The Scientific Revolution



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Chapter 22

Enlightenment and Revolution, 1550–1789



The Scientific Revolution

The Roots of Modern Science

The Medieval View

• Most knowledge in Middle Ages comes from Bible, Greek/Roman sources

• Supports geocentric theory—moon, sun, planets revolve around earth

A New Way of Thinking

• Renaissance prompts new ways of thinking (1300–1600)

• Scientific Revolution—new way of viewing natural world—based on observation, inquiry

• New discoveries, overseas exploration open up thinking

• Scholars make new developments in astronomy, mathematics

A Revolutionary Model of the Universe

The Heliocentric Theory

• Widely accepted geocentric theory challenged as inaccurate

• Copernicus develops heliocentric theory—planets revolve around sun

• Later scientists mathematically prove Copernicus to be correct

Galileo’s Discoveries

• Italian scientist Galileo Galilei makes key advances in astronomy

- makes discovery about planet surfaces, supports heliocentric theory

Conflict with the Church

• Church attacks Galileo’s work, fears it will weaken people’s faith

• Pope forces Galileo to declare his and other new findings are wrong

The Scientific Method

A Logical Approach

• Revolution in thinking leads to development of scientific method

- series of steps for forming, testing scientific theories

Bacon and Descartes

• Thinkers Bacon and Descartes help to create scientific method

• Bacon urges scientists to experiment before drawing conclusions

• Descartes advocates using logic, math to reason out basic truths

Newton Explains the Law of Gravity

Newton’s Theories

• English scientist Isaac Newton develops theory of motion

- states same forces rule motion of planets, matter in space, earth

• Motion in space, earth linked by the law of universal gravitation

- holds that every object in universe attracts every other object

• Newton views universe as a vast, perfect mechanical clock

The Scientific Revolution Spreads

Scientific Instruments

• Scientists develop microscope, barometer, thermometer

• New instruments lead to better observations, new discoveries

Medicine and the Human Body

• Andreas Vesalius improves knowledge of anatomy

• Edward Jenner produces world’s first vaccination—for smallpox

Discoveries in Chemistry

• Robert Boyle argues that matter is made of many different particles

• Boyle’s law reveals interaction of volume, temperature, gas pressure



The Enlightenment in Europe

Two Views on Government

New Ways of Thinking

• Scientific Revolution spurs reassessment of many prevailing ideas

- Europeans seek insights into society during 1600s, 1700s

• Leads to the Enlightenment—a movement stressing reason and thought

Hobbes’s Social Contract

• Hobbes distrusts humans, favors strong government to keep order

• Promotes social contract—getting order by giving power to monarch

Locke’s Natural Rights

• Philosopher John Locke says government gets power from the people

• Stresses that people have a right to overthrow an unjust government

The Philosophes Advocate Reason

Beliefs of the Philosophes

• The philosophes are French social critics in the mid-1700s

• Value reason, nature, happiness, progress, liberty

Voltaire Combats Intolerance

• Voltaire—influential philosophe, pen name of François Marie Arouet

• Publishes many works arguing for tolerance, reason

• Makes powerful enemies and is imprisoned twice for his views

Montesquieu and the Separation of Powers

• Montesquieu—French writer who admires Britain’s government system

• Favors separation of powers to keep one body from running government

Rousseau: Champion of Freedom

• Rousseau—philosophe who favors individual freedom, direct democracy

• Views social contract as agreement by free people to form government

Beccaria Promotes Criminal Justice

• Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria works to reform justice system

• Calls for speedy trials, greater rights for criminal defendants

Women and the Enlightenment

Views on Women’s Education Change

• Many Enlightenment thinkers take traditional views of women’s role

• Prominent writer Mary Wollstonecraft urges greater rights for women:

