First principles (archai) characterize modern science and other fields of knowledge. Contemporary scientia forms hypotheses, makes assumptions, then begins to advance from those archai by means of testing and observation. However, it was really the advent of modernity that made science begin to focus more on quantities and measurements instead of syllogisms and philosophical inquiry. For instance, Copernicus worked out his sun-centered universe by deploying math, and it was by utilizing the data of Tycho Brahe that Johannes Kepler worked out his laws of motion, which included the formulation of elliptical orbits. Copernicus and Galileo replaced the geocentric model of the universe with heliocentrism--this feat was accomplished through mathematical precision and empirical observation instead of relying on metaphysics. Newton and Galileo also focused more on a quantitative view of the universe; the former especially saw no need (per se) to create a nexus between physical objects and metaphysical explanations.
As everyone knows, despite its generally dismissive attitude toward philosophical inquiry and religion, modern science has been known to change its paradigms from time to time: examples of paradigm shifts include the wholesale rejection of Aristotle's Physics and Ptolemy's Almagest. In their place came Newton's Principia Mathematica, and later, Einsteinian physics. The emphasis then shifted towards physical laws, mathematical theory, application of theories, and technical instrumentation. Science also works within certain paradigms and feels the need to stay within those given set of parameters. So if one departs from the current paradigm, he/she will be considered eccentric or "unscientific."
Fred Hoyle illustrates how this characterization might work. While Hoyle is a brilliant scientist, there are times when he evidently holds "dissident" views that are not congruent with the professional community of scientists as a whole. Some of Hoyle's famous opinions have been with regard to the Big Bang and his metaphysical views, which he tried to couple with scientific theory ( i.e., mysticism). How have scientists usually responded to Hoyle's efforts?
[To be continued]