Friday, August 5, 2011

Origin of the scientific revolution

A recent paper says:
The phenomenon of the Scientific Revolution became a hot topic for historians since 1930s, with various factors and facets emphasized, but up to now there is no convincing explanation. The quest was started by Marxist scholars in the wake of the quantum-relativistic revolution in physics and the socialist revolution in Russia. This is no wonder, since Marxists searched for laws of history and laws of revolution, in particular, those similar to laws of physics.

Boris Hessen’s paper "The Social and Economic Roots of Newton's Principia" (1931) initiated externalist approach to science by promoting the idea that the early modern physics arose from a social context to meet practical demands of capitalist economy. [3] In the line of externalism, Robert Merton adopted Max Weber’s explanation of the flourishing capitalism by the Protestant deology and argued that the latter was especially beneficial to modern physics with its experimentalism as the key feature. Alexandre Koyre, who coined the very term “the Scientific Revolution”, claimed that it was brought about by “mathematization of nature” rather than by the experimental method. Edgar Zilsel suggested that the modern physics emerged due to early capitalism which was connected with strengthening individual freedom, quantitative thinking and contacts between the academically trained scholars and superior craftsmen.
With such confusion over the concept, it is better to retire the term. There was no scientific revolution.

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