The Revival of Science

Do Unto Others - The Golden Rule

                  1. Science in the Middle Ages.

                  2. Thirteenth-Century Scientists

                  3. The Relation of the Revival of Science

                                                to the Revival of Letters

                  4. The Revival of Research

                  5. The Revival of Invention.

                  6. Results of the Revival of Science.

T HE intellectual strength of the Middle Ages did not lie in scientific knowledge and achievement, but in a vivid quickening of the spiritual imagination. The scientific learning of the time, far from being a well- ordered system of knowledge, was merely a compilation of detached and ill-comprehended fragments.

 The medieval man had little ability to look things squarely in the face; he had no clear-eyed perception of the visible world. it was not his practice to deal in an objective way with the facts of the actual world about him. All things were veiled with a mist of subjectivity. The things that he saw were treated as symbols, and the things that he heard were understood as allegories. “ Supra-sensible things,” said Chrysostom, are ministered to man by sensible things.” The speculative life was held to be vastly more important than the practical life. The world was but a house of probation; wherein, then, lay the wisdom of earthly knowledge? So the medieval man devoted himself to the study of philosophy. But his philosophy was defective and misleading. It suffered from the dictation of the Church. It was not a free inquiry into the constitution of the world of nature and the world of men. It was not an unhindered attempt to conceive of the universe as a rational entity. Instead it was merely an effort to put the theology of the time into a logical form, to prove that the teaching of the Church was identical with the universal and self-consistent truths of philosophy. To reinforce the unassailable authority of the medieval Church the scholars of the time invoked the infallible authority of medieval philosophy.

So medieval philosophy was no more and no less than an endeavor to give a scientific statement of medieval theology. Another thing that acted as an obstacle to the progress of science in the Middle Ages and deprived men still further of the use of their own eyes was a slavish devotion to Aristotle. Not all of Aristotle’s works have come down to us, and some of those that we possess have been recovered from the cataclysm of the barbarian invasions only in an imperfect form. They may be divided into four groups, according as they deal with logic, metaphysics and natural science, ethics, and art. Up to the thirteenth century Aristotle was known to Christendom only through some of his logical writings, a part of the Organon and the Categories. But the Greek philosopher’s works can be understood only when studied in their entirety, and the fragments which the medieval scholars possessed are precisely the ones that have most need of the others in order rightly to be apprehended. Two other things added to the misrepresentation of Aristotle. The few books of the philosopher possessed by the medieval scholars had come to western Europe by way of Alexandria where they had been colored with the Neo-Platonic thought, and a number of books not written by Aristotle were ascribed to him. The real Aristotle was almost completely obscured until the thirteenth-century. Medieval man knew him only as a logician, and even in that respect they knew him only imperfectly. Thus deceived by the infallible Doctor they wandered still further from the path of scientific thought than they had been sent by their perverted idea of the aim and the scope of philosophy. the key delivered into their hands by Aristotle and with it all the doors of knowledge should be opened. By the aid of logic alone should all truth be reveaied7 It is easy to see how this belief retarded scientific progress. With this magic key in one’shand, what need could there be to interrogate nature? \What need of careful and extensive observation? What need of induction? Alas! it was long before the futility of logic apart from observation dawned upon the consciousness of men.

By the middle of the thirteenth century much of the missing work of Aristotle had been restored. The additional thought of the Greek philosopher came into western Europe, in a circuitous way, from the Mohammedan schools in Spain. The acquaintance The of the Mohammedans with Greek philosophy dates as far back as the eighth century when they penetrated into Persia. Some of their translations of Aristotle into Arabic, made for the most part in the ninth century by Persians who had embraced the Nesorian form of Christianity, were from the Syriac versions and others from the original Greek. It was an impure form of the Aristotelian philosophy which they obtained, and it was further adulterated by its passage through the schools of Alexandria, that great melting and mixing pot of oriental and occidental thought. Still, with all this, the Mohammedans in Spain had much of Aristotle’s philosophy to give that Latin Christendom had not hitherto possessed. It was gladly accepted as pure gold and the scholar with whom the gift is chiefly associated is Averroes (1126—98) who became acknowledged as the Aristotelian inter preter par excellence and was known as the “ Great Commentator.” With this new guide the Europeans could proceed to something like a systematic and positive study of the world in which they lived. Later on, when the menace of Turkish invasion grew more threatening, scholars from the Byzantine Empire brought the writings of Aristotle to Italy in the original Greek texts. Then the syllogism was dethroned and investigation set up in its place. This substitution of experiment and observation, however imperfectly it was applied, for the a priori methods of scholasticism constituted one of the most potent of all the revivals of the Renaiss-ance. In every stage of culture the physical and the psychical faculties of man are subtly co-ordinated Bodily activity affects thought, and thought determines action.

So the mere dealing with external realities assisted in the mental task of understanding and interpreting them. The days of the solitary thinker, immured within his cell, dealing with signs and symbols, were numbered. Confidence in the value of experience steadily increased, and confidence increased in man’s ability to interpret that experience. This confidence in the mind of man v as at once the seed and the fruit of the Renaissance. Without it all the vast change in the life of man that is the distinguishing characteristic of that era would have been impossible.

