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Middle Ages, Science in the


I. An adequate perception of Middle Ages - II. General Intellectual Context - III. High Middle Ages - IV. Impact of the Condemnation of the Aristotle's Works - V. Development of Mathematics and Physics - VI. Medieval Scientific Revolution: Myth or Reality?

I. An adequate perception of Middle Ages

Middle Ages are generally perceived as a period of darkness and stagnation between the heights of the Antiquity and the Renaissance. This notion is especially held to be true in the case of the medieval science. It has originated from the views of Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond D’Alembert, Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Francois Marie Aouret de Voltaire and the other philosophers of the 18th Century French Enlightenment, who have perceived the Middle Ages as a dark period of the human history, between the lights of the Antiquity and the Renaissance, dominated by the power of the Roman Catholic Church and without any scientific development (cf. Kalin, 1997).

The 20th Century American philosopher of science Thomas Samuel Kuhn was also on this track with his notion that the scientific progresses could happen only through the scientific revolutions, which represent shifts between the incommensurable paradigms. According to him, there was no relationship between Aristotle’s Physica and Newton’s Principia Mathematica in physics or Ptolemy’s Almagest and Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies) in astronomy for example, because they gave completely different explanations of the same problems (cf. Kuhn, 1996). His notions were influenced by the 20th Century French philosopher of science of Russian origin Alexander Koyré (1892-1964), who was critical of the role of the experiments in establishing any real truth, but perceived them as the mere methods used just for proving the accepted notions. He thus claimed that the experiments with the rolling and the falling of the weight objects described by Galileo Galilei were not the real experiments, but simply the thought experiments, imagined in order to explain his Plato influenced natural philosophy. On this track, he concluded that the 17th Century Scientific Revolution has not originated from any experimental results, but from the theoretical changes in the understanding of the world (cf. Koyré, 1957).

On the contrary, the 19th Century French Catholic philosopher of science Pierre Duhem claimed that the Western science was actually a Catholic science, because the Roman Catholic Church had a decisive role in its development (cf. Duhem, 1985). Of this way of thinking was also the 20th Century English Catholic philosopher of science Alistair Crombie with his claim that the 17th Century Scientific Revolution was not a solitary event, but was caused by the medieval scientific developments (cfr. Crombie, 1959). Starting with the above notions this article tries to prove that although the medieval intellectual environment with its search for a harmony between the religious truths and the scientific theories was a unique period of the human history, it would be a great oversimplification to perceive it only as the bridge between the Antiquity’s interest in Nature and the Renaissance’s use of a man as a measure of all things, because it also managed to provide the Humanity with its own original achievements.

II. General Intellectual Context

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 a.C., its territory was divided between the different barbarian tribes that gradually have formed their own feudal states (cf. Boing, 1971). The Eastern Roman Empire known as the Byzantium managed to survive until 1453, while the southern part of the Mediterranean was in the 7th Century conquered by the Muslim Arabs. The works of the Greek and the Roman natural philosophers were mainly destroyed in the West and have survived only in the traces such as the Latin transcripts stored in the Catholic monasteries which have spread across Europe (cf. Riché, 1976).

Although the majority of the mentioned works has survived in the Byzantium, there they had merely a minor impact on the development of the science, because of the close relationship between the Orthodox Church and the authoritarian state, the continuous struggle for a survival, and the belief in a perpetual truth revealed in the works of the ancient authorities. Thus, the main role of the Byzantine science was the transmission of the classical knowledge to the Islamic Caliphate and the Latin West, but also in the transmission of the original achievements of the former to the later. Its main highlights were the building of the Hagia Sophia church by the architects and mathematicians Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, which for a thousand years remained the biggest church in the world, and the discovery of the Greek Fire mixture used in the naval battles due to its possibility of burning on water, which has enabled the survival of the Byzantine Empire for a thousand years. Both achievements occurred already in the 6th Century at the height of the Byzantine science, thus clearly becoming its symbols, due to the fact that afterwards it went into a slow continuous decay. Consequently, the Byzantine science always remained classical science, which reached its peaks only through the returning to the ancient authorities during the Macedonian (11th), the Komnenoi (12th), and the Palaeologean (14th) Renaissance (cf. Tatakes and Moutafakis, 2003). A notable example of a medieval female Byzantine scientist is the princess Anna Komnene (1083-1153) daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium and Irene Doukaina. In her chronicle work Alexiad she gave an account of her court education, based on the ancient Greek language, literature, rhetoric, and sciences, but which also included medicine, astronomy, mathematics, geography, history, and military affairs. According to her contemporaries she taught medicine, was at the head of the main Constantinople hospital and orphanage which held beds for 10,000 patients and orphans, and was considered to be an expert on gout disease (cf. Connor, 2004).

