While the scientific discovery was an essential part of the process by which the age of enlightenment progressed, there were some difficulties in reconciling scientific knowledge with the social and religious approaches which were prevalent at the time.
There are several reasons for this disconnection since reason had already been established as the intellectual force which guides human endeavor but the same reasoning abilities were causing conflicts between scientists and thinkers as to the best approach to be taken to scientific discovery (Gascoigne, 2003). This dilemma is explained by Newton-Smith (2001) who says:
“In the seventeenth century, scientific discovery was the central problem of what we would now call scientific methodology, the study of the scientific method. In the twentieth century, we find a complete contrast: the first two major schools of professional philosophy of science (the logical positivists and the Popperians both contented that discovery has no place at all in the logic or methodology of science (Newton-Smith, 2001, Pg. 84)”.
Thus the essential conflict between the enlightenment and scientific discovery comes from the very idea of what science is supposed to be. When logical thought is applied to a problem discovery becomes irrelevant since thought experiments become more important than discoveries made by individuals who may not give correlating causes or influences for their particular discoveries. For example, American writers took the ideas and concepts which were long held as sacred before the 18th century and applied their own thoughts to them in order to come up with better solutions to what they were faced with.
The revolutionary inspired writings of Thomas Paine as well as the calm suggestions of Benjamin Franklin do not intend to discover something but both simply give their thoughts as facts. They came to their social and scientific conclusions through thought experiments which were then created into real experiments.