What is Science?

Science is a human concern seeking the understanding of the world. Science sits alongside other human concerns such as art, religion and ethics. In the same manner that art is the expression of creativity and has many forms, science is the expression of human curiosity and has multiple methods. Science is not directly concerned with the truth but with meaning.

Science is not an end, but a process and is conformes of multiple methodologies; empirical science is done by observing and describing the natural phenomena; the hypothetic—deductive method is based on experimental verification of theoretical induction, and the modern interpretation of the scientific method is based on Popper’s principle of falsification which requires that any scientific discovery must have the potential to be refuted by new evidence.  There are two limitations here, the first one is Hume’s criticism of the principle of induction which limits science to the realm of what can be subject to experimentation. The second limitation is the principle of falsification which cannot be subject to its own scrutiny. As Koestler pointed out in his defence of the study of paranormal phenomena, the scientific method excludes a-priory what it cannot study.

Science can be compared to stone sculpture to provide further insights. The artist chips away irrelevant material to release a particular form in the same way as the scientist discards falsified hypotheses until consistent support for a given theory emerges.  In both cases the work stops when a meaningful outcome is revealed, but nothing prevents further work. In the sculpture case the stone does not conceal an ideal sculpture; the artist is free to create any object they desire. In the science case the theory thus produced stands for as long as it is useful and not false.

In both cases the work produced has a particular meaning as interpreted by the observer, neither is an absolute true nor a necessary ending.  The purpose of Science is not to find truth, but to remove falsehood. From that process meaning emerges.


Orestes N, 2021 ‘Is Science Actually “Right”?’, Scientific American, vol 78, No 1, pp 325

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