Quotes on the human sciences
These quotes on the human sciences will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the nature of the human sciences as an area of knowledge?
- What do they suggest about the purpose of the human sciences?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as an area of knowledge, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at , and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it)
1. The nature and aims of the human sciences
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
Economics is uncertain because its fundamental subject matter is not money but human action. That’s why economics is not the dismal science, it’s no science at all.
Like all science, psychology is knowledge; and like science again, it is knowledge of a definite thing, the mind.
James Mark Baldwin
The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.
The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men – the man he is and the man he wants to be.
In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability.
John Kenneth Galbraith
Philosophy is common sense with big words.
Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.
Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.
The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
2. Human sciences and imagination
3. Human sciences and language
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.
4. Human sciences and reason
Philosophy has to be enquiring; it can take nothing on faith, and its methods are based not on the blind acceptance of authority, but on establishing truths by reason and argument.
Policy makers, like most people, normally feel that they already know all the psychology and all the sociology they are likely to need for their decisions. I don’t think they are right, but that’s the way it is.
The true function of philosophy is to educate us in the principles of reasoning and not to put an end to further reasoning by the introduction of fixed conclusions.
George Henry Lewes
5. Human sciences and the arts
Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Ludwig van Beethoven
In fact, it is Shakespeare who gives us the map of the mind. It is Shakespeare who invents Freudian Psychology. Freud finds ways of translating it into supposedly analytical vocabulary.
Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
John F. Kennedy
My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.
A novel is never anything, but a philosophy put into images.
Music is always a commentary on society.
6. Human sciences and ethics
The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.
The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.
‘Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights.
Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings.
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
Where there is politics or economics, there is no morality.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel
7. Human sciences and history
History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.
W. H. Auden
Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.
Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.
C. Wright Mills
8. Human sciences and natural sciences
Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.
Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.
Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfying explanation of our psychology.
9. Human sciences and religious knowledge systems
Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism, but larger amounts bring us back to God.
Theology is anthropology.
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.