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Is all scientific knowledge rendered obsolete over time, rather than science being an linear accumulation of knowledge?


For example Aristotelian mechanics gave way to Newtonian mechanics, and in time Quantum mechanics will make Newtonian mechanics obsolete. 

Update 2:

This is in the philosophy section because it concerns the philosophy of science. 

Update 3:

Good point about optics. Obviously, different branches of science have different epistemologies. 

11 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    If you haven't read it already, you might be interested in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. His argument was that science is basically a puzzle solving exercise and that a paradigm will be dominant for as long as it helps scientists solve the problems that they're working on. When it fails to do that consistently and the field enters a state of crisis, the field is ripe for a paradigm shift. The new paradigm may actually have less explanatory power than the old one in some ways, but that doesn't really matter as long as it helps scientists solve the problems that they're currently working on. So if Kuhn is correct, yes, much knowledge eventually becomes obsolete, but not all of it. He mentioned the field of optics as one where scientists consistently solved all the problems they were working on, so they abandoned it, and it became a sub field of engineering. 

  • 1 month ago

    Scienticfic knowledge based on physics is just sheer wastage of time "whatever teacher teaches does not make any sense only commonsense is useful because the simple answer is: THE CURSE IS TRUE: "THE WORDS FLOWING OUT OF MOUTH ARE TRUE: JESUS & PETER  HAD A PEN WHEN THEY WERE CRUCIFIED SO THEY BECAME GOD"  

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Exactly.  Don't change a thing.  Me and BillyBob was talking about that at the bar last night.

  • Herve
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    'Aristotelian mechanics gave way to Newtonian mechanics, and in time Quantum mechanics will make Newtonian mechanics obsolete.'

    Where's your evidence QM will make Newtonian mechanics obsolete? They deal with vastly different realms.

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  • 1 month ago

    Oh knock off the horseshit.  Science does one and only one thing.  It looks for a question that is better than the last question. 

  • 1 month ago

    When you live raising kids that swallow whole mathematical concepts that are so far over our heads.  To them everything we know in science can be fit into one tiny little nerve cell in their brains.  What the rest of their brains are doing goes so far beyond science that it will take a billion years to even understand what they are saying.  

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Take a bow to those behind the COVID19 vaccines 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    a] Why aren't you asking in the SCIENCE  category? 

    b] The reliable crystal ball hasn't been invented

    c] The only thing we know for sure about the future is that if mankind doesn't escape from the planet, eventually our species will die out and all human scientific endeavors will cease, in which case all science knowledge will be irrelevant.

  • 2 months ago

    No.  No scientific knowledge is ever obsolete.  It might be superseded by new, different knowledge, but the old knowledge was what led us to the new knowledge.  ALL real knowledge is empirical, based on experiment and observation, and so long as the laws of nature remain constant, that knowledge will never be wrong or obsolete.

    As for 'linear', well scientific knowledge remained pretty much the same from ancient times until the 17th century.  In less than 400 years we've gone from the earth-centered universe to satellite communications and microprocessors and tokamaks and helicopters on mars!  Science moves so quickly today that scientists can hardly keep up with the new knowledge in their own fields!

  • 2 months ago

    No, it's never obsolete.

    Rarely, things are updated as new discoveries are made - but that's what science is all about, discovering the facts.

    Pre-scientific guesses are things that are made obsolete, such as things like earth air fire and water as "elements".

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