Human Science

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Questions and Answers on the Rationale, Scope, Content & Methodology of Human Science

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'Knowledge from a Human Perspective': What does it mean?

Man is a microcosm of the universe and contains everything within himself. He alone embodies the three principles of physical, vital and mental most fully developed. He alone has the consciousness and self-consciousness to look at the levels of life and consciousness beneath him and to explore those that are still above. He alone can discover the true nature of mind, life and matter and what lies behind them. All science (knowledge) we possess is that acquired by human consciousness and that knowledge is characterized by the nature of human consciousness, particularly the nature of mind and ego. Therefore, all science needs to start with an understanding of the human being who seeks knowledge, not with an understanding of the objective world. Only in the measure of our self-knowledge can we properly interpret the information impinging on us from outside. Otherwise we can only impose unconsciously the bias of our senses and mind on the forms and forces we encounter and discover in them what our preconceptions admit as real.

Rationality of an action lies in its results

A premise of Human Science is that knowledge which is complete and integral -- whole -- has the power only for good, while knowledge that is partial and incomplete often generates negative consequences. Therefore the rationality of knowledge can be judged by the results of consequences of applying that knowledge. Aristotle, in his Nichomachean Ethics, saw the rationality of an action as lying in the conclusion which leads from intentions or norms and from assessments of the situation and of the available means to immediate consequences in terms of action. Action is rational in so far as it follows premises which ground and justify its performance. A minimal rationality must therefore be presupposed in any action, in any bodily movement falling under this definition. Aristotle emphasized that even undisciplined actions which escape rational control, such as the excessive consumption of sweet things, can be formally at least fitted into the model of rational justification."

What are the limitations of empirical physical science?

Science as it is now practiced is partial, limited, subjective, biased, ignorant, speculative and arrogant in asserting the validity of its view and denying validity to other viewpoints. In his new book, Malcolm Hollick writes Science of Oneness, “In practice, science cannot be purely objective because scientists, like all human beings, are subjective and emotional….science is subjective because nature answers the questions asked, and it is humans that formulate the questions and interpret the responses.” He points out that the dominance of the Cartesian, mechanistic, purposeless universe presented by science not only limits our knowledge but also imposes on us views that contradict and negate the empirical evidence arising from the most essential precious aspects of human experience – beauty, love, joy, aspiration, freedom, a sense of purpose, growth, self-experience, perfection and much more, etc. [1]

Can science be held responsible for the negative applications of its discoveries?

  1. The negative side-effects of applying scientific knowledge originate from this partial perspective and therefore it is necessary to challenge science to become responsible and wholly positive in its impact. To quote Hollick, "Science, as an institution and scientists as individuals, must shoulder their share of responsibility for the world’s problems together with the civilization which gave science birth and it which it is embedded… Science is a major contributor to our problems…” Science cannot invent its own rules about disinterested, detached observation and insist on humanity exempting scientists from responsibility on that basis.
  2. This negative impact of science is an inevitable result of a partial, one-sided view of reality that can only be fully eradicated by knowledge based on the whole. As Hollick says, science is radically disconnected from reality, as in the case of the physician who treats the body as a faulty machine with stimulants and tranquillizers, ignoring the direct impact of emotional and mental factors on the body.
  3. Unless the perspective of empirical materialistic science is challenged, knowledge of physical reality will be limited to seeing matter as a material object and we can never delve to discover its true source as conscious-force and the process by which it has been created. This is an objective of many who challenge the validity of the current view even for the study of matter.
  4. Science is not the enemy. It is not the aim to dethrone science but to widen and uplift it so that it can play an even more constructive role the future. The aim of the Human Science project is to really make science a more valuable knowledge, more comprehensive and capable of solving any human problem. Presently science creates problems which a true science should not be able to do.

What are the limitations of the social sciences?

