Enlightenment and Scientific Method
Robert Hollinger, in his essay "What is the Enlightenment?," notes the centrality of science to the "Enlightenment project," as he defines it, offering as one of the four basic tenets that constitute the "basic ideas of the Enlightenment" the view that "only a society based on science and universal values is truly free and rational: only its inhabitants can be happy." (Smith 1998, p. 71). As Smith (1998) says generally about the Enlightenment period, "Scientific knowledge came to be seen as an instrument for securing control over the human condition and for making it better." (p. 56).
But to what degree did the Enlightenment have an actual effect on science and its practice? I will look at three areas -- the philosophes, the "science of man," and the Deist religion -- in order to define how the Enlightenment culture affected the development of the scientific method....
[ View Full Essay]