Definition of Science


Feb. 22, 2007

 

This is an age of science. Science is the ruling idea of this century, as religion ruled life in the 15th century. Every aspect of life was then pervaded by religious thought and motive. So it is now with science. Often consciously man likes to adapt his way of life to the scientific mode. When a leading thought rules life, it tries to blend itself with life harmoniously. In such an attempt, the insufficiencies come into conflict with the requirements of life. Science that has served life eminently for long is meeting with one such phenomenon in the context of pollution, nuclear arsenal and global warming. At such moments, a fresh definition of what science is, is called for.

Science is knowledge. Knowledge is power, a power to raise the level of human life. Our quest is limited, limited to Man and his existence. An abstract definition is not our aim which may be philosophically sound, but it is not our aim as it is divorced from life. Knowledge is universal in the sense it covers all the facets of existence from the physical to the spiritual, including life and mind. Knowledge that is all-inclusive will be logical and reasonable. Logic is the instrument of mind and reason has been the instrument that civilized life. Human life has been progressing from the primitive animal man to the modern urban citizen who is civilized and cultured. There are several instruments of this progress such as knowledge, education, language, communication, transport, commerce, arts, organisation, technology, etc. Science emerged in the realm of knowledge and served man as technology. Human life was ruled at various times by various forces. It began with the leadership of the army, moved to religion, money and now science. All these are parts that serve the whole which is life. Now the army has been subordinated to civil authority, religion has gone to the background receiving lip sympathy, money is growing dominant while the thinking of humanity is actively trying to pour itself into the mould of science. Hence its importance. It has become successful and popular as it has enormously enriched life. Fundamental questions arise because of its character of neutrality serving good as well as evil. Also, its achievements have become an obstacle to the further growth of life on earth. So, it becomes necessary to examine the original definition of science in the light of these questions that face humanity.

Some of those questions are:

  1. How do we define science?
  2. What is the point of reference to that definition?
  3. What are the existing definitions?
  4. What is the relation of science with logic and reason?
  5. Can science remain science while it remains a part of life?
  6. Can a part dominate and direct the whole without creating imbalance?
  7. Can science that was born of mind exclude mind from its scope?
  8. Can science that was born to destroy superstition admit superstition of one kind or another in any measure?
  9. How do we understand knowledge that has no power?
  10. Should science have a philosophical basis?
  11. Should philosophy be scientific?
  12. Is it possible for politics, philology, economics to become science?
  13. In future, should science endeavour to make economics, etc. become scientific?
  14. Should science dominate life or should it serve life?
  15. Is it reasonable to demand that science be entirely positive to life, incapable of serving evil.
  16. Can knowledge remain true or powerful if it rejects either objectivity or subjectivity?
  17. Is science obliged to conform to the social preferences?
  18. How does science remain pure and not lose its integrality.
  19. Can science remain abstract?
  20. Can science insist on being partial, say, objective?
  21. What do we mean by science that is comprehensive?
  22. Can we restrict science to life excluding the other aspects of existence?
  23. Is not the essence of Life the goal of knowledge?
  24. Can learning the process of things exhaust the scope of science?
  25. Should not science know the origin of energy?
  26. Can science refuse to discover the process of creation as Buddha refused to inquire into the origin of existence?
  27. Should not science examine the existing theories of creation, be they religious or philosophical?
  28. What are the other questions that are significant to our quest and relevant?

Illustrative answers to these questions:

  1. How do we define science?
  2. Science should be a method of inquiry into the ultimate causes of existence without excluding any aspect of it and should lead to human well being, as it has so far done to human welfare, constantly remaining logical and reasonable.

  1. What is the point of reference to that definition?
  2. God should be the constant point of reference. At least Man should be the central point of reference. A quest which has no such point of reference cannot deserve its name nor will it lead to any goal. Such a quest can lead to a catastrophe.

  1. What are the existing definitions?
  2. It will be useful to conduct research to gather all the existing definitions and examine the roots of these conceptions.