Among the thirteenth-century fore-runners of the revival of science three names stand out above all the others. The first is that of Albertus Magnus (1193—1280), a Dominican friar, who became convince by the study of Aristotle. and by his own investigation that a science of nature was possible. “The visible world,” he said, “was made for man’s sake in order that man might arrive at the knowledge of God through observation of it .” So despite the hindrances of the time he began to search like any modern scientist with the instruments of analysis and synthesis into the secrets of nature. He catalogued the trees and plants known in his time, and he noted the influence of the physical environment upon human, animal and vegetable life. “All that is here set down,” he wrote in regard to his work, “ is the result of my own experience, or has been borrowed from authors whom we know to have written what their personal experience has con-firmed; for in these matters experience alone can be of certainty.

”The second of these intellectual pioneers was Bacon (1214- 1294) a far-sighted genius, one of the most powerful minds recorded in all history, who made many important discoveries, and to whose credit must be placed a number of brilliant anticipatory guesses of modern science. Greater, however, than any of his many discoveries, and more important than all of them combined, was the scientific method that he employed. He devoted his life to the reformation of the existing methods of scientific thought. The science of the Middle Ages descended from the highest concept, that of pure being, down to individual things. It set its seal of disapproval upon the method of proceeding from the particular units of a class upwards. In other words it declared the inductive method to be reprobate. For its own part it dealt only with a universe evolved from its own inner consciousness. If it dealt at all with the causal relation of earthly things it did so only in so far as that relation lent itself to the support of the a priori theories of the time. “ Secular science intoxicates, but not with charity,” said Bernard of Clairvaux: “ it obstructs, but does not fortify.” Quite opposite was the opinion of Bacon. He warned his fellow-men against servile subscription to the tradition of authority, declaring that it confined thought in an ever identical circle. “We must not give our adhesion to everything we hear and all we read.” he said;” on the contrary, it is our duty to examine with the most careful scrutiny the opinions of our predecessors in order to add to them what is lacking in them and to correct what is false and erroneous, though with all modesty and discretion. For the truth is ever growing by Cod’s grace. It is true that a man never reaches perfection or an absolute certitude, but he is ever perfecting himself; that is why it is necessary not to follow th e ancients blindly, for if they could come to life again they would themselves correct what they have said and would change their mind on many things. In like manner the learned men of today are ignorant of things the veriest schoolboy will know some day.” To the writer of these words more than to any other one man is the modern world indebted for the perfection of the experimental method which has been so powerful a means of extending its mental horizon.

The third of these forerunners of modern science was Raymond Lull (1235-1315),a philosopher half-Mohammedan and half-Christian, a theologian and a naturalist, a missionary and a troubadour, the acutest intellect of the Spanish countries in the Middle Ages, whose aim it was to devise a system, an ars magna, for the purpose of ascertaining all truth by means of logical analysis. His teachings gradually interested his followers in the observation of reality and in convincing them of the importance of a systematic study of the world of nature.

This preliminary revival of science was at once the cause and the effect of the revival of letters. It received a great impetus, as we have seen, from the restoration of the writings of Aristotle. It quickened men’s perception of facts, and it helped to renew the connection between words and things which scholasticism had done away with. It interested men in observation rather than in concepts. It taught them to proceed from individual things to abstraction, from example to application. Naturally they became curious to know more of that ancient world from which the intervening centuries separated them. So they looked about them with eagerness for further writings of those far-off Greeks, and the more they read the more were they impelled to their work of research and invention. By his reading of Latin authors Petrarch was helped to obtain a firm grasp upon the fundamental principles of science. Such was the inter-relation of the revival of science and the revival of letters. Men read the ancient authors, learned to see with their eyes and to imitate their observations and experiments. Then by their own work in observation, testing and correcting they arrived at independent and additional scientific achievements. Thus did they take up the threads of scientific investigation where long ago they had fallen from the hands of the ancients. In medicine they went back to Hippocrates and Galen, in botany to Theophrastus, Discorides and Pliny, in zoology to Aristotle, in mathematics to Euclid, Eratosthenes and Hipparchus, in physics to Archimedes, Vitruvius and Heron, in astronomy to the Pythagoreans, in jurisprudence to the Corpus Juris, and in politics to Plato as well as to Aristotle. All the great scientific investigators of the eras of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolution lit their torches oil the altar of the ancients. Each of the various revivals of the time contributed to the success of the others, for each, in addition to its own definite contributions to knowledge, aided in the production of an atmosphere that was favorable to the new thought. So was the narrow horizon of men pushed back; so was self-confidence restored to the reason of humanity.

