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Text and sociopolitical changes are an iconic symbiotic duo. Throughout history humans have examined or passed down text that seek to shape or influence human thoughts and behavior. This can be proven relevant from the 17th century all the way to modern day. Time and time again we as humans refer back to text and reaffirm believes or reiterate new ideals that have been introduced to use. Without text, there is no way humans would be at the level of sophistication we are at today.
In seventeenth-century France, the use of the maxim was a literary genre that was used to be a lesson of some sorts on moral behavior in the form of a witty saying. One of France’s most popular maxim writers was Francois de La Rochefoucauld. He uses his maxims to exemplify Neoclassical control on society. La Rochefoucauld believed that “self-interest, hypocrisy, and greed motivated the behavior of most human beings-including and especially the aristocrats of this day”. This could’ve easily brought on sociopolitical changes by raising awareness to some of the corruption and selfishness that Louis XIV had. La Rochefoucauld brought attention to the fact that Louis XIV really had no care for the common people, as most of them lived in shacks with little food and virtually non of them were educated.
Another great writer in the seventeenth century was John Donne. The sociopolitical changes in Baroque style influenced his writing style. This can be seen in the way he wrote his “metaphysical’ poetry, which included dramatic contrast, recent and unexpected shifts in viewpoint, and the dramatic synthesis of discordant images”. His writings also transformed sociopolitical changes as well, by introducing the tradition of ringing the church bells to announce the death of a parishioner, as written down in the last lines of his sermon.
Described as one of the most influential sociopolitical changes to have occurred in the seventeenth century was the English translation of the Bible. This event transformed the English language and therefore English literature. Having translated the Bible to the English language gave to opportunity for more people to actually read and understand what the Bible was saying, as opposed to having to depend on someone of higher authority or someone with an education to translate it for them. The only big consequence of having the Bible translated by scholars that King James I of England hired was the fact that these scholars could have translated it wrong, or in favor of their own beliefs of what they think it says. This is an obvious indication on the effect of how text can truly transform sociopolitical changes.
Another major event that took place in the 17th century was Galileo’s publication of Dialogue Concerning the Two Principal Systems of the World. This publication went directly against the Catholic Church’s beliefs in terms of an earth-centered universe. In this text by Galileo, “a fictional conversation between a Copernican and the defenders fo the old order, one of whom resembled the pope. Because his gravitation theories went against that of Copernicus, he was seen as a threat to the church and therefore to God himself.
This text went on to shape sociopolitical changes because now it is well accepted that our solar system is very much centered around the sun. It shows that even if someone goes up against what is commonly conceived as “right” they could very well be correct in their beliefs, if backed by scientific evidence. This instance should be an example to the ways that religion can sometimes influence societies thoughts on what is absolute and true.
“Rene Descartes is regarded as the founder of modern philosophy”. In his text Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences, he revealed his rules for reasoning. His argument basically concluded that you cannot believe anything to be true, and everything that is said to be true should be met with doubt. This shaped sociopolitical changes in that it introduced the concept of deductive reasoning which is the “process that begins with a clearly established general premises and moves toward the establishment of particular truths”.
John Locke favored the power being with the people are argued that “people have, by their very nature as human beings, the right to life, liberty and estate, and also that there is a social contract between the government and the people it governs. These ideas were stated in his treatise, On Government. This treatise and many others were popular and read widely, including by Thomas Jefferson. Locke’s treatise were so influential to sociopolitical changes that Jefferson based the Declaration of Independence off of Locke’s texts. The Declaration of Independence then went on to further this sociopolitical change of the people who went on to live in America by “justifying revolution against tyrannical rule, and establishing the creation of a viable new nation with its government based ultimately on Enlightenment principles”. This should demonstrate the very clear cause-and-effect relationship that text and sociopolitical changes have with one another.
“German philosopher Immanuel Kant was a supporter of Enlightenment views but also criticized its view of reason as the ultimate means of understanding reality”. In his Critique of Our Reason, he argued “the manner in which one perceives the world depends on specific qualities in the perceivers mind. This lead to the idea of idealism, which states that “reality consists of the mind and its forms of perception and understanding.” Idealism is definitely an idea that has shaped sociopolitical changes and has made humans question what is true in reality when dealing with different people all with different perspectives.
These text examples are just a small fraction of the number of texts that have seemed to transform sociopolitical changes. In some instances we see that sociopolitical changes shape text. Either way, the symbiotic relationship between the two is undeniable. Even today, when most of America’s people can read, the newspaper seeks to report news going on that explains the sociopolitical changes going on around us. This relationship will never leave human nature, no matter how far we progress. Text has shaped our lives in a such a way that is unfathomable and will continue to do so. Some of the focus’s on the scientific revolution include the production of new instruments, the empirical method, modern philosophy, and important scientific theories. These scientific focus’s and progresses during this time changed the arts. This can be seen in the Northern Baroque Painting and Instrumental Music.
