Maybe I asked this question before, but let me ask nonetheless. About this:

The intellectual transformation associated with the Scientific Revolution led to a new confidence in the value of the investigation of nature and its control, a development which is fundamental to an understanding of the importance of science in modern society.

About 'a development', is it a restatement of the sentence in front 'X led to Y'? Or is it something else?
The development could refer grammatically to either 'transformation' or 'confidence', or to the whole 'transformation led to confidence', but I think it refers to 'confidence' in the writer's mind.
Is 'a new confidence' itself really a development which is fundamental to an understanding of the importance of science in modern society?

Isn't the process, or the history, in which the intellectual transformation associated with the Scientific Revolution led to a new confidence in the value of the investigation of nature and its control, a development which is fundamental to an understanding of the importance of science in modern society?

Isn't 'X led to Y' a kind of development?
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I have given you my opinion.
I wonder if you could present a sound reason for your opinion.
I already have. Oh, maybe I haven't. It is because 'confidence' seems intellectually to me to be the development the author speaks of.
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Even though the rest of the text actually describes the significant historical fact as this, would you still believe so?

The cultural values associated with the pursuit of natural knowledge were a significant characteristic of seventeenth-century society. Science expressed the values of technological progress, intellectual understanding and the celebration of God's wisdom in creating the world. The hostile and mysterious environment of the natural world would, people believed, yield its secrets to human investigation. The belief in the human capacity to dominate nature was justified by the argument that the study of God's book of nature went hand in hand with the study of the Bible, the book of God's word. These important shifts in cultural outlook dramatically transformed the conception of the universe and of man's place in nature.
Now I see why you see 'confidence' as the referent; sometimes 'a development' can refer not only to the process but to the end result. I understand that.

But I believe 'X led to Y' is explicitly a 'a development' while the end result is implicitly so. Plus, the entire text seems to be about the cultural values associated with the pursuit of natural knowledge, as you can see in the excerpt I posted. So I take the entire sentence as the referent.

That's how I see it.

Well, thanks anyway. It was interesting to know that there was another way to look at it.