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Inventing Human ScienceEighteenth-Century Domains$
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Christopher Fox, Roy Porter, and Robert Wokler

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780520200104

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520200104.001.0001

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The Language of Human Nature

The Language of Human Nature

Chapter:
(p.88) Four The Language of Human Nature
Source:
Inventing Human Science
Author(s):

Roger Smith

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520200104.003.0004

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

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