Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 291. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2018-12-23 15:57:26+00:00 From: Jim Rovira
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.289: 'humanities' or 'human sciences' Much appreciation for Henry Schaffer’s post. What a springboard for thought. In 1927, Wittgenstein said that Freud’s theory of the mind, or psychoanalytic theory, was not an empirical science but was a grand mythology. But he celebrated it as a great myth. Freud, and the human sciences in general, have been plagued with this criticism for as long as they have existed, and for good reason. Psychoanalysis and sociology is not equivalent to physics or chemistry. There are still some very uneducated people with very nice looking degrees who assert otherwise, but they are very much in the minority among educated opinion. I would like to say it’s also important how we define science. Hegel argued that the physical sciences were not rigorous and not even really scientific, but only logic was. I’m not going to develop the thought, but I wanted to throw it out there. Instead, I would like to pursue this idea: if the human sciences are a myth, then we need to ask ourselves why that myth was created, and what its tell us about how we think and what we value. In this sense, they are valuable and important myths worth understanding. I would say the human sciences pursue the myth of the programmable human being, whether as individuals in psychoanalysis or as a group in sociology. I would also like to add that deconstruction relates to this myth only negatively, undermining belief in the programmable human being, and is generally not understood by most of the people who use the term. It has nothing to do with being subjective, but more to do with the nature of language itself. We might say instead that deconstruction demonstrates that we are not programmable because of the relationship between language and consciousness. One last thought: I think we need to be a bit more rigorous in our use of the term subjective. There’s a difference between being subjective and being arbitrary. From the point of view of the physical sciences, the subjective seems arbitrary because it’s based on individual human perception, and that is unpredictable. We don’t understand how and why it forms itself the way it does. That is because we are not programmable: not completely, not yet, not in ways we fully understand. The subjective, to the extent that it represents a clear and specific point of view, is not arbitrary. It is a function of a point of view. We just don’t understand how the function works. We can’t plot it on a graph taking into account all elements. But, it forms itself the way it does for a number of reasons, and those reasons are worth study. Jim R Sent from my iPhone > As a "scientist" I've long had trouble with the science-ness of some (not > all) of the "social sciences" because of what I consider to be the > subjective elements. An example, I like Kuhn's concept that if a theory > isn't falsifiable, then it isn't science. I see the same problems in DH > (i.e. in presentations/readings which are labelled DH) where I see > resemblences with deconstruction which I consider to be (primarily, if not > entirely) subjective. > > So I'm very uneasy about labeling *all* of DH or humanities as "human > science". > > --henry schaffer _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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