During the Scientific revolution, many new instruments were developed so that scientists could “calculate, investigate, and predict the workings of nature”. These instruments included the microscope, the slide rule, the magnet, the mercury barometer, and the air pump. “With this highly powered microscope, scientists were also able to identify protozoa and human bloods cells” which ultimately had a great effect on the science of medicine. Anton van Leeuwenhoek advanced the theory of reproduction by using a microscope as well. Many of the math classes that we are required to take today emerged from the scientific revolution. These include geometry, trigonometry, and infinitesimal calculus, all of which are used to make calculations about the world around us. Without the production of these tools, our advances in modern science would not be possible. The invention of tools has assisted human kind since the neanderthal period. It will be interesting to observe just how humans will continue to progress with the use of tools.
The empirical method was also invented during the Scientific Revolution. This is seen as “one of the most characteristic features of the Scientific Revolution”. The empirical method is still used today with scientists performing experiments and testing hypothesis. The empirical method greatly relies on specific steps to arrive at a conclusion. These general steps include making an observation, creating a hypothesis, predicting an outcome, performing an experiment, analyzing the results, and drawing a conclusion. The process draws on inductive reasoning, which is “the process that draws on the particulars of sensory evidence for the formulation of general principles (or axioms)”. One of the most popular scientists who urged for the use of the empirical method was Francis Bacon.
As mentioned above, “Rene Descartes is considered the founder of modern Western philosophy”. In contrast to inductive reasoning, he defended deductive reasoning which “begins with clearly established general premises and moves toward the establishment of particular truths”. Descartes thought that the processes of learning only began with a brain that is open and not biased in any way. His “first principle and premise for all his major arguments stems from the phrase “I think therefore I am” (“cogito, ergo sum”).”. This basically means that because he knows that he is real and exists, there is no doubt in his mind that he can know it to be true. He also saw differences in “matter and mind, body and soul”. This goes on to suggest that the human body differs and it completely operate from the human mind. This view is called the “cartesian dualism, which was very popular in European philosophic thought until the end of the nineteenth century”. Some individuals in modern times even support this thought, which goes to show you how big of an impact the Scientific Revolution and the brains behind it has had on modern day society.
One of the most important theories of science came from the Scientific revolution by Issac Newton. This theory is and forever will be taught in all sciences classes and most certainly defines the Scientific Revolution. Issac Newton issued the universal theory of gravitation. This theory was able to “explain every physical movement in the universe”. In his publication of Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Newton “proved that nature’s laws applied equally to terrestrial and celestial matter, thus unifying the work of Galileo and Kepler”. A single statement can be used to describe his theory and that is “every particle of matter attracts every other particle with a force proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distances between them”. The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy was easily accepted as the “greatest work of science ever written”. It also gave light to the importance that the “physical universe was discoverable and knowable by human beings”. Newtons influence is obvious and will continue to be obvious for centuries to come.
These scientific advances also shaped the arts. One example of this can be seen in the Northern Baroque Painting. Northern Baroque artists main focus was attention to detail, similarly compared to thinkers in the Scientific Revolution.Sometimes, the scientific tools discovered in the Scientific Revolution made their way into Northern Baroque paintings. “Something important to note about the seventeenth-century Dutch art was the emergence of women as master painters”. This can be seen in The drawing Lesson by Jan Steen where a young female appears to be taking drawing lessons in an art studio. Paintings of still life objects also grew popular at this time. “Genre paintings of everyday life, especially family life also grew popular in the Netherlands”. Another popular theme in Northern Baroque Paintings were amateur musical performances. All of these themes grew in demand because of the influence of the Scientific Revolutions attention to detail.
Another way scientific progress during the Scientific Revolution shaped the arts was in Baroque Instrumental Music. This change occurred in the way that music was written. “Until the sixteenth-century, almost all music was written for the voice rather than for musical instruments”(Fiero, ch 23). Baroque Instrumental music introduced the idea that music didn’t just have to be for singing, or used for religious purposes, but rather it could indeed stand alone by itself and still be very pleasing. “Three main types of composition-the sonata, the suite, and the concerto-dominated seventeenth-century instrumental music”. The sonata is a piece written for few instruments. “The suite was written for a combination of instruments and the concerto is a compositions consisting of two groups of instruments, one small and one large”. Some famous composers of Baroque instrumental music include Vivaldi and Bach. Also, since instrumental music was becoming more popular, the improvements of instruments was a result.
The Scientific Revolution provided us with some of the most crucial scientific discoveries of human society. Some focuses of the Scientific Revolution such as new instruments, the empirical method, modern philosophy, and important scientific theories helped shaped the arts during this time. It is not usually common to think that science can have an influence on art, but when major scientific changes arise, so do changes in art, and that is observable thought the given examples. Art and science will continue to develop throughout humanity. It will be interesting to observe how modern day art will change with the development of technology and social media. With this, I believe art will be received by more platforms and not just by the wealthy and educated, as it was in the seventeenth-century.
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