Why Did the Scientific Revolution Happen in Western Europe?
Michael Flynn has some speculations in “Quaestiones Super Caelo Et Mundo” and “De revolutione scientiarum in ‘media tempestas’” in the July/August 2007 Analog on how a scientific revolution nearly occurred in Medieval Europe. This may have been in reaction to the commonly-expressed theory that the authoritarian Church suppressed science in Europe for a millennium.
My theory, for what it's worth, which isn't much, is that Europe became a center for innovative ideas because it was a fringe area. During the Dark Ages, even the nuttiest bishops couldn't suppress philosophical ideas. There were attempts to declare Aristotle's philosophy to be heresy. Those attempts could not succeed in the Dark Ages and by the time of the High Middle Ages, something resembling reason had become entrenched.
There was a close call during the “Renaissance.” By that time, Europe was no longer a fringe area and the authoritarians had a free hand. The formerly-unified Church broke up just in time.
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