Background of the emergence and stages of development of science


Science in its modern sense is a fundamentally new factor in the history of mankind, which arose in the depths of the modern European civilization in the XVI – XVII centuries. She appeared not from scratch. The German philosopher K. Jaspers talks about two stages of the formation of science.

Stage I: “the formation of a logically and methodically conscious science – Greek science and, in parallel, the beginnings of scientific knowledge of the world in China and India”. Stage II: “the emergence of modern science, growing from the end of the Middle Ages, decisively affirming with the XVII century. and developing in all its breadth from the XIX century. ”(K. Jaspers. Meaning and purpose of history – M., 1994. – P. 100).

It was in the XVII century. something happened that gave reason to talk about the scientific revolution – a radical change in the main components of the content structure of science, the promotion of new cognitive principles, categories and methods.

A social stimulus for the development of science was the growing capitalist production, which required new natural resources and machinery. To fulfill these needs, science was needed as the productive force of society. At the same time, new goals of science were formulated, which differed significantly from those that the scientists of antiquity were guided by.

Greek science was a speculative study (the word theory translated from Greek means speculation), little associated with practical problems. Ancient Greece didn’t need this because all the hard work was done by slaves. Orientation to the practical use of scientific results was considered not only excessive, but even indecent, and such a science was recognized as base.

Only in the XVII century. science began to be seen as a way to increase the welfare of the population and ensure the domination of man over nature. Descartes wrote: “Instead of speculative philosophy, which only retroactively conceptualizes the truth, it is possible to find one that directly embraces the existence and steps on it, so that we gain knowledge of the power and actions of fire, water, air, stars , the vault of heaven and all the other bodies around us, and this knowledge (of elements, elements) will be as accurate as our knowledge of the various activities of our artisans. Then we can in the same way realize and apply this knowledge for all the purposes for which they are suitable, and thus this knowledge (these new ways of presentation) will make us masters and possessors of nature ”(Descartes R. Discourse on the method. Elect. Prod. – M., 1950. – p. 305).

Descartes’ contemporary F. Bacon, who also spent a lot of effort to substantiate the need for the development of science as a means of conquering nature, put forward a famous aphorism: “Knowledge is power”. F. Bacon promoted the experiment as the main method of scientific research aimed at torturing mother nature. It is torture. Defining the tasks of experimental research, F. Bacon used the word “inquisition”, which has a well-defined number of meanings – from “investigation”, “investigation” to “torture”, “torture”. With the help of such a scientific inquisition, the secrets of nature were revealed (compare the Russian word “naturalist”).

The style of thinking in science has since been characterized by the following two features:

1) reliance on an experiment that delivers and verifies results;

2) the dominance of the analytical approach that directs thinking to search for the simplest, further indecomposable primary elements of reality (reductionism).

Thanks to the combination of these two fundamentals, a bizarre combination of rationalism and sensuality arose, predetermining the tremendous success of science. We note how far from accidental the fact that science arose not only at a certain time, but also in a certain place – in Europe of the XVI century.

The reason for the emergence of science is a peculiar type of modern European culture, combining sensuality with rationality; sensuality, which has not reached, as, say, in Chinese culture, sensitivity, and rationality, which has not reached spirituality (like that of the ancient Greeks). Never before in the history of culture has the bizarre combination of special sensuality and special rationality met and has given birth to science as a phenomenon of Western culture.

No wonder Western culture was called rational, and its dissimilar to Greek rationality turned out to be very well tied to the capitalist system. It allowed all the riches of the world to be reduced to a uniquely deterministic system, which provided maximum profit through the division of labor and technical innovations (also the consequences of rationalism). But an outstanding sociologist of the 20th century. P. Sorokina had a reason to call Western culture sensual, since she tried to firmly rely on experience. Both features of Western culture were needed for the development of science along with another one, also characteristic of it. “In Greek thinking, the answer to the question posed is given as a result of the conviction of its acceptability, in the modern – through experimentation and progressive observation. In the thinking of the ancients, mere thinking is called research, in modern research should be an activity ”(K. Jaspers, Sense and Purpose of History, p. 104). Another specific feature of Western culture — its activity orientation — has found expression in science.

