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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

4. The Scientific Method and Foundations of Societies and Academies

11. The Scientific Method: Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes

Texte intégral

Francis Bacon Portrait by John Vanderbank (1694-1739) after unknown artist (c. 1618) National Portrait Gallery.

1Messieurs,

  • 1 [For Valentinus, see Lesson 10, note 9.]
  • 2 [Paracelsus, see Lesson 4, note 72; and Lesson 10.]
  • 3 [Van Helmont, see Lesson 10, note 66.]

2During our last lesson, I showed you how chemistry evolved from the time of the Renaissance of the sciences and arts until the middle of the seventeenth century. You saw that this science did not start like the others, by taking the Ancients as a basis; it started with experiments, but these experiments were explained in metaphoric terms, and were linked to a mystic doctrine in which celestial intelligences were involved, a doctrine that had more to do with charlatanism than with the clear-cut honesty that needs to be used to express natural truth. We saw, however, that several discoveries, a few new processes, and some very important products resulted from it, either for the science itself, for the arts, or for medicine. Among the authors of these works, we especially identified Basilius Valentinus,1 Paracelsus,2 and van Helmont,3 the three most important men of alchemy and mystic chemistry who in the middle of the sixteenth century were giving new life to the other sciences during this time that I called the religious period.

  • 4 [Johann Rudolf Glauber (born 10 March 1604, Karlstadt am Main; died 16 March 1670, Amsterdam), Ger (...)
  • 5 [Salt of Glauber, see note 4, above.]

3I must add to the names I already cited, a few men who do not deserve to be completely forgotten, although some of them are more alchemists than real chemists. The first one is Johann Rudolf Glauber4 who belongs to the alchemic school by the tone of his works and their marvelous titles. Science owes him several new discoveries. Everybody knows that sodium sulfate still bears the name of Salt of Glauber5 because he was the one who discovered it.

  • 6 [Lord Digby is Sir Kenelm Digby (born 11 July 1603, Gayhurst, Buckinghamshire; died 11 June 1665, (...)
  • 7 [The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI (...)
  • 8 Other historians claim that he died in London from the Stone Man Syndrome [Fibrodysplasia ossifica (...)
  • 9 A very touching reason motivated him in his chemical research: he wanted to prevent the death of h (...)
  • 10 [Powder of Sympathy, or weapon salve, a form of sympathetic magic, current in seventeenth-century (...)

4We can add to the list of chemists who were half charlatans Lord Digby,6 an Englishman whose father was executed in London for his participation in the Gunpowder Plot against James I.7 Digby was born in 1603; he spent a large part of his life in Paris where he died in 1665.8 He carried out experiments with medicinal purposes;9 he was the one who created and introduced the Powder of Sympathy, which is nothing more than a charred powder.10 He expressed ideas on organic substances and the dormancy of plants that were supported by false experiments. He claimed, for example, that one could see the shape of leaves and plants from which soap had been made during the freezing process of soapy water, as the ice crystals were taking shape. This claim is completely false.

  • 11 [Jean Rey (born c. 1583, Le Bugue; died 1645, Le Bugue), a French physician and chemist who practi (...)
  • 12 [Sieur de la Perotasse, elder brother of Jean Rey of the same name, proprietor of the iron forge a (...)
  • 13 [Andreas Libavius or Libau, also known as Basilius de Varna (born 1555, Halle, Germany; died 25 Ju (...)
  • 14 [For Epicurus, see Volume 1, Lesson 7, note 4.]
  • 15 [For Lavoisier, see Lesson 10, note 78.]
  • 16 [Essays sur la recherche de la cause pour laquelle l’estain et le plomb augmentent de poids quand (...)
  • 17 Here is, perhaps for the hundredth time, a proof of the great utility of the history of the scienc (...)

5Finally, we will mention Jean Rey,11 a physician from Périgord, established in Le Bugue where he died in 1645. He is worthy of mention for his theory that looks amazingly like the current theory on metal combustion. As he was director of the forge of Roche-beaucourt that belonged to his brother,12 he wondered why pewter and lead increase in weight when burned. This fact had already been observed by Libavius13 as I mentioned earlier and was against the general admitted knowledge on calcination that claimed that metals decrease in weight when burned. Rey discovered that the reason for it was to be found in the air that, as he explained, interacts, weaves, and hooks onto the mineral molecules; since he believed, like Epicurus,14 that the atoms of the air and of metals had hooked shapes that enabled them to create bodies. People had no idea at that time about universal gravitation, much less about chemical attraction. While J. Rey gave a bad explanation of the phenomenon of increase in weight of metals when charred, he had at least understood the cause, and his theory is, in fact, the same one later introduced by the unfortunate Lavoisier.15 Thus, when this famous chemist published his discovery as the fruit of his talent, those who wanted to diminish his fame hurried to retrieve from the dust of libraries and reprint the small treatise that Jean Rey had written in 1630,16 which Lavoisier did not know about. It had acquired at that time quite some fame because J. Rey’s discovery was undeniable;17 however, we will see that others discovered it soon afterward and gave a much more perfect description of it. Thus, pneumato-chemical experiments are not as modern as we think. We will see the proof of it in the history of the period we are about to study.

6Messieurs, I do not know of any other chemists who deserve to be added to the list of those I introduced to you during our last session, when I presented the history of chemistry.

  • 18 [For Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]

7You can see that neither this science, nor mineralogy, nor any of the other natural sciences had gotten rid yet of scholastic authority and philosophy. The concern was more about gathering everything that had been said before, or matching Aristotle’s philosophy18 anytime someone wanted to claim a theory, rather than perform experiments or regular calculations.

  • 19 [Francis Bacon (born 22 January 1561, London; died 9 April 1626, Highgate), English philosopher, s (...)
  • 20 [Galileo Galilei (born 15 February 1564, Pisa; died 8 January 1642, Arcetri, Grand Duchy of Tuscan (...)
  • 21 [Descartes, see Volume 1, Lesson 6, note 7.]

8Finally, it became clear that it was not the way to help sciences progress. During the middle of the seventeenth century, the work of several famous men including Bacon,19 Galileo,20 and Descartes21 produced a complete revolution of ideas, a radical change in the method of studying the sciences. Those who learn the history of sciences only in conversations or newspapers think that the seventeenth century was not the century of sciences; that it was mostly the century of the arts and that it was only in the eighteenth century that the sciences were the most vibrant. This idea is completely wrong; the seventeenth century produced the greatest discoveries that have ever been made. They appeared one after the other, faster than at any other time, especially during the second half of the century. This progress is mostly owed to the new methods that were established and the rebellion against the doctrines and the scholastic systems in which scholars had been stuck up until this time.

9The first man who broke the old system of sciences apart and set new rules for their studies is undeniably Francis Bacon; however, he did not use his method favorably; sometimes he even forgot to follow it. Galileo was the one who applied it the best.

10Descartes is not remarkable for great discoveries in physics, but the popularity of his hypothesis and the momentum he created among scholars managed to get rid of the scholastic approach that was wrongly called Aristotle’s philosophy since it had not much to do with it. The human spirit was finally free of all constraints and started to make at a fast pace the discoveries we are going to talk about now.

  • 22 [Elizabeth I, see Lesson 3, note 104.]
  • 23 [Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (born 10 November 1565, Herefordshire, England; died 25 Februa (...)
  • 24 [Rather than “George,” this is a reference to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burleigh (or Burghley) (bor (...)
  • 25 [Sir Robert Cecile, 1st Earl of Salisbury (born 1 June 1563, Westminster, Salisbury; died 24 May 1 (...)
  • 26 [James I, see Lesson 4, note 73.]
  • 27 [Edward Coke (born 1 February 1552, Mileham, Norfolk; died 3 September 1634, Godwick, Norfolk), an (...)
  • 28 [George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (born 28 August 1592, Brooksby, Leicestershire; died 23 A (...)
  • 29 [Phthisis, a disease characterized by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or a part of the bod (...)

