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Encyclopedia > Natural philosopher

Natural philosophy is a term applied to the objective study of nature and the physical universe before the development of modern science.

In other words, all forms of science historically developed out of philosophy or more specifically natural philosophy. At older universities, long-established Chairs of Natural Philosophy are nowadays occupied mainly by professors of physics.

Natural philosophy was the term whose usage preceded our current term science in the sense that prior to the replacement of the term "natural philosophy" with the term science, the term science was used exclusively (and comparatively rarely) as a synonym for knowledge or study and when the subject of that knowledge or study was 'the workings of nature', then the term "natural philosophy" would be used.

Robert Boyle wrote what is considered to be a seminal work on the distinction between nature and metaphysics called A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature. This book, written in 1686, marks the point where the scene is set for natural philosophy to turn into science.

  Results from FactBites:
MSN Encarta - Search View - Philosophy (14224 words)
The truths of natural science and philosophy are discovered by reasoning from facts of experience, whereas the tenets of revealed religion, the doctrine of the Trinity, the creation of the world, and other articles of Christian dogma are beyond rational comprehension, although not inconsistent with reason, and must be accepted on faith.
Natural science at this time was striding ahead, relying on sense perception as well as reason, and thereby discovering the universal laws of nature and physics.
Derrida originated the philosophical method of deconstruction, a system of analysis that assumes a text has no single, fixed meaning, both because of the inadequacy of language to express the author’s original intention and because a reader’s understanding of the text is culturally conditioned—that is, influenced by the culture in which the reader lives.
Natural philosopher - encyclopedia article about Natural philosopher. (1162 words)
Nature is the subject of scientific study, and the history of the concept is linked to the history of science.
An important distinguishing characteristic of science and natural philosophy is the fact that natural philosophers generally did not feel compelled test their ideas in a practical way.
Although Galileo's 'natural philosophy' is hardly distinguishable from science in many ways, the connection between his experiments and his writings about them is characteristically philosophical, rather than being cluttered with the results of meticulously recorded observational detail of practical scientific research, in the way that Boyle advocated.
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