3. Physical sciences and the natural sciences

3 Physical - Physical sciences and the natural sciences There is a very distinct difference between how a physical scientist approaches science

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Physical sciences and the natural sciences There is a very distinct difference between how a physical scientist approaches science compared to a natural scientist, and for many years natural sciences were grouped under the derogatory term of the “descriptive sciences” because their work did not involve the type of “mathematics” associated with the physical sciences. Part of the problem is that natural scientists are working with a more variable world of living, animate objects compared to the uniformity of inanimate objects of the physical sciences. Physical, chemical and mechanical laws acted on these inanimate objects that all behaved the same. The natural world of course behaves according to the chemical and physical laws, and the chemical reactions and structural matter of the living world falls right in line. The difference between the two can be seen in how each group viewed the living world. Physicalists felt that all living things, with the exception of human, were machines and that it should be possible to reduce the machines into the various parts that made the whole machine work. The natural scientists, vitalists, didn’t agree and they felt that there was something special about living things compared to the inanimate world –they had a vital essence of life but beyond that they couldn’t explain what it was in a way that would satisfy the reductionist views of the physicalists. This divide between the two sciences would continue for literally hundreds of years until the underlying genetics of what that vital life force was discovered. Around 1930 the best of the two views of life were combined in the organacists (holistic)
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2010 for the course BIO Bio1130 taught by Professor Houseman during the Fall '09 term at University of Ottawa.

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3 Physical - Physical sciences and the natural sciences There is a very distinct difference between how a physical scientist approaches science

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