The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution

Part A: Copernicus, Galileo, or Newton?

Sir Isaac Newton was arguably the most significant scientific revolutionary compared to Copernicus and Galileo. According to McClellan and Dorn (2015, p.321), “Newton’s Principia provided the exemplar for the Classical sciences…that the community of mathematical scientists worked on over the …eighteenth century”. This implies that Newton’s works provided a guiding framework and foundation for the scientific revolution. Galileo was also a successful scientist, having invented the microscope together with the telescope. Nicolas Copernicus also appears in the records of key people that participated in the scientific revolution: he avidly studied astronomy and developed the heliocentric theory. However, both Galileo and Copernicus may be said to have invented rather than discovered, two concepts that distinguish science from art. Going by Shapin’s (2018) argument, Newton was a scientist in that he discovered the law of gravity. In contrast, Copernicus and Galileo were more of artists since they constructed the heliocentric theory and invented the microscope and telescope respectively.

PART B: Response to Question 4

Much as science- as it is understood today- symbolizes knowledge, logic, and reason, the scientific revolution was, to a significant extent, inspired or influenced by magic. Most of the great men who are credited with discovering science did so under the deep influence of thought systems inspired by magic. John Henry (1999, p.23) records that

All the leading thinkers of the so-called Scientific Revolution in late 16th and 17th century turned away from the kind of study of nature that was being pursued in the universities…and embraced an empirical approach closer to that of the natural-magic tradition.

What this means is that there were certain phenomena that could not adequately be explained and understood using natural philosophy and experiments.

Secondly, having established that most of the key figures in the scientific revolution came up with/ formulated/invented different concepts and theories, magic arguably played a significant role in the revolution. The inventions and theories were largely a product of people applying thought systems about a higher, supernatural force or power.


Henry, J. (1999). Magic and the origins of modern science. The Lancet354, SIV23.

McClellan, J. E., & Dorn, H. (2015). Science and technology in world history: An introduction. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Shapin, S. (2018). Making Art/Discovering Science. KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge2(2), 177-205.

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