Butterfield Speaks of Importance Of Scientific Revolution in History
'The Turning Point in World History'
Cambridge historian Herbert Butter-field last night called the seventeenth century scientific revolution "the turning point in world history."
Speaking before an overflow crowd of 600, Butterfield criticized the modern tendency to credit the Renaissance with the origin of the modern world. "We have attributed to the Renaissance some of the things which only appeared in the seventeenth century," Butterfield maintained, "and several of the characteristics which were thought to be original with the Enlightenment actualy have their roots in the period from 1680 to 1715."
As an example, he pointed to the French Revolution. "Historians may attribute the Revolution to the influence of the Philosophes," he said, "but to understand this influence at all, it is necessary to look closely at the figures in the Scientific Revolution."
Delivering the first Horblit Lecture on the History of Science, Butterfield emphasized the importance of the field.
"Although only 50 years old, the history of science as a formal academic discipline is growing and increasing in importance," he commented.
But he went on to critcize the fact that "the ordinary student of history is still too often kept away from the subject because he has inherited too limited a view and thinks that he knows the main lines of scientific history already."