Re: History and ASA

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Nov 17 2005 - 14:05:01 EST

>>> Craig Rusbult <craig@chem.wisc.edu> 11/17/05 1:42 PM >>>asks me,

    What are the differences between social science and humanities? The
Ohio Humanities Council says, "The humanities are the stories, the ideas,
and the words that help us make sense of our lives and our world." By
this
definition, history is certainly in humanities.

Why do you think it fits better into humanities, Ted?

My answer is:
For the reasons given in the definition you quoted. History is story--our
story, the human story.

I also agree however that historians use hard data and formulate hypotheses
about that data. In my dissertation, I even employed Popperian language
about "testing" an "hypothesis" in the most "severe" test I could think of.
The scientist inside me, intruding into the historian I was becoming, but I
still do think that way. If you can't find hard data, then it's just
speculation. Not all speculation is on the same level, of course--informed
speculation is usually worth more than uninformed speculation (at least the
informed know what is NOT true), but speculation nonetheless. My sense is
that literary scholars (including biblical scholars) aren't as closely
linked to evidence and are more given to speculation, and they are really
"hard core" humanities people.

Ted
Received on Thu Nov 17 14:08:56 2005

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