Module I

Definition of Science

The word science comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning knowledge.

How do we define science? According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is “knowledge attained through study or practice,” or “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.”

What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organised body of knowledge people have gained using this system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality.

Science as defined above is sometimes called pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of research to human needs. Fields of science are commonly classified along two major lines:

  • Natural sciences, the study of the natural world, and
    – Social sciences, the systematic study of human behavior and society.

What does the word “Technology” mean?

The purposeful application of information in the design, production, and utilisation of goods and services, and in the organisation of human activities.So technology meansthe application of science or knowledge for industrial or commercial purposes. Technology is the ways and means of using human knowledge for improving comforts in life,conveniences in activities, or for bringing matters in the way human race desires it to be.

The word is derived from the Greek world Tekhnologia meaning the systematic treatment of an art or craft to bring in desired effects. “Tekhne” means skill. It’s an extension of human capacity. Technologies are not mere exterior aids but also interior transformations of consciousness.


The term civilisation has been defined and understood in a number of ways in a situation when there is no widely accepted standard definition. Sometimes it is used synonymously with a term culture. Civilization can also refer to society as a whole. To nineteenth-century English anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor, for example, civilization was “the total social heredity of mankind;” in other words, civilisation was the totality of human knowledge and culture as represented by the most “advanced” society at a given time.

Some most popular definitions of civilisations will be reviewed and compared to find the most important components, which should be a part of a standard/composite definition.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975):

  • “Civilisations are intelligible fields of historical study . . .which have greater extension, in both space and time, than national states or city or city-states, or any other political communities.” (Toynbee 1935, I: 44-45)

  • “Civilisations are institutions of the highest order—institutions, that is, which comprehend without being comprehended.” ( I: 455)

  • New spiritual insights allow for the birth of a new religion and ultimately a new civilization (Toynbee 1935).

Carroll Quigley ( 1910-1977):

“Civilization is a producing society with an instrument of expansion.” (Quigley 1979: 142). This definition does not mean very much until one understands that an instrument of expansion consists of varying social organizations that combine to satisfy human needs by providing group security, interpersonal power relationships, material wealth, companionship, psychological certainty, and understanding (101). This “temporary” definition adds that this society becomes a civilization only when it has writing and city life, a requirement not repeated in the replacement definition, since Quigley concluded that some producing societies had met the six needs without necessarily having writing (Andean) or city life (early Western) (142).

Some Contemporary Definitions of Civilizations

Philip Bagby:
“Civilization, let us agree then, is the culture of cities and cities we shall define as agglomerations of dwellings many (or to be more precise, a majority) of whose inhabitants are not engaged in producing food. A civilization will be a culture in
which cities are found [1963 (1958) 163].”

Steve Blaha:
“Effective working definition (especially by archaeologists): a grouping of at least several thousand people with a common culture, usually a common language, usually a geographic locale, some significant (usually monumental) buildings and architecture, and a political structure that is not necessarily unified” (Blaha 2002 and provided for this review).



  • Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

  • Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.

  • Culture is communication, communication is culture.

  • Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior; that is the totality of a person’s learned, accumulated experience which is socially transmitted, or more briefly, behavior through social learning.

  • A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

  • Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group’s skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions.

  • Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other hand, as conditioning influences upon further action.

  • Culture is the sum of total of the learned behavior of a group of people that are generally considered to be the tradition of that people and are transmitted from generation to generation.

  • Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.


Impact of Science and Technology on Civilisation

knowledge – learning – lore – skill – scholarship

Learn about the ancient civilisations click here

Industrial Revolution Click Here

Communication Revolution Click Here

History of Modern India Watch a Lecture

Space Technology Read More
Indian Space Technology ISRO

Humanities and Technology Click Here to Learn More

Education & Society Read Articles

English for Engineers?

Learning to communicate effectively is essential in everyone’s life. Whatever be the profession an individual is engaged in, he has to communicate matters effectively. He has to communicate convincingly. Interpersonal interaction is possible only when we communicate effectively.

We use many forms and ways of communication, non-verbal and verbal; direct or indirect; formal and informal; encrypted or unencrypted; ornamental or essential; personal or official; and the list goes on like that.

Language is an essential part in the process of communication. As we all know communication is the process of transference of ideas from one individual to another. Ideas occur in the mind of one person, and he feels the need to inform another person of this idea and finds a medium perceivable by the other person who he would like to communicate this germinated idea.

So in a communication process, there is a person with an idea, a medium, process of translating this idea into a perceivable language, process of transmitting, receiving the transmitted information by the target, analysis or the received information, perception and feedback by the receiver.

This is the structure of a comprehensive communication. The feedback is aimed back at the sender normally and feedback is analysed by the sender who in turn becomes a receiver and the communication process continues.

If the sender’s purpose behind transmitting the idea is served well then the communication can be termed effective. Normally the purposes of communication is  to inform, entertain, enthuse, educate, establish or to dissuade.

In modern times, the human language is so developed that using it we can achieve these purposes very easily. So one has to be proficient in the use of this tool called language.

There are many languages now in vogue at different part of the world, perhaps a few thousands. We may use terms like local, vernacular, national, or international to refer to languages on the basis of the geographical expanse of acceptance of these languages.

To every individual his mother-tongue , the language he is using right from birth along with his family members, is the most important. He understand it much better and can use it naturally and spontaneously.

As he grows up he learns other languages too. Any language which is accepted and understood by people living in a vast geographical area will get some importance attached to it. English language is one such. It’s spoken and understood by a large variety of people residing in many countries across the world. English is the most popular second language of the world. No wonder it’s called the “Lingua Franca”- language of the world.

When an idea is expressed in English language it reaches effectively into minds of millions living at various parts of the world.

Many information are preserved in many forms, conventional and digital, in English language. So if you know English language very well you can extract a better knowledge from all these sources; it’s natural.

Most of the technical knowledge, dispensed throughout the world, across many professionals is in English. So knowing English is essential to any professional; for engineers too. Your grasp of the essential information, in its quality and quantity, can be improved many fold if you know this universal language.

So I devote this blog to my Engineering students. Image

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