Regarding the Latin West, meaning the medieval feudal countries connected by the Catholic faith and the Latin language, its early medieval intellectual life was concentrated primarily at the Benedicitne monasteries (Boing, 1971). Their main interest was religion, but they also had to be involved into the study of Nature, for example to care for the sick which lead toward development of medicine and pharmacy, or to determine the right time for prayer or the precise date of Easter which lead toward development of mathematics and astronomy. While the former two were coming from the Christian notion of helping others, the latter two were directed towards observation of the laws and principles according to which God has organized his Universe. So in their minds, through the investigation of his creation, the Benedictine monks were at the same time worshiping God (cf. Riché, 1976).

The Islamic science developed in the two Islamic caliphates, the Omayyad one with its centers in Damascus and Cordoba and the Abbasid one with its centers in Bagdad and Cairo, through the works of the Persian, Arab, Moorish, Berber, Assyrian and Egyptian thinkers, who were mainly Muslims, but also Christian and Jewish, such as the Torah commentator and the court physician of the sultan Saladin, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) (cf. Huff, 2003). The Islamic scientists were called polymaths, hakims, or sages, which clearly denotes their various skills, because they were at the same time physicians, scientists and artists. Although they were in contact with a substantial number of the ancient writings, they have managed to produce only the new interpretations of the ancient authorities, but not the new achievements of their own, which according to Grant was caused by the rigidity of Islam towards any philosophical speculation, which is best exemplified in the figures of the famous Muslim philosophers, Persian Ibn Sina Avicenna (c. 980-1037) and Spanish Ibn Rushd Averroes (c. 1126-1198), who were both individual thinkers working at the outskirts of the mentioned Islamic caliphates (cf. Grant, 1996).

III. High Middle Ages

After the liberation of Toledo in 1085 and Sicily during the 11th Century from the Muslim rule, the Latin West came into the contact with the greatest amount of the ancient texts until then (cf. Grant, 1996). They have primarily come from the Greek originals and secondarily from the Arabic translations. Among them the most prominent place was given to the works of the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who came to be known simply as the Philosopher, because the rediscovery of his works was crucial for the establishment of the Catholic scholastic philosophy, which aimed at the conciliation between theology and philosophy by providing the rational explanations of the religious teachings (cf. Kalin, 1997).

Its main proponent was the Italian Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), later declared a saint, an angelic teacher and a doctor of the Church, who in order to achieve the unity between theology and philosophy, has in his Summa Theologiae declared that reason could be helpful in approaching matters of faith for which purpose he used the logical syllogisms. Coming from a noble background, he was first destined to become a Benedictine monk, as was then a usual practice with the younger sons from the wealthy families, so he was sent to the famous Monte Cassino monastery in which he got acquainted with the works of Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides, but at the age of nineteen he decided to join the newly formed Dominican order, which he did despite the strong objections from his family. He studied at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Paris, became a professor of Scriptures at the University of Cologne, finally to return to the University of Paris as a regent master of theology in the two mandates (cf. Crombie, 1959). In his works he stated that although human beings had the natural capacity to know many things, they still from time to time had needed the special divine revelation, especially in regard to the questions of the faith, which he explained as the movement of the intellect by God to its act. He thus claimed that the truths of science cannot contradict the truths of faith, and about the troubling question on world eternity (de aeternitate mundi) he said that since any argument of reason proves unsatisfactory only the revelation can offer a secure answer (cfr. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 46, a. 2).

His teaching on the usage of the mathematical models in the physical sciences gave rise to a mathematical physics, scientia media or “mixed science” whose best examples are mechanics and optics. It was based on the demonstrative syllogisms composed of the two premises, one mathematical and one physical, whose conclusion was a middle term or a metrical concept which expressed the final result of a measuring process applied to a physical entity. It enabled a demonstration of the properties of the natural bodies and the inorganic substances, composed of the elements and the compounds, such as the stars and the planets, and thus formed the basis of the natural theology and gave rise to the philosophical movement which in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas was named Thomism (cf. Wallace, 1996). It has represented a continuation of the Aristotle's teaching on analogy which is a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects. The Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of analogy was crucial in the development of the theology, because it enabled theologians to perceive and describe God through the usage of different analogies, which had already been present in the Old Testament metaphors and the New Testament parables throughout the Bible.