The activity orientation of the mind was favored by the temperate continental climate of the region. Thus, there was a mutual influence of natural, social and spiritual factors.

What is natural science?

The subject of natural science is facts and phenomena that are perceived by our senses. The task of the scientist is to summarize these facts and create a theoretical model that includes the laws governing natural phenomena. This is a branch of science based on reproducible empirical testing of hypotheses and the creation of theories or empirical generalizations describing natural phenomena.

One must distinguish between facts of experience, empirical generalizations and theories that formulate the laws of science. Phenomena, for example, are given directly in experience; the laws of science, such as the law of world wideness, are variants of explaining phenomena. The facts of science, once established, retain their permanent meaning; laws can be changed in the course of the development of science, as, say, the law of world wideness was corrected after the creation of the theory of relativity.

The meaning of feelings and reason in the process of finding truth is a complex philosophical question. The science recognizes the truth of the situation, which is confirmed by reproducible experience. The basic principle of natural science says: knowledge of nature must allow empirical verification. Not in the sense that every particular statement must be empirically verified, but that experience is ultimately the decisive argument for the adoption of a given theory.

Natural science in the full sense of the word is universally meaningful and gives “generic” truth, i.e. truth that is valid and accepted by all people. Therefore, it has traditionally been regarded as a standard of scientific objectivity. Another large complex of sciences – social studies – on the contrary, has always been associated with group values ​​and interests that exist both in the scientist himself and in the subject matter of the study. Therefore, in the methodology of social science, along with objective research methods, it is of great importance to experience the event being studied, a subjective attitude to it, etc. Natural science differs from technical sciences with its focus on cognition, and not on assistance in transforming the world, but on mathematics in that it studies natural systems, not sign systems.

The distinction between natural and technical sciences, on the one hand, and fundamental and applied sciences, on the other, should be taken into account. The fundamental sciences – physics, chemistry, astronomy – study the basic structures of the world, and applied sciences are engaged in applying the results of basic research to solve both cognitive and socio-practical problems. In this sense, all technical sciences are applied, but not all applied sciences are technical. Such sciences as metal physics, physics of semiconductors are theoretical applied disciplines, and metallurgy, semiconductor technology – practical applied sciences.

However, in principle, there is no clear distinction between the natural, social and technical sciences, since there are a number of disciplines that are intermediate or complex in nature. So, at the junction of the natural and social sciences there is economic geography, at the junction of natural and technical sciences – bionics, and a complex interdisciplinary discipline, which includes both natural, and public, and technical sections, is social ecology.

Characteristic features of science

About such a multifunctional phenomenon as a science one can say that it is: 1) a branch of culture; 2) a way of knowing the world; 3) a special institute (the concept of an institute here includes not only a higher educational institution, but also the presence of scientific societies, academies, laboratories, journals, etc.).

For each of these nominations, science is correlated with other forms, methods, industries, institutions. In order to clarify these relationships, it is necessary to identify the specific features of science, especially those that distinguish it from the rest. What are they?

Science is UNIVERSAL – in the sense that it communicates knowledge that is true for the whole universe under the conditions under which it is obtained by man.

Science is FRAGMENTAL – in the sense that it studies not life as a whole, but various fragments of reality or its parameters, but is itself divided into separate disciplines. In general, the concept of being as philosophical is not acceptable to science, which is a private cognition. Each science as such is a certain projection on the world, like a searchlight, highlighting areas of interest to scientists at the moment.

Science is UNIVERSAL – in the sense that the knowledge it receives is suitable for all people, and its language is unambiguous, since science seeks to fix its terms as clearly as possible, which helps to unite people living in different parts of the world.

Science is DECLINED – in the sense that neither the individual characteristics of the scientist, nor his nationality or place of residence are in any way represented in the final results of scientific knowledge.

Science is SYSTEMATIC – in the sense that it has a certain structure, and is not an incoherent set of parts.Science is incomplete – in the sense that although scientific knowledge is growing without limit, it still cannot achieve absolute truth, after which there will be nothing left to explore.

