Top 10 scientists of the 13th century | Science News

One of the things I used to think was that the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries was a revolution of method, that before that period the scientific method either didn’t exist or was not yet complete.  But I realized last year that the revolution was really more of an acceleration of progress brought in by a new invention: the printing press.

There were scientists before the printing press, but proliferation of ideas was much slower and haphazard, so progress was far slower.  This article at Science News looks at a few of those scientists from the 13th century.

Everybody knows that the Scientific Revolution began in the 16th century, when Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo (plus some philosophical input from Francis Bacon) revived the long dormant Greek love for knowledge about nature. But in fact the seeds of that revolution had been planted three centuries earlier, when a handful of thinkers, most of them religious scholars, began contemplating rational explanations for worldly phenomena.

more at Top 10 scientists of the 13th century | Science News.

10 thoughts on “Top 10 scientists of the 13th century | Science News

  1. Quite fascinating stuff. I am especially fascinated by Robert Grosseteste’s idea (probably developed out of neo-platonic speculations about light) that the universe started with a dot of matter and light where the light then drove everything appart.
    Mediaval natural philosophy was actually much more interesting an varied than we might think. The idea to take the book of Genesis literally is rather new. At the very beginning of the middle ages Augustinus declared that interpretations of Genesis should fit natural philosophy. People did not normally take the 7 days of the bible etc. literally.
    These people worked within a religious paradigm of Christianity or Islam but it was not yet the very narrow framework of fundamentalist Talibanism or equally fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The idea that the Bible is the main source of authority and has to be interpreted literally is an idea from the time of reformation.
    Medieval natural philosophy was the ferment of ideas from which the scientific revolution would finally emerge (and even people like Kepler or Newton etc. where still working within a religious framework).


    1. Excellent comment. Thanks!

      Grosseteste was brilliant. But your comment reminded me that his over reductionism of everything to light, similar Thale’s earlier reduction of everything to water, or Anaximenes’s to air, should serve as a caution to us today to be leery of overly simple explanations.


  2. I’d only heard of Fibonacci and Roger Bacon, though I was not aware that Roger Bacon was a scientist. His name comes up sometimes in conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church.


    1. Of course, labels like “scientist” and “philosopher” are matters of judgment. Those designations are modern distinctions that people like Fibonacci and Bacon would probably have thought strange.


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