The revival of research was witnessed in many lines of human activity. In philosophy the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and other Greek philosophers and the works of Latin philosophers were recovered. As a result the ancient systems were extended and a new philosophy, of which we are to see something in our last chapter, was born. In the field of history we begin distinctly to discern the spirit of scientific criticism in the writings of Petrarch, and it is found as the controlling force in the work of Lorenzo Valla. Indeed, Valla, who was one of the greatest historians of the entire era, has been described by some writers as the founder of historical criticism. He proved the Donation of Constantine to be a forgery. With keen insight he made a critical examination of the writings of Livy, Aristotle, and the Areopagite; he described Moses and the authors of the four gospels as being simply historians ; he denied that the apostles were the authors of the so-called Apost es’ Creed; in his Notes on the New Testament he pointed out the corrupt state of the Vulgate in comparison with the earlier Greek texts; and he began an examination of the scriptural writings for the purpose of formulating the textual criticism. It is difficult to realize how much elêh-mentary work had to be done by the critical writers of the early Renaissance. For one thing, the correct spelling of Latin had to be determined again, and the use of the diphthongs, a troublesome question, decided. Many scholars were engaged in such work. It was their endeavor to settle disputed points by appealing to the evidence of old manuscripts, coins, and inscriptions, by scientific investigation and comparison. hut in Valla, to whom the modern world is so greatly indebted, we see, more clearly than in any one else, that the writers of the time were by no means given over to a mere blind admiration of the ancients but that on the contrary the principles of criticism which they suggested were soon turned against the classical writers themselves.

The medieval universities recognized mathematics as a standard study, but the subject appears to have been kept in a very subordinate position by the favorite studies of logic, philosophy, and theology. The knowledge of the Arabic notation had become general throughout Europe, but it was not the custom to reckon numbers with pen or pencil. Instead, counters, with which comparatively complex calculations could be made, were employed. The only books on arithmetic that had been left by the ancients were those of Euclid, and they were neglected in the Middle Ages. So arithmetic was regarded merely as an aid in carrying on the affairs of daily life and not at all as a deductive science. Only such rare geniuses as Leonardo of Pisa, Jordanus of Saxony, and Roger Bacon, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, rose to a higher level; but, because they were too far in advance of their time they did not exercise a widespread influence upon their contemporaries. Still from this time onward a slow evolution of arithmetic may be perceived. Geometry was in much the same condition. All through the medieval centuries only the propositions of Euclid were given; the proofs, by a singular error, being suppressed. Theoretical geometry, then, had in reality no existence. Practical geometry, however, was used with great skill by the architects of the time, and it was also employed by the surveyors. Before the opening of the thirteenth century Mohammedan mathematics had begun to penetrate into western Europe. Part of the mathematical knowledge of the Moslems was derived from the Greeks and part from Hindoo sources. With this aid they had acquired an excellent command of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, though it cannot be said that they extended the bounds of mathematical science. It was principally from Spain that their mathematics, like their philosophy, filtered into western Europe. But Greek mathematics, like Greek philosophy, was brought direct to Italy later on when Byzantine scholars began to Hock to the peninsula to escape the on-coming Turk; and by the middle of the fifteenth century the principal results of the ancient Greek studies were accessible to western students. Then the discovery of printing made the dissemination of the gathered and combined knowledge a comparatively easy matter. The next century and a half witnessed notable developments in syncopated algebra and trigonometry and symbolic algebra, and it saw the beginning of the science of dynamics. Among the most important mathematicians of these years were Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), who opened up new paths in mathematics and physics, and who in astronomy prepared the way for the great discoveries; Remontanus (I436~1476), the greatest mathematician of his time; Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), whose suggestions in mathen3atics were of greater value than his accomplishments; Niccolo Tartaglia (1500-1557), who contributed more than any other scholar of his generation to the dcvelopment of algebra; Girolamo Cardati (1501-1576), a gambler and perhaps a murderer, whose genius was allied to madness, but who, in his Ars Magna, gave to the world the best text-book on algebra that had thus far been published; and Franciscus Vieta (1540-1603), who wrote the first book on symbolical algebra.

