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HIST201: History of Europe, 1000 to 1800

Unit 8: New Directions in Thought and Culture   The Renaissance paved the way for the emergence of a rational and secular worldview in Europe in the late 1600s.  The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment represented the culmination of the shift from the medieval era to the modern world.  Scientific revolutionaries overturned the authority of medieval and classical sources, such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, in an attempt to understand and explain man in the natural world according to mathematical reasoning.  For example, the Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus asserted that we live in a heliocentric cosmos and Isaac Newton proposed a set of universal laws and claimed that we live in a mechanical universe (a cosmos governed by the same mathematical laws of gravity on Earth).  Meanwhile, political philosophers of the Enlightenment emphasized reason as the primary source of legitimacy and authority.  Studies examining the origin of political authority and the progress of society had a fundamental impact upon the political development of Europe.

In this unit, we will study how and why “enlightenment” manifested itself throughout Europe—in philosophy, science, art, and even in absolutist monarchies.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 8.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 4 hours
☐    Introduction: 1.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 8.2.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 8.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 8.2.3: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 8.3: 1 hour

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Define the major causes and features of the Enlightenment.
  • Identify the longterm changes brought about by the scientific revolution.
  • Describe the nature of enlightened monarchy.

8.1 The Scientific Revolution   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Scientific Revolution” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Scientific Revolution” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “The Scientific Revolution.” This reading gives a good overview of the Scientific Revolution.

8.1.1 Aristotle to Copernicus   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The New Astronomy and Cosmology of the Scientific Revolution: Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The New Astronomy and Cosmology of the Scientific Revolution: Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler” (PDF).
  
Instructions: Please read “The New Astronomy and Cosmology of the Scientific Revolution: Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler.” This reading describes the classical and medieval origins of the Scientific Revolution as well as the works and theories of Copernicus, Brahe and Kepler

  • Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 10: The Scientific Revolution: 1543-1600” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 10: The Scientific Revolution: 1543-1600” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the article linked above in its entirety.
     
     “Lecture 10” describes the major figures of the early Scientific Revolution.  This online text was developed by Dr. Steven Kreis as an open educational resource for use in undergraduate history courses.  Dr. Steven Kreis teaches history at American Public University.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.1.2 From Brahe to Galileo   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 11: The Scientific Revolution: 1600-1642” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 11: The Scientific Revolution: 1600-1642” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read Dr. Kreis’s lecture 11 in its entirety.  This reading will give you a sense of the Galileo’s life and works.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Galileo Galilei” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Galileo Galilei” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “Galileo Galilei.” This reading discusses the theories of Galileo.

8.1.3 Newton and Descartes   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 12: The Scientific Revolution: 1642-1730” Link:  Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 12: The Scientific Revolution: 1642-1730” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read Dr. Kreis’s lecture 12 in its entirety.  Dr. Kreis’s discusses the changes wrought in the 1600s and early 1700s by the Scientific Revolution.  
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Other Scientific Advances” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Other Scientific Advances” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “Other Scientific Advances.” This reading describes Descartes’ assertion that mathematics was the foundation of science and Newton’s synthesis of scientific principles.

8.1.4 Science and Humanism   - Reading: University of California eScholarship: Steven Varvis’s “Humanism and the Scientific Revolution: Bacon’s Rejection of Aristotle” Link: University of California eScholarship: Steven Varvis’s “Humanism and the Scientific Revolution: Bacon’s Rejection of Aristotle” (HTML)
 
Also available in:
 
PDF
 
Instructions: Please read this entire 21-page article linked above.  This article argues that Francis Bacon should be viewed as a philosopher of the scientific movement.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.1.5 Politics and Science - Reading: George Mason University: Professor R. Cherubin’s “The Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century and the Political Revolutions of the 18th Century” Link: George Mason University: Professor R. Cherubin’s “The Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century and the Political Revolutions of the 18th Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage linked above.  This article outlines the connection between new scientific philosophies and political revolutions in Europe.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Rose Cherubin.

8.2 The Enlightenment   - Lecture: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s “Lecture 5: The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere” Link: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s “Lecture 5: The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U
 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 45-minute lecture linked above.  In this video lecture, Merriman argues that the Enlightenment was not simply the “age of reason,” but was also the age of the public sphere and the declining power of the monarchy.
 
Terms of Use: The above video is reposted from Yale University Yale Courses YouTube channel.  The original version can be found here.  This video is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

  • Reading: Washington State University: Professor Paul Brians’ “The Enlightenment” Link: Washington State University: Professor Paul Brians’ “The Enlightenment” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage linked above.  This reading outlines the major characteristics of the Enlightenment and gives a broad overview of the social, religious, and cultural milieu of the period.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.2.1 The Early Enlightenment and the Philosophes   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 9: Écrasez l'infâme!: The Triumph of Science and the Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophe” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 9: Écrasez l’infâme!: The Triumph of Science and the Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophe” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read Dr. Kreis’s lecture 9 in its entirety.
 Dr. Kreis’s lecture provides a good overview of the European
philosophes.    
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Method” Link: Foundation’s “Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Method” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Method.” This reading discusses the origins of the Enlightenment and the emergence of philosophers like Francis Bacon and Decartes.

8.2.2 The High Enlightenment   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 10: The Vision of Human Progress: Vico, Gibbon, and Condorcet” and Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Condorcet: The Future Progress of the Human Mind” Links: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 10: The Vision of Human Progress: Vico, Gibbon, and Condorcet” (HTML) and  Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Condorcet: The Future Progress of the Human Mind” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read Dr. Kreis’s lecture in its entirety.  Finally, read the entire Modern History Sourcebook webpage linked here.  Dr. Kreis’s lecture provides an overview of the Enlightenment emphasis on history and the progress of mankind.  The Future Progress of the Human Mind, written by the French scientific philosopher Marquis de Condorcet, asserts that an increase in knowledge—particularly scientific knowledge—will guarantee the progress of peoples, thus ensuring the enlightenment of mankind in future time.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.2.3 Women and the Enlightenment   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “Women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.” This reading will give you will give you a sense of the impact of the European Enlightenment upon women.  

8.3 The Enlightenment and Absolutism   8.3.1 “Enlightened Monarchs”   Note: This topic is covered by the readings in sub-subunit 8.3.2.

8.3.2 Benevolent Absolutism   - Reading: Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook: “Catherine the Great” and Frederick II’s “Essay on Forms of Government” Links: Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook:Catherine the Great” (HTML) and Frederick II’s “Essay on Forms of Government” (HTML)
 
Instructions: These readings cover topics outlined in sub-subunits 8.3.1 and 8.3.2.  Please read the Catherine the Great article in its entirety, and then read Frederick the Great’s “Essay on Forms of Government.”  The first reading provides an overview on Catherine the Great’s theories of enlightened absolutism.  The second reading is Frederick the Great’s theory on what makes an enlightened monarch.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.