For it is evident that man has been trying to explain the world around him for almost as long as he appeared on earth. We do not know whether there exist other species with similar proclivity, but with humans this need is evident. Despite warnings of dire consequences, Adam did pluck the fruit of knowledge didn’t he?
At one level questions were of metaphysical nature and on the other they involved scientific knowledge. Earliest scientific study was mainly in the areas of Physical Science, questioning the nature of matter, energy and motion. The Greek philosophers applied their minds to these questions using logic alone in a dialectical reasoning. Aristotle made an attempt at compiling all that was known then. He wrote an entire treatise catalogueing hundreds of living animals. Following this tradition Biology was confined to making detailed observations about plants and animals right uptil the 17th century. As the data grew a need was felt to work out an effective system of classification. A Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus formulated the system of binomial nomenclature (naming a living organism using two different names, one of its genus and the other of its species). For example, Homo sapiens is the biological name for the modern man. This was an important step in systematising biological knowledge.
Even in its most rudimentary stage it was recognized that living beings were distinctly different from the rest of the physical world. One group of scientists proposed that there was some kind of ‘vital force’ acting within them that accounted for this distinction while others argued that living things were reducible to physical and chemical laws. Their theory was called the ‘mechanistic’ theory. The advocates of the ‘vital force’ theory declared that certain aspects of living organisms could not be explained with science and in fact science should not even attempt to meddle with the study of