A couple of weeks ago I attended a talk by Edward Skidelsky in the SAS history institute on ‘Why should philosophers be interested in the history of ideas?’. The talk led to a lively discussion: on the one hand, the historians emphasising particularities, and on the other, the philosopher (Skidelsky) emphasising the possibility of some universal ideas. I found this interesting since I would usually assume that the big divide to be between social sciences and humanities (including both history and philosophy). Thinking about it a bit further, I came up with the following circle:
What does it show (and not show)?
- The divide between social sciences and humanities, plus formal sciences (and a link to natural sciences) – but, in addition, the distinction between ‘particularist’ and ‘universalist’ fields in both social sciences and humanities. Of course, the examples are not always clear-cut (eg, anthropology and sociology may be either particularist or universalist), ie the position aims to show the dominant view in the field in question.
- Overall, the areas of research are presented in a circle with the formal sciences (eg maths) filling the gap: eg see (anti-clockwise) that economics is somehow linked to maths and logic which is somehow linked to philosophy, which is somehow linked to literature etc.
- The question not addressed in this picture is: where is ‘law’? so please read further here.