Natural Sciences Versus Human Sciences

Natural sciences are defined as “a branch of science which deals with the physical world, e.g. physics, chemistry, geology, biology”. Or in other words a branch of knowledge that studies the physical world. Human sciences are defined as “a branch of study which deals with people or their actions, including the social sciences and the humanities”. These branches of science both focus on different aspects of life, leading to the question – then what makes them similar?

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To be classified as a science, it must be “an organised, systematic enterprise that gathers knowledge about the world and condenses the knowledge into testable laws”. This is according to Edward O Wilson, who is a biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist, and author. From this description, most human sciences do not apply to this, as they do not gather knowledge and condense it into laws. They do gather knowledge yet this information is not suitable to be applied to any laws, but simply left as “information”.

So will the gap between the Human and Natural sciences become narrower as technology advances? If we could use advanced technology in an organised method to gather data and condense it into laws about humans, then these areas of knowledge would grow in similarity. But the extent as to how we “measure” human phenomena is very limited and also difficult; one reason being how little we actually understand about ourselves.

Maybe as technology progresses we will be able to undertake more scientific methods in learning about the human mind. But whether we ever have such technology to fully understand the human mind or whether there is even a physical aspect to the mind is still one of the greatest mysteries to neuroscientists. Some philosophers even debate that the mind cannot and will never be able to understand itself.

“The incredible thing about the human mind is that it didn’t come with an instruction book” – Terry Riley

 

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Mathematics

When researching about the history of mathematics, I came across many people discussing and debating about when we actually “discovered” it. Yet this provoked me onto another idea of whether mathematics was even “discovered”, or was it actually invented? To answer this I think it is relevant to look at the history of how and when mathematics came about, or was first recorded. However even this has its own faults, as we may have been using mathematics from a much earlier period, yet just never realised or categorised it as such.

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During the prehistoric era it is thought humans used maths for concepts of numbers and quantities, however this is not a unique characteristic in humans. What is unique in humans though is language. I believe that because language limits our thought, as our language developed this also led to the development of mathematics. As we came up with words for quantities, we were able to use them and understand them more- until we started to invent and understand more and more complex ideas.

If you think about it, mathematics fits into our world so easily – in fact almost perfectly. This also suggests that we invented mathematics to fit into our lives, and suit the patterns and structures we know around us for our benefit of purpose and understanding. The way we have invented it may have also been limited by the way we look at this area of knowledge. We may have invented it to fit into the limits of what we can see and understand – unknowably constricting our knowledge.

“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but complicated things simple” – S. Gudder

If the universe disappeared, maths would no longer exists because humans would no longer exist. Without humans maths cannot exist, as it is purely in our heads and our minds. Maths is not a concept in animals, it is something that is formed in the mind of a human. From these reasons I do strongly believe that we did not “discover” mathematics, but we invented it. Humans use it to help understand and explore the world in such an incredible way, its hard to imagine how we would function without one of our races most valuable areas of knowledge.

( Image from: http://www.dreams.metroeve.com/mathematics/#.Wv8k3VMvy8o )

 

Reason Versus Emotion

You can dig out as many facts and logic as you possibly can to persuade someone, however this may be entirely ineffective. Decision making is not actually logical, but emotional. Imagine if society ran purely on logic – everyone would be able to see the facts and figures, and would have the same point of views. There would be no arguments or debates, and we would all agree to the same ideas because they have the facts and logic to support them.

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According to http://www.bigthink.com, neuroscientists undertook a ground breaking discovery on people with damage to the brain where emotions are generated. They felt and behaved “normally”, however simply had no emotions. One thing that was really interesting was that they could not make decisions. They could explain the actions they should take from a logical point of view, however could not make simple decisions. When asked whether they wanted to eat chicken or turkey, they could not find a rational way to decide – and therefore could not make a decision.

From this we learn that in terms of decisions, our emotions are very important. These concepts come up very important for professional roles involving negotiating and debating. Many people believe that if their points are entirely logical, then the other side will have no way of arguing, yet what they do not consider is the opponents way of thinking. They simply may not be able to see things your way. Professionals develop techniques that manipulate people into thinking they have made opinions by themselves, where in actual fact they have just fallen into a planned trap.

To conclude, I believe emotions override reason in everything we do. I am writing this right now as part of my education in order to get great results and achieve a future I aspire to. Aspiration is an emotion, the reason we are all alive today is because we fear death and have positive emotions towards life. People commit suicide because of negative emotions associated with life, which demonstrates our biological and logical instincts cannot control us from committing harm to our body. You may think you are using reason (facts etc), yet deep down the root of your actions ,and reason for providing reason, is caused by emotion.

Poetry In Translation

In my opinion, I believe translating original poetry from one language to another causes its meaning to be lost. What was uniquely and individually special about the poem has now been taken away. Its style and articulation of ideas should be expressed and enjoyed in the language it was written in, and I found that by translating this poem I had to change many of the words or phrases to suit English. Almost to the point where this poem did not feel to be the poet’s poem, but more like my own.

