Questioning human science (Part One)

Law from Within’ questions the humanities, and human science for their apparent inability to demonstrate or indeed describe that Man has a wholesome interconnected nature, one that enables natural laws to govern its process of sustaining life. It seem obvious that our nature should be united in all respects and that its totality would embrace harmonious orderly functioning. Given that ‘orderliness’ is the etymological root of ‘law,’ such would define the natural laws of our human nature, having respect to life’s sustenance and wellbeing. Should not the same provide an ideal model for human societies?  While biological sequences and order appear resplendent in the human body, their mental and emotional counterparts are not readily found in human science today. Little or none appears spoken of. From much research and eventually from the realm of philosophy, the role of conscious mind and subconscious mind became vibrantly clear. Everything then fell into place sequentially. There’s the problem. Science seems more interested in behavioural patterns than mental sequence and orderly process; behavioural responses not

This post, (in two parts), is written to illustrate the vital need to refocus human science. Much is to be gained. Our mental processes from perception through understanding to emotional coherence have clear spiritual significance. Moreover, such information should fill a yawning chasm and curtail tendencies to invent fictional theories or misleading notions concerning our mental, emotional and spiritual being.

The humanities may be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. —Stanford Humanities Centre

Although these subjects, also including performing arts such as music and theatre, have been part of the humanities curriculum since the very beginning of universities, they bypass our human nature as individuals. Sociology plays a role of course, but my focus is our conscious process, as a subject for human science.

We each are unique and complete

It is perhaps unfortunate that science of the humanities overlaps the science of psychology, and philosophy, and of course those sciences that deal with the brain, neural pathways and all things mental. It is all too easy to shunt a particular topic from one field of study to another and thereby escape dealing with it. At first glance, this sharing aspect may seem to unite the various sciences, but there’s a risk that vital clues might hide in the void between different subjects.

We each, every man and woman, are complete and fully integrated. In truth, therefore, science that deals with our human nature should adequately embrace and comprehensively deal with our being as a whole. Sociological aspects that concern interactions between one person and another would benefit from our nature as a trustworthy reference base. Presently however, matters dealing with our nature are blended with sociological issues as though the content of our free will choices deny objective study of how our faculties process that information. The result is that (subjective) behaviour becomes confused with our (objective) nature whereupon human sciences are less than comprehensively coherent.

What’s Wrong with the Humanities?

An article from the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, highlights several areas of concern, leaving the author with grave doubts about how humanities values and knowledge are transmitted efficiently.

The humanities are declining because too many humanities scholars are alienating students and the public with their opacity, triviality, and irrelevance.

… huge numbers of applications for NEH Fellowships were ‘written badly, in fashionable and impenetrable jargon. The opacity of academic prose, much of it couched in unfathomable theory-speak, has long been the subject of discussion, and even mockery, much of it well deserved.’

Equally disappointing was the fact that large numbers of applications stuck to the deeply grooved paths first trod by the postmodern humanities of the sixties and seventies. There was a uniformity, and conservatism, among them that indicated a lack of fresh thinking. Instead of advancing new ideas, such proposals left me with a feeling that their shelf lives had expired years before. Whatever their subjects, applicants often viewed their research exclusively through the same predictable lens of race, class, gender, theory, or some trivial aspects of popular culture. New and original approaches to the various areas of the humanities were all too rare.—Bruce Cole

Perhaps this problem spills across other human sciences; studies of our mental processes, senses, emotions or even our six higher faculties? If so we must ask what human science deals with our real human nature? Does neuroscience concern itself with consecutive conscious processes toward the goal of life’s sustenance or growth, or is it preoccupied with mental mechanics, synapses, neural pathways, transmitters and the like? It would seem that study of orderly conscious process is abandoned, left over for psychologists.

How does Psychology fare in human science?

An article entitled ‘This Is What Is Wrong With the Core of Psychology,’ Gregg Henriques, Ph.D. deals with the subject of cognition. He argues  that the field of psychology has ‘massive difficulties with its basic definitions, concepts, and categories.’ In common everyday usage, the word ‘cognitive’ refers to thoughtful deliberation, logical analysis, and problem-solving. These higher mental processes differ from other mental processes such as sensation, emotion, or felt intuition. The author further argues that these basic definitions are missing from the field of cognitive psychology. Why so, if they are so elementary?

The answer to that question, seemingly, is that two fundamentally different philosophies underscore psychology’s approach to its subject matter. The ‘cognitivist’ approach embraces the idea of a latent, unobservable entity or force called ‘the mind’ that causes overt behaviour. In contrast, the ‘behaviourist’ approach posits ‘behaviour’ an attribute of the mind, hence no reference to ‘mental processes’ seemingly is needed. The article concludes—

…we need to search for metaphysical maps of the territory that are both consistent with modern science and actually make sense of foundational terms like cognitive, mental, consciousness, and behavior. Unfortunately, the current culture of psychology is such that the mere sight of the words like “metaphysics” result in either eyes glazing over in confusion or rejection stemming from a deep-seated fear of philosophizing without data. We should not be deterred, but simply see this kneejerk conditioned (cognitive?) reflex as being indicative of just how much work there is to be done. –Gregg Henriques, Ph.D

… continued in Questioning human science, part 2.

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