With the development of mathematics that had taken place during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it was possible to proceed to new discoveries in astronomy. And astronomy was helped by the pursuit of astrology. It was necessary for the astrologers to determine the position of the heavenly bodies as they were at the hour of the birth of the person whose career was to be foretold. In order to do this correctly it was necessary to employ the same scientific calculation that is required in astronomy. The practice of astrology was carried on in both Greek and Latin Christendom all through the Middle Ages and it resulted in an increase of astronomical knowledge and a development of astronomical processes. To this was added the achievements of the Mohammedans. Then, about the middle of the thirteenth century, an Englishman, John of Holywood, better known as Sacrosco summed up his Treatise on the Sphere all the geometrical knowledge necessary for the study of astronomy. Yet despite the fact that the Western Europeans were now equipped with far better apparatus for the development of astronomy than any previous people had been a pause of fully a century occurred in the progress of the science. Then two Germans, George of Peuerbach (1423-1461), and Regiomontanus, owing not a little to the inspiration of Nicholas of Cusa, inaugurated another period of development. The prevailing astronomical theory, laid down fourteen hundred years before by Ptolemy, averred that the earth is stationary and that the apparent movements of the planets and the sun and the stars around it are actual movements. Six centuries before the opening of the Christian era Pythagoras had dimly suggested that the earth and the planets might rotate about a central sun; and three hundred years later Aristarchus had advanced the same theory with greater precision. In the fifth century of our own era it made a furtive appearance in the writings of Martianus Capella. Then it remained concealed for a thousand years until, inaccurate and incomplete, it came to light again in the writings of Nicholas of Cusa. Almost a century later Nicholas Copernicus (1473—1543), the first great founder of modern astronomy, a simple scholar who lived in Poland far out on the frontier of civilization, gave to the world a distinct statement of the theory that the earth turns upon its own axis and also, together with the planets, revolves around the sun. Each of the previous statements of the theory had been a simple hypothesis given with more or less plausibility. The claim of Copernicus to be the real discoverer of the theory that bears his name rests upon the fact that he was not content to advance it as a mere statement but that he supported it with a strict train of reasoning. The new theory displaced the earth from its central position in the universe, and contradicted many statements in the scriptural writings. The patient scholar well knew that the result of his long and lonely researches would arouse a storm of opposition, so he delayed the publication of his discoveries until he was an old man. When he lay paralyzed upon his death-bed he intrusted the publication of his great work, De revohttionibus orbium coelestiuni, to Rheticus, one of his pupils. Rheticus rashly intrusted the final care of the printing to Aiidreas Osiander, a Protestant theologian of Nuremberg, who slipped in an anonymous preface in which he stated that it was not the intention of Copernicus to state the theory as a fact but merely to suggest it as a hypothesis. The deception succeeded. Only seventy years later, when the theory was boldly announced as a fact by Galileo and supported by the revelations of his telescope, did the papal authorities proceed against it. Galileo (1564-1642) was an Italian scientist whose chief work was that of a pioneer in mechanics and especially in dynamics. He was also an astronomer, and in 1609, virtually inventing the instrument, he constructed a telescope that had the power of. magnifying thirty-two times. With the discoveries he made, which included the satellites of Jupiter, he confirmed the theory of Copernicus. Alarmed for the credit of the Bible, whose statements relating to matters of science were universally accepted )te(l, the Inquisition declared the system he upheld to be false and threatened the scientist with the rack; and the Congregation of the Index forbade the reading of any book that advocated it. The “starry Galileo” may be regarded as one of the chief workers in the revival of science because he did much to remove the obstacle of medieval Aristotelianism from the path of progress. In his own day Aristotle was a fearless investigator who strove to inform himself of the facts of the subjects which he studied and to base all his conclusions and principles upon the ascertained facts. In the field of politics there was an abundant supply of facts at his disposal, his procedure was scientific, and so his conclusions are of great value even to-day. But in the field of natural science the supply of facts was far from being ample, and observation, as we practice it, was unknown to him. He was unable to distinguish between fact and fable. When, therefore, his writings that deal with natural science were regarded as a bible by the men of the Middle Ages, when it was believed that all information regarding the world of nature was to be found in them, they became a bar to progress. It was Galileo’s great work to point men away from this cast-iron Aristotelianism to the world of nature itself. This revolt against the authority of the past paved the way for the expanding science of the future.

One cannot say that anything like a science of physics existed in the Middle Ages. Some facts were retained from the day and others were restored by the Mohammedans. But, at the best, the laws and the facts of nature that were known to the ancients were comparatively few. Simple instruments for the measurement of time, such as water-clocks and sun-dials, the Greeks had. They knew the law of the reflection of light, the law of the lever, and certain of the laws of sound and hydrostatics. The Romans seem not to have made any advance upon the knowledge of the Greeks in physics; and the interest of the Mohanimedans was confined very largely to optics. Medieval Christianity had checked the development of the physical sciences for more than fifteen hundred years. It had produced a soil in which it was impossible for the seeds of science to grow. Instead of questioning nature for her facts in order to discover the laws which those facts reveal it was the practice to summon nature solely for the purpose of supporting theology. And instead of going directly to nature men went to Aristotle. Science, then, if such it may be called, was studied in the library and not in the laboratory. The principal physical problem discussed in the Middle Ages was that of matter, of the constitution of natural bodies. The discussion was carried down into the Renaissance period by such thinkers as Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Nicholas of Cusa, but for the most part it was purely academic. The real contributions to Physics consisted of work like that of Galileo, to whom we are practically indebted for the establishment of the science of dynamics. By observing the oscillations of a swinging lamp in the cathedral of Pisa he discovered the isochronism of the pendulum; and, in opposition to the teaching of Aristotle, he demonstrated that the rate of descent of falling bodies is not proportional to their weight. He also made discoveries in the laws of projectiles, and did much to anticipate the laws of motion as eventually demonstrated by Newton.

