Social Sciences

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Nexus

Natural Sciences, History & The Humanities, Pro-Knowledge.

Scope

Social Sciences are key to the understanding of many societal issues such as the balance between economic growth and impact on the environment. The social sciences examine what it means to be a social being, ranging from the minutiae of human behaviour and brain functions, to large scale social movements, demographics, economics and politics, and links to both the natural world and arts & humanities.

Social sciences deal with human behaviour in its social and cultural aspects.

C. Wright Mills in his classic The Sociological Imagination claimed that sociology, and by extension all social sciences, is in the end a ‘craft’. Numerous others in the Social Sciences and the Humanities also claim that their profession is a craft. (E.g Bloch). Also in Philosophy of Science exist views that all sciences are crafts. Cf. Godel, Popper. This is linked to the idea that social sciences is a literature, espoused most recently by Richard Sennett in 'How I write: Sociology as Literature' where he says all texts that aspire to enter as Hannah Arendt conceived it, the realm of shared collective intelligence, need to have certain qualities: an authoritative and interpretative voice, a narrative of cause and effect stories, arousal and curiosity through 'cognitive dissonance' and puzzles, and lastly an ability to show convincing generalisations through what CS Peirce calls 'radical induction' where personal experiences resonate symbolically on a larger scale. (See Literature Studies).

Social Sciences are distinguished from Natural Science in the way they take into account meaning, i.e. the fact that the conscious subject constructs meaning to its actions. It is distinguished from the humanities in that it allows for collective action through social units, e.g. nation states, transcending the mortality and fatality of individuals, it allows for methodology. Natural Sciences claim however that consciousness is reducible to natural study and explanation, whereas humanists want to insist on the inescapability of fate.

Social Sciences insistence on the human; in welfare, redistribution, and in extolling the virtues of medicine constitutes an attempt at countering evolution, selection and the laws of nature. However, the decline in faith in societal solutions, and the decline in the human as an exclusive category (environmentalism and animal welfare, but also technology, cyborgs), constitute renewed attacks on the distinctiveness of Social Sciences.

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