Both of these claims have long since been understood as being excessive. Science ismuch more modest today. The third reaction was more philosophical in content, it was infact an attempt by Immanuel Kant to explain why the physics of Galileo and Newton wasso successful. His idea was that some of the fundamental principles of Newtonian physicsare unavoidable and inevitable ingredients of the way we understand Nature. He includedthe natures of space, time and Euclidean geometry, the law of causality, Newton's ThirdLaw of motion and even universal gravitation, in the list of so-called synthetic a prioricategories of thought. They were imposed by the human mind on nature; and rather thanbeing the results of empirical discovery, nature had no choice but to obey them. A reallyprofound understanding of the situation came much later in mid 20th century, and itinvolved the theory of biological evolution in a very fundamental way. More of this later.
3. Science in the 19th and 20th centuries
The claim that social systems obey strict laws of the kind present in science led to apredictable romantic reaction. One consequence was that then science was pretty muchleft to itself, which helped it to make continued progress. I can only highlight the mostimportant achievements, first in the 19th and then in the 20th century. The sciences of electricity and magnetism matured, the concept of the electromagnetic field was created,and finally in Maxwell's hands in 1865 the understanding of light became part of electromagnetism. Then thermodynamics followed by statistical mechanics grew in thework of Carnot, Clausius, Kelvin, Maxwell and Boltzmann. In biology the theory of evolution by natural selection was put forward by Charles Darwin in 1859, while inchemistry the great systematization of the elements was achieved by Mendeleev a bitlater. In the closing years of the 19th century came a string of discoveries - spectroscopy,x-rays, the electron, radio activity - that would profoundly influence 20th centuryphysics.Let me interject something about technology at this point, especially in the 20th century.As Schrodinger said, the changes due to technology have profoundly altered the patternsof life in most parts of the world, though it is of course unevenly so. In health, foodproduction, communication, travel and entertainment - to mention only the most obviousareas - there is no comparison between conditions in the early 1900's and now. Much of the technology of the first half of the 20th century was based on 19th century Maxwellianphysics; only towards the end of the 20th century have we seen the technology resultingfrom earlier 20th century science. I would like to quote from Freeman Dyson at thispoint:"It usually takes fifty to a hundred years for fundamental scientific discoveries to becomeembodied in technological applications on a large enough scale to have a serious impacton human life. One often hears it said that technological revolutions today occur morerapidly than they did in the past… In reality, the time elapsed between Maxwell'sequations and the large-scale electrification of cities was no longer than the time betweenThomson's discovery of the electron and the worldwide spread of television, or betweenPasteur's discovery of microbes and the general availability of antibiotics. In spite of thehustle and bustle of modern life, it still takes two or three generations to convert a newscientific idea into a major social revolution".