A Short History of Science

By W. T. Sedgwick; H. W. Tyler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X A NEW ASTRONOMY AND THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN NATURAL SCIENCE

The breeze from the shores of Hellas cleared the heavy scholastic atmosphere. Scholasticism was succeeded by Humanism, by the acceptance of this world as a fair and goodly place given to man to enjoy and to make the best of. In Italy the reaction became so great that it seemed destined to put paganism once more in the place of Christianity; and though it produced lasting monuments in art and poetry, the earnestness was wanting which in Germany brought about the revival of science, and later on the rebellion against spiritual tyranny. . . . Astronomy profited more than any other science by this revival of learning, and about the middle of the fifteenth century the first of the long series of German astronomers arose who paved the way for Copernicus and Kepler, though not one of them deserves to be called a precursor of these heroes. -- Dreyer.

The silent work of the great Regiomontanus in his chamber at Nuremberg computed the ephemerides which made possible the discovery of America by Columbus. -- Rudio.

The extension of the geographical field of view over the whole earth and the release of thought and feeling from the restrictions of the Middle Ages mark a division of equal importance with the fall of the ancient world a thousand years earlier. -- Dannemann.

Science begins to dawn, but only to dawn, when a Copernicus, and after him a Kepler or a Galileo, sets to work on these raw materials, and sifts from them their essence. She bursts into full daylight only when a Newton extracts the quintessence. There has been as yet but one Newton; there have not been very many Keplers. -- Tait.

THE AGE OF DISCOVERY. -- With the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth opens one of the most marvellous chapters in all history; viz. the Discovery of the New World. At about the same time further explorations of the old world attained equal extent and interest. We have referred above (p. 174) to the Discovery of the East by the Crusaders, and now

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