The Value of Social Sciences

A world without the social sciences is a world of chaos and primitiveness. Man simply does not live by and for himself; his existence relies upon the rest as much as the whole society affects him. It took quite a while for modern humans to recognize the significance of this interconnection; to fail to acknowledge and cultivate this knowledge is to abandon the conveniences of social life.

Yes, it is quite challenging to build a body of knowledge in the realm of science where exact measurements are hard, if not impossible to come by, but the softness of the social sciences must not be construed as something of lesser importance than the hard sciences. Social sciences are not unlike philosophy, one which I consider the softest of them all, but without it, we never would have progressed to where we are today. Our natural curiosity to lay out the ground rules of the patterns of things we see enables us to improve upon what we already know, and continue to test those that we already accept to be true. Even if the answers to our questions in the social sciences are usually reduced to “this is likely to cause that”, or “this highly correlates to that”, these answers do not make them less valuable than the mathematical proofs of the other sciences, because science can only go so far as to establish the observable. No science, hard or soft, is exempt from this. What we should instead focus on is that our endeavors in both kinds of sciences are pursued using our greatest faculty: our reason. Reason does not just take the form of numbers; it also covers the abstract and the intangible that are nevertheless still at the grasp of human understanding and logic.

At this level of awareness, there becomes no distinction between soft or hard science. It just becomes science, a body of knowledge which we pursue by sound reasoning and impeccable observation from our senses. Therefore when we observe and constantly establish that children traumatized by parents are highly susceptible to dysfunction later in life based on some Freudian theory, this observation does not make it any less scientific than mathematically proving that the universe will continue to expand based on the Big Bang theory. There is no absolute truth in science, only theories that persist until a stronger one comes along, or until our mental faculties evolve into another form with a different level of awareness and reasoning.

What we ought to do, rather responsibly, is not to discriminate, but to work together by integrating the investigative tools that are developed from any scientific endeavor in order to help build on other areas of science. For example, any scientific investigation can benefit from discoveries in research about a person’s biased tendencies to research based on background, social standing or existing relationships with colleagues. Or a tool developed in the field of physics that is able to study subtle energies can also be applied to research in psychology were flows of energy in the human brain are being studied. This form of cooperation carries with it a level of trust in any field of science, and pushes away any label that implies less or more scientific merit as is often judged to soft or hard science.

Lastly and with a bit of practicality, isn’t it immediately beneficial to us what the social sciences can offer? These sciences try to explain what we are, how we are, and how we can improve ourselves as a society. That makes them even more important, makes much more sense, and gives a clear direction where we should focus our attention on, rather than just knowing whether there was life on Mars, a luxury that only developed nations can undertake. In our country where social problems abound, we need not have any second thoughts about the value of the social sciences.

This entry was posted in Science and Technology, Science, Technology and Society, Sociology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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