  1. When it comes to the social sciences, all the limitations listed for the empirical physical sciences also apply. To quote Hollick, "“The mechanistic view of the physical world infiltrated biology, psychology and the social sciences from where it continues to affect every aspect of our lives…Biologists still use the machine metaphor…higher organisms are still frequently regarded as unconscious, unfeeling machines without interests, rights or value…This radical disconnection from other creatures and our own bodies is reinforced by the scientific method. The goal of ibjective observation encourages emotional withdrawal from what is being studied, and reduces nature and people to objects to be experimented upon, manipulated and controlled…behavioral psychologists claimed that our thoughts, feelings and actions are programmed responses…many neuroscientists are intent on proving that consciousness and our spiritual impulses are no more than side effects of brain activity.” [2]
  2. Here the problem is compounded. At least the physical sciences have produced powerful technologies, many of which have served the advance of humanity. The results of applying a Cartesian, mechanistic, statistical, objective perspective in the social sciences have been far less impressive. What fundamental laws or processes of human existence has it uncovered? What has a century of psychological investigation revealed about the nature of human personality that can be applied by people to live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives? Management may provide useful strategies, techniques and analytic tools, but it has limited relevance for the founding or running of a company and tells us little about the underlying process by which human beings act within organizations to accomplishment socially useful results. Business leaders understand much more about this than the academics. How far does political science provide us with the capabilities to consciously build a world that is peaceful and secure for everyone?
  3. Humanity needs a knowledge capable of addressing all the pressing problems of humanity – poverty, illiteracy, oppression, regional conflicts, terrorism, nuclear threat, environmental damage, crime, drugs, bankruptcies, racial tensions, failed marriages, genocide, authoritarianism, recessions, loneliness, unemployment, etc. It also needs a knowledge capable of tapping the full potentials of every human being – to enable us to understand each other better, to relate more positively and live together more harmoniously, to make our lives more productive and fulfilling, to enable us to more effectively accomplish whatever it is we seek to accomplish and to become whatever it is we aspire to become.
  4. A new approach is required to the fields now studied by the social sciences that integrates objective and subjective aspects of reality and is based on the underlying principles that govern human action and accomplishment.
  5. Science as an institution and the pursuit of knowledge as a social activity also need to be studied and understood as expressions of human consciousness, organization and social evolution.

What is the scope of Human Science?

  1. Human science is not merely a complement to empirical science. It should ultimately supplant empirical science, even for the study of physical phenomena. It would seek to bridge the chasm between objective and subjective, which has its origin in the ego’s sense of separateness from the world around it. It would seek to overcome the mental tendency to divide reality into small parts and study each as an independent whole, losing site of the greater wholes to which all parts belong. It would dispel the unassailable belief in the twin gods -- Chance and Necessity – that dominate all our thinking today. It would counter the view of life and consciousness as mechanisms of matter, by revealing mind, life and matter as forms, energies and expressions of a common underlying reality – conscious-force. It would establish the central role and power of consciousness in determining the results and consequences of our actions, including the results of scientific inquiry. This would have profound implications for all branches of science, especially fields related to life and mind such as biology, medicine, ecology and neuroscience.
  2. Human science is not merely an alternative approach to that applied by the social sciences for the study of human behavior. But it must certainly seek to supplant present assumptions and methodologies of the social sciences and include an examination of all the fields and topics which they presently encompass. It would seek to generate knowledge of laws, processes, stages and strategies that can be applied both to better understand our past evolution and to more effectively meet future challenges and opportunities. It would seek to establish that there are common processes and principles applicable to all aspects and dimensions of human activity – individual and collective. The objective of human science in regard to society is to enhance our capacity for peace, prosperity, harmonious living and individual fulfillment.
  3. Human science is not merely a more inclusive approach that combines the social sciences and humanities within a common, non-empirical discipline as Dilthey proposed. But it would certainly include a study of the principles and processes common to all knowledge concerning human activity and behavior, including all the fields of the social sciences and humanities, such as history, literature, philosophy, metaphysics, the creative arts and religion.

Define Human Science?

  1. Human science takes humanity as the center: It does not accept a materialist view that matter and physical law is the ultimate reality and determinant in the universe. That view implicitly affirms that the ultimate values in the universe are matter, physical law and chance. Aristotle identified four types of cause. “Science focuses on material and efficient causes. It believes that form is simply the product of a sequence of efficient cause, and hence the idea of formal cause is unnecessary. The concept of final cause is rejected as false because the universe is mechanistic and the result of chance.” [3]
  2. Human Science starts with the premise that life and mental consciousness are as real as matter, that conscious human life is the highest achievement of universal evolution so far known and therefore the highest reality and greatest value. It does not seek to reduce all life and consciousness to their material components, but rather to comprehend the nature of life and consciousness in their own terms and discover the processes and laws governing their manifestation. It refuses to reduce awareness, will, aspiration, joy, love and beauty to physical nervous phenomena. Rather it affirms these are greater realities in their own right whose origin and nature must be discovered. If anything is a derivative of something greater than itself, it is unconscious matter from which these things emerge, not vice versa.
  3. Human science cannot be impersonal and detached from social consequences: It starts with the premise that as a human activity in pursuit of knowledge which is power, science must be judged in terms of its ultimate impact on human life, not according to any other standards or values. The creation of artificial standards to judge the validity and relevance of knowledge independent of its results is rejected. Knowledge – including all knowledge acquired by science -- does not exist independent of people. It is a human activity based on human beliefs, attitudes, perspectives and must be judged solely on the basis of its consequences for humanity. The development of weapons of mass destruction, poisons, environmentally destructive technologies, methods of torture or brainwashing cannot be divorced from their possible applications, any more than a baby toy that can be swallowed leading to suffocation can be valued for its entertainment value divorced from the threat it poses to life. The pursuit of knowledge, of which the pursuit of science is one expression, is an act of consciousness and the consequences of that pursuit are determined by the consciousness with which it is undertaken, including the partiality or wholeness of the understanding on which it is based and the egoism or selflessness, good or neutral, selfish or evil intention with which it is done. Hollick points out that 40% of science in the US is directly or indirectly funded by the military and a large part of the rest is funded by profit-seeking corporations. Whatever you wish to call it, such activity does not deserve to be legitimized by the name ‘science’. It is not the pursuit of knowledge. It is the pursuit of power and personal gain.
  4. Human science is knowledge that is all inclusive and integral – it includes all levels of existence from matter to spirit and all fields of activity from the pursuit of scientific knowledge and curing of diseases to success in business, social development and personal growth.
  5. The central objective of human science is knowledge that enhances the capacity of humanity – individually and collective – to achieve its most cherished values– peace, harmony, freedom, equality, prosperity, personal fulfillment, the quest for ultimate knowledge and human perfection.

