I want to know is there a unite definition of "science"? my guess is "NO"!

What do philosophers means by science that they can't define it?

what is its difference with knowledge?

  • I'd say science is more a search for understanding rather than mere knowledge. Apr 17, 2022 at 11:56
  • Science is a methodology and philosophical framework for developing and refining theories. Its primary output, other than the theories themselves, is levels of subjective confidence in the theories. If you want to accept that as "knowledge" then I guess that's a question of semantics, but if anyone makes a claim of the form "We know X from science" then either they are being (understandably, conventionally) imprecise, or they don't understand science. Either way, science and knowledge are altogether different things, not really mutually comparable. Apr 17, 2022 at 13:33
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    See popper’s falsificationism… Apr 17, 2022 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


Science can be defined by its method. In short, the method is:

  • Observing phenomena,
  • elaborating a theory for explanation,
  • deriving observable results from the theory,
  • testing the results,
  • accepting or refuting the theory,
  • when accepted then repeat all steps.

A typical science is physics, the method of physics is exemplified by quantum mechanics (QM):

  • Observation of spectral lines of light,
  • developing the concepts and the mathematical basis of QM,
  • solving the Schroedinger equation to obtain the frequency of the spectral lines of hydrogenlike atoms
  • precise measurement of spectral lines,
  • accepting QM, refining and generalizing QM to quantum electrodynamics,
  • repeat all steps at higher energies and with different types of interaction.

Scientific knowledge is the content of accepted scientific theories. But in general, the scope of 'knowledge' is considered much broader than scientific knowledge. In any case I consider a necessary condition for knowledge the ability to provide reasons for knowledge claims.

For more detailed information and the philosophical aspects of science see Plato Encyclopedia: science or knowledge.

For a nice introduction to the different aspects of knowledge see also the beginning of Aristotle's 'Metaphysics'.

Added the loop in reply to a comment.

  • "A typical science is physics" But there is almost no observing in theoretical physics. So theoretical physics is not science?
    – C.F.G
    Apr 16, 2022 at 21:53
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    @C.F.G Theoretical physics is part of physics. Results in physics are obtained by theoretical physics and by experimental physics, sometimes in the form of answer and reply, sometimes as joint work.
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 16, 2022 at 21:59
  • Hmm ... so mathematics is not science? in history, mathematics grew up by observing phenomena like Pythagorean triangle, but nowadays it is told that it is based on some postulates. So math was science in past centuries and today is not? that is ridiculous.
    – C.F.G
    Apr 17, 2022 at 9:21
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    @C.F.G. I am not quite sure whether 'science' is a synonym for 'natural science' in British English and in American English. - In any case, mathematics is a formal science like logic. It aims on discovering the structure of and the relation between abstract concepts. But mathematics can be used also as the language to formalize mature natural sciences. - Different than natural science mathematics does not aim at explaining observed phenomena. Not every discovery, e.g. mathematical discoveries like Pythagoras' theorem - is an observation.
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 17, 2022 at 11:43
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    I liked this answer BUT you left out a bullet point. If we numbered the bullet points on order as you wrote them [you wrote a sum of 5] I would ADD "repeat process over again: repeat steps 1 to 5." In this way science is a life time process. If new information becomes available the new generation of scientists should be able to add to Knowledge. If we leave off the repeat process how do we add new breakthroughs? Perhaps experts evaluate a theory and 20 years later we recognize the experts made a mistake. We need the ability to adjust.
    – Logikal
    Apr 17, 2022 at 22:01

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