HST 337
Jacob, The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution, 10-42 (chapter 1).

The following questions are intended to assist us in focusing our reading for the next class meeting.  We will divide responsibilities for the questions within the groups. You are not expected to write out answers, but you may find it helpful to outline the remarks you intend to make in group/class discussions. Everyone is encouraged to fill in the schematic SoA on Jacob's argument in this chapter.

Everyone: Hop to page 37 and read the section, "Science in Elite Culture"; it is a summation of the chapter.  Then read the entire chapter from the beginning with the summation in mind, jotting down the major steps in Jacob's argument on the schematic SoA: what constituted the new science (from the intro); who were its adherents, its opponents, as well as the audience both tried to sway; and the dispute's outcome.

Questions for distribution among basic group members:

         1. The clergy constituted one group among the social elites in early modern Europe who controlled the destiny of the new science. How did early followers of Copernicanism deal with this powerful social group?  How did the condemnation of Galileo by the Catholic Inquisition in 1633 affect the social composition of debates about a heliocentric universe?

         2.  Galileo argued that although God's word (Scripture) and God's work could not be contradictory, some scriptural texts and much of Aristotle's system were inaccurate.  How did he reach this conclusion?  What were the implications of Galileo's line of reasoning?

         3.  Why did Galileo seek to establish a supportive audience among the educated laity in the early seventeenth century?  How did he do so?  Was there any connection between this strategy and the Catholic leadership's decision in 1632 to initiate a trial against Galileo?

         4.  Why did naturalism and enthusiasm pose dangers to the interests of the clergy and the educated laity?  Why might the new science boomerang on the very social groups who found it so appealing?  And how did the social utility argument make the new science less threatening?

Everyone: What was the Baconian vision?  What were the characteristics of the ideal Baconian man of knowledge? How did social reformers after Bacon use his vision?


Jacob, The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution, 43-72 (chapter 2).
Everyone is expected to prepare a brief, schematic Structure of Argument (SoA) for this chapter.

We will divide responsibility for preparing the following questions within the basic groups:

        1. Develop a profile of the qualities, views (religious, political, etc.), and class origins that characterized Bacon's "Man" of the New Science.  Compare this ideal with Descartes' "Man" of "New Cities."

        2. How did Bacon and Descartes attempt to defuse the explosive social and political implications of the New Science that potential adherents might find if they were radically inclined (such as people with millenarian, naturalistic, and skeptical tendencies–refer back to chapter 1, if necessary, for definitions)?

        3. What did it mean to be "progressive" in early 17th century Europe? Why did this stance evolve as it did, at that time?

        4. What are the major parallels in Gassendi's and Descartes' natural philosophical syntheses?  The distinguishing differences?  To whom did each appeal, and why?