As a student studying the natural sciences, I find it interesting to see how our current “knowledge” came to be. We’re all familiar with the musings of ancient Greek philosophers and the ground-breaking thinking of 20th century scientists, but how exactly did all of this unfold? I see the advancement as follows:
Philosophy —> Mathematics —> Physics —> Chemistry —> Biology
Now while each of the aforementioned schools of thought has numerous divisions, I’ve outlined the overall trend as I see it. As the diagram suggests, I firmly believe that while philosophy may have jump-started the advancement of thought, mathematics and physics were the first true subjects which gave rise to evidence-based reasoning.
Philosophy basically placed everything on the table. It gave rise to a multitude of questions which required a structured and logical method of analyzing and explaining (aka, the “scientific method”). Mathematics evolved as a result of early philosophers defining the parameters by which to “prove” something.
Einstein, Newton, Feynman, Maxwell, Dirac, and a host of other physicists employed the unchanging and predictable nature of mathematics to elegantly explain the cosmos. We routinely use their equations to understand the nature of gravity, matter, energy, light, and a vast array of other facets in the universal framework.
The foundation of chemistry is based directly on the findings of physics, and biology based on the findings of chemistry. An interesting observation is that as you work your way from philosophy towards biology, you narrow the scope of abstract thinking and become more concrete. For example, topics in philosophy have no “real” answer, but biology consists mainly of verifiable facts.
So what do you think? Is there a more appropriate evolution of science?
I’ll bite and nitpick: Physics and chemistry didn’t make their connection until fairly recently. Before then, most chemistry could rightly be called “alchemy” and was something of an experimental art but still a decent field, so while we find their connections later on (and as they stand, they’re still incomplete) I don’t believe you can say chemistry “evolved” out of physics, they’re more like brothers who thought they were strangers and found out later in life.
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