Science is ADDICTIVE – in the sense that new knowledge in a certain way and according to certain rules correlates with old knowledge.

Science is CRITICAL – in the sense that it is always ready to question and revise even its most fundamental results.Science is reliable – in the sense that its conclusions require, allow and are being tested according to certain rules formulated in it.

Science is IMMORAL – in the sense that scientific truths are neutral in moral and ethical terms, and moral evaluations can relate either to the activity of obtaining knowledge (the ethics of a scientist requires him to be honest and courage in the process of searching for truth).

Science is RATIONAL – in the sense that it gains knowledge on the basis of rational procedures and laws of logic and reaches the formulation of theories and their provisions that go beyond the empirical level.

Science is SENSUAL- in the sense that its results require empirical verification using perception, and only after that they are recognized as reliable.

These properties of science form six dialectic pairs correlating with each other: universality – fragmentation, validity – impersonality, systematicity – incompleteness, continuity – criticality, reliability – non-morality, rationality – sensuality.

In addition, science has its own specific method and structure of research, language, and apparatus. All of this is the specificity of scientific research and the importance of science.

Difference of science from other branches of culture

Science differs from MYTHOLOGY in that it seeks not to explain the world as a whole, but to formulate the laws of the development of nature, allowing for empirical verification.

Science differs from MYSTICS in that it seeks not to merge with the object of research, but to its theoretical understanding and reproduction.

Science differs from RELIGION in that reason and reliance on sensual reality are more important in it than faith.

Science differs from PHILOSOPHY in that its conclusions allow for empirical testing and answer not the question “why?”, But the question “how?”, “How?”.

Science differs from ART by its rationality, which does not stop at the level of images, but is brought to the level of theories.

Science differs from IDEOLOGY in that its truths are generally significant and do not depend on the interests of certain segments of society.

The science otchivaetsya from the TECHNIQUE that it is not aimed at using the obtained knowledge of the world for its transformation, but at the knowledge of the world.

Science differs from ordinary consciousness in that it is a theoretical assimilation of reality.

Science and religion

Let us dwell in more detail on the relationship between science and religion, especially since there are different points of view on this issue. Atheistic literature promoted the view that scientific knowledge and religious faith are incompatible, and each new knowledge reduces the area of ​​faith, even to the statement that since the astronauts did not see God, it means that it does not exist.

The divide between science and religion is in accordance with the correlation in these branches of the culture of reason and faith. In science, the mind prevails, but there is a belief in it, without which knowledge is impossible – faith in sensual reality, which is given to man in sensations, faith in the cognitive abilities of the mind and the ability of scientific knowledge to reflect reality. Without such a belief, it would be difficult for a scientist to begin a scientific study. Science is not exclusively rational, it also has intuition, especially at the stage of formulating hypotheses. On the other hand, the mind, especially in theological studies, was used to substantiate the faith, and not all church leaders agreed with Tertullian’s aphorism: “I believe because it is absurd.”

So the areas of reason and faith are not separate absolute obstacle. Science can coexist with religion, since the attention of these branches of culture is directed at different things: in science, at empirical reality, in religion, mainly at extrasensual. The scientific picture of the world, limited to the sphere of experience, has no direct relation to religious revelations, and a scientist can be both an atheist and a believer. Another thing is that in the history of culture there are cases of sharp confrontations between science and religion, especially in those times when science gained its independence, say, during the creation of the heliocentric model of the structure of the world by Copernicus. But it doesn’t have to be this way forever.

There is also the area of ​​superstition, which has nothing to do with religious faith or science, but is associated with remnants of mystical and mythological ideas, as well as with various sectarian offshoots of official religions and everyday prejudices. Superstitions, as a rule, are far from both true faith and rational knowledge.

Science and philosophy

It is important to correctly understand the relationship of science with philosophy, because repeatedly, including in recent history, various philosophical systems have claimed to be scientific and even to the rank of “higher science”, and scientists have not always drawn the line between their own scientific and philosophical statements.

