How to Define Science?


Technology is the collective term for any techniques, strategies, procedures, and skills utilized in the creation of new products or services or in the achievement of objectives, for example, scientific research. The use of technology in our everyday lives is pervasive, ever-changing, and very different from how it was perceived even a generation ago. Many people are very familiar with technology and all the applications that it has to offer, but few know much about its history or how it came to be. Technology is not something static; it is always changing, improving, and advancing.

The history of modern technology can be divided into four main eras or fields of study: antiquity to modern technology. The first two eras, antiquity and the classical period, focused on technology for the creation of new things or to understand the existing things better. The development of science and the accumulation of knowledge by people through various forms of scientific methodologies helped define and shape the modern era. Later, industrialization and the dawn of mass-production techniques resulted to the perfecting of machines and other equipment used in industry.

Modern technology industry came into being during the late nineteenth century and it continues to this day. One of the most significant and widely used forms of modern technology is the use of computers, particularly in the industrial and information technology industries. Computers have changed the way information is stored, retrieved, analyzed, and communicated. Computers also constitute the core activity of the modern technology industry and form a major part of the science of information. Another area of specialization in technology is telecommunications engineering. This discipline applies the principles and ideas of science and technology to telecommunications systems, which in turn have affected how we communicate and work at the same time.

Johann Beckmann (c. 1780 -c. 1860) is one of the fathers of modern industrial arts. His revolutionary notion, that the development of the entire society could be measured by the progress of the productive forces was greatly appreciated by the then-nasal cotton manufacturer, Josiah Wedgwood. After Wedgwood went bankrupt, he approached others with the idea for making cotton gloves from a raw material derived from wood shavings. His efforts paid off when he was able to introduce improved machinery that dramatically increased the speed with which cotton could be made.

Science and technology related topics are an important part of the debate between classical naturalism and modern technological progressivism. For instance, in discussing the relationship between science and technology, J. Brian Carpenter, in his Science and Civilisational Thought (eds. R. Y. Kaploff and C. Y. Oakes), pp. xi-xii, maintains that science and technology pertain to the ways by which humans deal with reality. Thus, according to Carpenter science and technology is neither independent nor trivial but is an interaction of humans with nature, with each contributing to the other through its effects and outputs. For instance, while technology produces useful devices and inventions, it also contributes to environmental destruction through technological means, as in the case of automobiles (which can, in some respects, contribute to the degradation of the natural environment through the exhaust fumes they produce and release).

The relationship between science and technology in the twentieth century has become even more diverse due to scientific discoveries in different fields. One of the more popular examples of this has been the French Revolution, which scientists had earlier described as a scientific phenomenon (the first anti-religious revolution in history). During the revolution, various disciplines like mathematics, chemistry, and anatomy were discovered to have been affected by previous attempts to classify matter. These natural sciences in turn were applied science in the new century, especially in physics, astronomy, and genetics (particularly in regard to the study of complex life forms).

In the new century, the field of applied science has become increasingly specialized, particularly in areas such as engineering, industrial arts, computer science, and the physical sciences. While natural sciences have always been considered part of the broader field of sciences, the recent development of an interdisciplinary field called “aquadology” is an example of twentieth century developments in applied science. Aquatic technology, including fish farming, has grown significantly since its beginnings in the nineteenth century, making such topics as water cycles, hydrodynamics, and ecosystem biology central to both scientific and industrial research. In fact, the increasing number of interdisciplinary studies in all aspects of science and industry makes more pressing the need for a more encompassing term. The need to define the term “science” was reflected in a recently released national survey on American attitudes toward science and technology: the results showed that two-thirds of Americans feel that the term “science” describes “an individual’s knowledge about things in nature”.

The difficulty with adopting a broad definition is apparent when faced with the reality of political debates over what are considered to be valid scientific views. In particular, there has been a long and bitter debate between the theories of classical liberal democracy and realism concerning the nature of reality. While the debate has roots in a broad philosophical debate concerning how to understand the world, the real tension has come from the inability of citizens to clearly distinguish between what is a view based on philosophy and what they see as a necessary part of life. A similar schizoanalytic tension has developed over the validity of technological innovations. A final schizoanalytic challenge lies with the tension between scientific realism and cultural reductionism regarding the value of technological systems for humanity.