Western Civilization Post 1689: Isaac Newton

Western civilization’s origin can be observed in Europe due to the link that it had with the Roman Empire and the Western Christendom. It appeared because of the introduction of industrial and scientific revolution and the enlightenment. England, which was Isaac Newton’s home country, was one of the major contributors to the scientific achievements during the revolution. Although farming was one of the prime activities being practiced there, formal education was being offered as well. The form of worship in Greek was considered pre-Christian or pagan that caused the change in culture. Some of the innovations were borrowed from the neighboring nations they were associated with, and they had one particular role: shaping the civilization in the Western counties. Owing to the fall of Rome, the Catholic Church rose to take the place left by the Roman Empire.

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The scientific revolution that was happening in England was one of the key contributors to the advancement of the Western civilization. This 16th century revolution changed the manner in which people thought and made progress that was instituted through performing an experiments and observations. Some scholars such as Copernicus, Johannes, and Galileo also contributed to it by doing refining work on their discoveries and writing academic papers that were published. England also facilitated in the development through the Aristotelian philosophy on the nature of earth and its orientation in the universe (Neill et al. 733). Further, the curriculum taught in the English schools supported the advanced science. From the historical location of the country, one can comprehend that Isaac Newton played a significant role in the scientific development of the civilization in the Western countries after the introduction of the scientific revolution.

Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, England on the 4th of January, 1643, and was comprehend as one of the greatest scientific minds. He was a great physicist and mathematician who significantly contributed to the change in optics, motion, and math and modern physics principles. In 1687, Newton published some of his scientific and mathematical works known as the “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.” He died in March 31, 1727 in London (Tiner 104).

Newton was one of the few scientists that were born in Europe who advanced scientific revolution. He published most of his scientific and mathematical discoveries that contributed positively to people’s view and understanding of nature (Tiner 67). Another scientist who improved the scientific knowledge of nature was Galileo, whose discovery also created an understanding of the inert machine.

Newton’s knowledge was developed from reading the works published by the modern philosophers. They helped him discover new concepts of nature that contributed to the structure of scientific revolution. His discovery of the infinitesimal calculus was a primary tool that was used in the study of optics, and as such, aided in his comprehending of the motion of the planet (Tiner 104). Newton also shared his thoughts concerning the gravity that were based on the falling apple. It was a part of his discovery that resulted in the development of the telescope optics and color principle. Additionally, his gravity development contributed to the knowledge concerning planetary motion. He used a formula that involved inverse of squares to provide an explanation for the attraction that existed between planets; he also explained how their orbits had been shaped. The laws developed by Isaac Newton helped to calculate the mass of each planet and give the understanding about the balance of the universe. His and other related scientists’ discoveries provided a new direction in science, which was a major advancement of civilization in the Western countries. These discoveries gave a fundamental comprehending of scientific principles that when applied practically, contributed to the development of many scientific tools, machinery, models, and an overall change in the physical world.

One of the major contributions that Newton made to the scientific revolution was the development of the well-known physical law of gravity (Feingold 47). The law of gravity states: any bodies in the universe that have mass can attract each other due to a force that they exert on themselves, which is the product of their masses and the square of the physical distance that is between them. This law was used to provide an understanding of the motion of planets, how they are held up in space, and the size of their orbits; it was a major Newton’s finding concerning the solar system. This law could also be used to predict the discovery of an unseen planet.

Further, the laws of motion developed by Newton resolved the questions of motion and matter and contributed to the scientific development by providing the foundation for the classical mechanics. The three laws that Newton developed were used to explain the relationship that existed between objects and the forces of motion. First, all objects stay in their state of rest or uniform motion, and the state only changes when an external force is exerted on them. Second, any effect that cuts on a body could only be defined by the rate of change of its linear momentum and time. Third, all actions have equal reaction forces. The laws of motion were published in Newton’s book called “The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” which was published in the year 1687. For action to exist, there has to be a force to establish balance. Frictional force, as Newton defines it, prevents deceleration while moving. His calculus invention was also a tool that was used to provide an understanding that variables were related to the motion; that tool was then applied to mechanical engineering. The computation model developed by Newton simplified the mathematical problems related to motion and motion variables. The laws of motion that he prepared and expressed as mathematical theorems were used in the Western nations to test the future observations that were developed from the motion of the bodies (Salas 60).

Newton also made discoveries in optics, presenting the light principles of prisms and lenses and using prisms to show that the light from the sun consist of different colors. As such, colors are developed by adding of specific components. Moreover, this discovery answered the ancient Greek’s question concerning light (Feingold 47). Further, this principle contributed to the implementation of the telescope that was developed after Newton’s optics discoveries. Instead of using the lenses that broke the light into unwanted colors, Newton proposed the use of a curved mirror.

In order to reinforce the development of the telescope, he applied his binomial theorem of infinite series, which was used to calculate the area inside any shape that had curved edges. The area of the curved mirror that was used in the telescope was then quickly calculated to determine the exact size that was applicable for specific glasses. Newton’s experiments also provided an understanding of light transmission and the selective light absorption through different materials, showing the relationship that existed between materials and light. Furthermore, his optics discoveries contributed to neuroscientists color perception, which is contemplated as mental phenomenon or simply a subjective experience. Those discoveries revolutionized the understanding of light, and as a result, rejected the Aristotle’s notion that had suggested that light was colorless or inherently white (Feingold 47).

In conclusion, Isaac Newton played a significant role in the scientific development after the introduction of the scientific revolution. The culture of the West originated in Egypt, and it was majorly linked to the Roman Empire. Western civilization is characterized by the industrial revolution, the scientific revolution, the Reformation the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, and the liberal democracy, which occurred as a transformation process. Isaac Newton significantly contributed to the development of Western civilization through scientific revolution (Graphic Library 14). The revolution in Europe and other Western nations occurred between the 16th and the 17th centuries, which is a period of Newton’s discoveries. Before the revolution and Newton’s findings, there was no scientific development, and therefore, the Western nation was undeveloped on the basis of civilization. Some of the contributions that Isaac Newton made include his discoveries of the three laws of motion, which facilitated the scientific development by providing the foundation for the classical mechanics (Salas 60). Additionally, he made the discovery of the law of gravity that was later used to study the solar system and discover or predict the movement of celestial bodies or unseen planets. Newton’s discovery of optics was used to provide an understanding of the light principle and dispute Aristotle’s suggestion concerning light being colorless. Furthermore, this discovery and Newton’s calculus models were used to develop the first functional telescope.


Works Cited

Feingold, Mordechai. The Newtonian Moment-Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture. 2004.

N.D. Graphic Library. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2007.

Neill, Thomas Patrick, Daniel D. McGarry, and Clarence L. Hohl. A History of Western Civilization. Vol. 1. Bruce Publishing Company, 1962.

Salas, Laura Purdie. Discovering Nature’s Laws: A Story about Isaac Newton. Millbrook Press, 2011.

Tiner, John Hudson. Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist, and Teacher. Sower Series, 1975.