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The goals and functions of these have recently received considerable attention, both because of the influence that such histories have had on the legitimacy and self-image of the disciplines and also because of the adaptability that they have shown when faced with the conceptual and methodological changes that they have undergone. With regard to these disciplines, there are, moreover, alternative approaches whose advantages and disadvantages are also the subject of debate: Certain old sciences, such as geography, constitute areas of special interest in this respect, since on the one hand there are diverse generations of disciplinary histories, connected with the most important theoretical issues and the contentious relations with other sciences; and on the other hand profound changes have recently taken place which have led to far-reaching transformations in historiography.

Within the frame of reference of the present simposium, it might be of interest to present some of these developments and, in particular, to offer a general overview of the origins and goals of the research program in the history of geography which, in what is today the Department of Human Geography of the University of Barcelona, has been in progress for almost two decades.

History of the social sciences

The goals and the evolution of this project have led to a growing integration of our research with that which is being undertaken by other historians of science, while at the same time providing a stimulus for, and a new perspective on, the work on current issues in human geography which is being carried out in the Department.

The histories of the disciplines and their functions The history of science is full of great works that have marked a turning point in the development of a branch of knowledge, and in which the proposals for a new theoretical frame of reference or a new systematization of the known facts were preceded by an extensive historical introduction consisting in the evolution of the topic up to that moment.

From the 18th Century on, with the growing specialization in science that gave rise to new disciplines, and with the acceleration of the changes in theories and scientific method, the number of works of this kind has grown considerably. Particularly in the 19th Century, there were many scientists who were conscious of the profoundly innovative character of their work, and who did not hesitate to draw self-justifying historical pictures which promoted appreciation of the significance of their own contributions.

Cuvier, Humboldt, Ritter, Lyell, Darwin, Comte, and many others who made decisive contributions, were not only aware of being genuine creators and the force behind new scientific developments, they also took active part in contemporary controversies and felt the need, to a greater or lesser extent, to convince the general public of the innovative character of their work. This led them to write, or rewrite, the history of the discipline, to reveal the obstacles that had been put in the way of the development of that science, whose final manifestation was now assured - and to point out those forerunners who had prepared the way.

  • The general frame of reference and the goals of the program The beginning of the research program in the history of geography undertaken by our Department team at the University of Barcelona was closely linked to the changes that began to take place in the science of geography in the 1 950's, and which were felt in Spain towards the end of the 1 960's;
  • Are the paragraphs grouped by broader themes thematic?
  • However, corresponding to the various aims, each one selects and highlights different aspects.

The case of Lyell is particularly significant. In the long historical introduction to his Principles of Geology 1830 1Lyell created the myths which allowed him to set himself in a privileged position in the Pantheon of Geology.

He did this both by claiming to be the true creator of the basic principles of that science, and also by pointing out the barriers which had hitherto impeded its development: In spite of these obstacles, the way towards a positive and uniformitarian geology had in fact been discovered gradually, but in talking about this Lyell hands out praise, blame and silence in a way that exaggerates the originality of his own contribution.

His introduction presents the history of geology as an oversimplified dichotomy between biblical catastrophism and uniformitarianism with its classical roots.

Moreover, and not surprisingly given the epoch, he offers a selective, partial vision of the past, decontextualising it from its social and intellectual climate. His conception of history and geology are different: It is a catastrophist history in which Lyell's final contribution achieves its true significance as an authentic, definitive revolution.

The example of Lyell, like that of other great authors, lays bare the distortions and errors that can be found in the history of science when one accepts the ideas of one justifications of scientist concerning the evolution of the subject. Biassed ideas that distort the true essays on the structure of social science models and which undoubtedly serve as excuses and self-justifications: An appreciation of the distortions that are found in the historical conceptions of great scientists, and of the personal and corporate factors that can affect these, allows us also to question the validity of the way that the members of a scientific community collectively present their discipline.

We might well suspect that, as in the case of the histories of individuals, these histories of communities will have, due to conscious or unconscious bias, distortions and slants, whose precise content and purpose we would do well to reveal. In recent years a great deal of attention has been paid to the histories of disciplines within the field of the history of science. What has undoubtedly contributed to this is the incorporation and diffusion of relativist focuses in the study of the disciplines.

The traditional view considered the sciences as predetermined archetypes, which the progressive unfolding of reason alone allowed us to see in their true form by stripping them of the mixing and confusion with other branches essays on the structure of social science models knowledge which existed in the pre-scientific phase. In contrast, we recognize that the character of the scientific disciplines is determined by, and contingent on, history; they take shape in changing social and intellectual contexts, and have boundaries that are not predetermined at all but depend both on the conditions of their constitution and also on the developing relationship with other disciplines that are also contingent on history.

