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The term 'Human Science' was used by 19th Century German philosophers to describe a branch of science that encompassed the social sciences and the humanities, including history and literature, as distinct from the empirical natural sciences. Wilhelm Dilthey, among others, argued that the methods of the physical sciences were inappropriate for studying human phenomena in which the subjective psychological element was so important in determining the result of physical circumstances and events. "A knowledge of the forces that rule society, of the causes that have produced its upheavals, and of society's resources for promoting healthy progress has become of vital concern to our civilization.
The sciences which take socio-historical reality as their subject matter are seeking, more intensively than ever before, their systematic relations to one another and to their foundation...All the disciplines that have socio-historical reality as their subject matter are encompassed in this work under the name "human sciences....By a "science" we commonly mean a complex of propositions whose elements are concepts that are completely defined, i.e., permanently and universally valid within the overall logical system, whose connections are well grounded, and in which finally the parts are connected into a whole for the purpose of communication. The latter makes it possible either to conceive a segment of reality in its entirety through this connection of propositions or to regulate a province of human activity by means of it.
The term "science" is here used to designate any complex of mental facts which bears the above characteristics and which therefore would normally be accorded the name "science....The nature of knowledge in the human sciences must be explicated by observing the full course of human development. Such a method stands in contrast to that recently applied all too often by the so-called positivists, who derive the meaning of the concept of science from a definition of knowledge which arises from a predominant concern with the natural sciences.
The practice of regarding these disciplines as a unity distinct from the natural sciences is rooted in the depth and totality of human selfconsciousness. Even before he is concerned to investigate the origin of the human spirit, man finds within his self-consciousness a sovereignty of the will, a responsibility for actions, a capacity for subjecting everything to thought and for resisting, from within the stronghold of his personal freedom, any and every encroachment. This differentiates him from the rest of nature. He exists in nature as a realm within a realm - imperium in imperio, to use an expression of Spinoza. And since only that exists for him which is a fact of his consciousness, every value and every purpose in life lies in this independent world of mind active in him - the goal of his every act is to produce spiritual facts." With regard to phenomena of the human world, "only in the facts of consciousness given in inner experience do we possess reality as it is. The analysis of these facts is the central task of the human sciences.
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