18
   

Is History an art or a science?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 03:16 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Dead serious. When is the last time you experimented with a supernova, a star, or a planet?

Me? Never. But then I'm not an astronomer.

Real astronomers do things like experiments on comets.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 03:24 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Much of these applied to archeology, which is applied to studies of history (or pre-history).

By definition, pre-history can't be the subject of history.

farmerman wrote:
Most carful studies of historical events ultimatel yield to archeological investigations.

I'm not sure what you mean here.

farmerman wrote:
Te METHODS of carrying out historical research are quite often scientific DISCIPLINES, so, by application, history is often a discipline too.

If you're suggesting that archeologists are carrying out historical research, you're wrong. They may be looking at historical artifacts, but they are looking at them as archeologists, not as historians. There's no attempt, for instance, to form a historical narrative.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 03:26 pm
@joefromchicago,
So astronomy was not a science before space travel?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 03:57 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
There's no attempt, for instance, to form a historical narrative.

Oh please, Joe. Archaeologists take great care to record stratigraphic and positional information in their digs, precisely for the purpose of giving a date (relative or absolute) to each artifact and thus support a historical narrative. It's not about raiding tombs anymore.

E.g.: "three periods of settlement can be inferred from this dig, one from year A to B characterized by this and that technology, one from year B to C with such and such techniques and industry, and then the final strata from year C to D, etc.. It would appear that the site was abandoned as of this time, but it's unclear why."
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 03:59 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

So astronomy was not a science before space travel?

I'm beginning to think this is some kind of elaborate prank. Rolling Eyes

You are the one who talked about experiments on planets and stars. I'm just responding to your examples. I'm trying to keep up with your argument, I suggest you try doing the same.

In any event, astronomy was indeed a science before space flight. For instance, astronomers discovered the red shift well before the first rocket was launched into space.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:00 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:
E.g.: "three periods of settlement can be inferred from this dig, one from year A to B characterized by this and that technology, one from year B to C with such and such techniques and industry, and then the final strata from year C to D, etc.. It would appear that the site was abandoned as of this time, but it's unclear why."

That's not a historical narrative, that's a description of the results of an archeological dig.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:02 pm
@joefromchicago,
We just don't understand each other. That's all. No prank.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:03 pm
@joefromchicago,
It is a historical narrative, in the sense that it is a narrative about something historical. Words have a meaning.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:06 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

If you're suggesting that archeologists are carrying out historical research, you're wrong
. I m suggesting that historians are carrying out archeological research to verify r locate historical events . am aware of several historians involved in research regarding pre and post contact Culture of the "Ciivilized tribes" (Cherokee etc). They employ specific tchnicians in such areas as applied geophysics and"remote sensing" but the decisions of the research are all theirs.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:07 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
astronomy was indeed a science before space flight.

And therefore, experimentation is not a sine qua non for science, since astronomy is a science and yet there was no astronomic experiment before space travel. That was my point.


0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:22 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

We just don't understand each other. That's all. No prank.

I think I'm going to leave it at that. Evidently you have such idiosyncratic definitions of key terms like "science" and "history" that we will never even reach an understanding, let alone an agreement.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:25 pm
@joefromchicago,
I submit that youre understanding re: Archeological narratives"not being historical" is quite flawed.
The studies of many HISTORICAL events in the US ultimately fall to archeological investigations that are conducted under a "Search for a historical narrative". Its done all the time.
Ive just read the historical narrative regarding the death and burial of track laborers in the layout of the initial Pennsylvania Railroad (It was a story of the excesses of railroads in the gilded age). The narrative was under the direction of 2 historians from local Universities who , engaged technicians to locate and map several track-side burial areas for alien workers.That was but a small part of the entire story, but an important chapter. Applied sciences were tools and the narrative was a historical account.
We live in a time oflots more interdisciplinary and collaborative research than in days of old so "who's in charge" less depends on what is the intended story than who gets the grant .
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:34 pm
@farmerman,
In Joe's defense, I think he is relying on the standard definition of 'history' as a 'written record,' (emphasis mine) which archaeology, of course, is not.

