The History of Science

The first scientific revolution began in the second half of the 15th century. This period is characterized as the beginning of modern natural sciences. Learn more in this article.
The History of Science
Paula Villasante

Written and verified by la psicóloga Paula Villasante in 18 July, 2021.

Last update: 18 July, 2021

According to one famous writer, “science is the set of knowledge obtained through observation and reasoning, systematically structured and from which we deduce general principles and laws with predictive and experimentally verifiable capacity”. Next up, we’ll have a brief look into the history of science.

The exact historical beginning of science is indeterminable in time. It’s argued that its emergence takes place at the time when the relationship is discovered, or established, that some phenomena are ’cause’ and others ‘effect’.

Since ancient times, there have been various societies that have tried to understand the world. These existed in places like the Ancient East, such as Egypt, Babylon, India, and China. There, empirical knowledge about nature and society was accumulated and rationalized. The germs of astronomy, mathematics, ethics, and logic also emerged.

The history of science

Ancient Greece

After the heritage of the eastern civilizations, it’s important to highlight the system of Ancient Greece. During this period, thinkers arose who were especially dedicated to science and separated themselves from the religious and mythological tradition. From then until the industrial revolution, the main function of science was explanatory.

Thus, the fundamental task of science was to provide the knowledge necessary to broaden the horizons of the vision of the world and of nature, part of which is humankind itself.

History of science

The consolidation of scientific thought as a social institution

Between 1600 and 17o0, Western Europe took a decisive step in the consolidation of scientific thought. In capitalism, science broke with the vision of itself inherited from antiquity as an activity primarily focused on the intellectual understanding of the world without acting on it. Thus, it became the basis of the technical evolution that characterizes the modern world, from the industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, right up to our times.

The industrial revolution is understood as the set of economic and social transformations that defined the starting point of the industrialization process in general. These took place in Great Britain between the years 1760 and 1820.

History of science: modern science

The historical existence of modern science is relatively recent. It seems that it was characterized by the emergence and development of European capitalism, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The first scientific revolution

The first scientific revolution began in the second half of the 15th century. This period is characterized as the beginning of modern natural sciences. It happened after the liberation of science from scholasticism. However, although the revolution lasted until the 18th century, it wasn’t accompanied by a similar revolution in technique.

With the appearance of large mechanized production, the necessary conditions were created for science to become an active factor in production. Thus, the knowledge of the transformation of nature was raised as his main task.

The scientific-technical revolution

In the present age, the achievements of science are fed into production more rapidly. This is due to the decrease in the time that elapses between scientific discoveries and their practical use.

This revolution simultaneously encompassed the sphere of science and technology. That is why it’s called the scientific-technical revolution.

History of science

History of science: classification

According to the author Rubén Cañedo Andalia, science can be classified in two ways:

  • Pure science: When a science pursues an essentially cognitive end.
  • Applied science: When the ultimate goal is utilitarian and extrinsic to increasing knowledge.

So, on the one hand, there’s the view that science is aimed solely at perfecting a system of scientific certainties or truths regardless of its immediate practical results. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the main goal of scientific research is to exploit nature and control life through a system of industrial, agricultural, medical, and social applications.

Thus, we can generally say that each current state of knowledge is the result of a long process. Social factors have played a very important role in this process. Thus, the history of science has used both social factors and the history of other disciplines to define itself. We couldn’t define the history of science without the history of biology, to cite just one example.

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