1.2 Linking Past with Present
Why Search the Past What is History of Science
1.3 Some Aspects of Science
The Institution of Science The Method of Science The Tradition of Science The Social Function of Science
1.4 Summary 1.5 Terminal Questions 1.6 Answers
Science is a human endeavour. Human beings, from prehistoric times, attempted to control nature for their own welfare. For this, they had to observe and understand nature. Out of such an understanding, they found the means to make nature yield goods according to their needs. While this understanding led to useful applications, it also opened up further questions and avenues of enquiry, enriching the stock of knowledge. And this. in turn, led to improved techniques for satisfying their needs. This process of understanding nature and using that understanding to control nature, is what may be called "science". The process is certainly not without ups and downs. The story of the ups and downs in science, as it grew in society, is very interesting. As we have said earlier, in this block we shall relate this story. But surely, by now, you may be wondering why you should know the history of science. And, for that matter, you may ask, what do we mean by the 'history' of science? Will it mean memorising a lot of dates, names and places? Well, in the first unit we'll provide you with the answers to these questions. We will also discuss, in brief, some aspects of science in the present-day society. The roots of science, as we know it today, lie in the life of primitive human beings. Therefore, in the next unit, we shall start the story of science right from the beginning, that is, from the dawn of human society. We shall see how the transition from a primitive society to an agricultural society had led to the birth of science and how it grew in the ancient world.
After studying this unit you should be able to : explain why one should be aware of the history of science, explain what is meant by the history of science, describe some aspects of science in the present-day society.
1.2 LINKING PAST WITH PRESENT
The history of human civilisation shows that the progress of science has not always been steady. There were tremendous advances in mathematics in India about 2000 years ago, and in medicine about 2500 years ago. But, no comparable developments have taken place here in the last 2000 years. When sophisticated calculations and observations were being made In India in ancient times, Europe generally was in the primitive stage. On the other hand, while India was being ruled and exploited by the British, there was a flowering of the
History of Science
Industrial Revolution in Europe. The picture is complex, but we cannot deny that science and human affairs are closely connected and together they give rise to, what we call, human civilisation. Today, many questions related-tc life and happiness, like the following, worry us. i) How is it that, in spite of the development of science and technology in our country, the vast majority of our people do not even have clean drinking water, basic health care, or the simplest facilities for education? Why is it that only a tiny minority enjoys the fruits of science and technology? While the latest techniques of surgery are available to a tifiy minority, most people do not get even basic medical care. Why are essential medicines so expensive in our country?
ii) How is it that our science and technology is not as advanced as that in the West or in the socialist countries? In spite of glorious beginnings thousands of years ago, why have we fallen so far behind? iii) How is it that a group of countries in the West have advanced and sophisticated machines, excellent health care, and good standards of !iving, while we do not have these? iv) Is it true, as some in our country now say, and...