The Uncertain Sciences
In this wide-ranging book one of the most esteemed cultural historians of our time turns his attention to major questions about human experience and the attempts to understand it 'scientifically.' Bruce Mazlish considers the achievements, failings, and possibilities of the human sciences - a domain that he broadly defines to include the social sciences, literature, psychology, and hermeneutic studies. In a rich and original synthesis built upon the work of earlier philosophers and historians, Mazlish constructs a new view of the nature and meaning of the human sciences. Starting with the remote human past and moving through the Age of Discovery to the present day, the author discusses what sort of knowledge the human sciences claim to offer. He looks closely at the positivistic aspirations of the human sciences, which are modeled after the natural sciences, and at their interpretive tendencies. In an analysis of scientific method and scientific community, he explores the roles they can or should assume in the human sciences. Mazlish's approach is genuinely interdisciplinary, and he draws on an array of topics, from civil society to globalisation to the interactions of humans and machines, to inform his thought-provoking discussion of historical consciousness. Bruce Mazlish is Professor of History at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His book The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines, published by Yale University Press, received the Hayden National Book Award.