The notion of life has always been a subject of immense importance to the human race. In a bid to find meaning to life, humans have, from time immemorial, identified the need to understand the human body and other life components as essential. In this light, various fields of study have emerged, all focusing on specific aspects of human life.
For instance, Chemistry focuses on the study of atoms and its reaction with other compounds. Physics studies the properties and nature of energy and matter, and in these endeavors, the goal remains to understand humans and their relationship with the world. (Konopka, 2002).
In the same vein, Biology has emerged as a branch of natural science and, in turn, Physiology as a subset of Biology. This essay thus explores Biology vs. Physiology in a bid to identify the fields, their relationship, and, in turn, differences.
Biology is the study of all things related to the existence of life on earth. Etymologically, the term biology comes from the Greek words – bios, and logia – which means “life” and “branch of study,” respectively. It is a field – natural sciences – that concerns itself with everything related to living, including the various biological processes in every living system. (Neil, 1996)
Biology can also be defined as the study of living beings, their origins, morphology, anatomy, behavior, physiology, and distribution. (Biology) Usually, this study involves the investigation of life at their cellular level, including issues such as genetics and reproduction. As such, it covers areas such as respiration, digestion, and circulation, among others.
In the same vein, this field of study – as it is now known – has certain foundations upon which it has further developed. They are the Cell Theory, which posits that cells are the underlying element of life. Also, there is the notion of Evolution, which posits that life evolved from a common origin.
Similarly, there is Genetics which states that all organism shares a unit – genes – of inheritance that influences function and form. Finally, Homeostasis that posits that every system can maintain a dynamic equilibrium of its internal environment. (Neil, 1996).
Noteworthy, the modern notion of Biology was introduced in 1766 through the research of Michael Hanow. Later on, it gained further popularity thanks to the analysis of Karl Burdach in 1800, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1802, and Gottfried Treviranus in 1802. (Biology).
Physiology is an aspect of biology that involves studying the activities and functions of life and the chemical and physical phenomena involved in the continued existence of life. (Prosser, 1991). Etymologically, it is derived from the Greek words – physis and logia – which means “nature or origin” and “branch of study,” respectively. Hence, it is a discipline that involves the analysis of every human body’s mechanism and characteristics.
Noteworthy, physiology concerns human anatomy, as well as cells, organs, tissues, and their functions. (Hall, 2011). It researches mostly into the internal mechanism of an organism and the interaction between them to ensure general survival.
Similarly, just like Biology, it has various branches or foundations upon which further study has developed. They are Plant Physiology, which is a subfield of botany that relates to how plants function. Second, Animal Physiology, which is an aspect of zoology that relates to the physical, biochemical, and mechanical processes of plants. Also, Human Physiology, which explores the systems that keep the physical structure of humans alive and performing. Then finally, Cellular Physiology that studies the biological actives that occurs within cells to prevent it from dying. (Physiology)
Noteworthy, the earliest emergence of this field can be traced as far back as 420 BC in Greece, thanks to critical evaluation of the relationship between function and structure by Aristotle. However, the modern emergence of physiology is traceable back to Jean Fernel (Wilbur, 2000). Subsequently, other scientists like Realdo Colombo, William Harvey, and Michael Servetus made further discoveries that expounded the horizon of physiology. (Rampling, 2016).
The field of Biology and Physiology are no doubt related. Noteworthy, they are both aspects of sciences involved in the examination of life on earth. Even more, the field of physiology is an aspect or branch biology. However, while they remain related, they are still an individually distinct field in their subject matters and application.
First, as already stated, Biology is a broad field that concerns itself with the study of life and living organism. That is, it concerns itself with every survey that pertains to the existence of living organisms. On the other hand, Physiology remains limited to the study of the processes of living systems. It concerns itself with interaction with the various body – cells, tissue, organs – within a living being.
Further, the field of physiology is restricted to organisms – their parts and functions. It does not extend to factors outside a living organism, such as the environment. Contrarily, Biology is a vast field that extends beyond the workings of the human system and deals with the environmental component and factors.
In the same vein, while biology is a core subject, physiology, on the other hand, is a specialized subject. As such, biology involves more of a general examination of the nature of living organisms. On the other hand, Physiology examines in depth the relation, processes, and interaction of living systems.
Again, biology is a field under the natural sciences, a category of science that concerns itself with the natural world. Precisely, it is research into the physical world. On the other hand, physiology is not the study of the physical world in total. Instead, it is the study of the component of living organisms and how they function and interact.
In exploring biology and physiology, it has been established that they are both aspects of the sciences. However, while the study of biology extends to the whole existence of life and its environmental elements, physiology remains limited to organisms’ processes, interactions, and functions.
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