It is often argued that science is wrong, that science is corrected, that science, if it is dogmatic, is not science. This is not entirely true . Everything depends, of course, on what we consider to be immovable or dogmatic.
Many past models, such as the postulators by Newton, have been found not to be accurate enough … but they remain immovable in the sense that they are still operative in macroscopic bodies. In that sense, are Newtonian principles dogmatic? But it cannot be otherwise because reality is not going to change, it is as it is.
In the same way, science corrects itself, but it does so in many novel advances, paths that are opened that turn out to be unproductive. However, science has already blazed a trail and traveled many miles of roads that will never be retraced again. They are not going to self-correct .
A good example of this is the periodic table of the elements. My favorite example, however, is that of regular polyhedra.
The 5 regular polyhedra
The history of science or scientists are not the same as science. The history of science is more than science, it is also influenced by politics, psychology, and other vagaries and vagaries that make science, in practice, not always "scientific". Similarly, scientists are more than practitioners of science : they are also selfish, lying creatures, prone to self-deception, biased, etc.
With that said, let’s talk about science, and put aside the history of science and scientists. Let’s talk about science itself, at the epistemological level .
One of the most important discoveries. It is attributed to Plato. It is that we know that there can only be five regular polyhedra . It is an impressive discovery of nature. The demonstration, among others, that nature is not chaos. Why 5 and not 7 or 8?
It is a precious topology problem. In 1750, Leonhard Euler wrote his theorem for polyhedra (published later in the work "Elementa doctrinae solidorum" in 1758), which indicates the relationship between the number of faces, edges and vertices of a convex polyhedron.
This constitutes a morphological principle of ontology as important as Aristotle’s theory of hylemorphism (every body is made up of two essential principles, which are matter and form. As any material object has a form, the raw material is the substrate basic to all reality. In the material world, matter cannot exist without form and form cannot exist without matter).
A polyhedron is called regular when it meets the following conditions:
Their faces are regular polygons
The same number of faces concur at each vertex.
There are only five regular polyhedra :
- The tetrahedron formed by 4 faces that are equal equilateral triangles.
- The hexahedron or cube formed by 6 faces that are equal squares.
- The octahedron formed by 8 faces that are equal equilateral triangles.
- The dodecahedron formed by 12 faces that are equal regular pentagons.
- The icosahedron formed by 20 faces that are equal equilateral triangles.
The fact that we have discovered things that are the way they are always like that, that they will always be like that , that they are like that regardless of where in the universe from we contemplate them , that they will be like that for any extraterrestrial entity intelligent enough is, simply, overwhelming, wonderful , exciting.
There is a cure for humility when we discover how deep and oceanic are the gaps of ignorance that we still have to fill with knowledge. An increasingly complex knowledge, counterintuitive and difficult to compute even with the most powerful computers . But there is also a thrust and a tremor of emotion that runs through the chest when we discover that, despite everything, being fallible beings as we are, hairless monkeys, we have managed as a civilization to achieve the closest thing to a handful of models that describe the most ontologically similar to the Truth … although we have different conceptions of the term, as Pere Estupinyá concludes in his book To live science :
The word "truth" carries timeless discussions between philosophers, constructivists, scientists, and anyone who dares to deliberate on it. For some it is an entelechy, since all our ideas and interpretations are constructed subjectively from inaccurate pieces of information, and therefore we cannot be completely sure of anything. As is obvious, scientists accept that they too are victims of subjectivity, but they defend that empiricism and well-done science allow us to get much closer to the objective reality that exists in the universe and that enough certainties can be concluded. I completely agree. The Earth is round and DNA carries genetic information because empirical data shows it.