Acquiring Knowledge Through Inquiry Philosophy Essay

An art on the other hand is a study of creative skill or the study of a collection of disciplines which produce artworks which are driven by personal drive, in order to convey mood, a message or symbolism, for the viewer to analyse and interpret. Arts stimulate an individual’s emotions, thoughts, ideas and beliefs through the senses [2] .

The phrase science derives its origin from the Latin phrase, scentia, meaning knowledge. As such, the phrase denotes science as a study of a systematic field of study which compiles and organises knowledge in the form of verifiable explanations and predictions concerning the universe and the life forms therein. Derry [3] explains how classical qualifications such as the one passed by Aristotle conversely makes science the study of the body of reliable knowledge, or the study of knowledge which are rationally and logically explainable. Although many in the modern era have a tendency of using the term sciences to mean only the study of physical and natural science, yet science indisputably includes cognitive sciences such as linguistics. This is because, the study of science qualifies as one, immediately such investigation use empiricism, observation and objectivity as the very characteristics and guidelines for reaching the lucidity of a conclusion.

A craft is a profession or a pastime which requires specific kinds of skilled work. This may also involve the collection and transmission of knowledge about a craft. Because of this, guilds are inclusive of skilled amateurs, professional artisans and even beginners who may harbour specific interests in a given craft. There are series of tests to evaluate skills and provide frameworks for training new crafters. There has been a lack of consensus regarding the classification of crafts, with some academicians placing crafts as a hybrid between art and science, given that art relies on technique and talent, and science, knowledge [4] .

How history ties in with the definitions above

Interestingly enough, it is a matter of striking uniqueness that history ties with the definitions that have been advanced above. For one, one can see history as being tied to art since art is the study of creative skill or the study of a collection of disciplines which produce artworks which are driven by personal drive. The applicability of this standpoint to history is underscored by the fact that the creative skill mentioned above is critical for a historian to imagine a hypothetical problem, before he goes ahead to solve that specific problem by testing it. For instance, if a historian wants to establish the applicability and future of state competitiveness in international relations (as is envisioned in the theory of realism), then that academician my have to revisit the era between 1787 and 1990. This is because, it is in 1787 that the French Revolution took place, and thereby sparking the need for the Concert of Europe. The politics of Europe in turn triggered the World War I and II, before catalyasing the emergence of the Cold War. The definition of science partly qualifies history, given that science incorporates empiricism, objectivity and observation. History heavily relies on objectivity, since history demands that it is studied in its original form, without being rewritten. However, unlike science, history lacks the element of observation since the events that form the object of study are past events. Likewise, the aspect of empiricism may lead to the parting of ways between science and history, since history studies man’s past activities, yet there are no explicit rules which make the actions and mannerisms by human beings uniform. The description of craft in itself does not entirely meet that of history. The collection and transmission of knowledge about a craft is what marries readily with history since history also deals with the collection and transmission of past events. The classification of crafts as a hybrid between art and science may further help link history to the definition of crafts since history contains elements of both science and art [5] .

It is most plausible that history is a hybrid of science and art. This is because the study of history encompasses some aspects of both science and art, as shall be seen in the discussion which ensues forthwith.

For one, history partly appears to merge with science, on the level of appearances. This is because, history is in essence interested in answering questions about people, dates, places, things and events which are considered facts. Because of this, it is indisputable that history gives the proper perspective concerning the verifiability of the past world (how an event in the world took place, when it did, where it occurred, and the actors who triggered or executed it). For instance, a historian who is keen on revisiting the existence of the historical Jesus Christ may have to consult materials on the same subject, with due regard being extended towards authenticity. A corpus which may be declared to be 200 years old by a Geiger counter may not be considered as a valid primary source, for instance. In this light, sources such as the correspondences between Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan, Tacitus’ letters to Suetonius, The Annuls and Flavius Josephus’ The Antiquities may be considered as likely candidates for primary sources, since they will help the investigator gain proper perspective on the 1st century Judea, as the putative world in which the historical Jesus lived.

