Human Science

Human Science

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Encyclopedia
Human science refers to the investigation of human life and activities via a phenomenological
Phenomenology (psychology)
Phenomenology is an approach to psychological subject matter that has its roots in the philosophical work of Edmund Husserl. Early phenomenologists such as Husserl, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty conducted their own psychological investigations in the early 20th century...

 methodology
Methodology
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

 that acknowledges the validity of both sensory and psychological experience. It includes but is not necessarily limited to humanistic modes of inquiry within fields of the social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 and humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

, including history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, and economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

. Its use of an empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 methodology that encompasses psychological experience contrasts to the purely positivistic
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 approach typical of the natural sciences which exclude all methods not based solely on sensory observations. Thus the term is often used to distinguish not only the content of a field of study from those of the natural sciences, but also its methodology.

Meaning of 'science'


Ambiguity and confusion regarding usage of the terms 'science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

', 'empirical science', and 'scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

' have complicated the usage of the term 'human science' with respect to human activities. The term 'science' is derived from the Latin scientia meaning 'knowledge'. 'Science' may be appropriately used to refer to any branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged to show the operation of general laws.

However, according to Positivists
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

, the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge which comes from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method. As a result of the positivist influence, the term science is frequently employed as a synonym for empirical science. Empirical science is knowledge based on the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, a systematic approach to verification of knowledge first developed for dealing with natural physical phenomena and emphasizing the importance of experience based on sensory observation. However, even with regard to the natural sciences, significant difference exist among scientists and philosophers of science with regard to what constitutes valid scientific method. More recently, usage of the term has been extended to the study of human social phenomena as well. Thus, the natural sciences and social sciences are commonly classified as science, whereas the study of classics, languages, literature, music, philosophy, history, religion, and the visual and performing arts are referred to as the humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

. Ambiguity with respect to the meaning of the term science is aggravated by the widespread use of the term formal science
Formal science
The formal sciences are the branches of knowledge that are concerned with formal systems, such as logic, mathematics, theoretical computer science, information theory, systems theory, decision theory, statistics, and some aspects of linguistics....

 with reference to any one of several sciences that is predominantly concerned with abstract form that cannot be validated by physical experience through the senses, such as logic, mathematics, and the theoretical branches of computer science, information theory, and statistics.

Early development


The term moral science was first used by Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 in his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals to refer to the systematic study of human nature and relationships. Hume wished to establish a "science of human nature" based upon empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 phenomena, and excluding all that does not arise from observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

. Rejecting teleological, theological and metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 explanations , Hume sought to develop an essentially descriptive methodology; phenomena were to be precisely characterized. He emphasized the necessity of carefully explicating the cognitive content of ideas and vocabulary, relating these to their empirical roots and real-world significance.

A variety of early thinkers in the humanistic sciences took up Hume's direction. Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

, for example, conceived of economics as a moral science in the Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

an sense.

Later development


Partly in reaction to the establishment of positivistic philosophy
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 and the latter's Comte
Comte
Comte is a title of Catalan, Occitan and French nobility. In the English language, the title is equivalent to count, a rank in several European nobilities. The corresponding rank in England is earl...

an intrusions into traditionally humanistic areas such as sociology, non-postivistic researchers in the humanistic sciences began to carefully but emphatically distinguish the methodological approach appropriate to these areas of study, for which the unique and distinguishing characteristics of phenomena are in the forefront (e.g. for the biographer), from that appropriate to the natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

s, for which the ability to link phenomena into generalized groups is foremost. In this sense, Droysen contrasted the humanistic science's need to comprehend the phenomena under consideration with natural science's need to explain phenomena, while Windelband coined the terms idiographic for a descriptive study of the individual nature of phenomena, and nomothetic
Nomothetic
Nomothetic literally means "proposition of the law" and is used in philosophy , psychology, and law with differing meanings...

 for sciences that aim to define the generalizing laws.