But I quite get your point, farmerman.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 04:50 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

I submit that youre understanding re: Archeological narratives"not being historical" is quite flawed.

No, but thanks for your concern.

If archeologists were doing history, then there wouldn't be a separate discipline of archeology. It would all be "history," and they'd teach archeological techniques as part of the history curriculum. But they don't, and for very good reason: archeologists and historians don't do the same thing.

Now, that's not to say that there isn't any cross-over between the two disciplines. Historians of ancient civilizations, for instance, would be lost without archeological finds. There are plenty of examples of historians relying on archeological evidence as part of historical narratives. But don't kid yourself into thinking that, because historians use archeological evidence, that somehow makes them archeologists, or that archeologists are somehow acting like historians. In short, just because you play with a rubber duck in your bathtub, that doesn't make you an ornithologist.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 05:01 pm
@joefromchicago,
I seem to agree with quite a few people here and speak more or less the same language as they do, including Farmer, Osso, Thomas... and evidently Popper. I especially agree with Popper that the differences between natural sciences and social sciences are real but have been blown out of proportion. Things are less clear-cut many people seem to think.

There is some naivety in assuming that there is one and only one "one-size-fits-all" scientific method. Each science is a special case in this regard. As I have argued, paleontology and astronomy are somewhat similar to history in that they cannot conduct much controlled experiments. Nevertheless they can still observe, describe, measure and document events or facts, and they can try to understand and explain these events rationally, without recourse to magic.

That's what makes them sciences: rationality and empiricism. The rest is a matter of details.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:11 pm
@Olivier5,
Popper originally claimed that the entire theory of evolution could not be falsified(in the sense that nothing could be scientifically refuted), JS Halldane sid
"Why yes there is, evolution is falsified if we see bunny rabbit fossils in the Precambrian"
It was through Haldanes various aphorisma like that , that Popper recanted his entire statements that "evolutionary theory is unfalsifible".

A couple of common sense bumper stickers .

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:23 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Geographers don't draw maps. Cartographers do.

I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive. The term "geographer", after all, literally means "drawer of the Earth". In any event, geographers supply the information based on which cartographers draw maps. And that information is a pile of individual trivia such as "the Seine flows through Paris", or "the average temperature in New York City is 55 degrees Fahrenheit", or "Islam is the predominant religion in Saudi-Arabia". There are no interesting universal statements in geography.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:27 pm
@farmerman,
The cambrian rabbit story is apocryphal but indeed, the story shows that claims and theories about the past can easily be falsified. Similarly if we discover an iphone in an ancient Egyptian tomb, we might have to review a few of our historic assumptions.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 06:41 pm
@joefromchicago,
I suggest you review some college schools and departments andsee how much crossover exist in actual titles(eg a istorian as xhirman of the dept of archaeology and vice versa)
IF and ONLY IF, there is requirement of licensure of a discipline (engineering , geology, surveying , law) believe that anyone"Qualified" can practice n several fields. (I hate to get into your field but Iv had many contracts with the DOE where they needed several "cultural surveys be conducted to assess mining claims validity". I used several historians who ran the programs and led archeological/records/Remote sensing/and geophysical surveys. Each individual was given a "Quals Review"by a DOE panel and these folks passed with high recommendations. The only disciplines that needed any countersignatures were geophysics and surveying (because each of these two disciplines are licensed by the various states).Archeologists and Historians were NOT licensed or dfined as distinct disciplines as you may be familiar I think only 2states license archaeologists
Hell, in the scheme of interdisciplinary studies In your city, the Chairman of the U of Chicago School of Medicine, Dept of medical Anatomy IS a Paleontologist, he's not a medical doctor .

joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2015 07:13 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

There are no interesting universal statements in geography.

I'll have to take your word for it, because I actually have no clue what geographers do.
0 Replies
 
 

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