Science and humanities are often segregated in education and professional development. Even as a personal interest, the two disciplines are usually considered incompatible. In reality, they are complementary. Imagine if all science degrees included core humanities subjects in the first year How would scientists, and science, benefit from a basic humanities perspective This series looks for answers in some of the most common humanities disciplines.
Whether or not we agree with the sentiments we read in these texts, understanding contemporary views of science over time can help us deal with the science communication obstacles we face today (more on this in a future post).
Studying literature might make for useful diversions for scientists, I have no doubt that knowledge of literature and humanities has nothing of value to add to science. And I say that as a person who has bachelors and masters degrees in physics.
Science and humanities are two orthogonal fields of learning. Maybe humanists can say that knowledge of science can help the humanities, not many scientists will agree that that the reverse is true as well.
Thanks for the response Manu. Let me address your second point first. If you are writing science for the masses (and I believe that kind of science writing is every bit as important as technical papers), like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Carl Sagan, then yes you need to be an eloquent writer, with suitable skills to grab and keep the readers attention. On the other hand if you are writing a technical paper, language is not anywhere near as important.
Also, history is not on your side. Brilliant scientists and engineers have since the invention of fire done their work without needing humanistic guidance or broadening. There are always one off examples of scientists and engineers using art as a guide, but in the grand scheme of the inventiveness and discovery, such examples are minuscule tiny fraction. Nikola Tesla was thinking of Goethes writing walking home one evening, when he solved the problem concerning his invention of the electric generator, perhaps one great (and at best questionable) example of literature inspiring a solution to a complex problem, but hardly enough to make a general sweeping conclusion about the value of humanities to science. What about the millions of other little or equally important inventions that were done by scientists and engineers tinkering in their labs, painstakingly collecting data, carrying out experiments, without the need to think of Goethe or Shakespeare And who is to say that Tesla would not have solved the problem eventually as he did for so many other inventions
I am not saying that the study of humanities is not worth pursuing, and people who are so inclined, should do so. But I am not at all sold on the fact, that humanities are needed to produce great science.
The quantum physicist and marine biologist are trained differently, have different tools and different nomenclature and notation, different first principles, different underlying laws and mathematical tools. It doesnt matter how well written your paper might if the reader does not have a solid understanding of all these basic facets of the science , they will just not be able to make sense of it. That is a fact (you might say unfortunate fact) of this era of specialization.
Its because of this extreme specialization that whenever some very complex multi-science problem (like a cure for cancer) is to be solved, multi-disciplinary science teams are created, so that each scientist can bring his unique knowledge and view to the problem. Where a geneticist might see an apparently unsolvable problem, the physicist or mathematician might be able to offer an immediate solution (as has actually happened), the geneticist did not have to learn anything more than the most rudimentary knowledge of the mathematics or physics, just enough to understand what the physicist might be saying. For their part the physicist and mathematicians just have to learn enough genetics to understand what the geneticist is saying.
I will close by stating that I have no problem with technologists enjoying humanities for any reason they like. But in my experience knowledge of humanities is absolutely unnecessary to the progress of science and technology. I believe that history supports me on this.
Social Science is a branch of knowledge whose subject matter is society and the interrelationship between individuals, as a member of society. Humanities is closely linked to social science, in the sense that the two disciplines deal with human beings and their culture. Humanities refer to the subject which tends to understand, acknowledge and analyze the human behaviour in all its depth and scope.
Practically, as a human being, no field of study is more significant than social science. It helps an individual to understand the society as a whole, i.e. the conditions which limits our growth and development and the opportunities which can be tapped for better livelihood. It helps in creating a society where human beings can live freely and happily.
Basis for ComparisonSocial ScienceHumanitiesMeaningSocial Science refers to a realistic course of study that is concerned with the different aspects of the life of an individual within the group or society.Humanities refer to the branch of learning, which covers fields like arts, classics, philosophy, history, anthropology, etc.NatureObjectiveSubjectiveApproachScientific ApproachAnalytical ApproachConcerned withBasic elements of the human cultureDistinctive elements of human culture.Concept of truthPositivistRelativistFocuses onStudy of patterned behaviorIn-depth understanding of the specific cases or eventsArea of studyTradition, Culture and Heritage of the societyFactual differences between humanity and pure science
Social Science, as the name signifies, is a science of society or say a science which studies the socio-cultural aspects of the human affair. It is that branch of knowledge which is concerned with the study of society, its interpersonal relationship with individuals (members) and its functioning.
In other words, social science is all about people living along in groups, families and communities, i.e. how they live, how they interact, how they behave, which language they use for communication, what traditions they follow, what do they wear, what is their religious affiliation, which ideology they promote, etc.
Social science is based on interpretation and qualitative research methods. It covers subjects like sociology, social psychology, political science, economics, geography, demography, history and anthropology.
Humanities is a popular field of study, which is concerned with human society and culture, which makes use of qualitative methods which are mainly analytical, critical or speculative. The subject matter of humanities is thoughts, creations, development and actions of humankind in the past and present.
It tends to determine the defects in the mankind, as well as the ways to improve them. Basically, humanities attempt to make a man, more human. And for that, it prescribes an ideal behaviour for an individual to be called as a cultured human being.
It is a multifaceted domain which covers anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics and language, literature, philosophy, psychology, law and politics, Arts, etc. Researches in humanities adds to the existing knowledge base about the world. It shows the variance in culture and communities across the globe and across time.
To understand the present day scenario of the world, one must have a good understanding of social science. Whether you talk about law, or international relations, or economics, all are simply branches of social science. On the other hand, humanities help individuals to understand the human experience better.
I just read your comparison of the social sciences and the humanities. These two disciplines are so closely associated that they resemble monozygotic twins! I have a BA in Social Sciences and a MA in Humanities. I am so appreciative that you decided to draft a comparison chart which I found most helpful in contrasting these two (2) areas of academics!
According to science, the earliest sign of human existence can be traced to as far back as over five million years ago. Since then, there has been immense development, an increase in numbers, and a lot of division which gave rise to different communities as we know then today. Time has also helped with the understanding of the best ways these communities can relate with one another for mutual benefits.
The existence of man and how he relates with others is still being very much studied today from various perspectives, some of which are understandably confusing. In this post, we would do a humanities vs social sciences comparison by their definitions as well as some other important key factors that show how they are different from one another.
Humanities can be defined as a field of study that deals with human behaviors analytically with regards to factors like tradition, culture, and heritage of the society in question. It can also be defined as a sub-division of science that deals with the distinct study of the way of life of a people.
Social science can be defined as a scientific study that deals with the socio-cultural aspect of human existence. This means it is rooted in understanding the basics of interpersonal relationships between individual members of a particular society. This can be narrowed down to the lifestyle, method of interaction, the language of communication, religious affiliations, ideology, and even their diet. One can also say that it deals with the basic element of human culture.
If you compare social sciences vs humanities, you will come to understand that the former takes on a more objective nature of study, unlike the former which is more on the subjective side. They are both similar in the sense that they both deal with human ex