Sapiens Part IV: The Scientific Revolution

The scientific revolution brought about a new and more complex imagined order. This happened essentially because of all the advancements happening in the scientific field that in turn was affecting society and its imagined order. Harari mentions how science has transitioned from old ways to modern in three ways; the willingness to admit ignorance, the centrality of observation and mathematics, and the acquisition of new powers (Harari, 251). Our ideal imagined order has shifted its culture and values, therefore the scientific revolution was able to occur and flourish. Harari also points out how there was not an idea of progress before the revolution, largely due to religion and its affiliates. However, during the modern age uncertainty and the willingness to admit it has led to great progress of society through science. The imagined order had to adapt to these changes brought on by science, but also included politics, culture, and economics.

Science has somewhat become a business in modern times because of its vast connections to capitalism and imperialism. Research and inventions require funding most of the time as Harari points out: “humans increasingly came to believe that they could increase their capabilities by investing in scientific research… We would never be able to walk on the moon, engineer microorganisms and split the atom without such investments” (Harari, 247). Some of the greatest discoveries would not be possible without the fact that science is wedded to capitalism and the attitudes that come along with it. As for imperialism, Elmore suggests that it goes hand in hand with capitalism to maximize gains. “At the same time as more people invested in the stock market, the federal government also began deregulating the banking industry in ways that permitted riskier investments” (Elmore, 155-156). This has turned science and its achievements into a business that seeks economic gain through government aid. Science and its correlation with the economy and government is still very relevant today, in the United States especially, because many people go without life-saving advancements simply because they cannot afford it. 

2 thoughts on “Sapiens Part IV: The Scientific Revolution

  1. I enjoyed your ending part in which you were talking about the intrinsic connection of science and capitalism which I think makes a lot of sense given the way some of the different economic models have worked and some of the improvements that were brought on by the change into capitalism. Some of the changes that I think that were particularly beneficial in capitalism that made science work well would be incentivisation for the hard work put in through increased outcome (money) for the input put in (time/effort) which in the past direct trading/bartering limited your outcome and increased input requirements instead of a market economy where everyone influenced everything.

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  2. It’s interesting, as you mentioned, how important those three changes were to the scientific revolution. As we are constantly trying to learn and experiment today to not only better ourselves but propel our society, it is difficult to imagine a time when admitting to ignorance was difficult for people. We now know how important trial and error are to the experimental process. Additionally, I enjoyed how you mentioned the ties between science, the economy, and politics. The technologies we have today while being the most advanced they’ve ever been, they’re also the most expensive. While our capitalist society may create incentive it also sets up a lot of people for failure when it comes to the advancement or possession of these technologies, preventing the benefits that may occur if financial aid was easier to acquire for these discoveries.

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