History of Human Civilization, the Scientific Revolution Term Paper

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history of human civilization, the Scientific Revolution emerged during the 17th century, which happened right after the Renaissance Period. The Scientific Revolution is the period in history wherein scientific methods and results where arrived at using experimentation and the use of scientific instruments such as the telescope, microscope, and thermometer (Microsoft Encarta 2002). The Scientific Revolution is attributed to Galileo Galilei, who proposed that the universe and its elements can be explained mathematically, while subsisting to the fact the Sun is the center of the solar system. During the Renaissance Period, Nicolaus Copernicus had declared that the Sun is the center of the solar system, but his declaration is only descriptive, while Galileo's declaration is verified through experimentation and the scientific method. This important distinction is the main reason why Galileo's time was considered the Scientific Revolution, primarily because it uses the scientific method of research and experimentation.

Studies and research about the Scientific Revolution in the 21st century have been prevalent, especially on the significant effect of this revolution to the society. One important observation and discussion about the effects of science and technology in people's lives is that contrary to the universal belief that the whole world benefited from the effects of science and technology, but some scholar contend that contrary to the functionalist perspective of the scientific revolution, it seems that the Western civilization only benefited and 'enjoyed' the positive effects of science and technology. Butler Shaffer stated in his article entitled, "Chaos in Space," that science and technology is used not to create great innovations and inventions for the society; rather, science and technology is used for making nations powerful and dominant over the society. An example that he cites is the case of the United States, wherein people are manipulated into thinking that science and technology is beneficial for everyone and can solve any problem to be solved or endeavor to be accomplished. However, Shaffer says that instead of helping people, the state and science and technology companies become 'leaders' of a nation because of the tremendous power they possess, which is through technological advancements. In his article, Shaffer stated that: "the state and the scientific/technological communities have consolidated their forces to create the hybrid deity that most of us have come to worship" (Shaffer 2003). Thus, for Shaffer, the scientific revolution resulted only to the political dominance of the leaders of state and the technological and scientific communities.

Similarly, Zaheer Baber's position on scientific revolution discusses the social effects of science and technology of the people. While Baber acknowledges the positive effects of science and technology, such as the wonders of the Internet and other technological advancements, he also cites some technologies that have been detrimental to the society, such as genetically-modified organisms and genetic engineering. These two examples shows how science and technology is considered not only as a scientific issue, but also as a social one, wherein the possible effects of science and technology are studied in accordance to its social relevance and significance.

The French Revolution was the result of numerous anomalies that the monarchy of France had committed for as early as the 18th century, specifically in 1789. These problems are primarily financial crises, and the French people are faced with financial problems because of the numerous wars the previous monarchies of French had participated in, and lost. However, despite the early signs of corruption and anomalies in the monarchy, the society did not begin responding to these anomalies until the reign of King Louis XIV, husband of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

During King Louis XVI's reign, the country's financial problems worsened, since the common people are taxed heavily, while the nobility and the clergy enjoyed the financial gains that the monarchial government gets from the people. Apart from heavy taxation, social conditions are worsening due to social inequality in the economic status of the people. The common people of France were gradually awakened to the deteriorating social and political system of their country as a result of despotism in the government. Despite the deep financial crisis France was in, people experienced being taxed heavily while the nobility, clergy, and government people were getting rich everyday from the money and dues that the people give. One important and detrimental effect of the French financial crisis is the increase in the price of grain, and therefore,
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bread, which is the staple and most important commodity of the people.

Spurred by the economic crisis of France, the society tried to convince King Louis XVI to provide reforms on taxation and other important laws that will help alleviate France's poor economy and social condition. The king's reluctance to induce reforms in the laws implemented, as well as his refusal to let the common people to participate actively in the discussion of state matters sparked the early signs of what will be called as the French Revolution.

The Reign of Terror is one of the most violent and destructive revolutions that ever happened in France. The Reign of Terror started after King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were guillotined by radical revolutionaries; events after the death of the king led to the creation of the Reign of Terror. The Reign of Terror is a policy implemented on September 5, 1793, wherein the state is permitted to use violence in order to prevent and inhibit those attempting to resist against the present government. This led to the mass execution of people who showed resistance against the government, called counter-revolutionaries. Within the Reign of Terror, a law named the Law of Suspects was passed, as well as the price fixing of grain, bread, and wages. It also brought about the abolishment of slavery in the country. The Reign of Terror is a remarkable event in the history of France because it showed the might or the revolutionary army against the French military; moreover, it showed that liberty and freedom was gained after the Reign of Terror. However, although freedom from despotism and a corrupt government were gained, the Reign of Terror resulted to a tremendous loss of the common people, which are the majority of those who were guillotined. Thus, the Reign of Terror is an event that hallmarks France's fight for freedom and reckless disregard for the life of the common people.

Thomas Hobbes' view about the nature of man is that he is the primary creator of the society; without Man, it will not be possible for societies to be established. Also, within the society, Man has individual, natural rights, which will be used mainly for seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Moreover, because of Man's motivation to seek pleasure and avoid pain, Hobbes describes these characteristics as Man's need for self-preservation and avoidance of death (which is equivalent to the experience of pain).

In order to enforce self-preservation of Man's natural rights, he establishes his society, wherein the people agree to 'escape' the nature of Man as self-seeking self-preservationists, but rather, as people who build a community together to seek happiness and pleasure. Within the society, there is also order, because to create chaos will mean there exists pain, which results as a dysfunction in the society. For Hobbes, the idea of a civil war or revolution is not agreeable, and referred to civil war as a "dissolute condition of masterless men." Thus, Hobbes prefers a functional society wherein there is harmonious relationship among its members.

John Locke also states that the nature of Man is that he seeks self-preservation. He also recognizes the natural rights of Man, which he enumerated as: life, liberty, and property. Through these natural rights, Man strives to enter into a social contract with other people. Motivated to preserve his natural rights, Man enters into an agreement with his society to live peacefully and safely among other people. As a political system emerges from the society, the people entrusts their rights to the power of the rulers, who will govern and preserve the safety and order in the society. However, although the rulers are vested with this kind of authority, this does not mean that they will rule over the society; rather, the people will have the power in governance, and the rulers will serve as "agents" for the preservation of the common good in the society. Rebellion, for Locke, is justified, so long as rebellion is made for the preservation of order in the society. Otherwise, then the idea of a rebellion for reasons other than what Locke stated will be unacceptable.

Lastly, Jean Jacques Rousseau's idea of the nature of Man is that he is born with a natural right called the individual will. With this will, Man has the freedom and liberty to live his life in accordance to his own choice. However, since Man also wants to preserve these rights, he enters into a social contract with his society, wherein he gives up part of his individual right for the sake of the social contract that was agreed upon. Thus, Man's individual will becomes…

Sources Used in Documents:


Baber, Z. "Canada Research Chair in Science, Technology, and Social Change." 6 February 2003. University of Saskatchewan Web site. 16 April 2003 http://www.usask.ca/crc/profiles/baber.php.

History of Astronomy." Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002. Microsoft Inc. 1998.

Kaiser, T. "French Revolution." Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002. Microsoft Inc. 1998.

Shaffer, B. "Chaos in Space." 7 February 2003. LewRockwell Web site. 16 April 2003 http://www.lewrockwell.com.

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