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Humanist Archives: Dec. 24, 2018, 9:13 a.m. Humanist 32.291 - more on 'humanities' or 'human sciences'

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 291.
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        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

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

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

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