Science Wars

The “science wars” involve the process of science and scientists who do not want other branches of knowledge poking around in their processes. Bowler and Morus said, “The modern ‘science wars’ – in which scientists have responded bitterly when the objectivity of science itself has been challenged by sociological critics – illustrate that there is more at stake here than a simple conflict between scientific fact and subjective values.”[1] Science aims for perfect objectivity, but as the scientist is human, this is impossible, human and perfect cannot happen – a human will always have a personal subjective perspective, even when addressing a topic objectively.

While conflicting views were offered in the readings, the advances and discoveries of the seventeenth and eighteenth century are rightfully labeled as the “Scientific Revolution.” The term revolution is applicable because the type of discoveries made upset and reorganized the general conception of natural philosophy, and a new science began to form. The science of 17th and 18th c was not modern science but the beginnings of understanding science with modern implementation – modern science’s great grandfather. Bowler and Morus said, “… the fundamental changes that took place in the ways in which Western culture viewed the universe and the methods used for finding out about the universe during this period were so cataclysmic that they deserve to be described as revolutionary.”[2] Humans, much like the earth, were not the center of existence.[3] Old science was based on scholasticism while new science followed a scientific method that required rigorous experiments in efforts to establish objective truth. Astronomy shifted from being a figurative appearance in geometry to a condition applicable to reality.[4] Mathematics earned esteem (yet weakened its social value by commonality of trade use) to rival philosophy because of its practicality for trade, business, and exploration: one could not navigate the seas without math – Galileo saw nature as mathematical.[5] Mechanical philosophy held the cosmos as a machine, but the new science was empirical and based on the authority of the senses instead of scholasticism.[6] Francis Bacon insisted that experience was to determine the outcome of natural laws – but the experimenter was required to be a gentleman so as to ensure the truth would be addressed in efforts to form a collective information system.[7]

Newton may be the father of science, but there were other members that made up the family – father alone cannot claim victory. Variant types of minds were needed, and men such as Copernicus, Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Brahe, Bacon, and Boyle were responsible for expanding knowledge. Newton’s contributions to science included: Principia and the Laws of Motion, the creation of Calculus, and Opticks on the theory of white light. Historically, Newton was not given credit for his activities involving alchemy, but modern science now finds it rather intriguing.[8] During the seventeenth-century, alchemy was negatively viewed by society – although noted as the beginnings of chemistry, alchemy is still not held as a scientific practice, but Newton addressed alchemy as experimentation with natural elements.[9]

Bibliography

Bowler, Peter J. and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Science: A

Historical Survey. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press,

2005.

Newton’s Dark Secrets. PBS. Nova, 14 Nov 2005. Online video. 8 Dec

  1. http://video.pbs.org/video/2042275819/

Picture c/o:  http://i48.fastpic.ru/big/2013/0412/b2/d8ee737f9524afb30dbf47780d8df1b2.jpg

[1] Bowlser and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 2.

[2] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 23.

[3] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 29.

[4] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 27.

[5] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 41-2.

[6] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 43.

[7] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 43-45.

[8] Newton’s Dark Secret.

[9] Newton’s Dark Secret.

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