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The course ‘finale’

In this last video Andrea Sangiacomo, Doina Rusu and Han Thomas Adriaenssen will point out some of the crucial ideas emerged during the whole course.
Congratulations. You did it. You worked hard during the last three weeks, and it is now time to celebrate. You engaged with a number of past ideas and controversies. And you discovered how complex the emergence of early modern science was. In this last video, we would like to sum up what we discussed during this course and pinpoint a few crucial ideas that we’ve encountered so far. In week one, you learned that early modern science did not arise out of nothing. Aristotelian natural philosophy, which was dominant just before the emergence of early modern science, offered a rather comprehensive and sophisticated account of the natural world.
Although the emergence of modern science is sometimes presented as scientific revolution, we should not forget that the new ways of understanding the natural world inaugurated by the heroes of the modern period was deeply influenced and shaped by problems left open by Aristotelians. In fact, it is only by taking seriously into account this Aristotelian background that we can appreciate the many changes and novelties introduced by early modern science. In week two, you learned that the use of experiments, instruments, laboratories, and hypotheses, which constitute such a big deal in today’s scientific practises, were far from taken for granted during the early modern period.
Designing experiments, introducing new instruments, or reflecting on how scientific hypotheses can and should be formulated all required a good deal of philosophical reflection and discussion. Sometimes opponents of these new approaches had very good arguments for being sceptical about the novelties introduced by early modern science. The growing consensus around these new practises depended more on the conceptual arguments used to justify them rather than on their actual efficacy in bringing new scientific results. In week three, you learned that scientific practises are always socially embedded, and they are deeply interconnected with a number of social, political, and religious issues. We focused in particular on the controversial relationship between science and religion.
We tried to distinguish the different ways in which religious views shaped the development of scientific ideas. We also observed how notions originally developed to deal with religious or theological issues have been reused in early modern scientific theories. From a historical point of view, it is clear that no simplistic account of secularisation can fully capture the multi-faceted relationship between science and other domains of society, religion included. The scientific discourse is nourished by these other domains, even when it appears at odds with established doctrines. After all the readings and exercises you did over the last three weeks, you are now able to read and understand complex scientific texts from the past.
You can now analyse the argument they convey and form your own opinion about their validity. You are also in a position to link what you already know about today’s scientific practises to their historical roots and see how contemporary science emerged from its 17th and 18th century ancestors. By looking at the history of early modern science, you can now understand how complex and sometimes difficult was the process from which modern science emerged. You discovered how this process was nourished by the struggle of several philosophers to better understand nature but also make science a pivotal element of the human progress towards a better future. Sometimes history shows dead ends. Often, scientists and philosophers disagree and oppose each other’s views.
You can now recognise how progress in science is also made, thanks to these disagreements and controversies. We hope you enjoyed this journey in the history of early modern science with us from the University of Groningen. And we hope the discourse has raised your interest to explore the wonderful world of the history of philosophy and science further. Thank you.

In this last video Andrea Sangiacomo points out some of the most important concepts and ideas that have emerged during the whole course.

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The Scientific Revolution: Understanding the Roots of Modern Science

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