Saturday, May 01, 2010

Medieval Science

In writing a new introductory section on Works on Medieval Science for Medieval Writing, it occurred to me how entangled we get in matters of definition. Today we confine science to meaning knowledge that has been acquired by what we now define as the scientific method. In the middle ages it just meant knowledge, not separated from philosophy or religion and not requiring rigorous standards of testing or proof, just a good pedigree in the annals of scholarship.
Of course, in our modern times every day the media trumpets a new piece of data of dubious provenance, draws an untenable conclusion, and then spouts "Science proves ........". That is entirely ignoring the scientific method. When science becomes religion we might as well be in the middle ages.