Chemistry was born of alchemy, the pseudo-science that sought to transform base metals into gold and silver and to prolong human 1ife indefinitely. It was but a scanty knowledge of chemistry that the Middle Ages inherited from antiquity. And because of the fact that throughout the period chemistry, like every other branch of science, was dominated by traditional belief, very little was added to the store until the time of Roger Bacon. That alert and indefatigable investigator discovered many chemicals, acid, what was still more important, many chemical laws. But, while doubting whether transmutation had ever been achieved, he believed in its possibility. Gradually, however, men began to neglect the formulas couched in meaningless gibberish and the magicians wand of the “black art,” and then alchemy began to change into iatro-chemistry. The first great scholar who taught that the aim of chemistry is not the production of the philosophers stone was Paracelsus (1493- 1541), a Swiss savant of rare originality, who definitely connected chemistry with pharmacy. The mutual inter-action of chemistry and medicine, resulting in the enrichment of each of them, is the principal characteristic of the science throughout the period in its development that ended with the middle of the seventeenth century.

The same fundamental defect that had hindered the progress of the exact and the physical sciences in the Middle Ages, the dependence upon the traditions of antiquity and the consequent failure to observe phenomena carefully and systematically, operated to prevent the development of the natural sciences. But gradually the fabulous lore of the medieval “ Bestiaries “ was supplanted by the knowledge that the stimulated curiosity of men bad brought to light. With the dawn of the Renaissance men awoke to a realization of the beauty of the world in which they lived. This drew people to nature. They began to study not only her physical laws but also her forms and her works in plant and animal life. The zoological works of Aristotle were restored and his method of observation was noted. Physicians especially devoted themselves to these new studies. Chief of them was Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), a distinguished scholar who issued editions of Greek authors and wrote an important History of Animals. Interest in animals became widespread. Menageries were kept by nobles and rich burghers, and the breeding of horses for the perpetuation and increase of desired characteristics was undertaken in a systematic manner. Hand in hand with the new interest in animals went a new interest in plants. Botanical gardens as well as menageries were kept by rulers and wealthy men, one being founded at Paduia in 1525 and another at Pisa in 1544.

The works of Albertus Magnus contain remarks on the organic structure and physiology of plants that could have been obtained only by a careful examination. Gesner did considerable work in botany. He was the first to devise a methodical system of classification based on the fructifying organs. Among other botanists of the sixteenth century were Jerome Bock (1498-1554), whose Neu Kraeuterbnch was so popular that it ran through ten successive editions; Lionel Fuchs (1501-1566), who with keen observation described some four hundred plants; and Valerius Cordus (1515-1544), whose botanical explorations were carried on in many parts of Europe. These old herbalists were interested in plants chiefly for their medicinal virtues, but their discoveries led to a more purely scientific interest. A beginning was also made in the science of mineralogy. Chemistry deals with the constituent of a body and with its properties. There was needed a science to deal with the external characteristics of things. It was this office that was undertaken by mineralogy. The father of the new science was George Agricola (1494?-1555), who in 1530 issued the treatise De re metallica.

The ancients had possessed only a slight knowledge of anatomy. They held the dead body as being especially sacred, and so the cadaver was examined but rarely. The Greeks made some progress in the science of anatomy; and at the Alexandrian school dissection was publicly practised for the first time. Then the darkness of the medieval centuries intervened and it was not until Mohammedan knowledge and skill penetrated into western Europe, through Spain but principally through the school at Salerno, that there came a revival of the science. At the medical school of Montpellier the cadavers of criminals were regularly dissected; in 1308 the senate of Venice provided that each year a human body should be examined; early in the same century Mundinus, at the University of Bologna, publicly dissected several bodies; and dissection was practised at Prague from the very foundation of the University in 1348. But nowhere was there made a careful and systematic study of the structure of the body. All that was done was to open the great cavities and then examine the viscera in a superficial manner. Great reliance was placed upon the Greek authorities, Galen and Hippocrates, and upon the Mohammedan commentators. First of modern men to insist that the structure of man should be learned from a systematic examination of the human body instead of by depending upon authority was Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), of Brussels. In 1543, in his De humani corporis fabrica, he gave to the world the first careful description of the body based upon actual observation. Many errors of the old authorities were corrected, and students were continually urged to test every statement by going to the ultimate source of information, the body itself. By thus substituting the method of interrogating nature for the medieval dependence upon authority he founded, in a time when the path of scientific progress was beset with every form of superstition and hampered with crass credulity, the modern science of anatomy. He proved the fallacy of the belief in the one “ incorruptible, incombustible bone, the necessary nucleus of the resurrection of the body.” With this work and that of his students and followers there gradually disappeared the old superstitions about the body; and dissection came to be regarded as a necessary and desirable means of obtaining knowledge of the structure of the body and its functions. Other investigators who contributed to the development of anatomy were Michael Servetus (1509-1555), who discovered the lesser circulation of the blood between the heart and the lungs; Eustachio (1520o?-1574), a papal physician, who described the Eustachian tube and the Eustachian valve, who is the first histologist of whom we have any record, and who shares with Vesalius the honor of founding the science of anatomy; Fallopio (1523?-1562), who taught anatomy at Ferrara, Visa, and Paclua, and whose name was given to the tube he (discovered; Fabricus (1537-1619), who discovered and described the valvular folds in all the veins of the extremities; and William Harvey (1578--657), who demonstrated the general circulation of the blood.