Dilthey
Dilthey
Dilthey is a surname:*Karl Dilthey, German classical scholar and archaeologist.*Wilhelm Dilthey, Karl's older brother and German historian, psychologist, sociologist, student of hermeneutics, and philosopher....

 brought nineteenth-century attempts to formulate a methodology appropriate to the humanistic sciences together with Hume's term "moral science", which he translated as :de:Geisteswissenschaft - a term with no exact English equivalent. Dilthey attempted to articulate the entire range of the moral sciences in a comprehensive and systematic way. Meanwhile, his conception of “Geisteswissenschaften” encompasses also the abovementioned study of classics, languages, literature, music, philosophy, history, religion, and the visual and performing arts. He characterized the scientific nature of a study as depending upon:
  • The conviction that perception gives access to reality
  • The self-evident nature of logical reasoning
  • The principle of sufficient reason
    Principle of sufficient reason
    The principle of sufficient reason states that anything that happens does so for a reason: no state of affairs can obtain, and no statement can be true unless there is sufficient reason why it should not be otherwise...


But the specific nature of the Geisteswissenschaften is based on the inner experience (“Erleben”), the comprehension (“Verstehen
Verstehen
Verstehen is an ordinary German word with exactly the same meaning as the English word "understand". However, since the late 19th century in the context of German philosophy and social sciences, it has also been used in the special sense of "interpretive or participatory examination" of social...

”) of the meaning of expressions and understanding in terms of the relations of the part and the whole – in contrast to the explanation
Explanation
An explanation is a set of statements constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequencesof those facts....

of phenomena by hypothetical
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

 laws in the natural sciences
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

.

Edmund Husserl
Edmund Husserl
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a philosopher and mathematician and the founder of the 20th century philosophical school of phenomenology. He broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, yet he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic...

, a student of Franz Brentano
Franz Brentano
Franz Clemens Honoratus Hermann Brentano was an influential German philosopher and psychologist whose influence was felt by other such luminaries as Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl, Kazimierz Twardowski and Alexius Meinong, who followed and adapted his views.-Life:Brentano was born at Marienberg am...

, articulated his phenomenological philosophy in a way, that could be thought as a basis of Dilthey's attempt. Dilthey appreciated Husserl’s
Edmund Husserl
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a philosopher and mathematician and the founder of the 20th century philosophical school of phenomenology. He broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, yet he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic...

 “Logische Untersuchungen” (1900/1901, the first draft of Husserl's Phenomenology) as an “epoch making“ epistemological foundation of his conception of Geisteswissenschaften.

In recent years, 'human science' has been used to refer to "a philosophy and approach to science that seeks to understand human experience in deeply subjective, personal, historical, contextual, cross-cultural, political, and spiritual terms. Human science is the science of qualities rather than of quantities and closes the subject-object split in science. In particular, it addresses the ways in which self-reflection, art, music, poetry, drama, language and imagery reveal the human condition. By being interpretive, reflective, and appreciative, human science re-opens the conversation among science, art, and philosophy."

Objective vs. subjective experiences


Since Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

, the positivistic social sciences have sought to imitate the approach of the natural sciences by emphasizing the importance of objective external observations and searching for universal laws whose operation is predicated on external initial conditions that do not take into account differences in subjective human perception and attitude. Critics argue that subjective human experience and intention plays such a central role in determining human social behavior that the objectivist approach to the social sciences is too confining. Rejecting the positivist influence, they argue that the scientific method can rightly be applied to subjective as well objective experience. The term subjective is used in this context to refer to inner psychological experience rather than outer sensory experience. It is not used in the sense of being prejudiced by personal motives or beliefs.

See also

  • History of scholarship
    History of scholarship
    The history of scholarship is the historical study of fields of study which are not covered by the English term "science" , but are covered by, for example, the German term "Wissenschaft"...

  • Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

  • "Periodic Table of Human Sciences" in: Tinbergen's four questions
    Tinbergen's four questions
    Tinbergen's four questions, named after Nikolaas Tinbergen, are complementary categories of explanations for behavior. It suggests that an integrative understanding of behavior must include both a proximate and ultimate analysis of behavior, as well as an understanding of both...


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