Monday, January 29, 2007

Defining "Science"

Following on from Roman's post on his growing library (including his most unexpected remarks concerning this humble blogger's efforts) I wanted to focus on something we discussed together yesterday.

In our conversation Roman mentioned the word "science" in connection with a topic we were discussing. This lead us to talk about what science is.

I pointed out that "science" is a word that is used all the time by people without any concern for what, precisely, they mean by the word.

"Science" has unfortunately become equated to be one and the same with the "physical sciences." Placing the word "physical" in front of it implies (as I mean it to) that it is, in fact, only one branch of science.

Classically science is defined as "the knowledge of things in their causes." Another definition is "any systematized body of knowledge."

It is in this broader sense that Theology is said to be the "Queen of the Sciences" and philosophy its handmaid.

Of course, the first alternative definition, is also narrower than what the word commonly means today in the sense that it refers to certain knowledge of real causes.

In fact, some people think that "science" (i.e the physical sciences) provides more certain knowledge than philosophy (which is viewed as more "opinionated") which is quite false.

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