Chapter 12: The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment Flashcards Preview

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Old Assumptions of the Universe

Medieval philosophers believed the Earth was geocentric, and planets moved in a circular path.


Previous Famous Philosophers

Aristotle, Ptolemy


Nicolaus Copernicus

Published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres and challenged the previously geocentric view of the universe. Offered the new idea of the heliocentric universe.


Johannes Kepler

Finished the work that Tyco Brahe initially started, and discovered planets moved in elliptical orbits and the speed of planets vary depending on their location.


Galileo Galilei

Galileo was the first to use controlled experiments to research, and using a telescope, found irrefutable evidence for a heliocentric universe. The Pope threatened Galileo with torture, and eventually had to retract his findings for the Copernican Theory.


Francis Bacon

Advocated for the inductive method of scientific experimentation. Begin with a direct observation, then create a tentative hypothesis. Bacon believed this method of reasoning would lead to the formulation of universal laws and principles.


René Descartes

Advocated for the deductive method of scientific experimentation. Begin with a universally evident and accepted axiom, then use logical reasoning to deduce various inferences.


Characteristics of the Scientific Method

1. Existence of regular patterns within the universe.
2. Use of controlled experiments to verify hypotheses.
3. Use and creation of mathematical formulas.


Scientific Societies

Sponsored by governments and monarchs to spread new ideas and scientific findings. Famous institutions include the Royal Society in England, and others in Berlin and Florence. Scientific societies created an international scientific communities.


Isaac Newton

In his book Principia, Newton explains the concept of gravitation in a single mathematical law through a combination of Kepler, Galileo, and his own ideas.

He also described a "Newtonian Universe" that shows the universe as a machine expressed in mathematical formulas. Everything was easily explainable, and had no room for the supernatural.


Blank Slate Theory

Theory advocated by John Locke, in which humans are "blank slates" when they are born, and are a product of their education and social institutions. Directly conflicted with the Christian view that humans were inherently sinful.



A group of enlightenment thinkers who exposed social problems and proposed solutions to them. Often American and French.


Key Ideas of the Philosophes

1. Reason: the absence of bigotry, superstition, and intolerance.
2. Toleration: Believed in full religious toleration within societies.
3. Liberty: believed in the abolishment on all restrictions that limited human liberties, like free speech.
4. Social Progress: first Europeans to believe in social progress.
5. Happiness: happiness was an inalienable right.
6. Natural Laws: The universe was governed by natural laws, which could be discovered by human reason.



The belief that God was a cosmic "watchmaker," who created the universe, then let it run on its own. While many people embraced the idea, some did not due to its lack of emotion.

Pietism was a counter movement to Deism, as it stressed faith and emotion.



One of the most famous and influential philosophes. Championed reason and religious tolerance.



Chief editor of the Encyclopedia. His goal was to bring together the most forward and enlightened thinking of science, government, art, technology, etc. into one consolidated book.

It spread enlightened thinking across Europe and North America, as well as undermine authority through the inclusion of controversial ideas and concepts.



Believed in the limitation on royal power to fight against abusive absolutism. Advocated for the separation of powers into judicial, legislative, and executive branches, which highly influenced the American founding fathers.



Believed in a "natural education," where education is individualized, dependent on freedom and happiness, and people are left to create their own conclusion.

Unlike Hobbes and Locke, Rousseau believed the social contract existed between people themselves, which created a harmonious society. Rulers were servants of the community, and can be removed if they fail the people's will.

Rousseau was adamant on fighting for individual freedom, though he was hesitant to support reason and science, due to their emotionless qualities. He was the precursor to Romanticism.



French economic reformers who were the first to question mercantilism.


François Quesnay

The lead physiocrat that argued economic activity should be freed from artificial restrictions. Pro-laissez fair economy with no restrictions.


Adam Smith

Lead economist to advocate for laissez faire. Wrote the Wealth of Nations, which was a compilation of his and his predecessor's thoughts that gave birth to Classical Economic Theory.


The Wealth of Nations

- Government should not interfere with the markets.
- Governments should limit their role to defending the state, protecting private property, and enforcing contracts.
- Tariffs hinder trade.
- Law of supply and demand will create a self-regulating market.
- People are motivated by self-interest.
- People should make decisions based on their self-interest, and the economy will have an "invisible hand" that will be an automatic regulator for the economy.


The Enlightenment Views on Women

Inclusive view: Women should receive equal liberty and equality. Women should have equal access to education and intellectual life, and some philosophes even argued for giving women some political rights.

Domestic view: Some philosophes made a distinction between a public sphere (dominated by men) and a private sphere (dominated by women). Believed men and women had "natural differences," thus the women should stay in the domestic sphere where they're needed most.