Biology, Biologists, & Bioscience

Biology, Biologists, & Bioscience - Biology,...

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Introduction In this lecture topic we will be looking at the history of biology as a science. You’ll be surprised to find out that it’s actually a very young science that was only defined at the start of the 19 th century. What may surprise you more is that the great scientific revolution of the renaissance had very little to do with the natural sciences and everything to do with the physical sciences of physics, mechanics, mathematics and astronomy. As we cover the material in the lecture we’ll trace the history of “naturalist” thinking from the early Greek philosophers (400 BCE) through to the modern day to understand that most of the big events in biology have happened after 1850 and in the 20 th century. Along the way we’ll see that science is done very differently between the physical and natural sciences and these differences were responsible for the delay in recognition of biological thought as a scientific discipline. How biology was done also changes over time and we’ll see how the dichotomy between empirical, experimental, proximate causation and the inductive historical narrative of ultimate causation have been aligned in the experimental method used by biologists today. Why biology is such a young science sitting on the doorstep of becoming the science of the twenty-first century should become clear by the time we get to the end of this lecture topic. A brief history of science and 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 Theophrastus studied plants and nine of his ten books on plant biology survive today. He also catalogued plants based on their reproductive structure and is given the title "Father of taxonomy" for his work. Wikimedia Commons
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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
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This note was uploaded on 12/03/2011 for the course SCIENCE BIO1130 taught by Professor Fenwick during the Spring '11 term at University of Ottawa.

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Biology, Biologists, & Bioscience - Biology,...

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