The knowledge of the medical practice of the Greeks had become lost to a large extent in the period of the barbarian invasions. All through the Middle Ages medicine was nearly as dogmatic as theology. What need of chemical preparations when relics were at hand? Here and there, however, in defiance of the edicts of the Church and in the face of the superstition of the time, was to be found a layman or an ecclesiastic who based his practice upon study rather than upon tradition. Then the Mohammedan physicians, whose knowledge had come down to them from the Greeks, and who were held in high repute, exerted a great influence. From Spain and from Salerno they introduced new preparations into the European materia medica and made known dr first elements of pharmaceutical chemistry. So at the end of the Middle Ages some of the European physicians made valuable observations, studied cases and wrote histories of them, and taught at the bed-side. Among the things they accomplished was the segregation of erysipelas and the prevention of its spread, and the partial control of the spread of leprosy. The revival of learning enabled them to study medicine from Hippocrates and Galen. Thus gradually, along with the increase in knowledge of the organs of the body and their functions, there was developed the science of medicine. The diseases of the different organs were studied and remedies based upon experiments, and to which chemistry contributed, were prescribed. Surgery, which is differentiated from medicine by its treatment of disease conditions with mechanical methods rather than by the administration of medicines, underwent a like development. Operations were performed on various parts of the body, wine was used as an antiseptic, and two or three forms of anaesthetic were employed.

So did there come about a gradual revival of research. Very early the Middle Ages disprized the method of observation and induction. “ It is not ignorance that makes us think lightly of science in general,” said Eusebius, the most learned man of the day, about the opening of the fourth century, “but contempt for useless labor, while we turn our souls to better things. What need was there to keep trimmed and replenished the lantern of science when in the heavens there shone the sun of theology? The revival of research was one of the most important phases of the Renaissance and one of the greatest services ever conferred upon mankind, in all its different fields it was essentially the same, Of course it varied somewhat in its superficial aspects of the differing conditions necessitated by the differing subject- matter of the several fields; but in every line of investigation the fundamental process of observation, experimentation, and induction, and the guiding spirit, were essentially the same. Like any other revival of the era, and like all progress that we witness to-day, the revival of research was a normal sequence of the revival of individuality.

Side by side with the revival of research went a renewal of invention, the first notable instance of which contributed to the development of navigation, to the ability of men to direct the course of vessels and to ascertain their positions. First in point of importance was the invention of the compass. Instances have been cited of the use in China of a needle rubbed with a lode stone to give it the power of polar direction as far back as the second century of the Christian era; but the first mention of it in Europe has been traced to has been traced to Alexander of Neckham, about 1190, and to Guyot de Provins, about 1200. It seems to have been in general use in Europe at that time, for both of these writers speak of the “ugly black stone” not as the guarded secret of a few scholars, but as a common possession of seamen. So it was probably employed by the Genoese explorers when, in the last quarter of the thirteenth century, they made their first explorations in the Atlantic. The magnetic needle was made more useful by connecting it with a compass-card. Thus mariners were provided with an efficient portable guide, and, as far as simple steering was concerned, they were rendered independent of the heavenly bodies and emancipated from the coasts. This made possible a momentous revolution in geographical knowledge. As early as the eleventh century the astrolabe, an instrument invented by the Greeks and used chiefly to ascertain the time of day, was borrowed from the Mohammedans. It enabled seamen approximat-ely to determine positions. Regiomontanus improved it but since then it has been superseded by more perfect instruments The quadrant, an ancient instrument for measuring altitudes, indispensable in astronomy, surveying and gunnery, was improved; and a similar instrument, the sextant, useful to navigators because it enables them to measure angles between distant objects, was invented. Then with the aid of these and other instruments the science of navigation was gradually developed and a great impetus was given to exploration and commerce. By the end of the thirteenth century the use of the compass, the beginning of scientific surveying, and the ascertaining of positions by astronomical calculation had produced a marked advance in the mapping of coast lines. Reliable maps were an indispensable aid to seafarers, and so the improvement in cartography is an important feature in the prosecution of exploration and the expansion of commerce as well as in the perfecting of the science of navigation. The scientific charting of coasts may be said to begin with the “ handy-maps,” the portolani, of the Mediterranean, the earliest specimen of which that has come down to us is the Carte Pisane that dates back to the opening of the fourteenth century. As a result of these inventions mariners came to have a working knoxvledge of oceanic conditions and the science of navigation witnessed a continued development.