“As the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language.” – Samuel Johnson

“To translate a poem is to create a different poem in a new language.” – Samuel Beckett

I decided to chose a poem by Siddiq Raddi, one of Africas leading poets. The poet is from Omdurman, Khartoum – which is not far from where I used to live in Sudan. I always found Arabic a very beautiful language, and by translating this poem I hope to preserve its elegance and give it justice.

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The Key of Life
By Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

Civilisation springs from the mellow river
Whose essence never goes astray
To allow for this tale to be told.

The first in life to clasp their
Hands around the door handle –
And turn the tarnished key
Will plunge into the gateway
Leading to the mystery of life

A cluster of metal,
An amulet,
A mirror,
Suffocating,
Drifting away with their memories
Are now icons of a sun within a grave,
A grave within a riverbed – within the grave of a river.

(-Still working on the poem)

 

Logical Fallacies

Hasty Generalisation: The fallacy of making the scope of evidence too small to support the conclusion.

As an example of hasty generalisation, I will analyse this Sketchers TV advertisement:

This TV advert tries to demonstrate that by wearing Sketchers you will become faster, however there is a complete lack of evidence that leads to a conclusion that involves many other factors; therefore making it a “hasty generalisation”.

It is known that the pug will never be able to win the race, and putting shoes on this dog will most likely just make him slower. The advert does not include any specific information about the shoes that you would expect, like comfort and the ergonomic design, and is not logical at all. In fact there is not even a small amount of evidence to support the shoes, just comedic value.

 

Language as a Way of Knowing

Do animals use language? The simple answer to this is no, as language is a word we use to describe the method of spoken or written human communication. Although animals do not communicate using language, they still use sounds and gestures to express themselves. This is much like a human baby, which will cry and make gestures to try and communicate its needs, however unlike animals the baby will begin to learn words.

There are some animals, like dogs, which can understand our words and create a response. However the dog is not communicating, but recognising that when we make certain sounds it should react in a certain way. It is to do with the tone in which we speak to dogs that affects them. For example telling a dog “bad dog” in a cheerful manner will not cause the dog to stop wagging its tail, as it will not understand what you are implying. Likewise, parrots are known to be able to “talk”, yet they are merely just repeating sounds we create, and the actual meaning of those words means nothing to them.

Animal communication is very basic compared to the extremely complex and diverse language humans use, as they are mostly limited to communicating immediate issues (food, danger, and threatening situations). So how did humans evolve away from this basic communication to produce such a powerful method to express our thoughts? It is reasonable to think that ancient humans began grunting or howling to express their thoughts, and this gradually built of over time so certain sounds began to be associated with certain actions or ideas. The problem with this idea is that chimpanzees also grunt to express their thoughts, so why have they not developed language? This must have something to do to with when the human and chimpanzee lines diverged around 6 million years ago.

According to researchers, the changes that happened to the human brain were crucial in the development of language. Not only did the size increase, but the character of the brain also developed. Unfortunately, other than fossils of skulls and the human body, there is sparsely any evidence that we can find to discover how language first developed. We can only analyse how certain changes to the skeletal structure of a human may have influenced the development of language. For example, around 100,000 years ago there were changes to the shape of the vocal tract which allowed for speech to become faster and more expressive.

To conclude, it is unknown how humans first developed language, however what we do know is that humans had the desire to communicate from being such a social species. We were able to remember huge quantities of information, as well as imitate vocals from others, which consequently allowed for sounds to be remembered and associated to ideas. These qualities were what separated humans from basic animal communication, and consequently allowed the species to evolve and become highly intelligent. multiple-language_7fc116afedc7272df380450ce0f03879

Which Pill Would You Chose?

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
-The Matrix, said by Morpheus to Neo

The Matrix includes a scene involving the protagonist having to chose between a blue pill or a red pill. The blue pill will allow the character to wake up forgetting everything that has happened, and believe the world he lives in is real. However the red pill will take the character into the “real” world, showing him the lies he has been living his entire life.

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Is it worth pursing reality and truth when the life you live in is already perfect? If I were in Neo’s position I would find it difficult to know wether the “real” world is in fact just another simulation, and would just make my life more miserable in a different world. How could I trust a man I barely know, and what if I am already in the real world and this man is tricking me into a simulation?

Although I may initially doubt and feel uncertain of this man, my natural human instinct is to question, enquire, and understand the world. I would want to understand more, even if this meant risking being put into another false world. Morpheus mentions to Neo this “question that drives us”, and that there has always been “a splinter in your mind – driving you mad” about the truth of our existence.

I believe most people will naturally feel driven to seek the truth, and take the red pill. It is our consciousness that forces us to want to learn and take in knowledge of our existence. Even if this means I may be tricked into a worse existence, at least I will know it is the truth of the world. To conclude, I would take the red pill, as I just wouldn’t be able to live with that “splinter in my mind” questioning the truth. I feel my mind would be more at rest living in the chaotic real world, than in the ignorant fake life.