History is a science | Manila weather


I was quite shocked to learn recently that in some universities the discipline of history is actually seen as part of the humanities and not as a social science. I thought this debate was already settled, having come from the University of the Philippines. In 1983, the College of Arts and Sciences at UP was divided into three separate colleges: the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Although it could be said that the writing of history is part of literature and therefore should be in the arts and letters, it has been placed in social sciences and philosophy along with anthropology, linguistics, science. politics, psychology, sociology, geography and, of course, philosophy.

Why is the distinction important between treating history as human sciences or integrating it into social sciences? Why is this important?

Well, in many ways, history is indeed part of the humanities since it is also considered part of the liberal arts. Born from the period of the Enlightenment in Europe which sought the equality of Man, the term “liberal” in the liberal arts comes from the Latin word meaning “free” – “libera” – free from the strong influence of the Church and of the King, and with the reason that man is the center. With it came a more scientific approach to solving the problems.

This is why, although science is very much linked to humanism, the humanities have become a slogan linked to the arts and literature more than to the sciences. And the emphasis in art and literature is creativity and imagination. How reality is represented, in the words of Manolo Quezon, “by semblant”. It can also relate to things outside of this world. We see it in the creative productions of novels, short stories, poetry and movies.

History is part of the humanities, of course, because you have people like Barbara Tuchman or Teodoro Agoncillo who wrote history like you read a novel. They can be great literature. And although Agoncillo pointed out that a certain level of historical imagination is exercised when writing a good story, I think making history just a part of the humanities leaves a very important feature of the story. tale which is different from the rest of the humanities – literature, music, fine arts – that the imagination and the creation of its narrative cannot be based on imagination but can only be based on evidence.

And this is where, although the productions of historians are written, they are constructed according to the historical method, which is why it is considered more than literature but a science. Not part of the hard sciences, it is a social science. A certain methodology is used to determine whether documents and sources are authentic or not (external review), the veracity of the story itself (internal review) by comparing it with other sources. And although, like literature, history must be interpretative (failure to do so makes a storyteller a mere antiquarian, analysis is key), its interpretations and analysis cannot be based only on what actually happened, the best that your evidence and sources can build.

Another thing that separates history from journalism or art is the familiarity of historians with the general narrative of Philippine history, as the difference between the historian and a mere antiquarian is the ability to contextualize these singular events. and see their connection to other parts of this general. the story. It is not enough to find a primary source, to write a story of it and to call oneself a historian.

Again, why is it important to distinguish history as a social science rather than humanities? Let me demonstrate it using this story: José Rizal was brought to Luneta for execution on December 30, 1896. But he was not actually dead. He eventually grew old and had many identities, including that of Father José Antonio Diaz, who oversaw the Vatican Bank, which holds Nazi gold, which is actually owned by a royal family that owned the Philippines before the arrival of the Spaniards. Old Dr Rizal gave all this gold to a Filipino lawyer by the name of Ferdinand E. Marcos, and it proved that Marcos’ wealth is in fact divine wealth which, if a certain presidential candidate wins, will ultimately be distributed to the Filipinos. and will make the country even bigger.

If the story is all literature, I think this story can be the best in creativity, the best in writing fiction. Truly an entertaining piece. But without the historical evidence-based method, it will never be a believable story. Diluting history as mere literature or the humanities takes away the emphasis on evidence and analysis.

History is scientific; that is why Teodoro Agoncillo and Encarnacion Alzona received the award for national scientists rather than national artists. To have done it otherwise allows us to consider that the story can be distorted for certain ends, in the name of artistic license or even politics.

A historic Christmas to you all.