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The Mystical Roots of the Scientific Revolution

Guest Speaker:

David Shyovitz, Ph.D., Lecturer, Religious and Jewish Studies, Northwestern University will speak on the topic, The Mystical Roots of the Scientific Revolution.  Today, it is commonly assumed that "science" and "religion" represent distinct and potentially irreconcilable worldviews--the former empirical and evidence-based, the latter rooted in intuition and faith.  But for the astronomers, chemists, physicists, and physicians who revolutionized scientific inquiry beginning in the 16th century, the boundaries were considerably blurrier.  Indeed, some historians have argued that early modern science represented a continuation of, rather than a break with, earlier mystical and even magical approaches to the natural world.  In this discourse, we will trace some of the conditions that gave rise to modern science, and consider the ways in which our own contemporary society seeks to achieve balance between the rational and the transcendent.

Dr. Shyovitz holds a joint appointment at the Crown Center for Jewish and Israel Studies.  His research and teaching focus on medieval cultural and intellectual history, with a particular emphasis on Jewish History and Jewish-Christian relations.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and has lectured widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Middle East.  His first book, A Remembrance of His Wonders: Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Ashkenaz, will be published in May by the University of Pennsylvania Press.