Topic: Copernicus to the Present

Details: Answer only ONE of the five prompts below. Your essay should be five pages in length. Please remember to use citations and quotations. These are not research papers, they are discussion papers, and all the sources you need are included as PDFs provided. Please do not use outside sources only the ones I provided you with! This paper is due on 9/26 at midnight PST. Canvas will lock you out if not turned in on time. Do not be late!

1. Was there really a “scientific revolution” in the seventeenth century? Discuss your answer in terms of what historians have said about developments in a specific discipline such as astronomy or in the work of a specific figure such as Copernicus or Galileo. What kind of story does the “Scientific Revolution” tell? Is it a “Whig history?” And if so, whose interest does it serve?

2. What was the seventeenth-century mechanical philosophy as developed by René Descartes? In what ways was the Cartesian mechanical philosophy a modern scientific theory? To what degree, if at all, was it an expression of its social and cultural moment, the mercantile culture of the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic?

3. How did the practitioners of the new science find out about nature? How did they see it as different from the way a previous generation had practiced natural philosophy? What difficulties did the moderns have to overcome in order to establish the credibility of the knowledge that they were trying to make? What can those problems tell us about scientific experiments and practices? Confine your discussion to the work of one principal figure such as Galileo, or Robert Boyle.

4. How important was mathematics to early modern natural philosophers? Why was it important, for example, that Galileo sought a position at the Medici court as a mathematician and natural philosopher? What, if anything, can the struggle by figures such as Copernicus, or Galileo, to increase the authority of mathematics tell us about the way in which the question of who could practice natural philosophy was changing in the early modern period?

5. Where was early modern natural philosophy practiced? Why was the creation of scientific societies important for the establishment of the new science in the seventeenth century? Discuss the importance of Sir Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle for the establishment of the Royal Society in England. Why did the social status of Royal society members matter?

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Was there really a “scientific revolution” in the seventeenth century


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