11Bacon was as famous for his scientific and philosophic work as for his political conduct and the problems that resulted from it. He was the son of a lawyer who was minister of justice and a member of the private council under Elizabeth22 from 1558 to 1579. He was born in London in 1561 and showed early a great intelligence. He studied in Cambridge and when he reached the age of sixteen, he had already acknowledged so much of the vices of the scholastic philosophy that he wrote a brochure against it. After his studies at the university, he traveled and went all over France, as it was customary and is still being done in rich English families. At the age of nineteen, he wrote a political book on the state of Europe. He was not wealthy and needed support and promotion; his first protector was the Count of Essex,23 favorite of Queen Elizabeth. George Burleigh,24 Treasurer of the State, and Sir Robert Cecile,25 First Secretary of State, were his friends; however, they were Essex’s enemies, a circumstance that brought an unlucky influence on his fortune. His philosophical ideas even became an obstacle to his promotion in magistracy in which, however, he showed a great flexibility of character that lost him entirely in the opinion. Essex had been his protector; he even had given him a huge parcel of land. Bacon, however, did not hesitate to talk against him when the queen wanted to condemn him. Yet it was part of his position but he did not have to hold it and the easiness with which he acted justified the public censorship. The queen was not grateful for his ungrateful weakness and several times she allowed him to be arrested because of his debts. When he became king, James I,26 who was known as a benefactor of the arts and sciences, was the one who took him out of poverty. First he was knighted, then he became solicitor general, minister of justice, and finally chancellor in 1619; he became a lord and peer a year later with the title of Baron of Verulam, which he exchanged in 1621 for the title of Viscount of Saint-Alban. However, in addition to Essex’s former followers, he had many other enemies, as it is always the case for people who have a political career in a country governed as it was at that time in England. One of his main enemies was a famous jurist named Edward Coke.27 Bacon had to seek the protection of the Duke of Buckingham,28 favorite of James I, and it is said that in this difficult situation, he was many times forced to show fondness for his protector. It is also reported that even within his own house, he and his people were not always protected from corruption; his servants received money either to force him to make decisions faster or to obtain from him entirely free acts that were dependent only upon his authority of chancellor. However, he was never accused of being unfair in his judgments; on the contrary, his decisions are still regarded as models, and considered as the acts of a wise jurist and a fair man. But the corruption of the people at his service was revealed and he was condemned to a forty-thousand pound fine and to remain in jail for as long as the king would order. Actually the king pardoned him not long after; however, he still spent his old age in disgrace and poverty, until 1626 when he died at the age of sixty-six, one year after the death of King James I. His zeal for the sciences accelerated his death since it was while doing some experiments that he caught phthisis29 from which he never recovered.

12While retired he finished his philosophical works and bequeathed his memoires to posterity and even, as he wrote in his will not long afterward, to his fellow countrymen. He knew that at the time of his death his memoires would not be honored as they would be someday as recognition for the brand new approach he had brought to the sciences.

  • 30 [The primary works of Bacon: The Advancement of Learning (London: Henrie Tomes, 1605, 2 parts in 1 (...)
  • 31 [Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopedia, or a (...)

13His two main books, which are, in fact, only one under the title Instauratio magna are his treatise De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum, published in England in 1605 and translated into Latin by him in 1623; and his Novum organum scientiarum, published in 1620.30 The first book is a presentation of everything included in the sciences, the relationships among each of them, and the way particular sciences depend on the general sciences; this is the detail of what has been called since then the family tree of the sciences and the arts, the translation of which appeared in the preamble of the great French Encyclopedia.31

  • 32 [For Roger Bacon, see Volume 1, Lesson 23.]

14Novum organum scientiarum, the subtitle of which is Sive indicia vera de interpretatione naturae, is a treatise on the method to use to acquire truthful knowledge in the sciences. In this work, Bacon states that the only way to gain this knowledge is to use the method of induction instead of syllogism and authority. When we talked about a physician of the Middle Ages who bore the same name, Roger Bacon,32 we saw that almost all his books were directed against Aristotle’s authority and, in general, against any perpetual authority that one could have used as a guide. Francis Bacon establishes the same principles but in a more philosophical way, more detailed and more evident. He showed that in the positive sciences, such as the natural sciences, one could only start with facts. That all general truth could only be the result of the comparison of particular facts; and instead of overthrowing Aristotle’s authority, he reestablished the true physic philosophy such as this great man had produced it. He only destroyed the misuse that had been done of his dialectic in the works on scholastic philosophy; thus, soon this method was universally adopted.

  • 33 [De historia vitae et mortis, sive titulus secundus in Historia naturali et experimentali ad conde (...)

15While Bacon was good at establishing this approach, he was not as good in its application. He used again the process of compilation and did not always use the support of experiments. For example, in his history of the winds, he asks with accuracy all the questions related to this topic, but he resolves them according to opinions gathered from all kinds of authors. He did the same thing in his treatise called De historia vitae et mortis,33 in which the facts related to the longevity of man and of other beings, whether animals or plants, are gathered from everywhere. Not many are his own opinions and even a great part of his own ideas are spoiled or altered by the uncertainty of the sources he used.

16His book poses a series of questions such as those that could be asked for each branch of the natural sciences; while he did not do well in answering those related to the winds and to life and death—which are the main topics on which he tried his method—the kind of questions and the way he presented them are at least very important. For example, before he provides a theory on heat, he suggests that it be examined under every angle, in every circumstance that produces it, those that make it stop or those that accompany it. He wants it to be studied in the rays of the sun when they are more numerous and hotter, which is in the summer and at noon; in the rays that are concentrated on a wall or in a mirror; in the igneous meteors, in the lightning, the volcanoes and in any kind of flames; then in the warmed solids, in natural thermal waters, in the boiling liquids, in the steams, in the bodies that while they are not hot in themselves, retain the heat such as wool or furs; in the bodies that are brought close to fire, those that are rubbed; in the sparkles that are produced by shocks, such as with the lighters; in the fermentation of accumulated humid grass; in the dissolutions, for example, the one of glass by vitriol acid; in animals; in the effect of ethyl alcohol; in the spices and the sensations they produce such as what happens with pepper when put on the tongue. Finally, even the cold, which, when excessive, produces a burning heat, should be studied. According to Bacon, it is only after a complete synthesis is established of all the circumstances when heat occurs or is modified, of all the causes that produce it, of all the effects that result of it, that it will be possible to know its nature and laws, or at least to have clear and undeniable ideas about it.

17He states that if, on the contrary, we start from a unique principle to deduct consequences in a syllogistic way, we will only obtain from this reasoning what is included in the principle; thus, if the principle is wrong, all the consequences will also be wrong.

18Bacon gave a large number of other examples of his method, but I took the example of heat because it is the one that helps to best understand what influence it had on men who succeeded him in the study of sciences.

  • 34 [Sylva sylvarum sive historia naturalis et Nova Atlantis, London: William Rawley, 1627, 2 parts in (...)

19In addition to the books I told you about, Bacon also wrote several works related to the natural sciences. One of them is called Sylva sylvarum sive historia naturalis;34 it was printed immediately after his death in 1627 by his chaplain. It is a collection of observations and many experiments on all kinds of topics taken from either existing books or testimonies of travelers and of men of industrial arts with whom he had talked, or from his own contribution. It is said that he wanted to coordinate this wealth of facts and put together books similar to his history of the winds and of the life and death.

20Several of the observations he reports are peculiar; some of them would even need to be verified since not all of them have been reviewed; we could probably get out of it some new consequences that would support some theories.

  • 35 [Nova Atlantis (see note 34, above), a utopian novel by Francis Bacon, published in Latin in 1624 (...)
  • 36 [Royal Society of London, see Lesson 8, note 96.]