A special place in the Aristotelian-Thomistic thought is given to the problem of matter which per its definition designates all that is directly perceptible by the human senses, meaning “material” that can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. As such it encompasses not only the solid objects, but the liquids, the gases, and the things which are indirectly observable with the help of the measuring instruments. One should highlight that although for both Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas “form” was perceived as an incomplete and partial reality or an ens quo, it was by the 13th cenury Oxford Franciscan School instead understood as a complete substance or an ‘ens quod’, which has led to a number of contradictions. As the main consequence of the mentioned misunderstanding, the Newtonian physics became “materialist” in its structural description of the cosmos, “mechanistic” in regard of the dynamical and causal explanation of its becoming, and “reductionist” in its approach to the relationship between the whole and the parts. Thus, the misunderstood Aristotelian-Thomistic thought had to become the principal enemy to be fought, from the viewpoint of the modern mathematical and experimental science.

Thomas Aquinas's teacher at the University of Paris, German Dominican Albert the Great (1193/1206-1280), later declared a saint and a doctor of the Church as well, made his own comments on all the known writings of Aristotle, but also on the works of the above mentioned Muslim philosophers Avicenna and Averroes. In this fashion he wrote on theology, logic, geography, botany, zoology, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, physiology, phrenology, justice, law, mineralogy, friendship, and love (cf. Weisheipl, 1980). He has not only studied science from books, but has also experimented with Nature, and has taken from Aristotle the view that scientific method had to be appropriate to the objects of the scientific discipline in the case (cf. Gillispie, 1970). All these translations have enriched the medieval natural philosophers with the knowledge of their predecessors. In the case of medicine, they had not just restrained themselves to the translations of the works of Hippocrates and Galen, which had been brought to Europe by Constantine the African (c. 1017-1087), but they had also critically evaluated the mentioned works, the best example of which is Hildegard of Bingen (c. 1098-1197) who had developed her own pharmacopeia based on her convent garden as is explained in her famous work Physica (cf. Baum, 2005).

Another important step in the development of the Medieval Latin Science was the foundation of the universities, which not just housed the libraries for the above mentioned translated texts, but also provided a complete infrastructure for the intellectual communities. These uniquely Catholic institutions have been established since the 11th Century. The first ones were Bologna, Paris and Oxford, each of which was entitled as a Studium Generale, which meant that they were allowed to teach all four acknowledged medieval sciences, namely philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and medicine. During time they have become the centers of production and transmission of knowledge. In the case of medicine, especially important were Padua, Salerno and Montpellier, which had introduced the practice of the human dissections in the anatomical teachings (cf. Crombie, 1959).

According to Grant the reason why the universities have appeared only in the Latin West was in the separate existence of the Roman Catholic Church and the different feudal states, each of which was willing to recognize a further separate existence of the corporate entities such as the universities. The mentioned independent relationship between the Church and the State in the Latin West was substantially different from the subordination of the Church to the State in the Byzantine Empire, and the thorough religious prescriptions for all the life activities in the Muslim East, which was best symbolized with the person of the caliph, who was at the same time the highest religious and political ruler. Already in the 13th Century the scholars from different universities have started to tour each other institutions in order to examine the libraries or give the lectures, and thus have consequently helped the spreading of the knowledge and the forming of the uniform intellectual milieu across the Latin West. Through their system of teaching with the lectures based on the readings of the ancient authorities and the disputations developed around the students' thesis based on them, the European universities were at the same time preserving the experience of the previous generations and encouraging the criticisms of the same. Both these circumstances were equally important in the development of a scientific way of thought that has eventually led to the final overthrowing of the ancient authorities during the Renaissance (cf. Grant, 1996).

