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The Enlightement - Science


Olaus Worm's Cabinet of Curiosities

William Blake's Newton

Enlightenment - Knowledge

J Bentham - new ethical foundation - Greater Good replacing religious based morals.

'Cost efficient rationality'

Founder first secular university in UK - UCL
Liberty - John Wilkes
David Hume 'emancipation from religious bigotry'
Kant - 'man's release from his self-incurred tutelage'
Sapere Aude ' Dare to know' (Horace)

From Blind Faith to Reason
From Natural Philosophy to science
From generalists to specialists
From loose categories to scientific classification
From 'here be dragons' to an explored world


Theology & Science reconciled?

From Blind Faith - To investigation of God's creation
Acceptance that Bible not nec. literal truth and that human reason was god's creation too

Church of England Latitudiarian Theology

Wikipeida: 'As a positive position, their stance was that human reason is a sufficient guide when combined with the Holy Spirit for the determination of truth in doctrinal contests, and therefore that legal and doctrinal rulings that constrain reason and the freedom of the believer were neither necessary nor salutary.


Copernicus - Gallileo show that the Earth is not at the Centre of the Universe
Newton proves a Mechanical Universe - God not necessary to make the apple drop to the ground.


Charles II & the Royal Society

Formed in 1660 and became the foremost forum for scientific debate.

Members included Boyle, Hooke Newton, Pepys, Wren, Leeuwenhoek, Sir Hans Sloane. etc.

It commissioned experiments, demostrations and publications and popularised Microscopes, Telescopes Time pieces, mechanical models of the solar system

Hooke speculated on Fossils, gravity, even Life on other planets and wrote famous study 'Micrografia'


Age of the Earth

Archbishop Ussher of Armagh calculated the Creation from evidence in the bible and came up with the date of Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.

Nicholas Steno 1638 - 1686
Danish Anatomist
Dissected Shark and identifided 'tongue stones' as Fossilised shark's teeth. Previously thought to be magical items fallen from the sky or lapidified' naturally in stone


Earth Sciences originally based on Genesis Earth created in 7 days

Thomas Burnet 1635 -1715

Moved to Alps and wanted to know how to explain them

Creation an Allegory
Sacred Theory of the Earth 1690
7 Cycles
1 Formless
2. Paradise
3. Flood
4. Post Flood
5. Apocolypse
6. Smooth
7. Last Judgement

John Ray believed that more collecting needs to be done before theory possible
investigated fossils
Edward Lhwyd wrote ' Field Guide to Stones'

18th Century new Ideas based on Catastrophe

Neptunism - everything laid down in primeval sea
Plutonist - Everything fashioned in great heat at Centre of the World
Forced upwards

James Hutton 1726 - 97
1795 published Theory of the Earth; or an Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe

Showed the uplift of rocks by heat and fusion, the Cycle of time and that the Earth made by processes thus Very Old

William 'Strata' Smith
discovered laws of stratigraphy
in mine shafts
Geological Map of England and Wales



Page updated 4th March 2012

Lecture by Kevin Flude - prepared for 'Creative Practice in Narrative Environments'

MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design & developed for University College Worcester

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