21At the end of Sylva sylvarum is a small writing called Nova Atlantis, or template of a college for the interpretation of nature and the search for useful productions; he named this college House of Solomon.35 It is usually Bacon’s flaw to use a figurative style that is not very tasteful. He also used the nomenclature of the scholastic philosophers; we can see some hints of it in this later work in which, in fact, only the title can seem weird since the remaining of the book includes great opinions that have been followed for the establishment of the Royal Society of London36 and for the establishment of all the organizations that since then have been devoted to the progress of the sciences. However a few of these organizations had been founded before the publication of Bacon’s book; but we will see that those that were the most successful were the ones that were established according to his plan.

22The study of the work of this great man shows that his influence on posterity is far less the result of his discoveries than the result of his method of studying sciences.

  • 37 [Sir Isaac Newton (born 25 December 1642, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire; died 20 March (...)

23Galileo is more complete in his achievements; he owes his method to his own genius and applied it almost immediately with such success that we can say that before Newton37 he was the one who helped the natural sciences, geometry, and physics progress the most.

  • 38 His father was very well versed in theoretical and practical music and he owes him this nice talen (...)
  • 39 [Roasting jack, a machine that rotates meat roasting on a spit. The earliest spits, which date bac (...)
  • 40 [Christiaan Huygens (born 14 April 1629, The Hague; died 8 July 1695, The Hague), a prominent Dutc (...)

24Galileo was born in Pisa in 1564, thus he was only three years younger than Francis Bacon, which makes them contemporaries. Galileo belonged to a noble, but not wealthy family. He studied in Florence and showed at a young age a taste for mechanics. He became very well versed in literature and even in music.38 His parents forced him, against his taste, to study medicine. He did not like scholastic philosophy any better, though it was, at that time, the only philosophy in fashion and he was accused of obstinacy for fighting it while he was still a student. At the age of eighteen, he made a very important discovery related to the properties of the pendulum. While in a church in Pisa, he had noticed that a lamp that was hanging from a chain, which had started its movement by whatever happenstance, had kept isochronous oscillations for quite a long time. This phenomenon made him think and from his thoughts came the theory of the pendulum. It took, however, fifty years for Galileo’s pendulum to become the regulator of clocks that were up until that time operated with pendulums similar to those of a roasting jack.39 In 1658, Huygens40 improved this pendulum with a cycloidal pendulum, as we will see it later.

  • 41 [Evangelista Torricelli (born 15 October 1608, Faenza, Papal States; died 25 October 1647, Florenc (...)

25Determined from his first trials, Galileo abandoned medicine completely for mathematics and created, not long after his discovery of the properties of the pendulum, the hydrostatic scale. Then he made a discovery that produced several others; it was the discovery that water goes upward in pumps only up to thirty-two feet. As he wanted to have a pump made that would be of an elevation higher than thirty-two feet, a worker taught him that the water would not go beyond that height. I told you that according to Aristotle’s theory, it was nature’s abhorrence of the void that made water go up in pumps. Galileo concluded that this abhorrence of the void ended at thirty-two feet and that this abhorrence was not a universal principle. We will see that one of his disciples, Torricelli,41 had the same reasoning with regard to the suspension of mercury in tubes; it is their discoveries that led to the knowledge of gravity of the atmosphere and everything related to the barometer.

  • 42 [Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del mondo, a book published in Italian in 1632 by Galileo Gal (...)

26Galileo was not yet twenty-five when he made the last of his great discoveries. Then he focused his research on movement in general and published his Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems that are the basis of modern mechanics.42 The accelerated movement in particular is, of course, the principle of the theory of gravity and everything that is related to its action in the world system.

  • 43 [For Roger Bacon and his Opus Magnum, see Volume 1, Lesson 23, note 13.]
  • 44 [Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel (born 1572, Alkmaar; died 7 November 1633, London), a Dutch inventor (...)

27Galileo’s discoveries were too much in opposition to the scholastic ideas to not trigger any complaint; thus, he experienced some troubles that led him to leave Pisa in 1592. He was appointed professor in Padua for a period of six years, which was customary at that time, and he had the honor of being reappointed twice. It is in this town that he made two other inventions, the thermometer in 1597, and the compass, a tool that is so useful in the design arts. He also invented the telescope, one of the instruments that has been the most useful to astronomy. Convex lenses had already been used for ordinary glasses for quite a while; Roger Bacon talked about them in his Opus Magnum43 in the thirteenth century as I already told you. But during the middle of the seventeenth century, nobody had thought yet about combining lenses in different ways to increase their strength. However, we do not know if Galileo was the one who made the first telescope. A Dutchman called Drebbel44 who was a farmer also built one at the same time; but if Drebbel’s invention came before Galileo, which is doubtful, it was probably not by very much. Whatever the case, we cannot deny Galileo’s assembly of the telescope he created in 1609, with no prior communication. This instrument, composed of a wooden tube with lenses on both ends, exists in Florence, although it was put together in Padua. Galileo immediately used it to observe the sky where he made the most curious discoveries. The mountains, the edges of the moon, everything that can be seen on its surface, were the first objects that he discovered. Then he directed his telescope toward Venus and noticed that it had some phases like the moon; thus, he concluded that its light was borrowed from the sun and that, like the moon, it turned in opposite directions from the sun. He later discovered Jupiter’s satellites, which were used as an argument in favor of Copernicus’s system —since the rotation of the moon around the earth did not prove anything— that Jupiter rotated around the sun, and had satellites that also rotated around it, supporting the system of this astronomer that had anyway already been set out.

28After Jupiter’s satellites, Galileo discovered the sun spots. He noticed that these spots were moving, that they were turning around; thus he concluded that the sun itself turned on its axis within a certain number of days; the rotation of the sun was thus one of his discoveries.

  • 45 As we know, Dominique Cassini [an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrolog (...)

29Finally, he observed the libration of the moon,45 which is its motion that enables it to show us one part of its sides without completely changing the view of its face.

  • 46 [Sidereus nuncius magna… (Sidereal Messenger, Starry Messenger, or Sidereal Message), a short astr (...)

30These discoveries, which surprised all of Europe, were published in a scientific journal that Galileo had called Sidereus nuncius or the “Starry Messenger.”46 It was printed in its entirety in Florence in 1614. It was really news from the sky that he thus brought to the earth since before the invention of the telescope, nothing like that had ever been suspected.

  • 47 [Grand Duke of Tuscany, see Lesson 7, note 89.]

31After he became very famous, Galileo went back to Florence to be mathematician of the Grand Duke of Tuscany,47 a position that still exists today in this town and that, as we must emphasize, has always been held by very capable men.

  • 48 [Nicolaus Copernicus (born 19 February 1473, Royal Prussia, Kingdom of Poland; died 24 May 1543, R (...)
  • 49 [In astronomy, the Ptolemaic system, also known as the geocentric model or geocentrism, is a descr (...)
  • 50 [De revolutionibus orbium celestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), the seminal work (...)

32When Galileo published his discoveries, his writings were not exactly supporting Copernicus’s system; however, he taught it in his classes and talked about it very freely in societies and with his friends. Copernicus,48 whom I have not talked about yet because he exclusively belongs to astronomy, was born in 1473 in Thorn, a town under Polish Prussia’s authority. He studied medicine, and became a canon where he was born. He liked astronomy very much and according to the observations he made of Venus and Mercury, on the apparent retrograde motion of planets, and based on his own reflections, he understood that the Ptolemaic System49 was unacceptable. Comets showed him as well that it was impossible to accept the crystal sky of this astronomer. He claimed that by setting the sun in the middle of our planetary system, with planets revolving around it, and the diurnal rotation of the earth on its axis, the phenomenon of astrology could be understood more easily than with the Ptolemaic system. He wrote a book called De revolutionibus orbium celestium50 in which he described this system; but he did not have the pleasure, or rather the sadness, of seeing it published; he was only able to review the page proof and he died at the very moment when the first copy was brought to him in 1543.

