Natural philosophy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis) was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.

Natural science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy. At older universities, long-established Chairs of Natural Philosophy are nowadays occupied mainly by physics professors. Modern meanings of the terms science and scientists date only to the 19th century. The naturalist-theologian William Whewell was the one who coined the term "scientist". The Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of the word to 1834. Before then, the word "science" meant any kind of well-established knowledge and the label of scientist did not exist. Some examples of the application of the term "natural philosophy" to what we today would call "natural science" are Isaac Newton's 1687 scientific treatise, which is known as The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and Lord Kelvin and Peter Guthrie Tait's 1867 treatise called Treatise on Natural Philosophy which helped define much of modern physics.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Natural philosophy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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