18
   

Is History an art or a science?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2015 07:37 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
Who said historians want to be scientific?

Quite a few historians:

Poor deluded souls.

Says who?

Sez me. And Karl Popper.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2015 08:01 pm
@joefromchicago,
:-) nope. Popper said otherwise, and with good reasons I think.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2015 08:27 pm
I suppose I'll have to go read Popper.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2015 11:48 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

:-) nope. Popper said otherwise, and with good reasons I think.

Then you clearly didn't understand Popper.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 12:30 am
When I'd studied history, I had to take a course in "theory, methods and history of history science" (and auxiliary sciences of history).

But we've got a different approach here, just for historical traditions perhaps.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 12:33 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:

I consider "social science" to be to "science"...

...what the Holy Roman Empire was to "holy", "Roman" and "Empire."

Well, you could ask a historian about that Wink (from 1512 onwards, it was the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation", before mid of the 12th century just "Roman Empire").
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:33 am
@joefromchicago,
Did you ever read his books?

Honestly, I don't think i misunderstood him, and I put out a quote that backs me up.

Also, why would anyone (let alone a firm realist like Popper) limit the type of empirical evidence one can use to falsify scientific theories? It makes no sense. The careful observation of say, a supernova or the maxillary bone of a T rex can be as useful to science as any experiment.

Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:48 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

Frank Apisa wrote:

I consider "social science" to be to "science"...

...what the Holy Roman Empire was to "holy", "Roman" and "Empire."

Well, you could ask a historian about that Wink (from 1512 onwards, it was the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation", before mid of the 12th century just "Roman Empire").


It was just a play on the Voltaire quote, Walter...one I thought appropriate in response to Olivier's (a countryman) comment.

I had forgotten about the "...of the German Nation" part though...and I thank you for reminding me.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:50 am
@ossobuco,
There are worse read. Unlike many philosophers, Popper writes well, as clearly as possible. He is a philosopher of science, socialist / social democrat, pushed by the rise of nazism to emigrate and apply to social sciences the insight he gathered from studying the progress of natural sciences. His conclusion is that social engineering (he invented the phrase) is possible and advisable, through prudent and reversible policy changes and social experiments. He compares democracy to the free exchange of facts and ideas that good science necessarily proceed from. He also wrote a brilliant plea for inderterminism, in defense of free will.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:58 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

I agree on that and just wrote a blurb to that point that I decided to wait on.

I'll add that I'm made afraid by what I take as humanities losses.

Money, honey.

I don't know about that. Much money is to be made in biographies / biopics as a literary genre, but dry, academic history books do not sell well.

But i would agree that sciences are missing something by not allowing themselves to mingle with arts / literature.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 07:17 am
@ossobuco,
I know some people who spent their entire professional life drawing fish... I used to love drawing in my biology classes so i sort of understand. Sort of...
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 07:21 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
And that convinces me that Popper wouldn't (or shouldn't) have included history as a social science. After all, history doesn't attempt to predict anything.

His point is precisely that it would be unscientific to pretend we can predict anything (according to Popper, the future cannot be predicted). Biologists don't try to predict the future, and historians shouldn't either, if they want to be scientific.


This may be a false equvalence. It's a very different thing for a historian to make predictions about the future based on observations of history compared to scientists making predictions about what will happen in a future experiment based on the results of past experiments.

The scientist is able to actively and selectively intervene in/manipulate the settings to control and set parameters and variables to isolate a single target cause-and-effect relationship in order to test hypotheses.

Historians observe the past and try to ascertain cause-and-effect patterns without having any way to control the settings or select variables in order to test their hypotheses.

A prediction for someone using the scientific method regarding the results of an experiment seems to be considerably different from a prediction made by a historian predicting the future by observing the past.

I should clarify that I'm a fan of both science and history and am in no way minimizing the importance of history. I just don't see how it's a science, given the definition of science used by scientists.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 07:41 am
@FBM,
As I said, natural scientists cannot predict the future either. Even in tightly-controlled experiments, new observations can always emerge, otherwise scientists would stop experimenting. Sciences try to understand the present, not predict the future. That's for magicians and foretellers.

Quote:
I should clarify that I'm a fan of both science and history and am in no way minimizing the importance of history. I just don't see how it's a science, given the definition of science used by scientists.

What definition would that be? I don't know of any objective definition / test for what constitutes science, apart from Popper's falsifiability criterion.
FBM
 
  3  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 08:10 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

As I said, natural scientists cannot predict the future either. Even in tightly-controlled experiments, new observations can always emerge, otherwise scientists would stop experimenting. Sciences try to understand the present, not predict the future. That's for magicians and foretellers.