Why is it necessary to use the term 'science' to refer to this knowledge?

  1. Mathematics and logic are called formal sciences. They are not empirical and do not apply the scientific method based on observation. They use science to mean logical, rational, impartial, unbiased, and subject to rules (in this case arbitrary conventions) and to imply that results can be replicated by following the same approach.
  2. By 'human science', we obviously do not mean empirical science. We want to imply that this is knowledge that is based on rational premises (not merely beliefs) and it can be validated by application either to an understanding of past results or achievement of future results.
  3. Granted, that verification in regard to human activities and consciousness is not empirical. Still the word connotes a systematic knowledge based on universal principles that is applicable and has the power for accomplishment. That is the connotation we want to bring out.
  4. What are the alternatives? Philosophy implies a mental framework that is internally consistent, but not necessarily one that related to life or has power in life or can be tested in any manner of speaking. Metaphysics is a good word, but today it has the connotation of relating to supraphysical realities. As commonly used it does not connate knowledge that has practical application.
  5. Hollick takes an ambiguous position. He argues against the fundamental deficiencies in empirical science yet calls from the recognition of complementary knowledge systems rather than proposing how science itself can be transformed. At the same time he calls his approach the 'Science of Oneness'.

What is the origin of the term 'Human Science'?

The term 'Human Science' was used by 19th Century German philosophers to describe a branch of science that encompassed the social sciences and the humanities, including history and literature, as distinct from the empirical natural sciences. Wilhelm Dilthey, among others, argued that the methods of the physical sciences were inappropriate for studying human phenomena in which the subjective psychological element was so important in determining the result of physical circumstances and events. "A knowledge of the forces that rule society, of the causes that have produced its upheavals, and of society's resources for promoting healthy progress has become of vital concern to our civilization....The sciences which take socio-historical reality as their subject matter are seeking, more intensively than ever before, their systematic relations to one another and to their foundation...All the disciplines that have socio-historical reality as their subject matter are encompassed in this work under the name "human sciences....By a "science" we commonly mean a complex of propositions (1) whose elements are concepts that are completely defined, i.e., permanently and universally valid within the overall logical system, (2) whose connections are well grounded, and (3) in which finally the parts are connected into a whole for the purpose of communication. The latter makes it possible either to conceive a segment of reality in its entirety through this connection of propositions or to regulate a province of human activity by means of it. The term "science" is here used to designate any complex of mental facts which bears the above characteristics and which therefore would normally be accorded the name "science....The nature of knowledge in the human sciences must be explicated by observing the full course of human development. Such a method stands in contrast to that recently applied all too often by the so-called positivists, who derive the meaning of the concept of science from a definition of knowledge which arises from a predominant concern with the natural sciences...The practice of regarding these disciplines as a unity distinct from the natural sciences is rooted in the depth and totality of human selfconsciousness. Even before he is concerned to investigate the origin of the human spirit, man finds within his self-consciousness a sovereignty of the will, a responsibility for actions, a capacity for subjecting everything to thought and for resisting, from within the stronghold of his personal freedom, any and every encroachment. This differentiates him from the rest of nature. He exists in nature as a realm within a realm - imperium in imperio, to use an expression of Spinoza. And since only that exists for him which is a fact of his consciousness, every value and every purpose in life lies in this independent world of mind active in him - the goal of his every act is to produce spiritual facts." With regard to phenomena of the human world, "only in the facts of consciousness given in inner experience do we possess reality as it is. The analysis of these facts is the central task of the human sciences." [4]

  1. Hollick, Malcolm, Science of Oneness, Routledge, 2006, p.15-16
  2. Hollick, ibid,p19-20.
  3. Hollick, ibid,p14.
  4. Dilthey, Wilhelm, Introduction to the Human Sciences, 1883, | Wilhelm Dlithey

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