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date: 22 July 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article asks whether there was a Scientific Revolution (SR) at anytime between 1550 and1800. The label ‘Scientific Revolution’ to indicate a period in the development of natural knowledge in early modern Europe has carved a place in historiography. This article suggests that there was SR, if SR signifies a period of time; perhaps, if it is taken as a metaphor. It illustrates how the deployment of the metaphor to seventeenth-century natural knowledge might be accomplished. It also considers the physics of René Descartes, the influence of Cartesianism throughout the Republic of Letters, and the academies. The metaphor can be useful if it is taken in analogy to a major political revolution. The analogy points to a later onset, and a swifter career, for the SR than is usually prescribed, and shows that Isaac Newton was its counter rather than its culmination.

Keywords: Scientific Revolution, natural knowledge, Europe, metaphor, physics, René Descartes, Cartesianism, academies, political revolution, Isaac Newton

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