Science (from Latin scientia knowledge) is historically a philosophical activity, and was for a long time a speculative exercise aimed at elucidating the mysteries of the universe In the late Middle Ages, science gradually broke away from the clutches of theology and philosophy. In the course of its history, it was structured into scientific disciplines: mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, mechanics, optics, astronomy, economics, sociology, among several other areas.
Today, science designates both an intellectual approach, based on a rational and methodical examination of the world and their needs, aiming to produce knowledge resistant to rational criticism, and the organized body of that knowledge.
To propose a definition of science is to adopt a particular point of view: the idea of defining science is, many believe, impossible. In fact, this kind of exercise should be undertaken with great caution. Alan Chalmer, after examining the main theories of science in the twentieth century, writes that "there is no eternal and universal conception of science [...] There is nothing that authorizes us to incorporate or rejectknowledge on the basis of conformity to any given criterion of scientificity". Having also noted that none of the demarcation criteria suggested by the epistemologists of the twentieth century has gained general consensus, Robert Nadeau writes that "one cannot apparently formulate a criterion that excludes all that one wants to exclude, and retains all that one wants to retain."
The definition proposed above obviously does not escape this observation. Thus, not only is a certain "dogmatism" not absent from the scientific process, but it is also part of its proper functioning. References to reason and method are also highly questionable when we examine the concrete practices of researchers. The very idea of knowledge production is problematic: many fieldsrecognized as scientific do not produce knowledge, but instruments, machines, technical devices.
However, this does not necessarily mean, as Paul Feyerabend writes, that "science is much closer to myth than the scientific philosophy A sociologist like Raymond Boudon uses the notion of familiar airs to criticize the idea that the absence of clear definitions of science necessarily leads to relativism: "the conclusions are valid only thanks to the a priori according to which any sense of distinction must correspond to an objective or social distinction. On the other hand, they disappear when one admitsthat the notions of " progress ", " objectivity ", " truth ", " science " [...] materialize in a thousand ways among which there are only family resemblances."
This situation, Raymond Boudon continues, is not peculiar to the notion of science or the notions linked to it: "even a concept like 'gold', which nevertheless seems to designate a well-defined matter (as we say), does not correspond in any way, even in its scientific uses, to a fixed definition [...]. The notions of 'novel', 'tragedy', 'drama', 'Wagnerian opera', 'sociology', 'economics',"romanticism," "function," "structure" are also words of this nature. This does not prevent us "from being able in many cases to use them with complete certainty. An understanding of the family resemblances of science would thus enable us to grasp the meaning of this notion with no more - or less - difficulty than that of "romance" or "drama." It is these family resemblances that the definition proposed abovetries clumsily to capture the notion of science.
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