Stages of a science

Based on the most developed sciences, physics and chemistry, I suggest each science eventually goes through the following five stages:

Stage 1. The Nascent Stage is characterized by monistic ideas such as ‘everything is a form of water’ (e.g., Thales).

Stage 2. The Classical Stage is characterized by unaided observation and commonplace ideas such as things are a combination of water, air, earth, and fire (the Bible* and Aristotle).  *I think this reflects the language used in the Bible, not the level of truth implicit in it.

Stage 3. The Pre-Modern Stage is characterized by unsystematic experiments and mystical ideas (e.g., alchemy).

Stage 4. The Modern Stage is characterized additionally by systematic experiments and inductive generalizations (e.g., Galileo, Newton).

Stage 5. The Post-Modern Stage is characterized additionally by thought experiments and grand syntheses (e.g., relativity, quantum mechanics).

I would place biology, geology, and cosmology in Stage 3. For example, as alchemists dreamed of transmuting base metals into gold, so Darwinists dream of transmuting lower species into humans. Stage 4 biology is just beginning.

Let me add that earlier stages are not necessarily wrong, only limited. Later stages show the limitations of previous stages.

November 2014