By and large, the status of the sciences of nature or natural sciences such as physics or chemistry goes unquestioned. They conform to the different criteria put forward by epistemologists and qualify as sciences. This does not mean that physicists or chemists never encounter epistemological problems: it just means that such disciplines are as scientific as a discipline can get. The same can be said of mathematics which is not strictly speaking, a "natural science". We analyze the characteristics of the natural science and the various elements that constitute it.
[...] Natural sciences versus human sciences By and large, that status of the sciences of nature - or natural sciences - goes unquestioned: physics, chemistry are sciences. They conform to the different criteria put forward by epistemologists and they qualify as sciences. This does not mean that physicists or chemists never encounter epistemological problems: it just means that such disciplines are as scientific as a discipline can get. The same can be said of mathematics which is not strictly speaking, a “natural science”. [...]
[...] Let us try to understand what the problems are. Saying that the idea of a science of man or human science was a by product of the great explorations form Christopher Columbus to Bougainville provides us with a good start. A long as human beings are exposed to fellow human beings who seem in no fundamental way different from them, there is no reason to challenge the idea that all beings are alike. Universalism was really European “anthropocentrism” or “eurocentism”. [...]
[...] No doubt Montesquieu is one of the distant founding fathers of the “human sciences”. What appears clearly is his distinction, via Aristotle, between what the natural sciences can achieve and what human sciences an expression he does not use, precisely because in the Aristotelian perspective, sciences are of the immutable - can. Strictly speaking, there cannot be such a thing as a “science of man”. However, the observer can try, as much as possible, to detect however imperfect, that might account for human phenomena. [...]
[...] Our inwardness, if there is such a thing, can only tell us what it is that makes me an individual with his idiosyncrasies. But a “science” can not be based upon something individual, or at least so it seems. At some point, we may want to ask a radical question: after all, why should the human sciences be patterned after the natural sciences? After all, why is it that we need to have such a monolithic model of scientificity? Why couldn't there be several ways of being “scientific ? [...]
[...] For all the differences between the two scientific families, the task remains to think them conjointly. This is what Auguste Comte attempted. In order achieve that, Comte proposed a reorganisation of the system of science, that is, a totally new appraisal of the method of science. He suggested considering that a science must always proceed from the simple to the complex. Such could be the procedure common to natural science and to human science. Comte believed that sociology could be the human science par excellence. [...]
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