Organismal biology - A brief history of science and biology...

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biology To understand why Biology has been described as the science of the 21 st century we need to look back at the history of science and advances in biological, or as it was called way back, natural sciences. Biology’s history falls into four major periods starting from 400 BCE until the start of the medieval ages (middle ages) and the fall of Rome as the dominant civilization in 450 CE. Science of the medieval ages differs in the Christian European world, where there is little or no progress, and the Muslim world where the works of the Greek and Roman philosophers are the springboard for the golden age of Islam. Major advances with the scientific revolution of the 16 th to 18 th century’s herald the start of the Modern age of science in the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Greek philosophers believed that the world had existed forever and had never changed and three of these philosophers make first contributions to an understanding of the living world. They include: Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) in the area of medicine and human biology; Aristotle (382-322 BCE), a student of Plato (384-322 BCE), in the field of zoology and Theophrastus (371-287 BCE), a botanist and student of Aristotle. Right from the start human biology was considered different from any other sciences and it would be so for a long time. Aristotle was one of the great philosophers of the period and among his surviving works is “The history of animals”. Not as familiar as Hippocrates or Aristotle is Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle. His surviving publications include books on the growth and use of plants and a system for categorizing plants based on their reproductive strategy that garners him the title of the “father of taxonomy”. Each of these works are lists or catalogues of the living world that really didn’t address the biology of the organisms themselves. This is because the Greek philosophers all believed Plato’s ideal that all organisms were unchanged unique types and their differences could be attributed to a special internal “essence”, a philosophy called essentialism. In addition to his other works Aristotle tried to organize the living world in his scala naturae where the gods, were at the top of the great chain of being with humans underneath them. At the bottom was the inert world and the elements; and in between all the other types of living things . With Fall of Rome under the attack of the Germanic Goths the western world falls into disarray and the medieval age starts. Theophrastus studied plants and nine of his ten books on plant biology survive today. He also catalogued
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Organismal biology - A brief history of science and biology...

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