By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
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Hist 4: Post Medieval History

World history from 1500 to 2000.

History, sliced into time periods, is yet another lens into humanity’s knowledge. These insights are the backbone to Mike‘s articles and his longer effort books. They are part of his lifelong commitment to study and represent his areas of focus. While they are not complete, they are useful.

The World History Timeline
Switch To: Prehistory | Ancient History | Medieval | Post-Medieval 

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
20 Generations Ago (from 2020 CE)

Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance. In addition to furthering skepticism, he also extended stoicism. He also extended literary style by promoting the essay format and by breaking norms of his day. For example, talking about himself in his own writing.

My favorite translated Montaigne quotes: 

  • Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.
  • He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.
  • What do I know?
  • My art and profession is to live.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
18 Generations Ago

Francis Bacon was born on January 22, 1561, in London to a prominent and influential family. The young Francis Bacon received a comprehensive education, attending the prestigious Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of 12. Bacon is the Father of the Scientific Method, but notice he is not the inventor. Bacon laid the foundation for his major work in “Novum Organum.” Published in Latin in 1620 when he was 59 years old. Bacon’s method pioneered inductive reasoning, but he didn’t invent it, but he did develop it into a method, and it gave birth to the scientific method.

30 Phil, Chapter 20: Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method
Touchstones: Absolute Truth, Truth Hammers, and The Scientific Method

Pictured: Portrait circa 1618, Francis was about 57.

Big History Thresholds: 1=Big Bang | 2=Stars&Galaxies | 3=Chemicals | 4=Solar System | 5=First Life | 6=TI | 7=Agrarian | 8=Science

The Modern Revolution: The 8th threshold for Big History began about 500 years ago and continues to the present day. It includes the scientific revolution, industrialization, and the information age, leading to rapid technological progress and profound changes in human societies globally. In 30 Philosophers, the modern age starts later in 1859 with Charles Darwin, but I follow human thought with a philosophical lens, Big History tells our story using the lens of a historian.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
18 Generations Ago

30 Phil, Chapter 21: Galileo and the Scientific Revolution
Touchstones: Relativity, the Infinitesimal, and Modern Cosmology

Pictured: Portrait circa 1638, Galileo was about 74.

Galileo Galilei, more of a scientist than a traditional philosopher, forever altered our understanding of nature. He was born on February 15, 1564. Galileo was a great scientist in his time. His “way,” his method, of performing science helped push us toward our modern approach. The story of Galileo is also the story of Copernicus, and the story of modern cosmology. This is the era in which humanity started to learn about the fundamental structure of the universe. Galileo’s book “Two New Sciences,” published in 1638, contains his most significant contributions to science, particularly his work on motion and the strength of materials. Galileo was a master mathematician, and his contributions to mathematics were both scientific and philosophical. Galileo’s ideas about the infinitesimal were so clear, within decades, both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz independently developed calculus. Still under house arrest, he passed away at the age of 78 in January 1642.

Microscope Invented = Microworld Discovered!
Various bacteria cells in microscope. Streptococcus pneumonia, p

With the invention of the microscope, humanity became aware of the microworld which is defined as 1 to 1000 microns. A micron is equal to one thousands of a millimeter. A cell is about 10 microns wide. Paper is about 100 microns thick. The unaided human eye can see items as small as 50 microns, or about half the width of a piece of paper.

Scientists use three scales when talking about the biological world: the milliworld, microworld, and the nanoworld. The milliworld contains all visible items down to 1 millimeter and includes very small things such as ants, fleas, and grains of sand.

By 1640, the microscope was perfected to the point that allowed the introduction of the microworld to humanity. The microworld contains items with a diameter from 1 millimeter to 1 micrometer, or 1 micron. The microworld contains things like single celled organisms as well as the largest bacteria. By 1640, humanity started it’s introduction to trillions of organisms living everywhere including nearly everything you touch, in the ground, inside plants, and even inside humans. Humans host over 10,000 species of organisms in, on, and through the human body — known as the human microbiome. Every human no matter how clean you think you are is playing host to 10-100 trillion organisms. This fact gradually changed how every human on Earth views life.

The nanoworld which includes smaller bacteria as well as viruses, proteins, and molecules would have to wait for the invention of the electron microscope in 1931. 

Note: The micron and micrometer are the same size, but you use microns (μ) when measuring thickness, and micrometers (μm) when measuring the distance between things. So you can say a cell is 10 microns wide, or you can say the diameter of a cell is 10 micrometers. The term nanomicron, which would be equal to a nanometer, is not currently in regular use.

