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Social Science is a vast field and provides a breadth of knowledge through many of its topics subjects. This research paper critically analyzes the various conceptions, theories and historical origins of Social Sciences in order to provide a comprehensive over-view of this vast all-encompassing field which includes many other independent academic disciplines in order to provide individuals the ability to apply the various philosophies of Social Science in the practical realm of human life.
When we ask ourselves, what is Social Science? We are often faced with a dilemma. This is because defining Social Science, according to us, means narrating a list of subjects, which we think, come under the umbrella of Social Science i.e. Anthropology, Politics, Economics, Psychology, History, Linguistics, Language or Theology. It’s very easy to give a list of would-be Social Sciences. However, social science is a very relative term to define. It is a science that uses systematic methods of empirical observation/data and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity, in order to apply this knowledge for the study of social processes and human behavior. Its subject matter includes a broad spectrum of subjects which involves interacting with people at a micro level while at others interacting with people at a macro level. It is a broad discipline in terms of methodology and subject matter. It encompasses a broad arena of subjects, all of which collectively come under the branch of Social Sciences.
Nature of Social Science
Social Science is non-ethical in the sense that it deals with the study of events as they are and not what they should be. The scientist has no technique by which he can determine what the ultimate values of a society should be. The knowledge attained by him is instrumental.
Fundamental assumptions are involved in all the investigations of knowledge which are accepted without testing. The assumptions or pre-suppositions of science are given in the following:
There is an object world quite different from the subject world
The truth of the object world can be explored by an unbiased investigation by man and by employing what is known as the &lquo;scientific method.”
Scientific Rationality is identified in Social Sciences and science addresses to the modern world, comprehending through logical thought and reasoning, creating suppositions and verifying it through means of experimentation and scientific method.
Explanation of the Object World
To explain the phenomena of the world is one of the aims of Science. Principles, laws theories and facts are themselves an explanation of the phenomena of the world. All the principles law and theories are not only hypotheses but of higher degree of maturity.
It is scientific and is subject to experimentation. Similarly, in case of social sciences, prediction can be made in a large number of events. If a child loses his parents in early age, there is a possibility of delinquency for him (under certain conditions). As from common sense, it can be predicted that if parents fail in providing food and protection to the child, it is certain that he may die. Similarly, if they deprive the same child of their affection and love, it is definite that the child may be emotionally disturbed by which he will be frustrated and frustration leads to aggression. Aggression is crime and the child then becomes a criminal in his life. He will turn out to be a delinquent. Therefore, Social Sciences fulfill the following conditions of Science:
- Sociology itself is knowledge.
- Sociology employs most of the scientific methods in its investigation of social conditions.
- Sociological knowledge has to some extent, achieved organizations in its existing store of knowledge which we find today in the form of principles, laws, theories, concepts and facts.
Hence, with the help of the above example, we can deduce that sociology is a science which develops scientific principles and rationality in the study of its subject matter and thus it fully deserves to be called a science. It scientifically studies the relationship amongst people; hence it is called a social science.
Historical Roots of Social Sciences
In order to gain an insight into Social Sciences, one must have an understanding of the rooots, origins, history and development of Social Sciences.
There have been some eminent social scientists who have greatly contributed to the expansion and progress of Social Sciences.
- Thomas Hobbes:
A renowned social scientist, Thomas Hobbes is considered to be the founder of modern political and social science and lived during some of the most chaotic times in European history. He had deductive methods of investigation, i.e. he sought to reason things from some elementary principles. He took his premise from the science of geometry. “For example, starting with some fundamental axioms, one applies deductive knowledge to build up the entire system of Euclidean Geometry.”
Hobbes philosophies suggests that he considered humans to be perfunctory objects and intrinsically selfish, who were always vested in the pursuit of safeguarding their own interests. Hence, the reasons capable of altering those self-centered aspects of human behavior are pleasure and pain. However, his view of science was based on crude and pessimistic principles and was not very feasible in daily life.
- Auguste Comte:
There was another notable sociologist who contributed extensively to the progress of Social Sciences after Hobbes known as Auguste Comte. He believed that human beings must obey universal rules and regulations in order to govern themselves and their conduct. He said that the implementation of these laws would lead to the formulation of a perfect society. He believed that the methods of natural science were apt for the search of these laws. Comte’s views serves as a vital intermediary between Hobbes and contemporary natural science approaches.
- Emile Durkheim:
Emile Durkheim is regarded as one of the foremost social scientists and the father of modern sociology. He said that every social event or happening found its reason in some social fact or phenomenon. Hobbes believed that society arose out of individuals whereas Durkheim believed that society came ahead of individuals. He also believed that the self-interests of human beings could be kept in check by limitations imposed by the society.
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