Invention produced an equally great revolution in the art of war. Gunpowder may have been known to Bartholdus Schwartz for it was mentioned in 1220 in his writings. Forty-seven years later Roger Bacon, who perhaps had learned of its use in Spain, described it after a careful examination of several forms. He was certain that men would eventually learn to control it and that then many things could be accomplished that previously had been impossible. The means of controlling explosions was provided by the invention of cannon. At first mortars and cannons were made of brass and threw stone projectiles. After they were put on wheels and iron projectiles were employed By the end of the fourteenth century they were used extensively over Europe. In 1375 the gun that is fired by powder began to displace the crossbow an the longbow, which for several centuries had been the chief weapons of infantry. The first guns were very cumbersome, but gradually they were made somewhat lighter. The method of igniting the powder remained very crude for a long time, and as a consequence the bow and arrow still figured in war in Cromwell’s time. As a sequence of these inventions both tactics, the handling of military forces, and strategy, the directing of the larger movements of a war, were changed and developed. They came to be something of a science as well as an art; systematic observations of the clash of armies were made and books were written upon military rnanoeuvers.

Invention also came to the aid of book-making. Before the opening of the tenth century the usc of papyrus, the writing material made from the reed of that name grown in the delta of the Nile, was generally abandoned, and, although instances of its later use may be found, parchment came to be the material commonly employed. But the cost of parchment was a serious problem which even the use of palimpsests failed to solve. So when a new, cheap, and suitable writing material made its appearance it was seized upon with avidity. Paper was invented at a remote time in eastern Asia. Its manufacture became known to the Mohammeddan world after the capture of Samarkand in 704, where the conquerors became familiar with its merits. By the middle of the thirteenth century it was used to a considerable extent in the Byzantine empire; and it was first manufactured in western Europe by the Mohammedans in Spain and in Sicily. Cotton was the raw material used in the Mediterranean countries, btit when the industry crept northward woolen rags were employed and then, in the first years of the fourteenth century, linen. The making of books in the scriptoria of the medieval monasteries was a slow and laborious process. Every volume had to be transcribed anew. The cost therefore, was very high; and there were many more opportunities for mistakes to occur than there is in the making of a book to-day. These disadvantages were not overcome when the universities became great book-making establishments Books were still so costly, being five times as expensive as they were after the invention of printing, that in public places they were secured with chains. Between the writing of hooks and the printing of them with movable type there was an intervening process. Books were printed from engraved blocks. An entire page was engraved on a single block. Most of these blocks were devoted to pictures with a few explanatory words; but here and there an entire page of text was engraved on a block. At first all the blocks were of hard wood, but later on copper ones were used. These block-books, that were printed only on one side of the page, seem to have had their origin in the Netherlands and perhaps Laurence Koster (1370?-1440) of Haarlem, who has been credited by some writers with the invention of movable type, was an engraver of these printing blocks. The invention of printing with movable type was a gradual process. It resulted from a long series of experiments carried on by various craftsmen in different places. The principal merits of Johanne Gutenberg (1400?-1486/) of Mainz, who in I450 produced a practical printing-press, seem to have been his ability to produce a complete book with the new process, to teach others to do so, and to improve the mechanism of the press so as to make possible the printing of larger sheets. Gutenberg, then, was not the first printer, for books were printed from engraved blocks before his time. .Nor was he the first printer of books from movable type, for the Chinese employed separate type four centuries before his printing press was set tip in Mainz. But he was the first European to make practical the process of printing with adjustable type. The first book that was issued from his new press was a Latin version of the Bible that was printed somewhere between 1454 and 1456, a copy of which in the year 1911 was sold for fifty thousand dollars, by far the highest price ever commanded by a single book. The city of Mainz in which the modern art of printing was inaugurated was not a university town, but was the most important commercial center of the middle Rhine district; and from the beginning the new art was in the hands not of scholars but of craftsmen. So in Germany the choice of the books to be printed was determined very largely by the interests of the reading public. The reverse was true in France where the first printers were connected with the University of Paris. The new art quickly spread to other places. In 1462 Mainz was captured and plundered by the soldiers of Archbishop Adolph of Nassau, and the printers fled to other towns. Strasburg, Cologne, Zurich, Augsburg, Ulm, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Frankfort, and especially Basel, where the larger works of Erasmus were printed by Froben, all became centers of the new industry. In 1464 German printers set tu the first Italian printing-press in the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco; and six years later German craftsmen began the work of printing in Paris. The introduction of printing into England was due more than to any one else to William Caxton whose long residence in Binges had made him acquainted with the production of books on the continent, antI who from his press at Westminster issued ninety-eight works, principally romances translated by himself from the French. Nearly all the great publishers, such as Aldus of Venice, Frohen of Basel, Estienne of Paris, and Caxton of London, as well as many of the less important ones, carried on their work not merely with a view to pecuniary gain hut from a real love of truth and learning. All of them made sacrifices for the perfecting of their art and the production and distribution of the hooks they loved. The application of research resulted in inventions in still other fields — in optics and in the measurement of time. Mirrors of polished bronze were in common use among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The Greeks had also mirrors of polished silver, and the Romans of polished obsidian. Mirrors of artificial glass, marking a great improvement upon their predecessors, were first made in Venice about the opening of the fourteenth century, and in the next century their manufacture became a regular industry. Roger Bacon discovered many of the properties of concave and convex lenses. At first they were made of gum or crystalline stones, but in the early seventeenth century they were made of artificial glass. Their power to magnify minute and distant objects was of incalculable aid in the revival of science. Roger Bacon has also been credited with the invention of spectacles, with having evolved the idea of using concave glasses for far-sighted eyes and convex for near-sighted ones; but some writers attribute the invention to Alessandro di Spina, a Florentine monk. Bacon invented the telescope, but it did not come into practical use until the opening of the seventeenth century when it was used by Galileo. After that it was employed in many lines, in navigation, surveying and astronomy. Roger Bacon and others used simple microscopes; but the first to construct a compound microscope, which allows a far closer and more careful focus, was Zacharias Janssen, a spectacle- maker of Middleburg, in Holland. Among the precursors of the modern clock were the sun-dial, the water-clock, and the hour-glass. The invention of the true clock is an uncertain matter. Perhaps the first of which we have a record is the one sent by the Sultan of Egypt to Frederick Ii in 1232. A great clock was made in 1326 for St. Albans, a town near London. In 1379 a clock was set up for Charles V of France. The law of the pendulum, which was discovered by Galileo, was probably applied to clocks about the middle of the seventeenth century. The invention early in the sixteenth century of a spiral spring to take the place of a weight to drive the wheel- train produced a portable time-piece; and although these first watches were heavy, large, and cumbersome in comparison with those of to-day they were useful for ascertaining the difference of longitude between two places and for many other purposes.

