Scientific Revolutions: A Historical Perspective
For this assignment you should first of all read the following text:
David Lindbergh, “Conceptions of the Scientific Revolution from Bacon to Butterfield: A preliminary Sketch”, in David Lindbergh and Robert Westman (ed.), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, Cambridge University Press (1999), 1-26.
The text is found in the website of the course:
(Notice, there is an introduction in the file that is not part of the article itself.)
This article discusses several authors who have written on the Scientific Revolution starting in the 17th century itself and going all the way up until the twentieth century. These authors include, prominently, the following nine: Bacon, Voltaire, Condorcet, Comte, Whewell, Duhem, Burtt, Koyré, Butterfield.
Lindbergh describes their views on “the past”, meaning by this, specifically, their views on the intellectual world of Greek antiquity, of the Arab civilization, and of Medieval Europe as opposed to the Renaissance and post-renaissance. After reading the article, you are requested to choose two among the nine authors discussed by Lindbergh. For each of them you should write a separate answer where you deal with the following three issues:
1. Describe briefly the chosen author’s views on “the past” concerning science, metaphysics, and/or the world of learning.
2. Based on the material learnt in class provide your own brief assessment of this author’s views. In what respects does it agree with the overall (many-sided) picture of the scientific revolution discussed in class and in what what respects does it disagree.
3. Choose one of the scientists discussed in class, from Copernicus to Newton, and discuss in some detail his case as an example of either supporting or opposing (or a mixture of the two) the view expressed by the chosen author. For each of the two chosen authors you should choose a different scientist.
1. For the two authors you chose, in order to answer item 1 you should rely on Lindbergh’s article, but you should also consult additional sources in the Internet (Wikipedia is a possible source, but not necessarily the only one). You are expected to present the author’s view succinctly and coherently. For items 2,3 you should use the material learnt in class as well as relevant material from the course’s reading assignments.
2. For each answer, the maximal grade is 35. This is divided into 10-10-15 for the three items of each answer.
3. The allowed length for each answer is about 1200 words. This can be roughly divided into 350-350-500 for the three items of each answer.
4. The questions point to very concrete, concise and specific answers. You have little space for answering each of them. Use the available space wisely, and don’t waste it with unnecessary preambles and conclusions.
5. For each of the two authors (and scientists) discussed you should indicate the bibliography consulted (besides Lindbergh’s article). This should comprise at least one item for the author (can be taken from the Internet) and one item for the scientists (can be taken from the course reading assignments).
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