The Contribution of Isaac Newton to the Scientific Revolution

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The Contribution of Isaac Newton to the Scientific Revolution

The beginning of the 17th century was a period of drastic change in Europe as many started to approach science. This dawning of modern science introduced new concepts in the understanding of the physical world, and brought along a new stream of “natural philosophers” () including Sir Isaac Newton. The scientific revolution was not marked by any single change, but rather various new ideas from different philosophers, including Newton, helped revolutionize an important epoch in human history. The impacts due to Newton’s suggestion to abandon medieval philosophies, his contribution to mathematics, astronomy, and physics, and his role in the “Royal Society” will provide an idea of how important Isaac Newton was during the 17th century and the impact he’s had on the revolutionary breakthroughs at the time, as well as on modern society.

During the scientific revolution, Newton and many other natural philosophers proposed to abandon medieval scientific philosophies in favor of newer scientific methods (Ames, et al). There were four reasons for why the medieval idea of science was discarded (). The first reason was because many scientists and philosophers during the 17th century were able to collaborate and work alongside mathematicians and astronomers to advance the knowledge in all fields (Rose). This rendered the medieval method of conducting scientific research useless. Another reason was because the natural philosophers at the time realized the ineffectiveness and inadequacy medieval experimental methods provided for their work, and felt that a new method was needed. Also the world was slowly becoming more globalized, and research papers from the Europeans, Greeks, and Middle Eastern scientific philosophies were all readily available at the time (Ames, et al). Newton, along with other natural philosophers, were able to use a diverse range of starting points to either build on existing theories, or disprove them. The last reason is because of the impact groups such as the “Royal Society” had on science. These organizations helped validate science as a field of work, and helped publicize scientific findings (Ames, et al). This meant the medieval scientific philosophies were no longer required as a foundation for scientific research. Newton’s proposition to abandon medieval scientific philosophies led to one of the most important changes during the 17th century; how natural philosophers conducted scientific research. This was because the modern hypothesis was born. During the 17th century, natural philosophers started to ask questions emphasizing on answering “what.” These questions included, “what is the relationship between these two things?” or “what are the facts to suggest this?” (Ames, et al). It was a major breakthrough because it required finding facts before a hypothesis can be formulated. A hypothesis in the 17th century must be accompanied by various observations, and only after these requirements have been met can a scientist conduct tests with a controlled experiment (Ames, et al). This revolutionary change eventually led to the “experimental method,” which in turn has impacted the way chemists, biologists and physicists conduct experiments today (Rose). Newton, along with the other natural philosophers’ decision to abandon the medieval scientific philosophy helped reaffirm the importance of conducting experiments to science. The pursuit of science (rather than philosophy) gained validity, and the importance of God to science was tremendously, but not fully, invalidated.

This meant that there was a transition from focusing on supernatural viewpoints to a humanistic viewpoint. Religion and superstition were replaced by reason and knowledge. This change in attitude was an essential step during the 17th century. Prior to the scientific revolution, natural philosophers lacked the instruments and methods required to verify their observational and...
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