Run 100 double-slit light experiments, then make a prediction on what the next one will look like. Attenuate a flu virus and run double-blind studies to find out what will happen when it is injected to the public at large. These things work. The accumulation of new knowledge by the scientific method is inherently inferential and therefore never 100%, but that doesn't mean that it's no more reliable than the alternatives. To the contrary, it has so far proven to be the most reliable method.


Quote:
What definition would that be? I don't know of any objective definition / test for what constitutes science, apart from Popper's falsifiability criterion.


I think it's safe to say that a science is an investigation that uses the scientific method.

Quote:
The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.
The steps of the scientific method are to:

*Ask a Question
*Do Background Research
*Construct a Hypothesis
*Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
*Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
*Communicate Your Results

It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.


http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml

How doe the historian do experiments to test a hypothesis? How does a historian change only one variable and keep all the other conditions the same?

Let me reiterate, I consider history to be a venerable endeavor and would not like to live in a world where history wasn't done. I can say the same for science. I want both to continue to be done. But that doesn't mean they're the same thing. There are lots of human endeavors that I consider venerable and would not like to live without, but that doesn't mean they all fall into the category of science. Not being a science is not a dimunition of status. Different does not imply inferior, and I don't mean to suggest that.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 08:26 am
@FBM,
I don't assume that sciences are superior to arts, so you can relax about the risk of misunderstanding. I know you are not belittling history.

How can a paleontologist experiment? Or an astronomer?
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 08:42 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

How doe the historian do experiments to test a hypothesis? How does a historian change only one variable and keep all the other conditions the same?
Hypothesises are solved with the above mentioned auxiliary sciences of history ... like e.g. physics, chemistry would be impossible without mathematics.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 08:58 am
@Olivier5,
loy" is merely a rubric,beneathwhich are several sub-disciplines such as paleoecology, paleoanatomy, stratigraphy, evo/devo peoaatomy, c)
Each of the supportive sub-disciplines are easily falsifiable or, in wich experimentation is routinely done.
For example, a very big find of paleo/evolutionary significance has happnd within the last 10 years. Two pleontologists, looking for earlier transitional fossils that would show the "shift" between fish and amphibians, reasoned (using a Popperian analyses), that, IF a transitional fossil was sought, it ought to occur in sediments of a particular sequence of the Devonian. Earlier than 400 million years (by standard dating ) we see nothing but lobe finned fish and bony fish and armored fish. AFTER (about) 380 million years , we see some examples of early amphibians. SO, using a an argument that earliest fssils of amphibians should be somewhere in between, these two started mapping the Emsin through the Frsnian rocks and tried to state that "We want some rocks of around390 to 385 million yers. They then looked at geo maps of the earth and picked a couple of spots where these aged rocks appear. They then spent 4 years in the field (to a paleoecologist, a field expedition based on a learned "hunch" is anexperiment0. 4 years later they discovered a fossil of a neat transitional "fishopod" that startled the world and, till today, showed transitional fossil between fish and amphibians forms.

No credible evidence counter to thse finds has been forwarded (one or two "tracks" in shallow water sediments had been forwarded as earlier transitionls but these were dismissed in the last few years.
This is but one example of some field efforts based on "falsifiability' and working in the field as an "experiment based on evidence
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 10:01 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Did you ever read his books?

Yes.

Olivier5 wrote:
Honestly, I don't think i misunderstood him, and I put out a quote that backs me up.

Yes, you misunderstood that as well.

Olivier5 wrote:
Also, why would anyone (let alone a firm realist like Popper) limit the type of empirical evidence one can use to falsify scientific theories?

I don't know. Why would you even ask that question?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 10:31 am
@farmerman,
Im having keyboard troubles . Think Im gonna go off line and do a "quick Rinse" on this POS
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 10:41 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Why would you even ask that question?

Because there should be a good reason for excluding all non-experimental evidence from science, as you propose, and yet there isn't any.

To me, an experiment is just a data collection tool like any other. It's not a superior form of observation by any mean. It's just a way to simplify the things we want to study. Also experiments are limited to what we can control, and thus not applicable to most things and domains. Eg you cannot experiment with a supernova, and yet you can know something scientific about supernovas. To limit science to experimentation would be debilitating.
 

Related Topics

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYONE! - Discussion by OmSigDAVID
WIND AND WATER - Discussion by Setanta
Who ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall? - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
True version of Vlad Dracula, 15'th century - Discussion by gungasnake
ONE SMALL STEP . . . - Discussion by Setanta
History of Gun Control - Discussion by gungasnake
Where did our notion of a 'scholar' come from? - Discussion by TuringEquivalent
 
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 10/26/2020 at 10:05:06