Chapter

The Language of Human Nature

Roger Smith

in Inventing Human Science

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 1995 | ISBN: 9780520200104
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520916227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520200104.003.0004
The Language of Human Nature

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This chapter starts by rejecting a “pillarized” approach to the human sciences in the eighteenth century, an approach that excavates foundations for each of the modern psychological or social sciences. Not only were there no disciplines in the modern institutional sense in the eighteenth century but the terms and investigative activity making possible such differentiated scholarship did not exist. Human nature remained an essentially irreducible category in terms of which observed phenomena were to be explained. The business of human science was to describe its qualities. Some works attempted to explain those qualities by some other ground, such as God or physiology, but this was a secondary undertaking in that body of work distinguished as the Enlightenment. The descriptive study of human nature distinctively identifies the eighteenth-century endeavor in human science.

Keywords: Enlightenment; human science; social science; physiology; human nature

Chapter.  11160 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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