Rene Descartes (1596-1649)
Rene Descartes (1596-1649)
17 Generations Ago

30 Phil, Chapter 22: Descartes and Cartesian Dualism
Touchstones: Mind-Body Dualism, Idea Modeling, and Pragmatism

René Descartes was born into minor nobility in the Kingdom of France on March 31, 1596. In 1637, Descartes published “Discourse on the Method,” he sought to identify certain knowledge by using doubt to strip away uncertain beliefs. Cartesian Skepticism is a system of doubt aimed at identifying certainties by dismissing all beliefs susceptible to even the slightest uncertainty. On February 11, 1650, in the presence of a small circle of friends, he exhaled his last breath.

The Birth of Baroque Art
white and brown concrete building painting

From Baroque music and paintings to sculptures and archicture. The dawn of the 17th century witnessed the birth of the Baroque era, marking a transformative period in the history of art that spanned from circa 1600 to 1750 CE. Originating in Italy and spreading across Europe, the Baroque movement represented a significant evolution in artistic expression, characterized by its dramatic, detailed, and exuberant style. This era brought about a profound change in music, visual arts, and architecture, emphasizing motion, contrast, and a vivid sense of emotion that sought to engage the viewer or listener directly. In music, the Baroque period saw the invention of opera as a new form of musical and theatrical expression, the development of complex tonal systems, and the creation of instrumental music forms such as the concerto and sonata. Composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Frideric Handel epitomized the Baroque’s intricate harmonies and elaborate compositions. The Baroque era’s emphasis on blending different forms of art to evoke a heightened emotional response represented a significant evolution in the way art was conceived and experienced. It laid the groundwork for future artistic movements and continues to influence the arts profoundly, underscoring the intricate relationship between human emotion, expression, and creativity in the journey of cultural development.

Roger Williams (1602ish-1683)
Roger Williams (1602ish-1683)
17 Generations Ago

30 Phil, Chapter 23: Roger Williams and Liberalism
Touchstones: Separation of Church and State, and Liberalism.

Pictured: None exist of Roger Williams. This artist impression represents his fond relations with Native Americans.

Roger Williams was born in England around 1602, in Smithfield, situated at the heart of London. Williams officially founded Providence Plantations in 1636 with an informal agreement with the local Native American leaders. It became the fifth American colony and the second in the New England region. In 1644, he published a series of pamphlets, the more contentious ones anonymously, leading up to penning what would become his magnum opus: “The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution,” or “Bloody Tenet.” More than a historical or religious treatise, the Bloody Tenet is a seminal work. It launched a full-throttle assault on the prevailing norms of religious and political intolerance that plagued both Old and New England. Williams passionately argued for the separation of church and state.

Gunpowder Treason Plot
Gunpowder Treason Plot

The Gunpowder Treason Plot is the name of the Roman Catholic conspiracy to blow up Parliament including King James I, the queen, and his eldest son. The conspirators were zealous Roman Catholics angered by the King’s refusal to grant more religious toleration to Catholics. They hoped the confusion that would follow the murder of the king, his ministers, and the members of Parliament would provide an opportunity for the English Catholics to take over the country.

The authorities were tipped off by an anonymous letter. During a search of the House of Lords at about midnight on 4 November 1605, one of the conspirators was discovered guarding enough gunpowder to reduce the House of Lords to rubble — about 36 barrels. The attempt failed. The conspirators were executed.

Mayflower Compact
Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact set out rules for self-governance for the English settlers who traveled to Colonial America aboard the Mayflower ship in 1620. Of the 102 passengers aboard the Mayflower only 41 were Pilgrims. It was this minority body that established the rules for which they tried to force on all. The majority of passengers disagreed with and fought against the compact for many years–a rough start to American democracy. The document was signed by the 41 pilgrims, non of the other white male adults called “strangers” by the pilgrims signed it. 

Mike Prestwood Note: One of the Pilgrims and signers of the Mayflower Compact was my direct ancestor Richard Warren (my 10th great grandpa on my mom’s mom side).

Homann-Rudisill Note: My wife Lisa Jane Unsicker is a direct descendent of 4 Mayflower passengers John Tilley, his wife, and daughter are direct ancestors. Also, John Howland, the future husband of 13 year old Elizabeth Tilley is also a direct ancestor of Lisa’s.

John Locke (1632-1704)
John Locke (1632-1704)
16 Generations Ago

30 Phil, Chapter 24: Locke and Natural Rights
Touchstones: Natural Rights, Due Process, The Social Contract, Checks and Balances, and Law

John was born on August 29, 1632 into a Puritan family in England. During his life, John Locke was focused on empiricism. He goes on to become a key figure in the empiricist revolution, with a dedication to the doctrine that experience is how knowledge is acquired. One of his popular ideas he published under his name was “tabula rasa,” in his work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Locke’s “tabula rasa” translates to blank slate, and this idea is central to individual rights and freedoms. 

Switch To: Prehistory | Ancient History | Medieval | Post-Medieval 

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