  • 51 [Michael Maestlinus or Maestlin (born 30 September 1550, Goppingen, Germany; died 20 October 1631, (...)
  • 52 See [Joseph-Jerome Lefrancois] de Lalande [French astronomer and writer, born 11 July 1732, Bourg- (...)
  • 53 [Christina of Lorraine or Chretienne de Lorraine (born 16 August 1565, Nancy; died 19 December 163 (...)
  • 54 [Dialogs, see note 42, above.]
  • 55 Grand Duke of Tuscany, see Lesson 7, note 89.]
  • 56 Father [Hippolytus Mary] Lancio, commissary of the Holy Office, who politely drove Galileo in his (...)
  • 57 [François de Noailles (born 10 June 1584, died 15 December 1645), a former pupil of Galileo at Pad (...)
  • 58 [Written in a style similar to his dialogs (see note 42, above), Discorsi e dimostrazioni sopra du (...)
  • 59 [Marin Mersenne (born 8 September 1588, near Oizé, Maine, present-day Sarthe, France; died 1 Septe (...)
  • 60 [The Feuillants were a Roman Catholic congregation, originating in the 1570s as a reform of the Ci (...)
  • 61 [Les Méchaniques de Galilée mathematicien & ingenieur du Duc de Florence (Paris: Henry Guénon, 163 (...)

33A very famous astronomer named Maestlinus (Michael),51 who was a professor in Tübingen, tried to refute Copernicus’s system; however, it is said that he was convinced of its accuracy but that he only found it dangerous to be published. It is also reported that he was the one to convince Galileo of it.52 This great man was no braver than Maestlinus; he wrote in a letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany,53 the first defense of Copernicus’s system. It was sent to a commission of theologians that declared it absurd in philosophy and heretic in theology. This commission proved as well as it could its absurdity in terms of philosophy; with regard to the heretic accusation, it supported it with some excerpts from the Bible from which it deduced that the sun moves in space and that the earth is still in the middle of the universe. But the Bible is written in vernacular language as it was normal to do for a book that was not meant to teach astronomy; even today, we still say that the sun rises and the sun sets, even though we know that things do not happen that way. However, the theologians who judged Galileo used the sentences they found in the Bible to condemn him. They forbade him to teach Copernicus’s system. Returning from Rome where he had gone to defend himself, he went to Florence in 1617 and wrote his famous Dialogs,54 in which he described again his system that had been censured by the theologians; however, in order to make sure he would be safe, he showed his book to the master of the sacred palace, who was a Dominican in charge of the censorship of books. This Dominican, after he read Galileo’s Dialogs, gave his approval; but because of new pressures, he tried and found a way to remove his approval and Galileo published his book with the sole approbation of the censor of Florence. Since he had been forbidden to teach Copernicus’s system, he was called to Rome in 1633 to address his infraction before the tribunal of the Inquisition. The Grand Duke55 tried to avoid this annoyance but he did not succeed. Galileo was forced to abjure his doctrine on the world system.56 He was condemned to jail and to pray the seven psalms of penitence once a week for three years. This sentence was made as mild as possible for such a great but already old man; he was jailed in the palace of the Inquisition, which was not a dungeon as it is commonly told. He was sentenced in February and in December he was allowed to go back to his house in the countryside that he owned near Florence and even to go back to town anytime his business or health would require it. It was during the time of this memorable ban that Galileo gave to the Count of Noailles,57 ambassador of France in Rome, his discourses on the motion and resistance of solids58 in which he described discoveries of the utmost importance for several useful sciences. The Count of Noailles brought them to France and had them printed in Leiden in 1638. Father Mersenne,59 a friend of Descartes and abbot of the Feuillants,60 who was very attached to the sciences, had printed in Paris, Galileo’s Mechanics,61 in which he talks about the inclined plane and the principle of virtual speeds that is still the basis of all mechanics today.

34Thus, we owe to Galileo the most beautiful discoveries in astronomy, physics, and mechanics. They happened rapidly one after the other and are proof of the infinite genius of the author, which will make him forever immortal in spite of the persecutions he experienced during the last years of his life.

  • 62 [Newton, see note 37, above.]

35Everybody knows that after he abjured, Galileo muttered the famous words “and yet it moves,” since he was obviously forced to abjure. He did not need to be a martyr for the truths of nature that he had taught; he knew well that they would defend themselves; thus, this abjuration did not negate any of the purity of its character. Galileo lost his sight at the age of seventy-four and died in 1642 at age seventy-eight, the same year that Newton62 was born. It is quite a remarkable rarity that nature does not allow very often to see the succession of two great geniuses whose work created all of modern astronomy and physics.

  • 63 [Pierre Descartes (born 19 October 1591, The Hague; died April 1660, Saumur), an adviser to the Pa (...)
  • 64 [Count Maurice of Nassau (Johann Moritz), see Lesson 3, note 95.]
  • 65 [Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, often called simply Turenne (born 11 September 1 (...)
  • 66 [Musicae compendium, a treatise on music theory and the aesthetics of music written in 1618, but n (...)
  • 67 [Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe, involving m (...)
  • 68 [Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria (born 17 April 1573, Munich; died 27 September 1651, Ingolstadt), a (...)
  • 69 [Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly (born February 1559, Walloon Brabant, Spanish Netherlands, prese (...)
  • 70 [The Battle of Prague, between 25 July and 1 November 1648, the last action of the Thirty Years’ W (...)
  • 71 [Frederick V (born 26 August 1596, Deinschwang, Upper Palatinate; died 29 November 1632, Mainz), K (...)
  • 72 [University of Franeker (1585-1811), a university in Franeker, Friesland, now part of the Netherla (...)
  • 73 [Dioptrics, the study of the refraction of light, especially by lenses; telescopes that create the (...)

36The third of these extraordinary men who were contemporary to the seventeenth century and contributed to establish a link between the ancient and the modern sciences, between the scholastic and experimental philosophy such as we know it today, is René Descartes. He did not perform a large number of experiments but those he did carry out led him to posterity. Descartes was born in La Haye-en-Touraine in 1596, about thirty years after the time of the two great men I just talked about. His family was noble like theirs, although it was through law since in Brittany it was accepted to become a noble through judicature. A brother of Descartes63 who was councilor at the Parliament of Rennes thought that his family had degenerated because it had produced an author; it is, however, probable that this author brought more honor to the family than the councilor of Brittany. Descartes was raised with the Jesuits in La Fleche and only liked mathematics; however, he learned literature and wrote actually quite well in Latin; but, as I said earlier, he only had appreciation for mathematics and had doubts about all other human knowledge. This doubt was so profound that he renounced books, and to learn he decided to travel the world. To be able to travel the way it was appropriate for his social status, he volunteered in 1616 with the Dutch. The United Provinces at that time were fighting very strongly their war against Spain at the head of one of the most skilled generals of that time, Prince Maurice,64 who had the title of Second Stadthouder and who was a model to many captains of that time, including Turenne.65 While in garrison in Breda, Descartes noticed a problem posted on a wall as was customary at that time; he started immediately to work on active geometry and try to find discoveries. He wrote his treatise on music66 while in Breda. The Thirty Years’ War67 had just started in Germany, beginning in 1618 with the revolt of Bohemia against the emperor; Bohemia was supported by the Duke of Bavaria68 whose general was the famous Tilly.69 Descartes then left Holland and enrolled as a volunteer in the Bavarian army. He participated in the Battle of Prague70 in which the new king, Frederick V,71 was completely defeated, which enabled the House of Austria to once again gain power, which it then kept for quite a long time. Descartes witnessed the most horrific scenes of desolation during the wars of Germany; no other war has been crueler than the one that took place in this country between the Catholics and the Protestants. After having fought under various circumstances, he left the army, disgusted by the wars he just had fought, and left for new travels in various countries. I saw his name listed in the registers of the University of Franeker72 as a student. He stayed in Holland at least until 1644 and probably later. He published in this country his various writings on philosophy, geometry, and dioptrics;73 his various hypotheses on physics about which I will give you the analysis later. It was during the time of his travels in Holland, with no job, very little money, and in the unknown, that he published his greatest works. In no time, he became famous in all of Europe. Little by little his philosophy was accepted and the scholastic philosophy that dominated so far was rejected. However, around 1640, some disagreements made his stay in Holland unpleasant.

