Science

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(From L. scientiam). Cognitive and research activity that produces reasoned knowledge. Those who practice s. are designated scientists. The field of s. consists of the elements of specific scientific knowledge, its conceptual apparatus, methods of research, and a rigorous system of information. It also includes scientific publications, instruments, as well as research and educational institutions. Traditionally, according to the subject of study we distinguish between the exact sciences (mathematics, logic, etc.), the natural sciences, which are concerned with the study of nature (animal, plants and minerals), and the humanities, which study arts and letters. Some elements of scientific knowledge and scientific methods were developed in antiquity (particularly in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, pre-Columbian America, Greece, Rome and Byzantium) and others during the Middle Ages. In the modern age after the seventeenth century, however, with what is called the scientific revolution based on an experimental base and the inductive method, s. diverged from theology and became an autonomous branch of study and activity, breaking with the Scholastic method. In the twentieth century, along with increasing differentiation of scientific disciplines, a growing importance has also been accorded to the processes of integration, interdisciplinary and systems studies, and modeling. Obviously, s. is historical and progresses in accordance with the social process in general. This fact, which is often overlooked, leads to many errors of understanding. It is well known that the s. of one epoch becomes corrected or contradicted by new knowledge, so that one cannot speak rigorously of a definitive s. as if it were something enshrined forever with its great principles and conclusions. In this sense, it is more prudent to speak of the “present state of the sciences.” The field of epistemology focuses on these and other problems, engaging in critical study of the development, methods and results of the sciences. S. is meant to serve the human being, human development, and harmony between humanity and nature. Unfortunately, up to this point many scientific discoveries have been applied more for destructive than creative purposes. In general, there are greater concentrations of high technology (*) in the military-industrial complex than elsewhere; the social sciences, far from contributing to the humanization of life, moral improvement and human solidarity, are today used to manipulate the social consciousness and behavior of the masses, reinforcing the power of the oligarchies and bureaucratic institutions. Meanwhile, all of culture, education, the socialization of the personality and social progress depend on the level of development of s. and, in the long run, on the degree to which s. is given a humanist or anti-humanist orientation.