Is science a living language of nature?

What IS science?

A standard form of scientific procedure is the making of a prediction and the testing of it by experiment. These features of inquiry are distinctive of science; they are what make an enquiry scientific in the modern sense of this word.

A.C. Grayling. 2010 (p. 328 ) Ideas that Matter: A personal guide for the 21st Century. Pub. Orion Books Ltd. London

In Challenges for Einstein’s Children: Keith Roby’s Vision of Science in Community Life (Ed. Ian Barnes, Pub. 1984), scientist Keith Roby defines science more in terms of a belief system than a method. His writing is poetic, but is it useful? It may be useful for inspiring feelings of connection to the environment, but not useful for understanding how science is practiced. My observation of many scientists is that they aim to understand physical and biological processes, not to ‘attempt to become one with Nature’. However, such beliefs (that we are one with nature) may provide ways to interpret science, but belief is not science.

Who has authority to define science? Clearly scientists define it differently. Roby defines science as ‘a response to Nature’, ‘a search for unity and pattern’, ‘an attempt to become one with Nature’ and ‘a living language of Nature’. He writes,

We are told to operate by Scientific method
The painstaking collection of facts
The repeated performance of experiment
Until generalizations emerge.
But is this really how scientists operate?
Does it do justice to the search for pattern, the
imagination, the construction of language to describe?
Does it allow for the way we are intimately bound
up with what we describe, the unity-in-estrangement of man and nature?
Science is a response to Nature, leaping in
imagination from the mind of the scientist.
Science is a search, not for certainty which is never
reached, but for unity and pattern in the universe,
pattern which is continually being modified.
Science is the attempt to become one with Nature
in knowledge and understanding.
Science is not a model, but a living language of Nature!
(p. xi)

About Lisa Roberts

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3 Responses to Is science a living language of nature?

  1. Lisa Roberts says:

    I have found and am now reading Chalmer’s book What is this thing called science? on Google Books. Thanks Haydn. This is poetry of a different nature. William Strunk would be pleased with the style.

  2. lisa says:

    I see great beauty in Roby’s definition of science, although it does not define science as I understand it is practiced.

    I agree with Haydn that science should be a ‘living language’ – by which I mean a language that most people use and have a feeling for what it describes.

  3. My father, an astronomer, engineer, inventor, humanist, had decided
    his favourite word was ‘realisation’, a process of enjoying epiphany,
    a sense of wonder; a oneness with the form of idea

    Loved yr link to the definition of science. it has a beauty in its explanation.

    Perhaps HW can provide Chalmers quote?