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Matt Mancini

Mr. Lawler
European History Period 1
12/7/14

Natural philosophers in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were some of the most
influential scientists of all time. They developed questions concerning way the world worked that
no one would dare to ask before their time. They discovered fundamental laws of nature that
would continue to be used hundreds of years after their time. These natural philosophers and
their findings were changed by the developing world around them. The scientists of the 16th,
17th, and 18th centuries were influenced by a variety of religious, political, and social factors
which shaped their work and their ideas.
Religion was an essential part of almost every natural philosopher's life. Scientists at this
time had to deal with conflicting ideas received from the church and their scientific findings.
Often times, natural philosophers would dedicate their findings to God or to the Church (Doc 1).
Scientists would do this to avoid controversy over their theories and experiments concerning
conflicts between religion and their ideas. Doc 1 was written by Copernicus who was both a
priest and a scientist. His position as a priest probably affected his dedication of his works to
God. Nevertheless, Copernicus came up with various ideas that challenged the traditional
religious view, such as geocentrism. More often than not, these theories would face intense
opposition. Many leaders of religion would boldly reject the ideas of scientists without taking a
closer look at their findings (Doc 2). Natural philosophers had to constantly deal with opposition
from the Church when conducting their studies. For many scientists, religion was a troubling
obstacle. When scientific studies even mentioned the origin of people, religious leaders would
become upset (Doc 3). Many times, scientific findings were a slippery slope to saying that
Christianity was false. Natural philosophers would have to frame their studies in a way that

allowed the belief of Christianity to be unquestionable (Doc 8). Scientists usually believed that
God created the immutable laws of nature that they were discovering from 1500-1700. Religion
was a huge part in most early scientists lives. They had to balance between their ideas of
Christianity and their ideas of science. Despite their religious views, it was more than likely that
they would face arguments of angry religious leaders after publishing their works.
Leaders of any kind, religious or political, had influences on natural philosophers. Unlike
those of religion, political leaders normally would support the study of sciences. Monarchs
supported sciences to create wealth and display great knowledge in their country (Doc 11).
Science was treated as how the arts were treated. Sciences needed funding from the
government to get going. Monarchs could even visit the Academies that they established (Doc
10). Louis XIV likely visited his academy to make his presence known and to show that he was
a supporter of the sciences. As monarchs had the power to start sciences, they also had the
power to end them. If anyone would publish something that went against the ideas or motives of
a monarch, the ruler could easily suppress it (Doc 7). This detail was in a document that was
written by the pessimistic Thomas Hobbes, retracting from its argument. Many of his ideas were
based around the distrust of people. Thomas Hobbes believed that monarchs should have
absolute power over the people in their country to ensure stability. The power of the monarch
over the people is comparable to the power of God over their minds (Doc 12). The monarch has
the power to declare any scientific finding as false. God has the power to create any law of
nature. Underlying the success of natural philosophers was political authority. Monarchs put
money into education and sciences that sparked the discovery of natural laws. Leaders had the
power to stop the production of scientific papers put allowed it for the benefits that their country
received.
Various positive social impacts affected the work of natural philosophers. The
atmosphere that supported the growth of new sciences unlike anything seen since the Greco-

Roman era. Many of the early scientists had one goal - to make society better. These scientists
would use new discoveries and powers to make life better for future generations (Doc 4).
Document 4 may have oversimplified the purpose of the development of science due to the
ideas of its author, Francis Bacon. Bacon believed that everything should have a planned
approach. He was the first to work with empiricism and developed the scientific method. Francis
Bacon did not take into account any ulterior motives for scientific discoveries. One of these
motives could be fame or fortunes. Natural philosophers would check their experiments and
studies endlessly in order to ensure their validity. They wanted to impress their patrons (Doc 5).
Funding for much of the scientific experiments that the natural philosophers performed was
given by nobles. Nobles also funded academies and other educational facilities. Academies
were places where people could get together and discuss their ideas (Doc 10). The concept of
learning in academies could have helped scientists of this time learn more and make better
discovers with the concept of academic friendships (Doc 6). Social influences greatly affected
the ideas of natural philosophers in both a positive and negative way.
Social impact was largely negative toward natural philosophers as they were limited in
many of their actions. They received funding from nobles who in turn could reject anything in
their writings if it did not suit them. Scientists would have to repeat experiments over and over
again to ensure that no one would object to their findings (Doc 5). Other than the nobles,
gender conflicts limited the impact of the natural philosophers. At this time, women were not
respected and could not publish a paper that people took seriously. Women generally lacked
education and were not valued in traditional society (Doc 9). Women did not have the power to
start academies that men had. Document 9 may not yield the most accurate information.
According to Margaret Cavendish, if it were possible, all males would be converted to females.
Cavendish seems to be exaggerating to make the position of females in society far worse than
what it actually was. Gender problems may have limited 50% of individuals from participating in

the scientific revolution, but Interest in sciences was also a limiting factor for the natural
philosophers. Few people cared about what was right and what was wrong in mathematics and
science, especially laymen (Doc 7). Social influences greatly affected the development of new
sciences by giving them motivation and additional obstacles that the natural philosophers tried
to conquer.
Much of the knowledge we have of the world today is attributed to natural philosophers.
Natural philosophers created theories of natural laws that would stand for hundreds of years.
Scientists were influenced by a variety of religious, political, and social factors. These influences
all contributed to the rapid advances in sciences during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.