When Did Philosophy Separate From Science?


Martha Robinson

Philosophy and science, both are the branches of knowledge that have been intertwined since the beginning of human history. However, with the passage of time, these two branches have diverged and become distinct fields.

The separation between philosophy and science was not sudden but a gradual process that took place over centuries. Let’s delve deeper into how and when philosophy separated from science.

Origins of Philosophy and Science

Philosophy is the study of fundamental questions related to existence, morality, knowledge, and reality. It originated in ancient Greece around 600 BCE with famous philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They used reason and logic to explore abstract concepts like truth, justice, beauty, and goodness.

On the other hand, science is a systematic study of natural phenomena through observation and experimentation. It begins with the scientific revolution in Europe during the 16th century when scholars like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler laid down the foundation for modern science.

The Renaissance Period

During the Renaissance period (14th -17th century), philosophers began to question traditional beliefs in subjects like religion and ethics. They started emphasizing more on empirical evidence than relying on faith-based arguments.

At this time, scientists were also making significant discoveries using empirical methods to understand physical laws governing nature. With their discoveries, they were able to explain various phenomena that were once considered supernatural or magical.

The Enlightenment Era

The Enlightenment era (17th -18th century) marked a significant shift in thinking as people began to question authority figures like monarchs or religious leaders. Philosophers advocated for personal liberty and individualism while scientists sought to understand natural laws without any biases or preconceptions.

During this time period, many philosophers began rejecting certain metaphysical claims made by earlier thinkers as unproven or even unprovable by empirical means. Meanwhile, scientists were making breakthrough discoveries in fields like physics, chemistry, and biology.

The 19th Century

The 19th century saw a further separation of philosophy and science. Philosophers began to focus more on language, logic, and the study of thought processes. They sought to understand how we make sense of the world around us and how we communicate that understanding to others.

Meanwhile, scientists were making groundbreaking discoveries in fields like electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and evolutionary biology. They were discovering new ways to explain natural phenomena via mathematical models and experimental observations.


In conclusion, Philosophy and science have been intertwined throughout history. However, with time, they have diverged into two distinct disciplines. Both fields continue to inform one another in various ways as we seek to understand our world better.