The roots of science are within the roots of philosophy because until relatively recently science was not distinguished from philosophy; it was considered to be natural philosophy. This lack of separation is reflected throughout Greek science. Proceeding historically from ancient Greece into the Eighteenth Century there is a continuing, although not necessarily progressive, untangling of reason, science, metaphysics, and faith. It is important to recognize the growing demarcation of science, as a subject in its own right, over the centuries if one is going to acquire a deep understanding of the Twentieth Century developments, in particular, the role of uncertainty and the lack of absolute objectivity.
This chapter begins with Aristotle’s epistemology and outlines the evolution of reason and science prior to the birth of modern science in the Seventeenth Century. There were outstanding Greek scientists before Aristotle, of which we mention three: (i) Thales (624–546 BC), who first used deduction to prove geometric theorems, studied astronomy independently of astrology, and predicted the eclipse of the sun on May 28, 585 BC; (ii) Empedocles (492–432 BC), who expounded a theory of evolution in which all higher forms develop from lower forms and there are no sharp distinctions between species, with Nature producing monstrosities that perish on account of maladaptation and organisms that propagate by meeting the conditions of survival; and (iii) Democritus (460–370 BC), who proposed an atomic theory of matter governed by necessity via natural causes and who postulated the preservation of matter, it being neither created nor destroyed, with only atomic combinations changing. The roots of science go very deep.
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