July 23, 2024

The Weight That Science Carries

Understanding science is not always an easy task. The word “science” itself carries a great amount of weight which might not be easy to fully grasp or break down. While the dictionary definition of the word “science” is, overall, quite comprehensive, it does not encompass all that science is in our society. Yet, for the purpose of defining the word in a clear and concise way to include in the dictionary, the definition of “science” definitely serves its purpose. As in Monday’s lecture videos, one can begin with dissecting the New Oxford American Dictionary definition of “science”.

Science, per the dictionary, is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” (The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005). To understand science as an intellectual activity, one must first define what an intellectual activity is. An intellectual activity, in the lens of a psychological phenomenon, is a meaningful function of mind (Burgin). Science can be referred to as an intellectual activity in two contexts: relative to the result and relative to the means (Burgin). Science, as a result, is a meaningful contribution of understanding and knowledge to the world. Science can be classified as a productive intellectual activity because, in general, its contribution to the world is beneficial (Burgin). Science, as a means, is most likely in reference to the scientific method. Through observation and experimentation, science is a means of intellectual activity.

Science must also be interpreted in the context of its existence as a practical activity. As practical work, science is an activity that requires observation and manipulation of the real objects and materials being studied (Millar, 2004). Science as a practical activity is an extensive process, however. Not only does it require the actual labor and data collection that is inherently part of the scientific method, but, as a practical activity, it requires considerable analysis. The observations and measurements recorded need to be, essentially, scrutinized. Data is meaningless if one does not take the time to determine what it could actually mean and the implications that new knowledge could have on society at large. Throughout the process of discussing and dissecting the results of the practical activity, the identification of patterns, correlations, and trends, may occur (Millar, 2004). One might argue that the actual data evaluation is more important than the data collection itself. Still, both processes are essential to the makeup of science itself as a practical activity.

In regards to the rest of the definition of the word “science”, it is pretty straight forward. Referring to science as “the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment[ation]” is to acknowledge that science looks at relationships, attempts to identify causes and effects, and aims to draw conclusions based on the evidence it gathers (Sablynski, 2006). Although the dictionary definition of “science” does not incorporate all of the components that comprise science, it is, to an extent, a comprehensive definition of the word. After further breaking down the definition and explaining the nature of science as an intellectual activity and as a practical activity, one can gain an in-depth understanding about science and, perhaps, even be able to answer the question, “What is science?”.


Burgin, M. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.math.ucla.edu/~mburgin/res/PsPed/IntAc.htm#:~:text=According to this definition, intellectual,efficient means for its study.&text=Measures and methods of evaluation of intellectual activity are considered.

Millar, R. (2004, October). The role and purpose of practical work in the teaching and … Retrieved from https://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/dbassesite/documents/webpage/dbasse_073330.pdf

Sablynski, C. J. (2006). Management and Organization Concepts Chapter 1 Course Notes. Retrieved from https://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/sablynskic/chap1.htm

The New Oxford American Dictionary. (2005). Oxford University Press.

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