The specificity of science is not only that it does not undertake the study of the world as a whole, like philosophy, but represents private knowledge, but also that the results of science require empirical verification. In contrast to the philosophical statements, they are not only confirmed by special practical procedures or are subject to strict logical deducibility, as in mathematics, but also admit the fundamental possibility of their empirical refutation. All this allows us to draw a demarcation line between philosophy and science.

Scientists were sometimes represented as so-called “spontaneous materialists” in the sense that they had inherent primordial faith in the materiality of the world. Generally speaking, this is not necessary. One can believe that Somebody or Something conveys sensual information to people, and scientists read, group, classify and process it. Science rationalizes this information and issues it in the form of laws and formulas irrespective of what lies at its core. Therefore, a scientist may well be either a spontaneous materialist or an idealist, or a conscious follower of any philosophical concept. Scientists such as Descartes and Leibniz were also outstanding philosophers of their time.

The evolution and place of science in the system of culture

The relationship of science with other branches of culture was not unclouded. There was a rather tough, sometimes fierce struggle for spiritual leadership. In the Middle Ages, political and with her spiritual power belonged to religion, and this left an imprint on the development of science. ] Here is what the Russian historian and philosopher N. I. Kareev wrote about the relationship between science and religion at the time: “The church’s thought was put on the most strict guardianship: science and its teaching were entrusted only to the clergy, who, however, were vigilantly watched by the authorities … The church considered itself entitled to force a person to the truth and betray him to secular power for execution “without spilling blood” if he persisted … The extreme ascetic view of knowledge even led to the denial of any science as vain knowledge, leading Go to death ”(Kareyev N. I. Philosophy of Culture and Social History of the New Time – St. Petersburg, 1893. – P. 65).

Science basically had to serve as an illustration and proof of theological truths. As J. Bernal wrote, “up to the XVIII century. science continued to be interested mainly in the sky ”

– But it was the study of the sky that led to the subsequent power of science. Beginning with Copernicus, it became clear that science is not that of theology and everyday knowledge. The struggle between science and religion has entered a crucial stage. Giordano Bruno gave his life for the triumph of the scientific worldview, so once Socrates and Christ sacrificed themselves for the triumph of philosophy and religion.

And here’s the paradox: sentenced to death and forced to drink the cup with the poison of Socrates at the beginning of the IV c. BC, and in the same century philosophy won, schools of the students of Socrates and Plato’s Academy appeared. They crucified Christ in the 1st century, – and in the same way his disciples created a church, which in two centuries defeated philosophy. They burned J. Bruno in 1600, and in the same century science defeated religion. The triumph of death turned into a triumph of the spirit, which turned out to be stronger than death. Physical power is affirmed by violence, spiritual – by sacrifice.

So, culture develops not only by evolutionary accumulation of individual achievements, but also by revolutionary ways of changing the value of its branches. Socrates program to achieve the common good through philosophical knowledge was unrealized and fell under the pressure of ancient skepticism. People believed Christ and 1.5 millennia waited for the second coming, but waited indulgences for the rich and the fires of the Inquisition.

In the Renaissance, the dominance of religious thinking and the church was undermined both from within and from without. Philosophical and religious efforts to create universally significant knowledge and faith, bringing people happiness, were not justified, but the need for systematization and unity of knowledge and happiness remained, and now science has given hope for its realization.

There was a great turn in the development of culture – science has risen to its highest level. In its modern form, science was formed in the XVI – XVII centuries. and at the same time she managed to defeat other branches of culture and, above all, the religion that dominated at that time. Science won in the seventeenth century. all other branches of culture and retained a dominant role until the twentieth century. It owes its victory primarily to natural science, which lies at the foundation of scientific knowledge.


Since then, the value of science has steadily increased until the twentieth century, and faith in science was supported by its enormous achievements. In the middle of the 20th century, as a result of the growing connection between science and technology, an event occurred that was equal in scale to the 17th century scientific revolution, called the scientific and technological revolution and marked a new, third stage in the development of scientific knowledge.

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