Have you ever sat down and just gazed at the stars, wondering how everything began? Have you ever attempted to imagine how everything, from the universe to the human body, works? These common, yet profound, questions are what began the time period known as the Scientific Revolution. The thing that was so "revolutionary" about this Scientific Revolution was that the worldview was changed permanently. People no longer depended on the church's beliefs for answers in science, and people began to understand that progress, learning, and sciences were ongoing. The Scientific Revolution was the primary cause of the intellectual change known as the Enlightenment. The "enlightening" aspect of the Enlightenment was that facts were no longer accepted by faith, rather, everything was proved by a rational, scientific way of thinking. Everything from religion to politics were being criticized and questioned by Enlightenment thinkers.
During the Scientific Revolution numerous scientists made important contributions to the field of astronomy. Among these scientists are Galileo Galilei, Nicholas Copernicus, and Marie Winkelmann. Copernicus is credited for his heliocentric beliefs in which the sun was the center of the universe, which was the most important contribution of the Scientific Revolution. It sparked the ideas of other scientists and was the beginning of the questioning of how the church portrayed the universe. Galileo made further observations with his improvement of the telescope. He proved that the universe was not made up of material substances similar to that of earth. With the ideas of Copernicus and Galileo, people began to disregard the church's geocentric beliefs. The church began to attack the ideas of Copernicus and Galileo because it questioned the church's whole interpretation of the universe. After years of battling with the churches, Galileo became too old to fight and gave in, declaring that all his beliefs were false. Another prominent astronomer was Marie Winkelmann. Winkelmann was educated by her father and uncle and obtained teachings from a nearby astronomer. In marrying Gottfried Kirch, a well-known Prussian astronomer, Winkelmann was given the chance to practice astronomy by becoming her husband's assistant. This shows the advancement of women during the Scientific Revolution, even though women were not given equal opportunities.
Inspired by the Scientific Revolution, enlightenment thinkers attempted to use reasoning to discover the natural laws of the economy, politics, and education. The baron de Montesquieu made the most significant contribution in saying that there should be a separation of powers in the government, thus making a system of checks and balances. This statement was so important because the founders of America used it to make our government the way it is today, fair. Francois Quesnay was a successful French doctor who was the leader of the Physiocrats. Quesnay and the physiocrats argued that the "natural law" of economics was that the government should not interfere with the natural course the economy took by forcing any regulations. This became a famous doctrine known as Laissez-faire, meaning to let alone. Another "enlightening" aspect of the enlightenment was the way education changed. Peddlers handed out chapbooks, small pamphlets on cheap paper, to the lower class. This shows that now even the lower-middle class became literate. Salons also became popular at this time. Salons were places where high-class society would meet and discuss topics such as the new ideas of the philosophes. Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist who argued the equality of women. She argued that if the enlightenment was based on the ideal of reason in all human beings, that women should have the same rights as men since they are human beings too. Wollstonecraft played a significant role in the way women are seen today.
The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment permanently changed the world-view. From then on, people only accept things that are proved by the scientific method and reasoning. People also understand that the progress of learning and science will never end.