A Bridge with Two Vague Edges: Science with History or Science History

Taşköprülüzâde, the famous philosopher and teacher ( müderris) of the reign of Süleyman the Lawgiver (mid-16th century), emphasized that the theoretical/rational pattern of understanding “of the Being, of the beings, and of Man as such” is peculiar only to the human kind, and this pattern of understanding is not dependent on time, space, race or religion. On the contrary, it is supra-racial and supra-religious, and therefore, it is in fact for the whole humanity. So, the definition of this pattern of understanding by a culture and civilization indicated the pattern of knowing of that particular culture and civilization. The content of this pattern is determined by the necessities and demands of that culture and civilization. Hence, what one has to pay attention in the history of science studies is not the search for any defined pattern of knowing in the past, but it is exactly the theoretical/rational pattern of understanding of a given culture and civilization. Then, as a second stage, one can look at whether this theoretical/rational pattern of understanding can be found in other civilizations. In fact, the value of the accumulated knowledge concerning the patterns of understanding Being, beings and man as such will differ across time. As Bohr stated, “today's science is tomorrow's legend”. The purpose of history of science is, in some respect, should be the identification, description and comprehension of the content of one's theoretical/rational pattern of understanding in historical context. In Europe, history of science was developed in order to close the gap between science (explanation) and history (understanding), that is to say to reconcile two distinct cultures; and it became a bridge that combined the two edges of the gap. For us, however, history of science is a discipline which will, in a specific historical era, enable us to determine, describe, and comprehend “the way we understand the Being, the beings, and the man as such theoretically/rationally”; as well as make us overcome the problem of self-confidence in the way to understand. The utmost necessity for reaching this target is to make researches and studies in the light of scientific criteria. Therefore, the chairs of history of science both in Istanbul and Ankara Universities have to upgrade as separate departments. Various sciences, with references to their histories, must be taught in the primary and secondary schools; and finally, the history of science must be given room in the university curriculum as a separate course. To know our patterns of theoretical/rational understanding of the Being, of the beings, and of man as such, through the discipline of “history of science,” is the first condition for understanding why one has to know anyway.


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