IV. Impact of the Condemnation of the Aristotle's Works

Both the translation of the Aristotle’s works into Latin and the foundation of the European universities have brought the great improvements into the Medieval Latin Science. Their impact was even greater if one takes into an account that both these achievements have occurred simultaneously. However, according to Duhem, a decisive point in the development of the modern science was actually the condemnation of the Aristotle’s works by the Bishop of Paris and the former Sorbonne Chancellor Etienne Tempier (d. 1279) in 219 articles proclaimed on the 7th March 1277, whose example was followed in the same year by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the former Oxford Franciscan John Peckham (c. 1230-1292). It should be highlighted that the mentioned condemnations had represented the continuation of the earlier condemnations of 1210 and 1270, which had also occurred at the University of Paris, and which had primarily been directed against the Aristotle's commentators rather than against his works. Thus, while the former one had condemned the works of the 2nd Century Greek peripatetic philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias and his notion on pantheism or presence of God in all created things, the later aimed at the works of the above mentioned Spanish Islamic philosopher Averroes and his notions of the eternity of the Universe, the mortality of the soul, and God as the “Unmoved Mover” (cf. Woods, 2005).

Although the mentioned condemnations occurred because of the theological reasons, and were widely opposed and even overturned in 1325 by the followers of Thomas Aquinas, some of whose works had been condemned as well, they still had an enormous impact on the development of natural philosophy. The bishop’s articles dealt primarily with the Aristotle’s teachings on the eternity of the World, the double truth, one in theology and one in philosophy, and the limitations of the God’s absolute power by the natural laws, which were in the direct opposition with the dogmas of the Creation, the teaching role of the Church, and the God’s almightiness. This condemnation gave freedom to the medieval natural philosophers to question other Aristotle’s teachings as well. By trying to bring them into the accordance with the Catholic dogmas, they were developing their own theories which were more or less independent from Aristotle. Through the examination of the original medieval documents, Duhem has managed to prove that on this track they had formulated completely new explanations of the concepts of place, time, infinity, void and the plurality of the worlds (cf. Duhem, 1985).

According to Crombie the two major contributions of the Medieval Latin Science have both resulted from the 1277 condemnation of the Aristotle's works. The first one was the idea that the role of science was to enable humanity to subordinate Nature, while the second one was the notion that neither the God’s actions neither the human’s speculations could have been constrained with any scientific or philosophical theory. Although both these ideas were based on the Bible as an undoubted authority, they had eventually managed to cause the notion of relativity of the existing scientific theories and the possibility of their replacement with the more successful ones (cf. Crombie, 1959).

At the University of Paris the Aristotelian Peripatetic physic with its rejection of a vacuum as completely impossible, was changed with a notion that Divine Omnipotence could make all things possible, although science still had to prove its existence. Thus from 1280s onward it was officially taught that, although the laws of the Nature were certainly opposed to the production of an empty space, the realization of such an empty space was not contrary to reason. An aequivocal use of the word “emptyness“ was the cause of several misunderstings. While the Aristotelians rejected the notion of “emptyness of being“ (which cannot be other than “nothing“ and is a mere entity of reason), while the other ones were talking of the notion of “emptyness of matter“ (which is a privative notion of emptiness and is a physically reality).

The mentioned notion eventually gave rise to dynamics (cf. Lindberg, 1980). The Italian Franciscan and the later saint Bonaventura (c. 1221-1274) has gone even a step further by stating that religion was superimposed to science only in the matters of the faith, but not in the problems of Nature (cf. Kalin, 1997). The French philosopher and later Bishop of Lisieux Nicolas Oresme (c. 1320/25–1382), even stated that in discussing various marvels of Nature, there is no reason to take recourse to the heavens, the last refuge of the weak, or demons, or to our glorious God as if He would produce these effects directly, more so than those effects whose causes we believe are well known to us (cf. Numbers, 2003).

At the same time across the Channel, the former University of Paris student, the Franciscan friar, and the future Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175-1273), at the University of Oxford has advocated a new understanding of the Aristotelian dual path of the scientific reasoning, meaning from particular observation towards general laws, and vice versa, from general laws towards particular observations, which he called “composition and resolution,” by emphasizing the role of mathematics in understanding Nature, and thus established the so-called Oxford Franciscan School of the scholastic philosophy and the natural theology whose ideas continued right until Galileo Galilei and his experiments at the University of Padua in the 17th Century. Another University of Paris student and Oxford Franciscan Roger Bacon (c. 1214-1294) has attacked the scholastic dependence on the ancient authorities, at the same time demanding that instead of reading books philosophers should direct their interests towards Nature, which could be explained only through the experience, which comes with the observation and the experimentation, and has thus created the empirical scientific method. The above notions were evaluated in his works Opus Majus (Great Work), Opus Minus (Less Work), and Opus Tertium (Third Work). He used the notion of the utility in order to judge sciences, and has thus claimed that the practical sciences are superimposed to the theoretical sciences, because the later are instrumental in achieving the goals of the former. Special emphasis was given to mathematics, as the only science leading to rigorous proofs and truths, which he perceived to be of a great instrumental value due to its quantification possibilities, and has thus called it “a gate and a key” to all the other sciences including theology (cf. Fisher and Unguru, 1971).

