2 Replies Latest reply on May 8, 2014 11:41 AM by rturullo@austinisd.org

    There is science, for there are sciences, but is there a science?


      Welcome to the Dialogue of friends science salon should you care to chime in.

      Let me put the guiding question "There is science, for there are sciences, but is there a science?" in the following terms.

      If we have a stack of textbooks, say, of biology, Shakespeare, algebra, world history, and so on, and are asked to select the science textbook; nobody would have any problem in selecting biology as the science textbook.

      Now what if we have a second stack of textbooks with, say, of biology, chemistry, and physics, and were likewise asked to select the science textbook; here we would say that all are science textbooks. But there is also another interpretation to the question being asked, I am not asking for a science textbook, but for the science textbook.

      Evidently that three could not be "the" science textbook, for this need be only one. So which is it of the three textbooks in the second stack which is the science textbook? Again, it seems to me to be the case that none of the science textbooks is the science textbook, however much all are science textbooks.

      Hope this conveys the conundrum that one is herein facing of identifying what science is, to begin with. Certainly not a trivial matter, I would think. What do you make of it, please let me know.

      Thanks, Ricardo


      (Allow me to introduce myself: I teach science at Travis County Juvenile Detention Center, AustinISD. On the side I have the hobby of writing non-fiction non-factual eBooks. This is a new genre that certainly goes beyond the positive and tries to take critical thinking to the next level, namely, inquiry or creative thinking. I have a few works at Amazon, but the one which as science teacher most concerns us is my latest one entitled "Triadity - teaching science the way we learn life". Therein we try to respond to the question of this elusive science alluded to above.)

        • Re: There is science, for there are sciences, but is there a science?


          What a wonderful question. This question can really be asked of any discipline. To determine which is "the" one, we have to agree on what each one is, and also admit our background when we view these words.


          Using Google:

          Biology the study of living organisms, divided into many specialized fields that cover their morphology, physiology, anatomy, behavior, origin, and distribution.

          Chemistry: the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances.

          Physics: the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics, distinguished from that of chemistry and biology, includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.


          Some thoughts: In many schools Biology is taught first with Physics being last. Is this because Biology is the easiest to comprehend? Is this because Biology is the minimum amount of Science we want students to know if they do not continue in the field? Is this because Biology is needed to comprehend the others, so it is the basic building block of all Sciences, making it the "one"?


          Or is it Physics? To understand the depth of this Science, you need the basics of the others.


          So to consider your question in a slightly different twist: Is "the" Science the basic building block (Biology) or the culmination of knowledge (Physics)?



          • Re: There is science, for there are sciences, but is there a science?

            Hi Stacy:

                  Sorry it took me so long to reply; I was finishing writing an e-book and
            could not afford to be distracted, but let me tell you about it for it answers the
            question posed in this venue regarding the nature of science. Firstly, the e-book

            is at Amazon since cinco de mayo in Spanish also and is entitled

            "Reconstitution - from brokenness to wholeness, by triads", with subtitle which

            only appears on the cover page as "Self, Education, and City in a culture of dialogue

            and consensus".

                   I could not condense a 350 page story unto a paragraph if my life depended
            on it. What you could do instead is find the e-book on the site then click
            where it says "See inside", and therein you'll have access to the
            first seventeen pages or so, including the Table of Contents, and this should
            suffice to give you an idea as to what these Triads are all about. It covers
            physics, biology, chemistry, math, social studies, and much broader topics as

                   Nonetheless, I’ll say just a few words about what triads mean. Essentially the
            idea is that everything is made up of three parts, as in three-in-one. This
            notion comes down from the Pythagoreans, early scientists in Ancient Greece who
            combined philosophy with mathematics, as in Ion of Chios who stated it plain
            vanilla terms as that “The beginning of my work is: everything is three and nothing
            more nor less than three. The virtue of everything is a triad: intelligence, strength,
            and fortune.” (DK36B1)

                  A few examples might help to clarify things a bit. Take the case of our
            familiar three laws of motion of Newton, this actually is the Triad law of
            Motion; likewise in the case of the cell theory of biology, it consists in a
            triad of postulates. In social studies we have the cry of the French
            Revolution, “Liberté, égalité, et fraternité”, and from psychology more recently we

            have Freud’s ego, id, and superego. The list goes on and on, but the point isn’t the

            laundry list, but rather, how this could help fix our broken educational system, taking

            the triads as cornerstone from science on upwards.

                  I have been teaching science topics to my at-risk students using this
            resource, and if you ask me this is precisely what we need to actually be able
            to do whole-science inquiry. At the same time the triads has the virtue that it
            provides our kids with a tool which allows them to discover the world on their
            own behalf.

                  One recommendation, do approach it without labeling and let us know how it

                  Yours truly, Ricardo