  • 74 [Henricus Regius or Hendrik de Roy (born 29 July 1598, Utrecht; died 19 February 1679, Utrecht), a (...)
  • 75 [For Harvey, see Lesson 2, above.]
  • 76 [Gisbertus Voetius (born 3 March 1589, Heusden; died 1 November 1676, Utrecht), a Dutch Calvinist (...)
  • 77 [Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstratur (Med (...)
  • 78 [Christina or Kristina Augusta (born 18 December 1626, Stockholm; died 19 April 1689, Rome), who l (...)
  • 79 [Gustav II Adolph (born 9 December 1594, Castle Tre Kronor, Sweden; died 6 November 1632, Lützen, (...)
  • 80 [Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre (born 16 June 1583, Fånö, Uppland, Sweden; died 28 Augus (...)
  • 81 [Claude Saumaise or Claudius Salmasius (born 15 April 1588, Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy; died 3 Se (...)
  • 82 [Hugo Grotius or Hugo de Groot (born 10 April 1583, Delft; died 28 August 1645, Rostock), philosop (...)

37A young professor from Utrecht called Regius74 was the first one to try and teach publicly Descartes’s philosophy in which he presented Copernicus’s system in astronomy and the blood circulation in physiology. These discoveries were not new since Copernicus’s system, questioned by Galileo, dated back to 1543, and Harvey75 had published his great experiments in 1619. However, an ordinance issued by the magistrates of Utrecht in 1640 forbade the professor of astronomy of Leiden to teach blood circulation; it is a fact that the simplest and most obvious truths come to light only with great difficulties, especially when the authority, which usually is not aware of recent discoveries, dictates which ones should be taught or not. Thus, Regius triggered great activation among the partisans of the ancient doctrines. A theologian named Gisbertus Voetius,76 of a very ardent character and one of the most renown of the university of Utrecht, attacked this young Cartesian. He even tried to prove in his thesis and in other writings that Descartes’s philosophy led to atheism and formally accused this man. Descartes felt that he had to defend himself and the result was an exchange of polemic writings that troubled his serenity tremendously. The accusation of atheism against Descartes was so extraordinary that in his Meditations77 he gave new proofs of the existence of God; thus, it was cruel for him to be accused of an error he had tried to fight. These upsetting events discouraged him from staying in Holland. In 1647, he had been offered a pension to come back to France but he feared he would have to experience similar persecutions since his philosophy was not generally accepted; although it had some famous supporters, he also had famous enemies. He accepted Queen Christina’s78 offer to come and stay with her. This queen who had succeeded Gustav Adolph79 had been for a long time under the guardianship of Chancellor Oxenstierna,80 but as soon as she took control of the government she showed great interest in protecting the arts and sciences. She had called several scholars including Saumaise,81 and Grotius82 who was her ambassador in Paris. Descartes arrived in Stockholm in 1649; but when it became clear that the queen had great interest in him—that she not only talked about scientific matters with him, but she also consulted him on affairs of the government—he became the object of jealousy. He was upset about it and his sorrows, together with the cold climate, contributed to his death in 1650, at the age of only fifty-four.

  • 83 [Dioptrics, see note 73, above.]
  • 84 [Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la vérité dans les sciences. Plus (...)
  • 85 [Meditationes de prima philosophia, see note 77, above.]
  • 86 [Principia philosophiae, Amsterdam: Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1644, [22] + 310 p., illus., in-4°.]

38Descartes must be acknowledged with respect to three skills: as a geometrician, a metaphysician, and a physician. In geometry, he is one of the most remarkable men since he not only made some discoveries in this science but he also gave some rules for the application of algebra to make it useful to physics. His applications of geometry to dioptrics83 and to mechanics are above any challenge, although the latter was not his favorite topic; he preferred metaphysics. I do not have to go into details in the description of his work that has nothing to do with the curriculum of this course. I will just remind you that Descartes’s metaphysics is included in his Method,84 Meditations,85 and Principles.86 I will also remind you that his Method was useful because it rejected authority, and stated that doubt should be the starting point of everything to men. Descartes considered as obvious only the things that we are conscience of, the innate perception. Based on this principle, he developed from his thought the certainty of his existence, then all his metaphysics and physics. By his doubting everything, Descartes contributed to the demise of the power of the scholastic approach and the triumph of the experimental method recommended by Bacon; but as a physician, physiologist, and astronomer, he only stated hypotheses that had no basis. However, even these hypotheses were not useless; they stirred up great reflections in the spirits and contributed to overturn ancient ideas.

  • 87 [Pineal gland, a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain that produces the serotonin derivat (...)

39According to Descartes, everything in the world depends on the movement given to matter; all phenomena can be explained by this motion. Descartes added to this principle other ideas that were more metaphysical on the impossibility of the void or on the identity of space and matter, and considered the creation of the world as movement imprinted on matter. According to him, matter immediately changed after its creation, with the effect of motion, then it got divided and became reduced in very small parts. Descartes then assumed that these small parts are of different shapes, some are angular, others round, others forked, others ribbed, and from the junction and penetration of these various elements come the existence of all bodies. He applied his system to astronomy and assumed the existence of subtle matter that takes planets away and makes them revolve around the sun. The same turbulences produce gravity because, while they circulate around the earth, they drag bodies on their surface. Finally, he applied his hypothesis to organized bodies and admitted that blood circulation is a principle of human physiology, but because this circulation heats up the blood, the lungs which are far from being the organs of heat, only exist as a cooling element of the blood. The motion and the heat of blood that is disseminated into the brain produce the animal spirits that, as they run down the nerves, produce voluntary movement and as they run up, produce sensations. The soul, which is an indivisible principle, must be located in the center of the brain. There is in that center a small cell called the pineal gland;87 it is inside that gland that the soul is located.

  • 88 [Archimedes, see Volume 1, Lesson 18, note 1.]
  • 89 [Descartes’s Theory of Vortices in which he assumed that the universe is filled with matter which, (...)
  • 90 [Joseph-Aignan Sigaud de la Fond (born 5 January 1730, Bourges; died 26 January 1810, Bourges), a (...)

40All of this system interconnects with a lot of subtlety but, as you can see, it has no foundation. Descartes believed like Archimedes88 who had only asked for a supporting point to lift the earth. Descartes said give me matter and motion and I will create the world and what it contains; but no part of his system lived on. His system of physics, however, was discarded only very slowly. After it was rejected by all French schools for about forty or fifty years, it was so well ingrained that it was extremely difficult to completely overthrow it; so much so that even in 1750, theses were still being written at the University of Paris on Descartes’s theory of whirlpools,89 and even I, for example, knew some students in philosophy who presented their theses on this subject. The first man who taught an opposite doctrine at the University of Paris was Sigaud de la Fond90 who died not long ago. Thus, messieurs, we find new instances all the time in which the truth is very slow to be found.

41Descartes’s discoveries in geometry are, as I said, of the utmost importance, while his metaphysical ideas can be the object of much controversy. As for his system of physics, it is based only on suppositions; it was neither established according to the inductive method that Bacon, his contemporary, had recommended, nor with the process of serious experiments and rigorous calculations as Galileo had provided such great examples. However, Descartes’s works were in some ways the conduit by which two important facts, which, while not original with him, became accepted in people’s mind. These two great truths are Copernicus’s system and the circulation of the blood. The first is truly the basis of the world system and the principle of knowledge that was gained on the subject; the other fact is the groundwork and the origin of all physiological knowledge. Both were forbidden by law—the first truth especially was considered blasphemous. It is without a doubt that these two truth became generally accepted thanks to the fame that Descartes’s philosophy achieved. In this regard, I want to repeat that we cannot deny him credit for greatly contributing to the progress of the sciences.