The revival of the spirit and the process of research and the application of the knowledge thus obtained and the method of experimentation to the daily affairs of life had the most momentous results to society. It was at once the result and the cause of that irrepressible curiosity that forever inquires into.the constitution of the universe, seeking to learn its laws and to acquire control of its forces. The scientific method is a stiff aiid formal process; and it is fitted to deal only with number and with measurement, which implies number. It is powerless to demonstrate any proposition in which the emotions are directly concerned. We are coming to see that all that science can do is to afford us an orderly way of looking at things, a convenient way of arranging phenomena, and that it is incapable of giving us knowledge or truth in the philosophical signification of the words. Too long have we set up scientific truth as the type of all truth. Too long have we ignored the imagination as a means of ascertaining truth. In our concern to be rid of a dictatorial theological orthodoxy we have allowed an almost equally dictatorial and intolerant scientific orthodoxy to take its But neverthèless the recovery and development of the scientific method has been one of the most potent of all the forces making for the emancipation of man. And just as the spirit and method of research are greater than any of their concrete results, so, too, the spirit of invention and machinery that was restored to man and developed in the era of the Renaissance is of greater value than any of the actual inventions. The sense of machinery, like the exclusive claims of science, has its danger. It has caused us to lose something of the sense of personality. In our age of machinery we are all too prone to regard a man exclusively engaged in, say, making pin-points as a machine and not as a human being. But most undoubtedly the sense of machinery, the inclination to invention, has performed a service past all calculation in helping mankind along the road of progress. And the immediate results of the concrete inventions can by no means be neglected. They made possible an age of exploration and a vast expansion and change of commerce. They leveled the walls of castles and rendered of little avail the baronial keeps that hitherto had been impregnable. They put power into the hands of the middle classes by providing them with artillery and thus abolished feudalism; and they gave to civilized peoples a greater power over savage an(1 barbaric races. By making literature cheaper and more accessible they scattered everywhere the seeds of the new thought. “ I do not think I am far out,” said Lorenzo de’ Medici, “ when I say that a century hence the peasant will be able to purchase the volumes that are now within the resources only of the prince. As waters cover the sea, so I believe will literature cover Europe from end to end.” They created public opinion and thus introduced a new and potent factor into all the affairs of life. ,So it was that the revival of science revealed the invalidity of the old method of thought and provided one in its place which, though far from being sufficient in itself to give to men knowledge of the truth of things, was yet an incalculable advance upon the one it displaced.


This book is based upon the Outlines of the Renaissance and the Reformation by ; Professor George Lincoln Burr, printed, but not published, for the use of his students at Cornell.

Here and there I have ventured to change the outlines, but the framework of the book remains his in every essential respect. To his list of references I am also indebted for guidance in my reading and for aid in compiling the list of books published for the first time in the second printing of my book. In the course of our long correspondence other books than those mentioned in his Outlines have been called to my attention by my former teacher, and for this aid, too, I wish to make public acknowledgment. Another debt to my master is for his “ enthusiasm of humanity,” which is so highly contagious, and which I hope pervades in some degree every page I have written.

For the subject-matter of the book I am particularly indebted to Gebhart, Berger, Dilthey, Gothein, and Beard, whose works are mentioned in the lists of references for the various chapters to which they relate.









Professor - History - UNIVERSITY of IDAHO

Copyright @ 1914, The CENTURY COMPANY

Chapter VII, (pgs. 124-143.)

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