  1. What is the relation of science with logic and reason?
  2. Mind functions with sense data which is a fertile way of fostering superstition. Mind is reasonable by itself. The senses can compromise mind's rationality. Reason becomes intuition when it gives up sensation. Logic is an instrument of Mind. It insists on the right relation between things. Mental logic can be partial. Though Mind is the preeminent instrument of Man, he lives in the field of life whose logic is more comprehensive though inverted. Science must discover the logic of life which has accomplished the civilizations we have.

  1. Can science remain science while it remains a part of life?
  2. For science to deserve its name, it must be able to define every aspect of life in its terms. It is equally true of the aspects of Mind and Spirit.

  1. Can a part dominate and direct the whole without creating imbalance?
  2. A part dominating the whole is the tail wagging the body. It will surely lead to disaster. Disaster can also be described as the whole permitting the part to dominate, as Man becoming a slave of money which is his creation.

  1. Can science that was born of mind exclude mind from its scope?
  2. Science is eminently and fully the creation of Mind. In essence, science is subjective. To refuse to include in its scope subjectivity is to disown its origin.

  1. Can science that was born to destroy superstition admit superstition of one kind or another in any measure?
  2. Any body of knowledge that implicitly or explicitly permits superstition to enter into its domain forfeits its claim to rationality and hence it becomes a disclaimer.

  1. How do we understand knowledge that has no power?
  2. Knowledge that has no power is information, is of the Mind. It is no knowledge.

  1. Should science have a philosophical basis?
  2. The words science and philosophy both mean knowledge. Neither can disown the other. Rather, each should justify itself on the basis of the other.

  1. Should philosophy be scientific?
  2. Yes.

  1. Is it possible for politics, philology, economics to become science?
  2. It is possible and it must be possible if the scope of science embraces the field of life. Then it becomes the science of life.

  1. In future, should science endeavour to make economics, etc. become scientific?
  2. Every branch of knowledge must become scientific. Scales, measurements, definitions are necessary to achieve it.

  1. Should science dominate life or should it serve life?
  2. Science can dominate Life when it transcends Life, not when it is a part of life.

  1. Is it reasonable to demand that science be entirely positive to life, incapable of serving evil.
  2. We do not accept a neutral government that can serve the good citizen as well as the robber. The government must be entirely positive. As the government is an instrument created by the society, SCIENCE is a tool created by the society. It is imperative that science should NOT allow itself to be used for Evil.

  1. Can knowledge remain true or powerful if it rejects either objectivity or subjectivity?
  2. Partial knowledge is no knowledge. It can serve the negative side. Knowledge should be powerful. It will be powerful when it is complete including the subjective and objective parts.

  1. Is science obliged to conform to the social preferences?
  2. Society is part of Life. Though science is created by the society by conforming to social preferences, science will offer a disservice to society. Social conformity is a social superstition.

  1. How does science remain pure and not lose its integrality.
  2. Purity emerges out of science when it clings to the whole - the whole of Existence.

  1. Can science remain abstract?
  2. Remaining abstract, science becomes partial and gives up life.

  1. Can science insist on being partial, say, objective?
  2. Insistence generates violence which announces its incapacity.

  1. What do we mean by science that is comprehensive?
  2. Science will be comprehensive when it can explain every detail of life as well as existence according to its rules. At that point, science will have the capacity to destroy evil and its roots in Man.

  1. Can we restrict science to life excluding the other aspects of existence?
  2. No.

  1. Is not the essence of Life the goal of knowledge?
  2. Process which is the forte of science has a utility. It is the essence of things that is of the Origin. Process helps make a thing. Knowledge of the essence enables one to create a thing or transmute one into another.

  1. Can learning the process of things exhaust the scope of science?
  2. It stops in the middle.

  1. Should not science know the origin of energy?
  2. It must.

  1. Can science refuse to discover the process of creation as Buddha refused to inquire into the origin of existence?
  2. Science must endeavour to know the process of creation. It will help close the gaps in the theory of evolution. Process of creation is the same as process of accomplishment.

  1. Should not science examine the existing theories of creation, be they religious or philosophical?
  2. Ignoring the existing theories of creation is to be an obscurantist.

  1. What are the other questions that are significant to our quest and relevant?
  2. Sri Aurobindo wrote in 1920. How can the world be oblivious of it until now?


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