  • 91 [Johannes Kepler, see Lesson 12, note 2.]
  • 92 [Torricelli, see note 41, above.]
  • 93 [Blaise Pascal (born 19 June 1623, Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne; died 19 August 1662, Paris) a Frenc (...)

42The work done by the three great men I just talked about led the way to other discoveries that were made by a few of their direct disciples such as Kepler,91 Torricelli,92 Pascal,93 as well as Bacon’s first students or at least those who were the first ones to adopt his method. But one of the most durable effects of all his work, which led to many more, was the establishment of academies of sciences. The most significant ones, those whose work enabled the greatest expansion of knowledge of the human spirit on the subjects we are currently reviewing, were created around the middle of the seventeenth century. In our next lesson I will go over their history and I will talk about the famous men who created them as well as the discoveries that occurred as a result of their efforts and which led to all the modern sciences.

Notes

1 [For Valentinus, see Lesson 10, note 9.]

2 [Paracelsus, see Lesson 4, note 72; and Lesson 10.]

3 [Van Helmont, see Lesson 10, note 66.]

4 [Johann Rudolf Glauber (born 10 March 1604, Karlstadt am Main; died 16 March 1670, Amsterdam), German chemist, alchemist, and pharmacist, best known for Glauber’s Salt, hydrate of sodium sulfate, which he discovered in 1625. He named it sal mirabilis (miraculous salt) because of its medicinal properties; the crystals were used as a general purpose laxative, until more sophisticated alternatives came about in the 1900s.]

5 [Salt of Glauber, see note 4, above.]

6 [Lord Digby is Sir Kenelm Digby (born 11 July 1603, Gayhurst, Buckinghamshire; died 11 June 1665, Paris), an English courtier, diplomat, highly respected natural philosopher, and a leading Roman Catholic intellectual, perhaps best known for being the first person to note the importance of “vital air,” or oxygen, to the nourishment of plants.]

7 [The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby (born c. 1572, probably Warwickshire near Oxford; died 8 November 1605, Warwick).]

8 Other historians claim that he died in London from the Stone Man Syndrome [Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue; a mutation of the body’s repair mechanism that causes fibrous tissue (including muscle, tendon, and ligament) to be ossified spontaneously or when damaged]. In 1661 he went back to England where he published in that same year a Discours sur la végétation des plantes [the first was published in 1658; Paris: Augustin Courbé & Pierre Moet, xvi + 89 p.] based on a course he had given at the College of Gresham. He was actually a member of the Royal Society of London [see Lesson 8, note 96], which had just been established, and of its assemblies to which he actively participated. We have no knowledge that he left London after 1661 [M. de St.-Agy].

9 A very touching reason motivated him in his chemical research: he wanted to prevent the death of his wife Venetia Anastasia [born December 1600; died 1 May 1633; celebrated beauty of the Stuart Period, renowned for her good looks and mysterious death], daughter of [Sir] Edward Stanley [born c. 1563, died 1632], famous for her amazing beauty. He even hired Descartes [see Volume 1, Lesson 6, note 7] to help him in his research to find a way to extend life indefinitely. In order to preserve Venetia’s charms, he created a large number of products of cosmetology. He also tried several weird experiments such as when for a certain period of time she could only eat capons that had only been fed vipers. Nevertheless, Anastasia died young, and several portraits, either sculpted or painted, of this amazing beauty are still kept in England [M. de St.-Agy].

10 [Powder of Sympathy, or weapon salve, a form of sympathetic magic, current in seventeenth-century Europe, whereby a remedy, in the form of a powder or salve, was applied to the weapon that had caused a wound in the hope of healing the injury it had made]. It was blue vitriol or copper sulfate, prepared in a specific way; some details about it are featured by James [a reference to James Howell (born 1594, died 1666), an Anglo-Welsh historian, writer, and purveyor of the Powder of Sympathy, whose account is told by Kenelm Digby (see note 6, above), A late discourse made in a solemn assembly of nobles and learned men at Montpellier… touching the cure of wounds by the powder of sympathy rendered faithfully out of French into English by R. White, Rouen; Paris: R. Lowndes & T. Davies, 1658, [10] + 152 + [5] p.] [M. de St.-Agy].

11 [Jean Rey (born c. 1583, Le Bugue; died 1645, Le Bugue), a French physician and chemist who practiced medicine in his native town and corresponded with Descartes and Mersenne (see note 59, below).]

12 [Sieur de la Perotasse, elder brother of Jean Rey of the same name, proprietor of the iron forge at Rochebeaucourt in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.]

13 [Andreas Libavius or Libau, also known as Basilius de Varna (born 1555, Halle, Germany; died 25 July 1616, Coburg), a German physician and chemist who wrote the first important textbook of chemistry, Alchemia, Opera e dispersis passim optimorum autorum veterum & recentium exemplis... (Frankfurt: Johannes Saurius, 1597, 424 p., in-4°.), which included instructions for the preparation of several strong acids.]

14 [For Epicurus, see Volume 1, Lesson 7, note 4.]

15 [For Lavoisier, see Lesson 10, note 78.]

16 [Essays sur la recherche de la cause pour laquelle l’estain et le plomb augmentent de poids quand on les calcine, Bazas: Guillaume Millanges, 1630, 144 p., figs, in-4°.]

17 Here is, perhaps for the hundredth time, a proof of the great utility of the history of the sciences. Not only its knowledge prevents the introduction of facts as new when they have been known for a long time and just left aside; but it also speeds up the development of ideas that can lead to discoveries or improvements. There is no doubt that if Lavoisier [see Lesson 10, note 78] had known about Jean Rey’s brochure [Essays, 1630; see note 16, above], he would have established his theory much earlier. Pliny [the Elder, see Volume 1, Lesson 13] said that there is no book that would be so bad as to not offer at least one good thing. We should not contradict the maxim of this great man [M. de St.-Agy].

18 [For Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]

19 [Francis Bacon (born 22 January 1561, London; died 9 April 1626, Highgate), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author, who served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. After his death, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution. Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.]

20 [Galileo Galilei (born 15 February 1564, Pisa; died 8 January 1642, Arcetri, Grand Duchy of Tuscany), Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution; his achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. He has been called the “father of modern observational astronomy,” “father of modern physics,” and “father of science.” His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honor), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments. Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system.]

21 [Descartes, see Volume 1, Lesson 6, note 7.]

22 [Elizabeth I, see Lesson 3, note 104.]

23 [Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (born 10 November 1565, Herefordshire, England; died 25 February 1601, London), an English nobleman and a favorite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years’ War in 1599. In 1601 he led an abortive coup d’état against the government and was executed for treason.]

24 [Rather than “George,” this is a reference to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burleigh (or Burghley) (born 13 September 1520, Bourne, Lincolnshire; died 4 August 1598, London), an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State (1550-1553 and 1558-1572) and Lord High Treasurer from 1572.]

25 [Sir Robert Cecile, 1st Earl of Salisbury (born 1 June 1563, Westminster, Salisbury; died 24 May 1612, Marlborough), an English administrator and politician who served both Queen Elizabeth (see Lesson 3, note 104) and James I (see Lesson 4, note 73) as Secretary of State.]

26 [James I, see Lesson 4, note 73.]

27 [Edward Coke (born 1 February 1552, Mileham, Norfolk; died 3 September 1634, Godwick, Norfolk), an English barrister, judge and, later, opposition politician, who is considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.]

28 [George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (born 28 August 1592, Brooksby, Leicestershire; died 23 August 1628, Portsmouth), the favorite, claimed by some to be the lover, of James I; despite a very patchy political and military record, he remained at the height of royal favor for the first three years of the reign of Charles I, until he was assassinated.]

