Unit 2: Assignment 1

The early modern view of “the connected world” (ch. 2) is an example of a large-scale conceptual scheme. See if you can describe this worldview in your own words. Are there any parts of it still present in contemporary science? (See p. 38 for some suggestions—try to expand on these or come up with your own examples.)

Chapter 2 of The Scientific Revolution explains the conceptual scheme of “the connected world”. This view studies and explores knowledge with a big-picture lens. Early modern thinkers connected God, nature, and humans to understand a larger life purpose. Some examples of this view are the ladder of nature, the Great Chain of Being, and Aristotle’s four causes. These ideologies emphasis an interconnectedness between all things and work to comprehend their relationships. Natural philosophy is a science of that time that encompassed this thinking. This philosophy studied not simply the science we define today, but also theology and metaphysics. Today, the sciences are more focused and distinct. Ecology and environmental science today could be compared to connected world studies of the past because they explore both nature and humans. However, these sciences still leave out connections with theology and other categories of knowledge. The only other study that I can think of today that is similar to the all-encompassing thought of the early modern age is the liberal arts college education. This type of learning emphasizes knowledge of all areas, specifically making connections across all subjects and different classes.

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying large-scale versus small-scale knowledge? Are the defined and focused sciences of today more efficient than the “connected-world” studies of the early modern view?

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