

1. What methods did Galileo Galilei use in his scientific investigations?

Galileo used his observations with his newly refined telescope, to prove that the Copernicus theory may in fact be correct. One night he observed the alignment of the moons that orbit Jupiter. On subsequent nights, he observed a change in the alignment of these moons and concluded that it was very possible for the earth to revolve around the sun as does the moon around the earth. This method was the newly introduced empirical method whereas knowledge is acquired through experimentation and not through the writings of others. Although Galileo did not have the means to scientifically prove that the earth revolved around the sun in a galaxy that contained other planets also revolving around the sun, he applied his observations through reason and comparison; proving the theory that Copernicus had produced before him.

2. What was the implication for modern astronomy of Galileo’s observation of the surface of the moon? Of the moons of Jupiter?

The implication that is made by Galileo’s observation of the surface of the moon was that it is not perfect, as was believed at the time, but filled with spots (craters) on it’s surface. This led him to conclude that the moon is like the earth, with imperfections on its surface therefore, opening the possibility that, contrary to Medieval beliefs, the earth may in fact be a planet. Jupiter on the other hand, gave Galileo an idea about how the moon may revolve around the earth while all together both revolving around the sun. This observation opened many doors in astronomy for years to come and definitely provided proof of the possibility that the moon revolves around the earth and the sun at the same time.

Document 3 (page 39)

1. What was Galileo Galilei’s objection to using the Bible as a source of knowledge of the physical things? According to him, how did one acquire knowledge of nature?

Galileo’s objection in using the Bible as a source of knowledge was that the Bible may be interpreted various in ways. He pointed out that the words in the Bible may have a deeper meaning to them that is not seen by the church. He then goes on to assert that the church itself, interprets the Bible to it’s own advantage. This, he asserts, in no way helps the development of science, in fact it hurts science tremendously. He concludes that it is only through observation, reason, mathematics and logic, that knowledge can be acquired about nature. He declares that using the bible as a source for information about nature is clearly contradicting and selective in terms of the church’s interpretation of it.

2. What point was Galileo making in telling the story of the anatomical dissection?

The point that Galileo is making when telling the story of the anatomical dissection was that there is always a possibility that beliefs that are held in high regard in science, may in fact be proven false through experimentation and observation. Another point that he was trying to make is that, despite the physical evidence that an individual might have proving a certain thing; people are reluctant to accept new explanations about the world, due to their devotion in their current beliefs. This leads to the further justification that church officials may not have the right interpretations of the Bible and, their objectives would be not in favor of science, but in favor of themselves and their authority.

3. What was Galileo’s view on the use of Aristotle’s works as a basis for scientific endeavors?

Galileo believed that Aristotle’s teachings should be held in high regard, however, they were not to be taken word for word as the truth. He believed that those who did not question his teachings or look for new reasons to explain nature were contradicting their position as philosophers. He asserts that those who did not ponder about new reasons for things were historians to Greek literature and not to be considered philosophers. This therefore further justified his reason for change in the way the world viewed the universe and the reliability of his theories through concrete evidence.

4. Why did the Inquisition regard the teaching of Copernicanism as dangerous?

The Inquisition regarded Copernicanism as dangerous because it defied the teachings of the church. This therefore defied the teachings of the apostles and implied that the teachings of God were false. This notion that the church was wrong can deter people away from the faith in God, faith in the church, and consequently decrease the power of authority that the church had in Europe. A direct defiance in God’s teachings is regarded as heresy and therefore, Galileo was imprisoned as an example for others who planned on defying the Catholic religion.

Document 4 (page 39)

1. What intellectual attitude did Frances Bacon believe obstructed new scientific discoveries in his time?

The intellectual attitude that Bacon believed has obstructed new scientific discoveries is the tendency to remain in the past. He asserts that scientists of his time should not rely on the past in order to realize new things. On the contrary, he believed that scholars should build on what they know about the present and the past, along with direct observations from nature. He strongly believed that if people relied on classical literature to shape their lives, they would rely too much on one man’s opinion. This therefore closed the doors to new scientific discovery which manifests from questioning our surroundings rather than what was thought in ancient times.

2. What method of scientific inquiry did Bacon advocate?

Bacon advocated observation and application as a method of scientific inquiry. He regarded exploration, experimentation and close analysis as the means to uncover secrets about nature that is otherwise hidden to the primitive mind. He asserted that in order to move forward in science, a person must use the knowledge that is possessed by an individual himself rather than one person’s teachings such as Aristotle’s.

Document 5 (page 41)

1. What evidence led William Harvey to conclude that blood constantly circulates through the heart?

Harvey observed that the heart contains two chambers that allow it to expand and contract. He witnessed the heart expanding and contracting allowing blood to constantly move in two directions. Through his observations and experiments, he concluded that the circulation of blood moves away from the heart to the body and from the body into the heart. This then led him to conclude that the circulation of the blood occurs in a circular motion originating from the heart then passing through the entire body. Through his experiments and observations he applied reason and mathematics to draw conclusions about the existing theory of circulation as well as his own.

