This is the assignment page for the topic "Ooze, Mystery and Machines: The Emergence of Modern Science" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

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Ooze, Mystery and Machines: The Emergence of Modern Science

ID: Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), Euclid (ca. 300 B.C.E.), Ptolemy (fl. 139-161 C.E.), Galen (ca. 130-201 C.E.), John Buridan (ca. 1296-ca. 1366), Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), On the Structure of the Human Body (1543), Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Hermes Trismegistus, Pythagoras (ca. 580-ca. 500 B.C.E.), Plato (426-347 B.C.E.), Neo-Platonism, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), Platonic Academy, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), Emperor Rudolph II (r. 1576-1612), Prague, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), The New Astronomy (1609), Harmony of the Spheres (1619), Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies (1543), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Michel de Nostredame [Nostradamus] (1503-1566), Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-212 B.C.E.), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), The Sidereal Messenger (1610), Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World (1632), Discourses on the Two New Sciences (1638), René Descartes (1596-1650), Discourse on Method (1637), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687)

  1. Why did the Aristotelian and Hermetic scientific traditions lose some of their popularity among European scholars in the 16th and 17th centuries? Discuss the works of individual scientists.
  2. Why did John Buridan (mid-14th century) attack some of Aristotle's theories of motion?
  3. Why did Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy become so influential among Renaissance Humanists in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries?
  4. Why did Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) have so much faith in the capabilities of human beings?
  5. Why was it possible in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to get financial support for studies related to the writings of Hermes Trismegistus?
  6. Why did Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) develop skeptical and relativistic positions in his essays?
  7. Why did the conception of the world as a machine become the dominant form of European scientific thought in the 17th century?
  8. Why did the works of Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-212 B.C.E.) become so influential in the 16th century?
  9. Why was it possible for materialistic views of Nature to become so popular in the Reformation period? Discuss particularly the relationship between the cultural environment of the general population and the religious movements of the period.
  10. Why did the Roman Catholic Church become concerned in the early seventeenth century with theories used by those investigating the natural world?


Owens, ch 16; Nicholas Copernicus [1473-1543], On the Revolution of Heavenly Bodies (Latin, 1543), at the URL []; Isaac Newton [1642-1727], The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Latin, 1687), at the URL [].

You will learn a great deal about Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and the science of his time from the Galileo Project at Rice University.

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J. B. Owens
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Revised: 15 May 2006