- argues women need quality education to be virtuous and useful

- urges women to go into traditionally male professions like politics

• Some wealthy women use their status to spread Enlightenment ideas

Legacy of the Enlightenment

Role of the Philosophes

• The philosophes are not activists, but inspire major revolutions

Belief in Progress

• Scientific breakthroughs show human capacity to improve society

A More Secular Outlook

• New knowledge of the world leads people to question religious ideas

• Voltaire and others criticize beliefs and practices of Christianity

Importance of the Individual

• People place more emphasis on individual rights, abilities

• Reason becomes a central concept for philosophers, rulers

The Enlightenment Spreads

A World of Ideas

Intellectual Life in Paris

• Paris becomes center of the Enlightenment during 1700s

• City is home to salons—gatherings where thinkers discuss ideas

Diderot’s Encyclopedia

• Philosophe Denis Diderot begins publishing Encyclopedia in 1751

- set of books to which Enlightenment thinkers contribute essays

• Encyclopedia articles anger French government, Catholic Church

• Encyclopedia helps spread Enlightenment ideas across Europe

New Artistic Styles

Neoclassical Style Emerges

• Pre-Enlightenment art style is baroque—grand, ornate design

• Enlightenment style is neoclassical, based on Greek/Roman themes

Changes in Music and Literature

• Classical music emerges; lighter, more elegant than earlier style

- led by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

• Novel emerges; works of fiction with detailed plots and characters

• Samuel Richardson’s Pamela considered first true English novel

Enlightenment and Monarchy

Enlightened Despots

• Spirit of the Enlightenment prompts rise of enlightened despots:

- monarchs who embrace Enlightenment values to strengthen their rule

Frederick the Great

• Frederick II, king of Prussia, reforms education and justice system

• Grants religious freedom, abolishes torture, fails to end serfdom

Joseph II

• Joseph II of Austria allows freedoms of worship and the press

• Abolishes serfdom, but the practice is reinstated after his death

Catherine the Great

• Catherine the Great—enlightened ruler of Russia, 1762–1796

• Seeks to abolish capital punishment and torture, but effort fails

• Responds to peasant revolt by giving nobles more power over serfs

Catherine Expands Russia

• In foreign affairs, Catherine successfully expands Russian empire

• Gains port access for Russia by seizing northern coast of Black Sea

• Seizes large parts of Poland, increasing empire’s size

The American Revolution

Britain and Its American Colonies

The American Colonies Grow

• American colonies grow large and populous during 1600s, 1700s

• Colonies thrive economically through trade with Europe

- Britain’s Navigation Act restricts that trade (1651)

- other trade laws add restrictions, taxes

• Colonists identify less and less as British subjects

Americans Win Independence

British–Colonial Tensions Arise

• Britain, American colonies win French and Indian War in 1763

• Britain taxes colonists to help pay war debts

• Colonists argue that British cannot tax them without their consent

Growing Hostility Leads to War

• Colonists protest tea tax with “Boston Tea Party” in 1773

• Colonists meet in Philadelphia to address British policies (1774)

• British and Americans exchange fire at Lexington and Concord in 1775

The Influence of the Enlightenment

• Colonial leaders push for independence, rely on Enlightenment ideas

• Declaration of Independence—document justifying colonial rebellion

• Leader Thomas Jefferson writes Declaration, uses ideas of Locke

Success for the Colonists

• Despite British military might, colonists have advantages:

- motivating cause of freedom

- French assistance

- war’s expense for Britain

• British surrender at Yorktown in 1781; colonists win the war

Americans Create a Republic

A Weak National Government

• Articles of Confederation set government plan for new republic

• Articles create legislature only, no executive or judicial branches

• Result is weak national government fails to provide unity and order

A New Constitution

• Leaders call Constitutional Convention in 1787 to revise articles

• Group instead creates a new government under U.S. Constitution

• Constitution contains many political ideas of the Enlightenment

The Federal System

• Constitution creates three branches of government

• Provides checks and balances—ensures branches share power equally

• Promotes federal system—power divided between nation and states

The Bill of Rights

• Some fear too much national power, few protections of rights



• Leaders win support for Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights

- ten amendments to Constitution that protect freedoms


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