The Ideas of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

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It is a movement that was based on the knowledge acquired from the Greeks and the Romans, This movement led to the rebirth of the previous works of ancient philosophers. This happened after the Renaissance era in late 18th century.

During the medieval period, many scientists didn’t use accurate methods of experiment which led to many wrong assumptions. The dominance of the church was at its peak and many people blindly followed the teachings and instructions of the Pope. Therefore, the people wanted to find a new approach which was more focused on their needs. On the other hand, scientists came together to find new ways of thinking called “The Scientific Method”.

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One example of the radical ideas of this era is the “Heliocentric theory.” Previously it was thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and the other planets orbited around it and it was known as “Geocentric Theory”. However, the scientist Nicolas Copernicus proved that the Sun is the center of the universe not the Earth. Other scientists followed him in the study of the universe and the natural laws of the movement of the planets and the stars such as Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton.

Newton’s principals of motion and universal gravitation influenced many later scientists. His laws built a strong foundation of mathematics and physics for later generations to develop. He collaborated with the English scientist Robert Hooke and was able to create the three laws of motion which affected the development of many machines. This revolutionized the field of industry and the process of mass production into a new era which was later known as the “Industrial Revolution”.

The Scientific revolution impacted not only scholars and scientists but also the common people. In medieval times, the people didn’t have any sources of knowledge except the bible and the translated texts of it. In addition, educated was only excluded to the upper classes of society. However, after the spread of the new “Scientific Method” ideas which encouraged the people to think for themselves and not just follow the opinions of others. These new ideas created a conflict with the church which affected scientists such as Galileo. He was tried for heresy and was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life because he refused to claim the Copernicus’s ideas were false.

The enlightenment was a movement which aimed towards the freedom of thinking. It was based on the rational analysis of truths and ideas that were received from the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as religious leaders. These principals created an outline to civil rights and religious tolerance as well as social justice and equality.

This movement was an extension to the renaissance era where many people started to focus more on the potentials of the individual freedom and not the religious duty. Another movement that contributed to the freedom of the individual was called “Humanism” and it was developed after the renaissance had spread across European kingdoms. All these movements and new developments challenged the absolute authority of the Catholic Church and questioned its integrity and practices. Many citizens had blindly followed the teachings and instructions of the pope without asking questions. This resulted to the increase of superstitions and backward thoughts. Therefore, the ideas of the scientific revolution and the enlightenment were considered ways to challenge god and not ideas of the people. Also, the people didn’t have many rights because the kings and the priests would control how the people thought and felts.

One of the most influential ideas of the enlightenment was the “Social Contract” By Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This idea was an effort to reform the political system in Europe. During that time, kings and rulers had absolute powers over the government and there was little to no participation from the people. The social contract was a plan to clarify the duties and responsibilities of both citizens and leaders. This school of thought was inspired by the Greek and Roman democratic systems where citizens and rulers shared power.

When these ideas spread, many people realized the fact that they have the right to participate in the process of decision making along with the government or the parliament. In the American colonies, the colonists weren’t represented in the British Parliament. Therefore, they didn’t have any choice but to demand independence. Thomas Jefferson was the one who drafted the “Declaration of Independence” and was inspired by the enlightenment in quoting that the people have natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Also, the declaration promoted more enlightened rights such as freedom of speech, equality, religious tolerance and freedom of press. These ideas were later added to the constitution of the United States. In addition, the separation of government authority was also one of the enlightened principals. This principal suggested that there should be three independent branches of government that work together and complete each other to guarantee justice and order. The legislative branch should put together the rules and laws according to the constitution, the executive branch to carry out these laws and the judicial branch to determine any case of violation of the citizens’ rights or the articles of the constitution.

It is a movement that was based on technological developments of machines using steam and coal powers which contributed into major improvement of economy. It started in Britain around the 18th century. There were many reasons that helped with the beginning of this movement. A major cause for the flourish and expansion of the industrial revolution is the rise of a new economic system known as “Capitalism”. This system relies on private ownership and business transactions of merchants. The Scottish economist Adam Smith wrote a book called “The Wealth of Nations”. This new method excludes the government from the economy and gives the chance to the people to make their own decisions about what products to make and the prices.

