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?
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