Yet another Oxford Franciscan Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) has further broadened the above mentioned division between theology and philosophy by claiming that the truths of faith are valid only for the Catholics, but the truths of reason are valid for all humans (cf. Kalin, 1997). Finally, the last from the group of the Oxford Franciscans, William Occam (c. 1287-1437) has definitely divided theology and philosophy by declaring that religion depends on the revelation, while science depends on the experience, which makes them mutually incompressible. He also postulated his own principle of the heuristic scientific reasoning which states that the simplest explanation of a certain problem should also be the selected explanation, and which is today under the name “Occam's Razor” used as one of the main ways of deciding between various possible hypothesis and theories in modern science (cf. Kalin, 1997).

The main difference between the Paris and the Oxford philosophical-theological schools was in their attitude towards the Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of analogy. While the Aristotelian way of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas prevailed at the University of Paris and as such became the official teaching of the Church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Platonic path of Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon prevailed at the University of Oxford and with its emphasis on the mathematical formulas in the natural sciences created the methodological premises of the modern sciences. By rejecting the Aristotelian-Thomistic teaching on analogy, the 13th Century Oxford Franciscan School had to find its own principles on which to base the understanding of the Universe. In this respect, its method of scientific research was brought back to the level of the ancient Ionian philosophers, although with the more advanced measuring instruments and mathematical tools. On this track, the Aristotelian-Thomistic notion of a matter as an incomplete and partial reality had to be changed with the Oxford understanding of it as a complete substance, which had a profound influence on the later natural philosophers. In conclusion one could say that in Oxford a new scientific way of mathematical thinking originated in response to the old theological way of analogical thinking in Paris. Thus, while Duns Scotus resolved the analogy of being in a multiplicity of univocals, William of Ockham dissolved the reality of universals into pure names by denying them a real existence outside of the mind. The mentioned notions continued to have an influence on the formation of the Galilean and Newtonian science as a basis of the modern natural science.

According to Grant, it was precisely the above mentioned division between the faith and the reason, the Church and the State, the religion and the science that was a decisive prerequisite for the occurrence of the Renaissance in the Latin West. The best proofs of it are the above mentioned examples of the Byzantine Empire, in which Church was subordinated to the State, and the Muslim East, in which religion controlled all aspects of life, and which both had never experienced such a change, despite their better starting positions regarding the accessibility of the ancient sources. Although the mentioned division had originated already in the Bible (“Give to emperor what is emperor’s and to God what is God’s”, Mt 22:21) it has developed in its full expression only during the Middle Ages (cf. Baum, 2005).

V. Development of Mathematics and Physics

Regarding the development of mathematics, the greatest benefit was the recovery of the Euclidian theoretical explanation of the scientific problems and its use for the questioning of the truthfulness of the scientific theories. The next step was the extension of mathematics to all physical sciences. The most important practical improvement was the introduction of the Arabic numerals, which have originated in India, by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa (c. 1170-1250) in his work Liber Abaci written in 1202. Soon they had completely expulsed the Roman numerals from the everyday use. Finally they have provided the turning point in the development of the Gothic architecture, which means that they had found their full practical usage only within the Latin West (cf. Crombie, 1959).

In the context of mathematics, one cannot continue without mentioning the 15th Century German philosopher and theologian Nicholas of Kues (1401-1464) who exercised the roles of a papal legate to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a cardinal and a prince-bishop of Brixen, and finally of a vicar general in the Papal States. During his education at the Universities of Heidelberg, Padua and Cologne, he was not only acquainted with the works of the ancient authorities, but was also involved in the disputations with his contemporary philosophers. In his works De Docta Ignorantia, De Visione Dei, and De Conjecture, he talked of the possibility of knowing God only with the help of the divine human mind, and not just with the mere human means, which he called “learned ignorance.” Among other things, he wrote on squaring the circle and claimed that the Earth was a star like the other stars, that it was not the center of the Universe, and was thus not at rest, nor that its poles were fixed. In medicine he had introduced the counting of pulse, through the comparison of the rate of pulses and the weighing of the quantity of water which had run out of a water clock, while the pulse had beaten one hundred times (cf. McGinn, 2005).

