scientific revolution. the scientific revolution took place from the sixteenth century through the seventeenth century and saw the formation of conceptual, methodological, and institutional approaches to the natural world that are recognizably like those of modern science. it should not be seen as a revolution in science but a revolution in thought and practice that brought about modern science. although highly complex and multifaceted, it can essentially be seen as the amalgamation of what was called natural philosophy with various so-called subordinate sciences, such as the mathematical sciences, astronomy, optics, and geography, or with separate traditions, such as those of natural magic and alchemy. the traditional natural philosophy, institutionalized in the universities since their foundation in the thirteenth century, was almost entirely based upon the doctrines of aristotle and followed rationalist procedures. when those trained in natural philosophy began to recognize the power of alternative traditions for revealing truths about the physical world, they increasingly incorporated them into their natural philosophies. in so doing, these natural philosophers inevitably introduced different methods and procedures to complement and refine the earlier rationalism. to fully understand the scientific revolution, however, requires consideration not only of what happened but also of why it happened. before looking at this, it is necessary to consider the status of the scientific revolution as a historiographical category.
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