Nevertheless, that history takes on the form of an art is also underscored by the nature of its transmission. Particularly, history is always written from a specific perspective which an individual historian or a group of historians may hold. Because of this threshold that a historian may hold when preserving documents of history, there may be nuances on some aspects of: an event; specificity of locations; degree of definitiveness of an actual date (s); and some specifications on the movers and shakers behind an event. There may also be differences among historians, on the significance of a historical event [6] .

The differences mentioned immediately above may be catalysed or underpinned by the express intent of a historian. This forms a point of deviation between science and history, given that in history, the will or intent of the actor may affect the manner in which an event may be interpreted.

Another instance in which history is seen to have traits of arts is exemplified in the fact that the main role of a historian is to draw theoretical meaning and concrete meaning from historical developments or events and to arrange these events into a meaningful whole. The meaning is then to be presented to an infinite audience which may comprise history students, historians and the world in general. The gravity of the foregoing means that the historian has to imaginatively apply his creative genius to craft a problem that is of historical nature. From this juncture, he develops a hypothetical problem. The historian may then set to test this hypothetical standpoint through research, further studies, analysis and the compilation of research results which will have been obtained [7] .

However, Hughes [8] postulates that the attribution of the quality of being a hybrid of both science and an art to history is underpinned by the complementary qualities which cut across science and art, in lieu of the intrinsic nature and essence of history. In the first place, there is an absence of universal agreement on the distinction between science and art. According to Gibson [9] , it is Aristotle who divided the subject areas into arts and sciences and the universities inherited and protected these boundaries by diving faculties along the same provisions. Since the principles Aristotle used to separate sciences and arts from each other are debatable, to assume that history is an art (since it uses creativity as opposed to sciences which use rigorous methods and techniques) is to make illogical conclusions and to use oversimplification.

The case immediately above is also applicable to science since even science demands creative thinking, which the historian used to contrive a strong and interesting hypothesis. A scientist also has to visualise a problem, craft a good hypothesis about the problem’s possible solution, and then determine the best way of testing the hypothesis and implementing the findings of the research work which was centred on the hypothesis. This entire exercise demands creative thinking of the scientist, just as it does, of the historian. This standpoint is in total agreement with works of innovation by Isaac Newton, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and other scientists, just as is the case with all historians. This state of affair not only blurs the line between art and science, but also the line between science and history.

Another aspect which brings history close to science is verifiability. Although the 20th century thinkers and logical positivists followed David Hume’s approach to identify verifiability as an outright mark of science, yet, it did not help distance science from other humanities such as history. This is because, just as others may rush to dismiss history as unverifiable, so is science (also unverifiable). Sreedharan [10] charges that science may also comprise theories that may be retained, provided such theories prove to be working. In this case, the lucidity of such theories may not be brought to question. Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution serves as the most apt illustration of this fact. This notion underscores the fact that just like some aspects of history and other social sciences, science is somewhat theoretical rather than proven.

In a closely related wavelength, Karl Popper made propositions of falsifiability as the fundamental principle of science. Popper divulged that while people can never prove the veracity of theories, it can be proven that that some theories are false. Popper then postulates that this is what underscores and confirms the superiority of science over an arts subject such as history. Other pertinent issues are totally unimportant to Popper. However, Popper fails on this account since proving a theory true and proving a theory false are equally difficult undertakings.

Another factor that qualifies history as a hybrid of an art and a science is motivation. There are scholars who have argued in times past that the difference between history and science is that scientific inquiries are propelled by intrinsic values such as the establishment of the HIV-AIDS antidote, while investigations in the field of history and other social sciences are an end in themselves. However, this is a mistaken accusation against history for; it is likely that the greatest scientists do not solely look at ways to fix problems. Among other renowned scientists, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Galileo Galilee were merely in their quest to understand the world, than to help humanity when they made their inventions.

The discussion above shows clearly that far from what is always depicted, historians are neither far apart from their counterparts in science, nor are they opposed to each other. On the contrary, it is best if the elements of science and art which are upheld in history are maintained. This is because the best in the field of history and other social sciences come about when there is an integration of discipline to creativity. It is only when this integration is upheld that history will realize cross-fertility: the ability to churn more serious, complex and fundamental enquiries with great prolificacy, without altering important fundamentals of history such as time, actors and the location in which an event under investigation took place.