The ‘Scientific Revolution’ is a term that describes a process that can be traced back to the Middle Ages, or to the invention of the printing press; but it is generally considered to be a phenomenon centered on the sixteenth end seventeenth centuries.
It overlaps to a large extent with the concept of the ‘Age of Reason,’ named in opposition to the ‘Age of Religion’ that preceded it, and where science, rationalism, empiricism tend to replace dogma, belief, and scholasticism.
The Scientific Revolution also can be prolonged into the eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries, thus overlapping with what is generally described as the Enlightenment.
Among the most marking figures and events of the Scientific Revolution, Copernicus (1473-1543) and his discovery of the solar system, which challenges anthropocentric religious views of a universe centered on man and the earth.
By improving the telescope, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) develops the technology needed for the observation of the planets.
Descartes (1596-1650) publishes his Discourse on the Method, where he develops a scientific method based on doubt and deduction. He proves that he exists by the fact that he doubts, which proves that he thinks, which proves that he is (dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum).
Harvey (1578-1657) discovers blood circulation.
The most extraordinary impact will come from Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his discovery of the law of gravitation. By proving that the motion of every object and planet can be explained mathematically, he brings into being the notion that every ‘mystery’ of creation is potentially explainable and that rules and laws determine the way in which nature ‘functions.’
The seventeenth century is also characterized by a great propensity to discover the outer world, other civilizations, and historical narratives that challenge the very constructs on which European consciousness was based.
It is also the time of the ‘quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns,’ the former defending the idea of an ideal for the future located in a ‘golden age’ of the past, while the latter introduce the notion of a future that may be different but better than the present, thus opening the way to the idea of progress.
All in all the Scientific Revolution is crucial in the shaping of the Enlightenment. In many ways, the Enlightenment will be an application of some of the principles of the Revolution to the sciences of man and society.