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Nicolaus Copernicus

A Polish astronomer who proved that the Ptolemaic system was inaccurate, he proposed the theory that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

Claudius Ptolemy

Greek astronomer and philosopher, 100-170 AD. placed stellar universe on a crystal sphere. Earth stood still. Sun orbited Earth. Used looping small circles on the orbits to account for retrograde (moving backwards) of the planets. His Almagest was one of the longest-used textbooks.


Branch of science that deals with movement

Johannes Kepler

Assistant to Brahe; used Brahe's data to prove that the earth moved in an elliptical, not circular, orbit; Wrote 3 laws of planetary motion based on mechanical relationships and accurately predicted movements of planets in a sun-centered universe; Demolished old systems of Aristotle and Ptolemy

Isaac Newton

English mathematician and scientist who invented differential calculus and formulated the theory of universal gravitation, a theory about the nature of light, and three laws of motion. His treatise on gravitation, presented in Principia Mathematica (1687), was supposedly inspired by the sight of a falling apple.

Galileo Galilei

Created modern experimental method. Formulated the law of inertia. Tried for heresy and forced to recant. Saw Jupiter's moons. Wrote Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World

Francis Bacon

Developed the concept of experimental thinking and popularized the new scientific method

Rene Descartes

French scientst, mathematician, and philosopher who discovered laws of optics and is considered the founder of analytic geometry. He is the father of modern rationalism. He said "Cogito ergo sum" meaning I think therefore I am.


Undertook dissections of the human body and founded the science of anatomy

William Harvey

English physician and scientist who described the circulation of the blood. His research furthered the study of medicine

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Perfected the microscope

Thomas Hobbes

English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only kind of government that could resolve problems caused by the selfishness of human beings (1588-1679). He believed that there was a social contract between the government and its subjects and that as long as this social contract was upheld, then people should exchange some freedoms for peace, safety, and order

John Locke

English philosopher who advocated the idea of a "social contract" in which government powers are derived from the consent of the governed and in which the government serves the people; also said people have natural rights to life, liberty and property. He said that monarchs weren't chosen by God and that power should be limited by laws. His ideas were the foundation for modern democracy

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A french philosopher who believed people were basically good until they were corrupted by society. He wrote The Social Contract, which was a contract between all members of society. He said that "man is born free, but everywhere is chains." He beleived government should work for common good not the wealthy few. Individuals should give up rights for the benefit of the community. He despised inequality in society. His views inspired revolutionaries in the years to come.

Baron de Montesquieu

French aristocrat who wanted to limit royal absolutism; Wrote The Spirit of Laws, urging that power be separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each balancing out the others, thus preventing despotism and preserving freedom. This greatly influenced writers of the US Constitution. He greatly admired British form of government.


Wrote Philosophic Letters on the English & Treatise on Toleration. He admired the English freedom of the press, and religous toleration. He criticized France because of its royal absolutism and lack of freedom of thought. Real name Francois-Marie Arouet. Outspoken philosopher who wrote with biting wit. He was imprisoned twice and exiled to England twice


French philosopher from 1713-84 who composed a 28 volume encyclopedia that included and spread many Enlightenment ideas

Mary Wollstone Craft

writer, philosopher and feminist, wrote something on womens rights and they arent inferior to men they just lack an education. Wrote a vindication for the rights of wemen, equal education for women

Adam smith

Scottish political economist and philosopher. His Wealth of Nations (1776) laid the foundations of classical free-market economic theory, government should not interfere with economics. Advocates Laissez Faire and founder of "invisible hand"

Robert Hooke

father of microscopy, first to observe cells in cork

GL Buffon

Coinsidered natural seletion and similarities between humans and apes

Adam Weishaupt

Founded the illuminati

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