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Title: Science and history
Authors: Mason, Stephen F.
Keywords: Science and civilization
Issue Date: 1991
Publisher: Upper Secondary School Valletta
Citation: Mason, S.F. (1991). Science and history. Hyphen, 6(6), 249-255
Abstract: If we wish to define what science has been and what it has accomplished historically, we find it difficult to formulate a definition which holds for all times and places. The sciences of the bronze-age civilizations differed markedly in character from those of the ancient Greeks, while Greek science possessed only some of the many-sided attributes displayed by science in the modern world. Behind the changing character of science throughout the ages, thee has been an element of continuity, for the men of each period have developed and enlarged some aspect of the science bequeathed to them. Accordingly, we may perhaps say that science is a human activity developing an historically cumulative body of inter-related techniques, empirical knowledge, and theories, referring to the natural world. The American authority upon the history of science, Sarton, indeed considers that in this respect science is 'the only human activity which is truly cumulative and progressive'. But only part of science has been cumulative up to the present time, namely, its practical techniques and its empirical facts and laws. Judged by a long time scale, the theories of science have been ephemeral hitherto. The laws of levers and of the reflection of light, known to the Greeks, have become part of the permanent heritage of science, but the scientific theories of the Greeks are only of historical interest. Similarly, given a continuance of the present tempo of scientific activity, we can hardly suppose that any of the scientific theories of today will remain unmodified for long.
Appears in Collections:Hyphen, Volume 6, No. 6 (1991)
Hyphen, Volume 6, No. 6 (1991)

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