::Modern science



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The history of science is the study of the development of science and scientific knowledge, including both the natural sciences and social sciences. (The history of the arts and humanities is termed as the history of scholarship.) Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real world phenomena. Historiography of science, in contrast, often draws on the historical methods of both intellectual history and social history.

The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Previously, people investigating nature called themselves natural philosophers. While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example, by Thales, Aristotle, and others), and scientific methods have been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham, and Roger Bacon), the dawn of modern science is often traced back to the early modern period and in particular to the scientific revolution that took place in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Scientific methods are considered to be so fundamental to modern science that some consider earlier inquiries into nature to be pre-scientific.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those inquiries.<ref>"For our purpose, science may be defined as ordered knowledge of natural phenomena and of the relations between them." William C. Dampier-Whetham, "Science", in Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed. (New York: 1911); "Science comprises, first, the orderly and systematic comprehension, description and/or explanation of natural phenomena and, secondly, the [mathematical and logical] tools necessary for the undertaking." Marshall Clagett, Greek Science in Antiquity (New York: Collier Books, 1955); "Science is a systematic explanation of perceived or imaginary phenomena, or else is based on such an explanation. Mathematics finds a place in science only as one of the symbolical languages in which scientific explanations may be expressed." David Pingree, "Hellenophilia versus the History of Science", Isis 83, 559 (1982); Pat Munday, entry "History of Science", New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005).</ref>

From the 18th century through late 20th century, the history of science, especially of the physical and biological sciences, was often presented in a progressive narrative in which true theories replaced false beliefs.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> More recent historical interpretations, such as those of Thomas Kuhn, tend to portray the history of science in different terms, such as that of competing paradigms or conceptual systems in a wider matrix that includes intellectual, cultural, economic and political themes outside of science.<ref>Kuhn, T., 1962, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", University of Chicago Press, p. 137: "Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of earlier ages are implicitly presented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method made seem scientific."</ref>

Modern science sections