Friday, March 7, 2008

Absolutism and Science

Last week in History 5 is characterized with absoluteness. The first lecture goes into Louis XIV, the French king that is the exemplar of Absulotism - even if Professor Anderson argues his power was not absolute. The second is called New Science, it stretches from Copernicus to Newton and is about absolute knowledge - as we shall see.

My ear infection has caused a week's delay. We are talking here about the lectures of the 19th and 21st of February. I will continue to report weekly about History 5, maybe squeeze a trio or a quarter of lectures in a post or end just two weeks later than Berkeley - how bad is that? So here is about what is so absolute.

Louis was not an absolute ruler in our modern sense of the word - he was not a totalitarian autocrat, having a grip on the entire country and populace. He is more that kind of monarch Hobbes probably thought of and he is the most profound example of what happens to the states in Europe in the 17th century - they get centralized. The head of state becomes the sole ruler that unifies the entire country and is absolute in that sense.

Truly absolute is what happens in science. Anderson's illustration comes from a German doctor's reaction to an English work about the human body: 'Interesting in England the blood circulates.' This is the voice of the past. From here on, science is universal. If we find the blood circulates, this will apply everywhere. The rise of modern science brings about knowledge with absolute claims. The hero of the week: Johannes Keppler; the most sympathetic of the pioneers of science as portrayed by Anderson.

More History 5:
Witches, plague, war and Hobbes,
Europe and 1492,
The making of Europe in 1453,
From the Renaissance Until Today.

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