2. What method did he use to reach his conclusions?

The method that Harvey used to reach his conclusions was the empirical method; observing nature first hand and applying reason to achieve a conclusion. This method was revolutionary and characteristic of the scientific revolution that was not seen during the medieval times, when they would interpret nature through the bible.

3. Why did some of Harvey’s colleagues refuse to believe his conclusions?

Harvey’s colleagues did not believe his conclusions because he was going against the universal beliefs of all scientists during that time. As it was a crime to go against the bible and it’s teachings, to go against something that all scientists believed to be true can be interpreted as an insult to their intellect.

4. Why did Harvey publish his book?

Harvey published his book so that he might be the one who would get the credit, good or bad, for his discoveries. He also published his book and gave his evidence so that no reasonable man could turn it down. Lastly, he proved that the belief at the time about the circulation of blood was wrong in many cases in order to leave scientists speculating that his observations and theory were in fact true.

Document 6 (page 43)

1. Why was Rene Descartes critical of the learning of his day?

Descartes studied in schools for a long while until he sought out to expand his knowledge abroad. Traveling to different places and meeting new people allowed him to realize that various groups of people from different ethnic backgrounds have many different opinions and points of view about life. He noted that, although many of these groups did not believe in the scriptures of the bible, they were not savages or barbarians. He went further to say that these people were similar to the people of his own country, with the same capacity to reason, think and feel. He was critical of the learning of his day because, due to the various opinions of the world, he noticed that there was much more to life than the teachings of ancient Greek and Roman times. He noticed that the learning done in his day was also more reflective upon these classical teachings than the newly founded discoveries or thoughts occurring in his time.

2. What are the implications of Descartes’ famous words: “I think, therefore I am”?

The implications of Descartes’ famous words “I think therefore I am” was that the human mind has the capacity to think therefore, it can acquire knowledge of nature and the person’s surroundings. This thought then led to his purpose of stating these words as a fundamental rule to philosophy. If the human mind has the capacity to think and ask questions about his surroundings, he is then capable of uncovering nature’s secrets through reasoning and logic. Lastly, I will go further to say that as human beings, we are aware of ourselves and the things around us, therefore, we have already made the first crucial step in unlocking the mysteries of nature: to ask questions.

3. Compare Descartes’ methods with the approach advocated by Francis Bacon.

The methods that Descartes uses for acquiring knowledge reflected the approach that Francis Bacon asserts to be the key for the improvement and advancement of science. Both scholars emphasized the importance of the human mind and its capacity to think, reason and conclude. Bacon stresses that, in order to improve science, individuals must use observations and experiments conducted first hand, in order to achieve a definite answer to a proposed question. Similarly, Descartes asserts that, through physical experience and inquiry, rather than through literature and history, a greater knowledge of the world and our surroundings could be achieved more successfully. In all, both men asserted the importance of the careful investigation of nature through personal experience, the accumulation of data in an organized fashion in order to apply reason and logic to derive conclusions and, the use of experimentation to prove hypotheses to be true or false.

Document 7 (page 47)

1. What did Isaac Newton mean by universal law? What examples of universal law did he provide?

By universal law, Newton was referring to a law that applies to all things that is on earth and in the universe. He asserts that through his careful observation and experimentation, going along the theory that all things in nature are orderly and uniform, that certain principals about matter, gravity and existence must apply to all things. He gives the example of inertia, that when an object is at rest and is hit or touched by another moving object, a reaction would occur where the stationary object would also move. Another example that Newton gave of his universal laws was of solid matter. He concluded that all matter is impenetrable and composed of tightly packed particles that render them solid, heavy and impenetrable. He applied this through reasoning to all sold matter and a universal law. Lastly, he noted that through experimentation and observation, an intellectual individual could combine science and reasoning by creating a set of propositions that renders a conclusion true (method of inductive reasoning).

2. What method for investigating nature did Newton advocate?

The method that Newton advocated for investigating nature was the inductive method. Through this, he asserts that individuals could use their knowledge and experience, and combine them with reasoning to determine a truthful conclusion about something scientific.

3. Summarize Newton’s arguments for God’s existence.

Newton strongly asserts that God does in fact exist due to the various phenomena that occur in the world. He determines that in order for the world and the universe to be orderly, powerful and mysterious, there must be some sort of higher power that is influencing the reactions of various events that create the universe. He concludes that, constantly, various things are occurring that aren’t visible to the naked eye and may not be obvious to a philosopher at the time. The existence of the mysteries of nature and the fact that they all fit together in a cycle of the universe, led Newton to believe that in the center of all things there is God, carrying out the mysteries of life. In addition, due to the fact that Newton could not determine the origin or gravity, he also implied that in order for such events to happen, a powerful force must be in the center of all things which he determined is God.

4. For Newton, what is God’s relationship to the universe?

For Newton, God was the creator of the universe and He is present everywhere and all the time. Therefore he believed that God in present everywhere and all the time, carrying out his power over the world. In addition, he did not necessarily believe that the Christian God Himself was the creator of the universe, rather, the only explanation he had for the natural phenomena of the universe was by way of some sort of higher power that keeps all things in order. It is to this higher power that he referred to as God and he held Him responsible for all the phenomena of the universe.

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