Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Dorothy Kim
Last updated: November 9, 2019
Both the term history and science have many different connotations, so it is difficult to comment on whether they can be put into the same classification.
Basically, the way in which history is studied would suggest that it is a science, mainly because the facts are all there, but a historian must find them and piece them together to complete the discovery. In science, the discovery of penicillin was made partly by mistake. Experiments in a laboratory on one subject stumbled across different results, which could be attributed to the discovery of penicillin.This is a very similar situation to where a historian may be involved in an archaeological investigation of the ruins of a roman villa. The search could yield new findings, which could change all previous perceptions of the Romans, for example finding evidence that the Romans had electricity. History is studied to gain an understanding of human activity in the past- from the time humans evolved to the present day.
This reason is identical to the reason science exists- to gain an understanding of the universe around us, and everything in it.However, History is just a small branch of this, making History more like Biology, Chemistry and Physics as being a sector under the main heading science. Whereas science can be recreated in the laboratory (almost everything can be turned into a table sized experiment, even universes apparently) history works in a slightly different way. Some would argue it is impossible to do a controlled scientific experiment on a historical event, but there are two arguments to this. How about a police investigation of an abduction?The police would stage a reconstruction hoping to prompt people into reporting any abnormal events they may have seen, but forgotten previously. This would be recreating history so as to create a fuller understanding of events that took place.
Another argument would be that a historian has had all of his experiments conducted for him, and it is purely his job to collect the data and make an analysis on it. Why did the Normans win the Battle of Hastings? The historian goes out, looks at records such as the Bayeaux Tapestry then sums up his findings in whatever way he sees suit.There appear to be knows laws in history, as there is no way of controlling human behaviour. Laws may be put into place in different countries to stop people doing certain things, however people can still do whatever they like. This suggests that history is not a science because there is no scientific explanation for human behaviour. However, humans have short memories, and their thoughts tend to be the same, so it is possible for patterns and similarities to be picked out from similar events happening at different periods in time.For example, many of the “great” dictators in the 20th Century persecuted people in their nation, and in the end failed in their aims. There is a lot to be said about human nature.
Humans tend to be greedy, and often selfish, and when this trait comes along in a powerful person, it often leads to their downfall. The French Emperor Napoleon wanted France to rule the whole of Europe, and as he conquered more and more countries he became thirsty for more, until eventually he was beaten. The use of history in terms of technology is bigger than people think.When considering constructing a building in Mexico City, an engineer may want to look at historical records of the city, where they will find it is prone to earthquakes.
This would lead to an earthquake proof building being built, rather than a normal building as would be seen in London. Without historical records, the building could have been built in completely the wrong way, which could lead to disaster.In the past, civilisations such as the Ancient Greeks developed building techniques “way ahead of their time. Studying these techniques could lead to advances in present day construction technology by applying methods from the past. The previous conception that science revolves around maths is false.
It is not possible to study the mating habits of a badger using numbers, which is the same in history. However, there are bands of history that are involved with mathematics. In Physics, the general way of summing up an experiment could be to present a formula developed from the experiments findings.In Biology, the results of an experiment may conclude a hypothesis, so if history is a branch of science on a par with biology, why can it not work in the same way, by presenting its findings in words, rather than numbers. In conclusion, a definition of science is “the knowledge so obtained, or the practice of obtaining it”.
Using this, what is there to stop history being classified as a science? This essay topic is a prime example of something that could be studied historically (why do humans not consider history to be a science) or scientifically (why do humans not consider history to be a science- in the field of human psycology)