A New Definition of Science – The Textual Foundation That Represents the Real World

The Wikipedia defines science as follows. Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Definitions from various sources has to do with knowledge, investigation, study, observation, experimentation, laws, structure, behavior, explanation and systematicity.

They describe science and scientific activities, instead of pointing out what the enterprise is. What science looks like? They also don’t point out what enables science, why and how humans obtain the capability to advance in science. They describe the appearances and many facets of science but don’t make known the nature of science. We are going to find out.

After writing some articles on relations between written language and science, it is time for us to provide a new, text-based definition of science, which is important as a basis for carrying out future discussions of related issues. We have already proposed in previous papers that written language is the foundation of science.

The idea to exclude non-texts

We consider written language as the core of science, while non-texts are the goals, materials and occurrences.

Certainly, scientific activities include both texts and non-texts. Both are indispensable, with non-texts seem to be the real things. Without non-texts, the world wouldn’t exist, not to mention science. However, judging by the properties, we now decided to exclude non-texts from science. Otherwise, science would include virtually all information we can experience. That might lead to uncertainty, vagueness, misunderstanding, chaos and confusion.

Furthermore, we learn science mainly from books and papers. The achievement of scientists is judged by their publications. Some great discoveries are incidental. But they must be fitted into the existing textual framework to become part of the science.

When science is defined based on texts, its nature and properties will be well presented. Science-related investigations will be provided a clear basis. In fact, this definition doesn’t contradict with the common definitions, since texts constitute the systematic enterprise which supports the functions science fulfills.

The non-scientific texts

Texts are omnipresent in our lives, recording everything. But only a portion of them is considered scientific texts. The scientific or non-scientific texts are not different in that they are symbolic and sequential. Although they possess the capability of being science, they do not necessarily fulfil the function.

Descriptive texts

Texts of literature, narrative, fictions, art, instruction, music, advertisement, daily conversation, chatting message, etc. are descriptive and conveying. The sake of them is to describe the non-textual reality, which are the goal, in the center and being emphasized. This kind of texts are important in documenting, communicating the events, understanding of which are not reliant on the texts. The texts are peripheral to the non-texts and not attempting to build their own foundation. On the contrary, scientific texts are needed to understand the phenomena because of the properties of texts and the difficulties in observing the phenomena.

Mentalistic texts

This kind of texts are foundational but don’t represent facts. Collectively, we call them mentalistic texts. They include texts of religion, ethical belief, moral concept, philosophy, and pseudoscience. They tend to center on texts, but are not based on facts, based on vague facts or only reflect biased facts. Representing reality is not their goal. Nor are they intended to be verified. Subjectivity is an element common to this kind of texts. It is some kind of description or insistence on one’s own thought, opinion and argument, refraining from changes, rejecting challenges or denying their failure to account for the facts.

Although these texts don’t aim to represent reality, most of them are derived from facts or imaginations. They serve as an emotional need, spontaneous mental behavior and alternatives to science in some cases. Although not being scientific, they are still able to establish.


There is no absolute distinction between descriptive, mentalistic and scientific texts. Some portions in descriptive texts or mentalistic texts might be scientific. The same facts could be studied in different kind of texts. For example, texts about history could be descriptive if they focus on the events; or scientific if they derive some regular patterns; or mentalistic if they adhere to creationism.

Indeed, scientific texts might have evolved from descriptive texts and mentalistic texts. That is why modern science was formerly called “natural philosophy”, which emerged from the integration of description of nature and the representational aspect of philosophy.

The text-based definition of science

Then comes the third kind of texts – science, defined as:

Science is the textual foundation that represents the real world.

Criteria of this definition

For the key properties of written language and science, refer to the paper “Language – The Core of Science”[1]. The basic ones are sequentiality and clarity. Now we added a third property – representation of reality. Being representational implies being processed, foundational, established and centered on.

The three properties are used for judgment on whether a text is scientific or how scientific it is. In the paper “Scientific Strength of Writing Systems – The Aspects”, we had explained the sequentility and clarity aspects. The “representation of reality” aspect is discussed in the following subsection.

Establishment of the representation of reality by means of visual processing

The key difference between representation and description is the center is texts for the former, while non-texts being the center of the latter. The accumulation of science is based on existing representational texts, while descriptive texts conform to the facts as they are. Since non-texts are centered on, the properties of texts given in The Paper are not fully exploited in descriptive texts, although which might choose proper or beautiful language in their composition.

The visual characteristic of texts makes it suitable for visual processing, which is needed to build a representation of reality. Through mental processing of the representational texts, we are able to extract consistency, commonalities and regularity, to clarify, refine and simplify information, to find contradictions, to discover new theory by reasoning, to approve or disapprove a new theory, to incorporate new theories into existing knowledge, to establish relations between existing knowledge, to organize and categorize knowledge as it expands. All these are achieved by intensive textual thinking.

The sequential growth of symbolic representation is constantly checked with facts, observations and experiments for validation. The explanation of the facts in textual means is accurate and deterministic, unlikely to change and are relied upon, while the represented non-texts are themselves not sequentially related, not clearly observed or even invisible. Due to the infinite expansion of observations and experiments, the textual representations also expand accordingly in an orderly manner.


Given the new definition of science, our discussions of science-related matters will be on a clear, focused and targeted course. It becomes clear that the science-centered world is in essence founded on scientific texts and the textual mind. Technology, engineering and many life-changing practices are integrated with and reliant on the textual representations.

In the science-text unity, we had put more emphasis on the written language. Now, as we are shifting towards science, there is a new horizon ahead.





[1] Referred to as “The Paper” hereafter.