The Scientific Revolution and Turkey
The Scientific Revolution which took place in central and western Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a much debated subject. Here I am taking it up once more with the purpose of finding examples of the interaction between culture and scientific development which appear in three different instances:
- How did the scientific revolution influence the cultural climate and eventually the social and political evolution of western societies?
- A period of three hundred years has elapsed from the acceptance of research as the basis of scientific and technological development in the west in the seventeenth century to arriving at a similar understanding in Republican Turkey in the twentieth century. What did the western societies learn about the relations between scientific development and social applications during this time? What did the Ottoman society lose by remaining aloof to the scientific revolution all this time?
- Is the meaning and importance of the scientific revolution well understood today in Turkey by the public in general and by politicians and bureaucrats in particular?
The answer to the first question is well known. Several writers have pointed out the transformation of the intellectual climate brought about by the scientific revolution in Britain and France . The success achieved in the understanding of physical processes by observation, experiment and mathematical formulation has led to the emergence of a rational, cause-searching approach in social sciences and philosophy, eventually to the dawn of the age of enlightenment, followed by the industrial revolution and the formation of modern, secular democracies.
As to the second question, the processes involved here are not as well known, but are of equal importance for understanding the relationship between the development of science and its practical implementations and cultural consequences in any society, in particular in Turkey.
I give a negative answer to the third question, based on a study of the science and history text-books in high schools and a review of the public appreciation of science. In short, scientific research is considered to be a worthy endeavor as it brings international prestige to the country but not as a pursuit which would increase the economic well being of the nation.
Various examples are given in the text to illustrate the answers given in the three cases.
Key Words: Scientific Revolution, Turkey
Anahtar Kelimeler: Bilimsel Devrim, Türkiye