What is Science?
(The Concept of Science and Scientific Knowledge)
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and
I’m not sure about the former…”
What is science?
Ø Definition of science: Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world.
Ø The word ‘science’ is originated from a Latin term ‘scientia’ = KNOWLEDGE.
Ø Philosophically science is an attempt to understand, explain and predict the world we live.
Ø Religions also attempt to understand & explain the world. However, religions are NOT considered as science.
What is Knowledge?
Ø Definition of Knowledge: The expertise and skills acquired by a person by experience or education (Oxfd. Dict.).
Ø Knowledge is the Theoretical or Practical understanding of a subject gained through complex cognitive processes.
Ø The cognitive processes to acquire the knowledge are Perception, Learning, Memory, Experience and Judgment.
Ø Knowledge is the comprehension (conception) of realities of the Universe.
What is Epistemology?
Ø Epistemology is a branch of philosophy which deals with the study of KNOWLEDGE.
Ø Epistemology analyzes the nature of knowledge and how it relates truth, belief and justification.
Ø The epistemology mainly focuses on four aspects of Knowledge. They are:
(1). The philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to truth, belief and justification.
(2). The various problems of skepticism (=disbelief and doubt).
(3). The sources and scope of the knowledge.
(4). The criteria for knowledge and justification.
Different types of Knowledge
Ø The Knowledge is categorized into three main categories. They are
(1). Theoretical Knowledge
§ Theoretical knowledge is the knowledge acquired through thinking and intellectual reasoning.
(2). Practical Knowledge
§ Practical knowledge is the knowledge that acquired through experience.
§ The practical knowledge is applied in performing some tasks.
(3). Scientific Knowledge
§ Scientific Knowledge is the “body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained” (Aristotle).
Ø Science disciplines are broadly classified into two categories; (1) Pure science, (2) Applied Science
(1). Pure science
§ Pure science is also known as ‘basic science’
§ Pure science is concerned with basic facts and principles in science.
§ Example: Natural science, Physical science, Chemical science etc.
(2). Applied science
§ Applied science uses of facts and principles of basic science for practically doing and making things.
§ Example: Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering, Polymer Chemistry, Electro-physics
What is the ‘Aim of Scientific Study”?
Ø A scientific study aims to explain the events of nature in a reproducible way and to use these findings to make useful predictions.
How scientific studies are done?
Ø Scientific studies are done by (1) Observing the natural phenomena and by (2) Experimentation.
Ø The experimentation tries to simulate (mimic) natural events under controlled conditions.
Ø Example: Miller and Urey Experiment to prove the organic evolution.
What are the features of science?
Ø Science can use experiments to prove scientific concepts.
Ø Science can be used to construct theories.
Ø A scientific theory should be falsifiable.
Who is a Scientist?
Ø Anyone who is doing something (experiments) in science is NOT a scientist.
Ø A scientist is the one who try to explain the results in terms of General Theory rather than simply recording the results of experiments and observations in a notebook.
How scientists solve the secrets of nature?
Ø Scientists solve the secrets of nature through science by Scientific Method
Ø The Scientific Method includes:
§ Hypothesis construction
§ Observation / Data Collection (for results)
§ Results analysis (using statistical tools)
§ Testing of hypothesis (using statistical tools) for the acceptance or rejection of hypothesis
§ Formulation of theory (scientific theory)
What is the fundamental feature of ‘Scientific Theory’?
Ø The Scientific theory should be FALSIFIABLE (Karl Copper, Philosopher of Science).
Ø To call a theory falsifiable is NOT to say that it is false. Rather it means that the theory makes some predictions that are capable of being tested against experiences. If these predictions turn out to be wrong, then the theory has been falsified or disproved.
Science vs Pseudo-science
Ø Pseudo-science: Some supposedly scientific theories that did not qualify the tests and thus didn’t deserve to be called as science at all.
Ø If the theory is falsifiable, then it is science, otherwise, it is pseudo-science.
What is “what is not science”?
Ø ‘What is not science’ is also called as ‘non-science’
Ø Pseudo-science is anything that does not follow the accepted principles and rules that science follows.
Ø It can be anything that cannot be studied by the science.
Ø It may be anything that is not possible to explain with science.
Ø Example: ethics, morals, religion and religious beliefs, values etc.
$ These are areas beyond the realm of science and are not testable
$ These concepts are based on the faith and belief of human.
What is meant by Scientific Temper?
Ø Scientific temper is the scientific attitude.
Ø Scientific temper: “Application of logic and reasoning and more importantly the avoidance of Bias and Preconceived Notions in arriving decisions”.
Ø The Scientific temper becomes particularly valuable while deciding what is best for the community or for the nation.
Ø The scientific temper has to be an inherent quality
Ø Every scientist should possess the scientific temper.
What is Empiricism?
Ø Empiricism is a philosophical doctrine proposed by Hempel.
Ø Empiricism is the Pursuit of Knowledge by observation and experiment.
Ø It holds that ‘our sense give us the knowledge’.
Ø Empiricism also says ‘knowledge comes from the experience’.
1. Define Science
2. What is Scientia?
3. What is ‘knowledge’?
4. What are the different types of knowledge?
5. What is scientific knowledge?
6. Describe disciplines of Science
7. Who is a scientist?
8. How ‘scientist’ solve the secrets of ‘nature’?
9. What are the fundamental features of a scientific theory?
10. What is meant by ‘falsifiable’?
11. What is ‘pseudo-science’?
12. What is ‘what is not science’?
13. What is meant by scientific temper?
14. What is meant by ‘empiricism’?
15. What is the aim of scientific study?
16. What is the difference between pure and applied science?
17. Differentiate science and pseudo-science.
18. What is the difference between science and non-science?