Another major cause was the widespread of “Imperialism”. This affected the control over other nations through trade as well as political dominance. Many places were under the rule of European nations such as North America and Africa. Therefore, more trading posts were built in order to distribute European products and import raw materials. With the development of machinery, the industrial revolution increased the control over trade and the economy of many European countries developed.

The agricultural revolution also contributed to the expansion of the industrial revolution because of the new techniques in agriculture. These techniques required new machines and tools that depended on mined power sources such as coal. In addition, transportation was also revolutionized after the discovery of the coal power for trains. So products were sent to many far places and people were also transported to work or trade in various European colonies.

This improvement of technology led to many negative impacts. One of the most important was the rise of the labor social class. Prior to this revolution many societies depended on farming. However, with the increase of demand for factory workers, many people decided to move to the cities and work in factories. This also led to the destruction of many farms because people left their lands to live in cities. Also, children also had to work in factories for long hours as well as their parents so the education of the children declined and the living conditions of the people became much worse. Another impact was the growth of towns which was later known as “Urbanization”. Many people lived in cities so more buildings and factories were built on the expense of agriculture and farming. This led to a major imbalance between the supply and demand of the resources of food. Moreover, families became divided because everyone was working long hours so the society was affected because the traditions and costumes faded away.

This movement took place during the mid-18th till the 19th century and it relied on the value of emotions. This contrasted with the rational movement that happened during the enlightenment and the scientific revolutions that promoted reason more than any other method of thinking. Pioneers romanticism argued that emotions are as important as reason and that people shouldn’t have to choose one or the other. It also encouraged the expansion of the imagination of artists and thinkers towards finding deeper understanding of civil rights and liberty. One of its forms was depicted in painting to express the hardships of the French people prior the revolution. Another form was that painters focused more on nature and outdoor painting rather than just portraits of leaders and kings. The beginning of this movement in England started in 1790s where it impacted English literature. The main authors who adopted this method of writing were William Wordsworth and William Blake. It also spread to Germany and France.

As for realism, it is a movement of arts that focused on accurate illustration of nature and situations of the modern life. It is different from other movements that encouraged imaginations. Some forms of realism can be found in the sculptures of ancient Greeks because they used accurate measurements of the human body. This movement was specifically popular in France during mid-19th century. It is also contrasted with romanticism because it favored the actual details of life rather than unreal stories of events. This allowed many people to have a clear view of the social and political life as well as any conflicts or struggles.

This movement continued to the 20th century and was spread to the United States. During that time many historical events took place such as both world wars and the great depression. The role of realism was highlighted in expressing the features of these events and their political and social impacts in many forms such as paintings and novels. These works of art are considered sources to study history and politics.

This movement shifted the focus of the people from the spiritual world into the rational world. Many people used to follow the rules of religion without thinking or analyzing what they were told but with this movement new ideas were spread to encourage the people to find the truth themselves and not wait for someone to tell it to them. Also, the works of many scientists such as Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei paved the way for more scientific discoveries that have huge impacts on modern day technology. For example, Newton’s laws of motion made it possible to develop machines, vehicles and even rockets. In addition, the advancement in navigation and astronomy created many opportunities for international trade and maritime transportation. This allowed the exchange of cultures, ideas and beliefs as well as scientific advancement.

Europe faced many political and social issues that resulted to major unrest and conflicts. So this movement was a way to reform many rules and laws in which various kingdoms were ruled. When the French and the American revolutions were impacted with the ideas of the Enlightenment they represented a major change in the political systems in the world. Nowadays, civil rights that were based on the ideas of the enlightenment became major parts of constitutions of many countries. For example, the American constitution represents some of the fundamental principles of the enlightenments such as the social contract which determines the relationship between the government and the people.

This movement introduced the new concept of power-using machines which allowed mass production and contributed to the advancement of many businesses. However, the concept of child labor was one of the major negative impacts of that movement and it continued for many years after. Therefore, many laws that protected the rights of the workers and labor were added to constitutions as well as non-profitable organizations such as labor unions.

Romanticism paved the way for artistic imagination to take place. Many authors and painters were able to express their relationship to nature through their own view. This allowed many people to discover more about the fictional world and create new forms of art.

On the other hand, the realistic movement or realism contrasted the ideas of romanticism. The realistic movement allowed many people and scholars to have a clear view on the issues that faced societies and countries. It also helped many authors to develop novels and the art of journalism which we can now see in many book fairs and newspapers.



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