29 [Phthisis, a disease characterized by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or a part of the body, especially pulmonary tuberculosis.]

30 [The primary works of Bacon: The Advancement of Learning (London: Henrie Tomes, 1605, 2 parts in 1 vol. [45 p.; 118 p.], in-4º) and its expanded Latin version, De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum libri IX (London: Joannis Haviland, 1623, [17] + 493 + [1] p., in-folio), in which he discussed the art of communication; and Novum organum scientiarum (London: Joannem Billium, 1620, [12] + 360 + 36 + [2] p., in-folio), in which he details a new system of logic that later came to be known as the Baconian method. These two books were intended to be part of a much larger work, Instauratio magna (The Great Restoration), which was never finished.]

31 [Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts) was a general encyclopedia published in Paris by Briasson between 1751 and 1772, 17 vols + 11 vols of pls; with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot (French philosopher, art critic, and writer; born 5 October 1713, Langres; died 31 July 1784, Paris) and, until 1759, co-edited by Jean le Rond d’Alembert (French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist; born 16 November 1717, Paris; died 29 October 1783, Paris).]

32 [For Roger Bacon, see Volume 1, Lesson 23.]

33 [De historia vitae et mortis, sive titulus secundus in Historia naturali et experimentali ad condendam philosophiam…, London: Matthaei Lownes, 1623, [6] + 454 p., in-8°.]

34 [Sylva sylvarum sive historia naturalis et Nova Atlantis, London: William Rawley, 1627, 2 parts in 1 vol. (266 p.; [4] + 47 p. + [2] fold. leaves of pls), in-folio.]

35 [Nova Atlantis (see note 34, above), a utopian novel by Francis Bacon, published in Latin in 1624 and in English in 1627 (Chriswell, London), in which he portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations and ideals for humankind. The novel depicts the creation of a utopian land where “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit” are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of the mythical Bensalem. The plan and organization of his ideal college, Solomon’s House, envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences.]

36 [Royal Society of London, see Lesson 8, note 96.]

37 [Sir Isaac Newton (born 25 December 1642, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire; died 20 March 1727, Kensington), an English physicist and mathematician, widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (Mathematical principles of natural philosophy), first published in London (Josephi Streater, 1687, [xi] p. + 510 + [1] p.), laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics.]

38 His father was very well versed in theoretical and practical music and he owes him this nice talent, which was his favorite relaxing activity in the middle of more serious studies. He was also excellent at drawing and skilled artists of his time did not hesitate to acknowledge that they owed a lot to his advice [M. de St.-Agy].

39 [Roasting jack, a machine that rotates meat roasting on a spit. The earliest spits, which date back at least to the first century B.C., were turned by human power. In Great Britain, starting in the Tudor period, dog-powered turnspits were used; the dog ran in a treadmill linked to the spit by belts and pulleys. Other forms of roasting jacks included the steam jack, driven by steam, the smoke jack, driven by hot gas rising from the fire, and the bottle jack or clock jack, driven by weights or springs.]

40 [Christiaan Huygens (born 14 April 1629, The Hague; died 8 July 1695, The Hague), a prominent Dutch mathematician and scientist, known particularly as an astronomer and physicist, a leading scientist of his time. His work included early telescopic studies of the rings of Saturn and the discovery of its moon Titan, the invention of the pendulum clock, and other investigations in timekeeping. He published major studies of mechanics and optics, and a pioneer work on games of chance.]

41 [Evangelista Torricelli (born 15 October 1608, Faenza, Papal States; died 25 October 1647, Florence), an Italian physicist and mathematician, best known for his invention of the barometer.]

42 [Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del mondo, a book published in Italian in 1632 by Galileo Galilei (Fiorenza: Per Gio Batista Landini, [5] + 458 + [32] p.), comparing the Copernican system with the traditional Ptolemaic system. Quickly becoming a bestseller, it was translated into Latin in 1635 by Matthias Bernegger (German philologist, astronomer, university professor, and writer of Latin works; born 8 February 1582, Hallstatt; died 5 February 1640, Strasburg) as Systema cosmicum: In quo Quatuor Dialogis, De Duobus Maximis Mundi Systematibus, Ptolemaico & Copernicano, Utriusq[ue] rationibus Philosophicis ac Naturalibus indefinite propositis, disseritur… (Leyden: Elzevir; Strasbourg: Auguste Treboc., [8] + 495 + [12] p., illus., in-4°); and in 1638, into English under the title Dialogues concerning two new sciences (New York: Macmillan & Company, 1914, xxi + [5] + 300 p.)]

43 [For Roger Bacon and his Opus Magnum, see Volume 1, Lesson 23, note 13.]

44 [Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel (born 1572, Alkmaar; died 7 November 1633, London), a Dutch inventor and innovator who contributed to the development of optics and chemistry; he was also the builder of the first navigable submarine in 1620.]

45 As we know, Dominique Cassini [an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer; born 8 June 1625, Perinaldo, Republic of Genova; died 14 September 1712, Paris] has since then taught us about the exact laws that regulate this kind of regular oscillations [M. de St.-Agy].

46 [Sidereus nuncius magna… (Sidereal Messenger, Starry Messenger, or Sidereal Message), a short astronomical treatise written by Galileo Galilei in March 1610 (Venice: Thomas Baglioni, 16 + [2] + 17-28 p., illus., in-4°). It was the first published scientific work based on observations made through a telescope, containing the results of Galileo’s early observations of the imperfect and mountainous Moon, the hundreds of stars that were unable to be seen in either the Milky Way or certain constellations with the naked eye, and the Medicean Stars that appeared to be circling Jupiter.]

47 [Grand Duke of Tuscany, see Lesson 7, note 89.]

48 [Nicolaus Copernicus (born 19 February 1473, Royal Prussia, Kingdom of Poland; died 24 May 1543, Royal Prussia, Kingdom of Poland), a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe that placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center. The publication of Copernicus’s book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), Norimberga: Johannes Petreius, [7] + 196 p. + [1] leaf of pls, illus., in-folio, just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science; it began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the scientific revolution.]

49 [In astronomy, the Ptolemaic system, also known as the geocentric model or geocentrism, is a description of the cosmos in which Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies.]

50 [De revolutionibus orbium celestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, first printed in 1543 in Nuremberg, by Johannes Petreius.]

51 [Michael Maestlinus or Maestlin (born 30 September 1550, Goppingen, Germany; died 20 October 1631, Tubingen, Germany), a German astronomer and mathematician, best known for his service as mentor of Johannes Kepler (see Lesson 12, note 2).]

52 See [Joseph-Jerome Lefrancois] de Lalande [French astronomer and writer, born 11 July 1732, Bourg-en-Bresse; died 4 April 1807, Paris], [Traité d’astronomie, first published in two volumes in 1764 (Paris: Desaint & Saillant, engr. pls, in-4°), with a second edition in four volumes appearing between 1771 and 1781; a third edition consisting of three volumes was published in 1792] book II, page 190 [M. de St.-Agy].

53 [Christina of Lorraine or Chretienne de Lorraine (born 16 August 1565, Nancy; died 19 December 1637, Florence), a member of the House of Lorraine and the Grand Duchess of Tuscany by marriage; Galileo wrote his letter to Christina, expounding on the relationship between science and revelation, in 1615.]

54 [Dialogs, see note 42, above.]

55 Grand Duke of Tuscany, see Lesson 7, note 89.]

56 Father [Hippolytus Mary] Lancio, commissary of the Holy Office, who politely drove Galileo in his carriage, rejected all the mathematical arguments of this great man based on Joshua’s miracle and the scriptures: Terra, autem, in aeternum stabit, quia in aeternum stat [“The earth will eternally stand till because the earth stands still eternally”]. Galileo abjured his doctrine with these words: “I, Galileo, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal and kneeled before your eminencies, having before my eyes and touching with my hands the Holy Gospels, I abjure, curse, and detest the error and the heresy about the motion of the earth, etc.” [M. de St.-Agy].

