Intertwined Themes: Science, and Coherence, Integrity, or Harmony

The structure of this - particularly the fact that most of it is a "digression" - is influenced by the fact that it started out embedded in very different material. This probably calls for a revision, but not right now.

It eventually became clear to me that I really cared about the question "What is this thing, or process, called 'science'?". What distinguishes this mode of thought, or of investigation, that constantly leads to such drastic changes in the way we live? Its power is unquestionable, whether for good or not.

Getting back to the fascination with the process of science, and desire to understand where its power comes from, hasn't that all been explained as "the scientific method"? I would like to know the history of that phrase, and of the pat explanations that usually accompany it. Anyway, my opinion is that descriptions of the "scientific method" that people have gotten from their high school textbooks, mostly leave people without a clue as to where the power of scientific thinking comes from.

One great irony of which I've recently become aware: Probably the most powerful tendency in 17th-century scientific thought was the admonition to refrain from drawing conclusions from premises via logic -- to refrain from speculative (or to oversimplify it in a popular way: deductive) thinking, and instead consult the "book of nature", and build knowledge from the ground up (or inductively) out of discrete observations (including controlled experiments). The irony is that the crowning achievement of the era was a new piece of speculative apparatus, namely Newton's mathematization of laws of movement of objects. It can be illustrated by the statement some 18th century person made (sorry, I need to research who said it when) that of course there could never be another Newton because there was "only one universe to discover".