Philosophy and Scientific Revolution


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

The Transformation of Modern Thought – Philosophy, psychoanalysis, culture

Course code: 23 

Year of study: Not specified

Course principal:
Assoc. Prof. Matjaž Vesel, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective 

Languages: Slovene 

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussions classes 

Objectives and competences

In the seventeenth century, human thought underwent a profound transformation that has radically changed the outlook of various scientific disciplines and the general view of human beings in the universe. This period of European history created the conceptual, methodological, and institutional foundations of modern science. The course reflects on selected topics from the time of the scientific revolution and methodological questions regarding the history of science. Scientific thought is presented in its intellectual and spiritual context. The concept of scientific revolution is analysed and the debate over the continuity or discontinuity of early modern science and medieval science is discussed. The course participants learn about the problems that arose from assigning the label “science” to various medieval and early modern schools of thought or philosophies and become familiar with the hierarchical understanding of different sciences. Students learn about key changes in particular disciplines and come to understand how changes in these disciplines influenced each other. By analysing key texts, the students discover that the development of scientific thought is very closely connected with the development of trans-scientific thought, both philosophical and theological. They also learn how scientific thought in this period perceived itself and its history, and how it perceived other discourses. Special attention is devoted to examining “errors” and “fallacies,” making it possible to detect the epistemological obstacles that various sciences had to overcome in the early modern period.



None required.


Content (Syllabus outline)

  • The philosophical, epistemological, and institutional presuppositions of the scientific revolution: 
    • The continuity or discontinuity of medieval and early modern science 
    • Universities and the universe 
    • The scientific renaissance 
    • Experience and experiment 
    • Mathematics and the philosophy of nature 
  • The philosophical, theological, and scientific legacy of antiquity and the middle ages: 
    • The Greeks and the cosmos 
    • Aristotle and Aristotelianism 
    • Mathematical sciences in antiquity 
    • The discovery and assimilation of Greek and Islamic science in the Latin west 
    • The medieval cosmos 
    • Medieval physics of the sublunar world 
  • Copernicus, Copernicanism, and anti-Copernicanism: 
    • Astronomical “instrumentalism” and “realism” 
    • The movement of the Earth 
    • The structure of the universe 
    • Theology and astronomy 
  • “Galilean science”: 
    • Astronomical discoveries 
    • Natura and scriptura 
    • New physics 
    • Systems of the world 
  • Cartesians and Newtonians: 
    • The world 
    • Methods 
    • Philosophy 
    • Mathematical principles of natural philosophy 



Primary sources:

  • Akvinski, T. 1998. O počelih narave za brata Silvestra, Filozofski vestnik 19(3).
  • Aristotel, 2004. Fizika. Ljubljana: Slovenska matica.
  • Aristotel, 2004. O nebu. Ljubljana: ZRC SAZU.
  • Descartes, R. 1957. Razprava o metodi. Ljubljana: Slovenska matica.
  • Galileo Galilei. v pripravi. Dialog o dveh velikih sistemih sveta. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Galileo Galilei. v pripravi. Sidereus nuncius. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Kopernik, N. 2003. O revolucijah nebesnih sfer. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Nikolaj Oresme. 2004. Knjiga o nebu in svetu II, 25. Filozofski vestnik 25(3).

Secondary sources:

  • Blumenberg, H. 2001. Geneza kopernikanskega sveta. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba.
  • Canguilhem, G. 2005. Vloga epistemologije v sodobnem znanstvenem zgodovinopisju, Filozofski vestnik 26(1): 107-121.
  • Clavelin, M. 1996. La philosophie naturelle de Galilée. Pariz: Albin Michel2izd.
  • Cohen, H. F. 1994. The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry. Chichago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Dear, P. 2001. Revolutionizing the Sciences. European Knowledge and its Ambitions, 1500-1700. New York: Palgrave.
  • Grant, E. 1996. The Foundations of Modern Science in The Middle Ages. Their Religous, Institutional and Intellectual Context, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Jardine, N. C. 1984. The Birth of History and Philosophy of Science. Kepler’s ‘A Defence of Tycho against Ursus’, with Essays on Its Provenance and Significance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Koyré, A. 1988. Od sklenjenega sveta do neskončnega univerzuma, Ljubljana: ŠKUC/FF.
  • Koyré, A. 2006. Znanstvena revolucija, Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.



The precondition for taking the exam is active participation in the lectures and a brief essay (8–12 pages) on relevant topics, with clear exposition of the problem and based on appropriate literature. Students must pass the oral exam, which covers the entire subject matter of the course. Essays written in discussion classes demonstrate the student’s analytical understanding of particular issues discussed, ability to select appropriate literature, ability to analytically and critically reflect, ability to use argumentation, understanding of basic texts, and appropriate level of writing. The oral exam assesses what the students learned during the course, from reading the required and recommended literature, and from presentations.


Contemporary philosophy and modernist literature

Assist. Prof. Rok Benčin, Ph.D.,


Critical Aesthetics and Twentieth-Century Art

Prof. Aleš Erjavec, Ph. D. ,

Prof. Lev Kreft, Ph. D. ,


Formation of the Concepts

Assist. Prof. Aleš Bunta, Ph. D. ,

Assist. Prof. Tadej Troha, Ph. D. ,


German Idealism and its Consequences

Assoc. Prof. Frank Ruda, Ph. D. ,


Ideology and Philosophy

Assoc. Prof. Jan Völker, Ph. D. ,


Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

Prof. Jelica Šumič Riha, Ph. D.,


Philosophy and Scientific Revolution

Assoc. Prof. Matjaž Vesel, Ph.D.,


Psychoanalysis and the Social Bond

Prof. Alenka Zupančič, Ph.D.,

Assoc. Prof. Peter Klepec, Ph. D.,