Science 2

Science. Hard science, soft science – where do we draw the line? Is there a line? Does how we talk about science make a difference?LC2

“Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world. An older meaning still in use today is that of Aristotle, for whom scientific knowledge was a body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained (see “History and etymology” section below).

Since classical antiquity science as a type of knowledge was closely linked to philosophy, the way of life dedicated to discovering such knowledge. And into early modern times the two words, “science” and “philosophy”, were sometimes used interchangeably in the English language. By the 17th century, “natural philosophy” (which is today called “natural science“) could be considered separately from “philosophy” in general. But “science” continued to also be used in a broad sense denoting reliable knowledge about a topic, in the same way it is still used in modern terms such as library science or political science. .

The narrower sense of “science” that is common today developed as a part of science became a distinct enterprise of defining “laws of nature“, based on early examples such as Kepler‘s laws, Galileo‘s laws, and Newton‘s laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as “natural science”. Over the course of the 19th century, the word “science” became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of “science”, such as formal science and applied science.”

“Hard science and soft science are colloquial terms often used when comparing fields of academic research or scholarship, with hard meaning perceived as being more scientific, rigorous, or accurate. Fields of the natural, physical sciences, or computing sciences are often described as hard, while the social sciences and similar fields are often described as soft. The hard sciences are characterized as relying on experimental, empirical, quantifiable data, relying on the scientific method, and focusing on accuracy and objectivity. Publications in the hard sciences such as natural sciences make heavier use of graphs than soft sciences such as sociology, according to the graphism thesis.”

I find it interesting that the author of the Wikipedia entry on hard and soft science do not tell us what characterizes soft science – in a way saying that soft science is not ” experimental, empirical, quantifiable data, relying on the scientific method, and focusing on accuracy and objectivity”.

Is that really so? Or is it simply that our definitions, connotations and denotations have not yet caught up with a more holistic view of our Universe?

“Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.

The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: “The whole is different from the sum of its parts” (1045a10).

Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. For example, that the processes of biology can be reduced to chemistry and the laws of chemistry explained by physics.”

Can I understand the complexity of human, from the earliest known humanoid ancestors to modern man, without also understanding language, culture, social structures and human thought? Can I make sound scientific decisions without understanding the the ethical implications of them?

Have we departed from the idea of everything tying into everything else? If so is that because there’s too much ‘everything’ to keep track of ?

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