57 [François de Noailles (born 10 June 1584, died 15 December 1645), a former pupil of Galileo at Padua, both at the university and privately, and from 1634 ambassador of France at Rome, a man who did much to alleviate the distressing consequences of the celebrated trial of Galileo.]

58 [Written in a style similar to his dialogs (see note 42, above), Discorsi e dimostrazioni sopra due nuove scienze (Discourses and demonstrations concerning two new sciences) was published by Ludovico Elzeviro in Leiden, 1638, 306 p., in-4°.]

59 [Marin Mersenne (born 8 September 1588, near Oizé, Maine, present-day Sarthe, France; died 1 September 1648, Paris), a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician, and music theorist, often referred to as the “father of acoustics”; he is said to have been the center of the world of science and mathematics during the first half of the 1600s.]

60 [The Feuillants were a Roman Catholic congregation, originating in the 1570s as a reform of the Cistercian life in Les Feuillants Abbey in France but soon after declared an independent order, which in 1630 separated into the French branch (the Congregation of Notre-Dame des Feuillants) and the Italian branch (the Reformed Bernardines or Bernardoni). The French order was suppressed in 1791 during the French Revolution. The Italian order later rejoined the Cistercians.]

61 [Les Méchaniques de Galilée mathematicien & ingenieur du Duc de Florence (Paris: Henry Guénon, 1634, [18] + 88 p., illus., wood engr., in-8°) in which Galileo introduced the three laws of falling bodies that refuted the Aristotlean view of motion and provided the very basis of Newton’s laws of motion.]

62 [Newton, see note 37, above.]

63 [Pierre Descartes (born 19 October 1591, The Hague; died April 1660, Saumur), an adviser to the Parliament of Brittany from 10 April 1618.]

64 [Count Maurice of Nassau (Johann Moritz), see Lesson 3, note 95.]

65 [Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, often called simply Turenne (born 11 September 1611, Sedan, Ardennes; died 27 July 1675, Sasbach, Germany), the most illustrious member of the La Tour d’Auvergne family who achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France.]

66 [Musicae compendium, a treatise on music theory and the aesthetics of music written in 1618, but not published until 1650, Utrecht: by Gesberti a Zÿll & Theodori ab Ackersdÿck, 58 p., in-4°.]

67 [Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe, involving most of the countries of Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in in European history, and one of the longest continuous wars in modern history.]

68 [Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria (born 17 April 1573, Munich; died 27 September 1651, Ingolstadt), a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).]

69 [Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly (born February 1559, Walloon Brabant, Spanish Netherlands, present-day Belgium; died 30 April 1632, Ingolstadt), commanded the Catholic League’s forces in the Thirty Years’ War.]

70 [The Battle of Prague, between 25 July and 1 November 1648, the last action of the Thirty Years’ War.]

71 [Frederick V (born 26 August 1596, Deinschwang, Upper Palatinate; died 29 November 1632, Mainz), King of Bohemia from 1619 to 1620; his brief reign ended with his defeat at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620. He died in 1632, so Cuvier must have meant to refer to Ferdinand III (born 13 July 1608, Graz; died 2 April 1657, Vienna), Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia (1625-1657), King of Bohemia (1627-1657) and Archduke of Austria (1637-1657).]

72 [University of Franeker (1585-1811), a university in Franeker, Friesland, now part of the Netherlands; the second oldest university of the Netherlands, founded shortly after Leiden University.]

73 [Dioptrics, the study of the refraction of light, especially by lenses; telescopes that create their image with an objective that is a convex lens (refractors) are said to be “dioptric” telescopes.]

74 [Henricus Regius or Hendrik de Roy (born 29 July 1598, Utrecht; died 19 February 1679, Utrecht), a Dutch philosopher, physician, and professor of medicine at the University of Utrecht from 1638; he was a vocal proponent of Cartesianism, and corresponded frequently with René Descartes.]

75 [For Harvey, see Lesson 2, above.]

76 [Gisbertus Voetius (born 3 March 1589, Heusden; died 1 November 1676, Utrecht), a Dutch Calvinist theologian and an advocate for a strong form of Calvinism called Gomarism, who argued that human reason was surrounded by error and sin, so that perfect knowledge was impossible for humans.]

77 [Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstratur (Meditations on First Philosophy, in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated) a philosophical treatise by Descartes, first published in 1641 (Paris: Michaelem Soly, [22] + 602 + [2] p., in-8°.]

78 [Christina or Kristina Augusta (born 18 December 1626, Stockholm; died 19 April 1689, Rome), who later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen of Sweden from 1633 to 1654. As the daughter of King Gustav II Adolph (see note 79, below), a Protestant champion in the Thirty Years’ War, she caused a scandal when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1654. She spent her later years in Rome, becoming a leader of the theatrical and musical life there. As a queen without a country, she protected many artists and projects.]

79 [Gustav II Adolph (born 9 December 1594, Castle Tre Kronor, Sweden; died 6 November 1632, Lützen, Electorate of Saxony), widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus; he was King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632, credited as the founder of Sweden as a Great Power. He led Sweden to military supremacy during the Thirty Years’ War, helping to determine the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe.]

80 [Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre (born 16 June 1583, Fånö, Uppland, Sweden; died 28 August 1654, Stockholm), Count of Södermöre, a Swedish statesman who became a member of the Swedish Privy Council in 1609 and served as Lord High Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 until his death. He was a confidant of Gustav II Adolph (see note 79, above) and later Queen Christina (see note 78, above).

81 [Claude Saumaise or Claudius Salmasius (born 15 April 1588, Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy; died 3 September 1653, Spa), a French classical scholar best remembered as a prolific author and textual critic.]

82 [Hugo Grotius or Hugo de Groot (born 10 April 1583, Delft; died 28 August 1645, Rostock), philosopher, theologian, Christian apologist, playwright, historiographer, poet, statesman, diplomat, and jurist in the Dutch Republic who helped lay the foundations for international law.]

83 [Dioptrics, see note 73, above.]

84 [Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la vérité dans les sciences. Plus la Dioptrique. Les Météores. Et la géomètrie. Qui sont des essais de cete méthode, Leiden: Jan Maire, 1637, 78 + [2] + 413 +[35] p., illus., in-4°; a philosophical and autobiographical treatise written by Descartes, which contains the famous quotation “I think, therefore I am.”]

85 [Meditationes de prima philosophia, see note 77, above.]

86 [Principia philosophiae, Amsterdam: Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1644, [22] + 310 p., illus., in-4°.]

87 [Pineal gland, a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain that produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of sleep patterns in the circadian rhythms and seasonal functions.]

88 [Archimedes, see Volume 1, Lesson 18, note 1.]

89 [Descartes’s Theory of Vortices in which he assumed that the universe is filled with matter which, due to some initial motion, has settled down into a system of vortices which carry the sun, the stars, the planets, and comets in their paths. Despite the problems with the vortex theory it was championed in France for nearly one hundred years even after Newton showed it was impossible as a dynamical system.]

90 [Joseph-Aignan Sigaud de la Fond (born 5 January 1730, Bourges; died 26 January 1810, Bourges), a French physicist and promoter of experimental physics and teaching, credited with introducing the first physics laboratories.]

91 [Johannes Kepler, see Lesson 12, note 2.]

92 [Torricelli, see note 41, above.]

93 [Blaise Pascal (born 19 June 1623, Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne; died 19 August 1662, Paris) a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Christian philosopher who wrote in defense of the scientific method; his earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences in which he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli (see note 41, above).]

Table des illustrations

Légende Francis Bacon Portrait by John Vanderbank (1694-1739) after unknown artist (c. 1618) National Portrait Gallery.
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