Architecture H-Conclusion History of the Essay

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This methodology emphasized observable empirical evidence as the way towards discovering and understanding natural laws and true causes. It was the use of this method that was cardinal in the advancement and development of many disciplines, including architecture. Coupled with this was the invention of modern printing by Johannes Gutenberg (1398 -- 1468). His mechanized process of movable type allowed books to be mass produced. This invention laid the foundation for a modern knowledge-based economy (Eisenstein) and accelerated the accessibility of learning within society. This had a concomitant affect on the proliferation of knowledge and education, as well as communication; and as one commentator asserts, the printing press helped to produce a democratization of knowledge (Rheingold). This period of history was therefore pivotal in the creation of knowledge and vision, which would further advance the development and achievements of architecture.

2.2 History of the Scientific Revolution

2.2.0 Introduction

The period designated as the Scientific Revolution, which includes the 17th and 18th centuries, was characterized by the increasing prominence of reason and rationality thought in all aspects of culture and intellectuals thought. This period of history saw the advent of many influential works on theory and philosophy, such as Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, that promulgated the centrality of human reason in the advancement of the arts and the sciences. This period of European history was also extremely important in terms of the way that the dominance of reason affected the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as in terms of the reaction to this dominance that occurred in the early and latter parts of the 20th century.

In essence the Scientific Revolution was initiated by a series of scientific discoveries that were founded on various Renaissance ideals and knowledge. This was supported by a firm belief in reason as a conduit of knowledge and a sense of humanistic inquiry which involved a "scholarly and initially reactive enthusiasm for classic culture, accompanied by creative writing in Latin on classic lines" (Wilkins). Central to this period of history was the ideal of education and learning as well as the interrogation of the norms, values and methods of the past. This was to lead to a more scientifically inclined and practical worldview that tended to deny the more religious perceptions of reality that had characterized the past. Coupled with this are many other aspects and concomitant variables that had a decisive influence in terms of architectural design and building.

In this light the development and relevance of the Baroque style of design, composition and construction takes precedence and will be examined in detail in the sections below. The connection with the Renaissance will also be examined in detail, as well as the causative factors that determine the evolution of the baroque style. In effect, the Baroque style was in many ways a stark contrast to the more pristine aesthetic of the Renaissance. Whereas Renaissance art was characterized by very clean lines and a harsh geometric intentionality, the Baroque form was far more free-flowing and dynamic, and even ostentatious at times (Saisselin). The link between this style in architecture and other aspects such as the economic wealth that also characterized this era of Scientific Revolution will also be examined in detail.

Cognisance will also be taken of the central thinkers and philosophers of this period and their impact on the development of architectural and construction principles and ideas. The work of Descartes, for example, is of paramount importance in this regard, as he attempted to shoe that truth lay in rational decision making and in the rational investigation of the world around us. The work of Sir Francis Bacon, who is credited with the introduction of inductive reasoning, will also be a focus of analysis.

2.2.9 Conclusion

The Scientific Revolution is characterized by two central and related modes of thought that were to influence the rationalistic tenor of thinking during this period. This refers to the view that nothing is random or occurs by chance and that all of nature is under the control of laws that can be discovered and understood by the use of scientific thought and methods. Therefore, truth was linked to deciphering the laws that controlled nature. The second and closely related aspect was reason, which was seen as the strongest and most appropriate method of understanding the truth. Through reason the laws of nature could be discovered.

Education and learning were therefore central factors of this period. The idea of the predominance of human reason also led to the interrogation and deconstructive analysis of the norms and values of the past. This led in turn to a loosening of the adherence to religion as well as the agrarian way of life of the past and the structures and institutions of the previous age began to lose their hegemonic status. In essence, it was believed that through science and rational scientific thought, human beings could make use of reason to attain an understanding of the workings of the world. Furthermore, the view put forward by thinkers like Descartes tended to show that the centre of existence and the secret to reality lay in rational decision making and in the rational investigation of the world around us. Descartes also compared man in terms of his autonomous reasoning ability to the other species, which led to the conclusion that mankind was intellectually superior to other life forms (Cunningham). As has been discussed above, this view had enormous ramifications for the view of life and reality in that it argued for a human -- centered scientific and rational world view as opposed to the more religious centered worldview of the past. This rational worldview was to be the foundation for the industrial revolution from the mid eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries (Friedell).

As is evident from the discussion in this section, the Baroque style of architecture emerged as a result of the rational, scientific and humanistic trends of thought and was a reflection of these modes of thought. The baroque is seen as a point of transition away from the Medieval and Renaissance traditions (Buci-Glucksmann). As Rolbiecki states, modern conceptions of the individual's relationship to and responsibility for the state are products of this age. Dante's Inferno was a good example of Baroque thinking. In it, religious thoughts were important but not primary, and human nature is juxtaposed with a new definition of society (Rolbiecki).

It is also clear from the above discussion that while the Scientific Revolution was a movement that transcended the boundaries and restrictions of the past, it was also built on the foundation of previous knowledge and experience in that it drew from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Medieval European and Islamic schools, and the Renaissance but the central point is that this was a new departure in the perception of the value of science and technology which led to unprecedented advances in knowledge (Butterfield). One could refer in this regard to the heliocentric view of universe. This view was extremely important in that it shifted attention from the earth to the sun as the centre of the universe, which in turn challenged previous religious sand philosophical viewpoints and placed science and technology in a more advantageous and positive light. One could in this regard refer to a great number of scientific and technological discoveries and breakthroughs that occurred during this period of history; for example, Wilhelm Schickard's creation of one of the first calculating machines in 1623; the invention of the barometer; the development of modern algebra and Napier's creation of logarithms. Furthermore, one could refer to many other examples, such as the mathematician John Hadley who built a Gregorian telescope with correctly shaped mirrors and the first parabolic Newtonian telescope (King 77). Major scientific figures during this period include Sir Francis bacon who is credited with the introduction of inductive reasoning in his publication Novum Organum (1620). This was extremely important in that it emphasized the view that in order to understand nature and the world around us, data must be collected using measurable and observable evidence. Bacon also believed in rigorously testing hypotheses, which was linked to the influence of rigorous scientific rationality which focused on conclusions from the data presented.

This new faith and belief in the validity and power of human reason and science had a very deep and profound impact on the development of all the disciplines, including developments in architecture. An example discussed above is the Palace of Versailles. The baroque style of this construction was extremely flamboyant and luxurious, which also reflects the feeling of power and wealth that was part of the humanistic mode of thought and the belief in the ability of mankind. Central to this building is the emphasis on order and geometric design, which can be seen in the gardens. This again reflects the methods of science, human control and reason as fundamental aspects that shaped architectural style during this period.

Economics also played a vital role in the development of architecture and other disciplines…[continue]

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