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How did the Scientific Revolution influence Enlightenment thinkers?

The Scientific Revolution influenced Enlightenment thinkers by encouraging rational thought, empirical evidence, and challenging traditional authority.

The Scientific Revolution, which took place in the 16th and 17th centuries, was a period of significant scientific advancements and a shift in the way people viewed the natural world. This period laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement in the 18th century that emphasised reason, individualism, and scepticism towards traditional authority. The Scientific Revolution's emphasis on empirical evidence and rational thought greatly influenced Enlightenment thinkers, who applied these principles to societal and political issues.

The Scientific Revolution challenged the traditional authority of the Church in explaining the natural world. Scientists like Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton used empirical evidence to support their theories, which often contradicted the Church's teachings. This challenge to authority resonated with Enlightenment thinkers, who began to question the authority of monarchies and the Church in societal and political matters. They argued for a society based on reason and evidence, rather than tradition and superstition.

Moreover, the Scientific Revolution introduced the scientific method, a systematic way of observing, experimenting, and drawing conclusions. This method encouraged critical thinking and scepticism, key characteristics of Enlightenment thought. Thinkers like Voltaire, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau used these principles to critique societal norms and propose reforms. For example, Locke's empirical approach led him to argue that knowledge comes from experience, a theory that challenged the idea of divine right and supported the concept of individual rights.

Furthermore, the Scientific Revolution's discoveries and theories led to a more mechanistic view of the universe, which influenced Enlightenment views on human nature and society. Newton's laws of motion, for example, suggested a universe governed by natural laws. Enlightenment thinkers applied this concept to human society, arguing that it too was governed by natural laws that could be discovered through reason. This led to the development of political and economic theories based on natural rights and free markets.

In conclusion, the Scientific Revolution had a profound influence on Enlightenment thinkers. It encouraged a shift towards rational thought and empirical evidence, challenged traditional authority, and introduced a new way of understanding the universe. These principles were then applied to societal and political issues, leading to significant reforms and the development of modern Western society.

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