Historical Development of Natural Science

What were five key events in the Historical Development of the Natural Sciences?

Advent of writing: This allowed people to record their knowledge for all, rather than storing information through memory and using it for purposes outside of survival. It also made it possible for knowledge to be preserved and passed on even after death.

Pre-Socratic philosopher Thales: He was dubbed the ‘father of science’ and was the first to postulate non-supernatural explanations for natural phenomena. He broke from the use of mythology to explain the world and the universe, and instead explained natural objects and phenomena by theories and hypotheses. This can be seen as the basis for the scientific method that we know and use today. Almost all of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers followed him in explaining nature as deriving from a unity of everything based on the existence of a single ultimate substance.

Plato and Aristotle in the Greco-Roman World: They produced the first systematic discussions of natural philosophy, which contributed to the shaping of later investigations of nature. They developed deductive reasoning which was important and useful to later scientific inquiry. Aristotle brought about the concept of empiricism, where scientific ideas had to be tested and could not purely be based on personal knowledge.

The invention of the microscope and telescope: The invention of these two particular scientific equipment allowed people to look past the visual spectrum of things and look into the microscopic world, leading to further experiments and discoveries with areas such as medicine, and the structure and behaviour of the atom.

Newton/Ibn al-Haytham’s development of the scientific method: The scientific method is one of the crucial aspects of the natural sciences, as it allows people to develop hypotheses, conduct experiments and draw conclusions, fuelling the rise of scientific theories and laws.

 

Is it inevitable that the Historical Development of the Natural Sciences has lead us to our current way of doing Natural Science? Why or why not?

I believe that it is not inevitable that the historical development of the natural sciences has lead us to our current way of doing natural science. This is because of the need for previous generations to do research, conduct experiments, draw conclusions and set the basis for future generations to carry on, prove and disprove, and build upon existing ideas and theories. It is only with the cultivation of knowledge and information from the past, whether right or wrong, that we are able to be where we are today.

On the other hand, I also believe that it could be inevitable to a certain extent. Even if one person did not exist and was not present to discover or create what they previously did, it is possible that someone else could have stepped in to produce the same ideas and come to the same stage that we are at today, regardless of the timeframe.

Natural Science – Methodology

In what ways does this quote help us understand the methodology in Natural Science?

“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes – an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.” -Carl Sagan

I think that this quote allows us to understand the methodology in Natural Science in the sense that not all ideas should be accepted immediately, but not all ideas should be refuted immediately – as humans exploring the natural world we should be open to all ideas and generate observations and trends before we can completely support or reject anything. The possibility of the idea being reality signifies that everything should be viewed from an objective point of view before the final conclusions are known for sure. Without the nonsensical ideas, we would not be able to break free from the generalised shared knowledge that our society has given us. At the same time, without skeptical scrutiny of ideas, our world would be a mess of random ideas.

Relating this back to the pre-class video, a lot of natural science information comes from the initial spur of creativity, which is later tested and proved. Especially with the fact that computers can be left to carry out the scientific method on their own, a greater responsibility remains for us humans to generate the primary thought process that kick starts the scientific method and allow us to become more curious of the way the world works. This makes it even more important to carefully take all ideas into consideration and judge them from a fair and objective perspective. 

 

What is Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification?

Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification is mainly made up of the idea that scientists should go out of their way to refute their own hypothesis. This means that scientists should continuously try to prove that hypotheses are wrong – if they succeed, then they can make a new hypothesis and try again; but if they fail, they must keep trying and trying until they can prove that it is wrong.

 

How is it different from the way most people view Natural Science?

I think that people typically view Natural Science as the creation of new hypotheses and ideas, while conducting experiments and generating observations that prove them to be right or true. This is contrary to Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification due to the fact that Popper viewed Natural Science in the sense that hypotheses must be continuously proven to be wrong. This is an issue because this would mean that instead of developing new ideas about the world around us, scientists would be putting their full focus on refuting their own ideas.

Natural Sciences

Definition: The natural sciences are a branch of scientific knowledge that studies the objects or processes observable in the natural and physical world, including biology, physics, chemistry and geology. The sciences are distinguished from the abstract or theoretical sciences, like mathematics and philosophy, as well as social sciences such as economics. The natural sciences are largely based on using observation and predictions, in addition to the Ways of Knowing of reason and imagination. With these processes in mind, the final aim is to produce generalised statements, principles and scientific laws about the natural world, which can be continuously revised and modified to fit our current knowledge.

 

Who is the Natural Sciences map for?

Natural Scientists, those who are curious of the way the natural and physical world functions around them, or anyone who has made or wants to make predictions using their observations, reasoning and imagination to create generalised statements about the world.

 

What questions does it answer?

How is our natural and physical world currently being viewed from a general standpoint?

What hypotheses, discoveries and scientific statements have been made about our natural and physical world?

 

How is the map skewed in Natural Science to help us answer its questions?

I believe that the map is skewed in Natural Science in the sense that out knowledge of the Natural Sciences will only be so limited, and we will never be able to fully view and understand the world the way it is. The world will only continue to grow and evolve, and with our technological advancements, our comprehension of the world will also continue change and adapt to a close version of reality as well. 

Intuition

1. What is intuition?

I believe that intuition is a way of thinking in our minds that allows us to understand something instinctively and immediately, based on personal and prior knowledge and beliefs. Intuition is something that one might perceive to be accurate, yet might not be accepted or true within the greater community.

2. What is System 1 and System 2 thinking?

System 1 and System 2 thinking are two different, contrasting modes of thought. System 1 thinking is more of what one would call intuition – automatic, effortless, fast and ineffable, judgements that are made right away without the need for deeper thought or consideration. On the other hand, System 2 thinking is more controlled, effortful, slow and effable, seemingly the opposite of System 1 thinking, allowing us to reflect on our experiences, make deeper connections and establish more justified conclusions.

3. How could you incorporate System 2 thinking into TOK?

I think that System 2 thinking is definitely more relevant to TOK than System 1 thinking, as it involves more processing of information and cannot simply be judged on the surface. With TOK, we definitely have to dig deeper and become aware of the underlying meanings, a process that would most likely take more time.

4. Do you trust your own intuitions? Why or why not? If your answer is “it depends”, then on what does it depend?

As the question suggests, I believe that I can only trust my own intuitions at certain times. When it is expert intuition, something that I am familiar with and have had experience with, it becomes more reliable and trustworthy. Although it might still be as automatic and effortless as intuition typically is, due to the fact that I am considered an ‘expert’ and am knowledgeable in that area, my intuition should be appropriate to some extent. However, when it comes to situations that I am less familiar with, it would be better if the intuitions were disregarded and not trusted. 

5. Is intuition a convincing justification for shared knowledge?

Once again, I believe it depends on whether the shared knowledge is based on an area that the whole group of people is an ‘expert’ in. If not, there is a chance that it could be moral intuition instead – in which beliefs are formed for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large. This indicates that their intuition could have a larger emphasis placed on moral values, rather than what is actually ‘right’, further suggesting that the shared knowledge cannot be fully justified.