The above mentioned improvements in the field of mathematics had an impact on the field of physics. Greek philosophers had developed only the mathematics of the objects at rest, while the 13th Century natural philosophers have also developed the mathematics of the motion. The 1277 condemnation had caused the rise of the new physical theories, which described the Universe as infinite, void, and without a center, which was in the opposition with the Aristotle’s claims. During the Developed Middle Ages at the University of Oxford a new theory was developed that connected the assimilation of weight to the magnetic attraction.

According to it the tendency of a heavy body towards a moving center was the same as the tendency of an iron towards a moving magnet. Although this theory was later proved false according to the contemporary understandings, it had still represented an original explanation and an undoubted improvement of the previous Aristotle’s theory of gravity, which claimed that all objects had tendency of moving towards the sphere of their origination (cf. Crombie, 1959).

The above mentioned interest in the motion led to the development of the theory of the impetus, formulated by the French priest Jean Buridan (c. 1300-1358). It tried to explain the continuity of a motion of a body without the preserved contact with the cause of its motion through the impetus given to the projectile by the thrower, and which would then continue to move as long as the impetus remained stronger than the resistance, which clearly represents a predecessor to the concept of the inertia. The mentioned theory had its practical use in the regulation of the motion of the projectiles and was useful in the explanation of the rotations of the stars and the planets (cf. Duhem, 1985). These examples clearly show that during the Middle Ages physics, as the main natural science, was developing and not stagnating. Although some of these medieval theories were later proved to be false according to the contemporary understandings, one should bear in mind that the same thing is true for some theories from the Antiquity or the Renaissance as well, so the attribute of falsity can not only be connected with the Medieval Latin Science.

VI. Medieval Scientific Revolution: Myth or Reality?

It is generally accepted that the Scientific Revolution occurred in the 17th Century, which was full of the important discoveries, and is thus consequently known as “the century of scientific discoveries”. The best examples among them are the establishment of the experimental scientific method by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the introduction of the inductive logical method by the English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and the formulation of the Theory of Gravitation by the English physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727). While for Kuhn and Koyré on the one hand their explanations represent exemplar scientific revolutions (Kuhn, 1996), for Duhem and Crombie on the other hand they are only scientific continuities (cf. Crombie, 1959).

The claimed, but not really proven, evidences for the Nicolaus Copernicus’s heliocentric theory which were given by Galileo Galilei in his book Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems) published in 1632 and which were presumably based on his thorough astronomical observations made by his telescope, were not enough to end the debate on the rotation of the Earth around the Sun, which was already discussed by the above mentioned 14th century French priest Jean Buridan in his work Quaestiones de Caelo et Mundo (Quaestiones of Sky and Earth) (Crombie, 1959). Moreover, the origins of the inductive logical method can be found in the work Opus majus written by the above mentioned 13th Century Oxford Franciscan Roger Bacon, which was four hundred years before it was completely explained by the 17th Century Cambridge philosopher Francis Bacon in his book Novum organum published in 1620 (although sharing the same family name the two mentioned philosophers were not related) (cf. Crombie, 1959). Finally, the laws of optics as described in the book Opticks published in 1704 and written by 17th Century Cambridge mathematician Isaac Newton, does not seem so revolutionary any more if one knows that the refraction of light by a spherical lens was already qualitatively and quantitatively explained by the above mentioned 13th Century English bishop Robert Grosseteste in the work De Iride (On Lens) (cf. Crombie, 1959).

While on the one hand it is true that there was no continuity in the development of the scientific concepts between the above mentioned 13th Century philosophers and the 17th Century scientists, on the other hand it is also the fact that the works of the earlier authors were more than accessible to the later authors, because they were all published after the invention of the printing machine around 1440 by the German printer and publisher Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1395-1468) (cf. Hannam, 2011). On this track it is easy to understand why Crombie claimed that if one wants to talk about the Scientific Revolution, it should be divided into two phases: the first one in the 13th and the second one in the 17th Century (cf. Crombie, 1959). In this respect the best illustration of the importance of the Medieval Latin Science for the later scientific development could be given by drawing a parallel between the development of sciences and the development of arts, because the Renaissance Art as well has not just occurred out of nowhere, but has had its predecessors in the medieval artists like Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) for example.


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