The same histories of the disciplines play an important role in the constant structuring and restructuring of the areas of knowledge, offering scientists an image of themselves, of the community to which they belong, and of the purpose of their work. The history of the discipline provides us with a means of making and spreading the myths and the ideologies that give cohesion to the scientific community: If every discipline has its own history, at times in contradiction with its neighbors or overlapping with them, it is also true that within one single discipline the history is not always the same.

The theoretical changes that take place, in particular the revolutionary changes, i. There are, therefore, histories of the disciplines aimed at different audiences: In these cases, one attempts to justify the identity, the validity and, on occasions, the scientific nature of the discipline, all of which is essential to achieve recognition within an academic structure competing for limited resources.

More frequently, histories are aimed within the discipline itself, either to socialize the neophytes, by indoctrinating them, through the historical presentation of the past, in the principles and methods of the discipline; or else to defend the viewpoints of scientists in discussions with colleagues or in disagreements over the theory and methods of the discipline 4.

Through the history of the discipline one can observe the position that a scientist adopts in controversies and in the changes that affect his science, both in what he cites and the judgments he makes concerning events and people in the past, and also in what he omits or glosses over, and, obviously, in the material he chooses to include.

The topic of parents or forerunners is of great interest: It is thus that the history of a discipline serves, as an author has written in reference to the development of psychology in Germany: What is clear from all of this is the enormous interest to be found in the study of the different histories of disciplines within the same scientific, and the comparison between those that have been carried out in separate but related disciplines, those which sometimes draw on a common past and which have goals of study that are very close or even overlap.

In a similar way, there is a great interest to establish if there are histories, produced either from within or outside, where the preoccupation with justification and legitimacy is absent. The histories of geography From the Renaissance onwards, the geographical works of antiquity have served both as a scientific model and also as a corpus of data which could be used for modern purposes. All of this generated great interest in the old texts, in the careful editing of them -which involved the collaboration of geographers, historians and philologists- and in the study of them, as in the case of other sciences.

In spite of the advances made since the Renaissance, a grasp of historical knowledge continued, until the 18th century, to be an extremely important prop in the development of modern geography.

We have dealt elsewhere with the usefulness of the ancient sources and of the works of the 16th and 17th centuries in the solution of geographical problems of the 18th, and there is no need to reiterate this. If all this is granted, it is, however, also true that from the 16th century onwards, with the great discoveries, there arose an increasing awareness of the insufficiencies and the limits of the works of the classical geographers.

These works began to be supplemented and superseded by new observations from all parts of the planet.

Essay introduction

There is thus a parallel growing process of obsolescence of the ancient texts, and their role changed so that they were invoked as classical models to be imitated, both because of the diversity of the integrated data and the systematization as precedents that lend value and prestige to science.

In the introductions to geographical works, in discussing the value and dignity of the science, the forerunners and ancient authors were carefully given a distinguished position, which meant that one often finds, in the histories of geography, celebrities like Moses or Homer, thus lending to the science the most illustrious ancestors.

It could be argued, therefore, that in a way the history of geography appeared with the purposes of providing dignity and legitimacy. It is an attitude which, if we look further back, we find in those same classical geographers. In general, up to the 19th century, the history of geography stood both as a history of the advances in our knowledge of the earth, that is to say as a history of geographical studies and explorations, and also as a history of maps 7.

While it was, just like other histories at that time, above all a history of progresses - a "historical picture of the progress of geography", in the words of Malte-Brun 8 - from the second half of the 18th century, due to the impact of Buffon's description of the earth, it could become an epocus of geography. The history of geography was also related to historical geography, that is to the reconstruction of the geographies of the past, particularly -from a European viewpoint- the Greek, Roman and Jewish past.

As a history of journeys, there was also in connection with the discovery of possible prior claims which would assure the juridical legitimacy of political possession of those territories. At the same time, in a geography that was essentially a description of countries and regions, the history of the journeys essays on the structure of social science models discoveries could continue to play its part, as is shown in the use to which it was put by two great figures at the beginning of the 19th century, Humboldt and Ritter.

Thus, with reference to the so-called "comparative method", which he took over from anatomy and applied widely in writing his Erdkunde, Hanno Beck, a great specialist in his field, could write: It is thus not surprising that these accounts, which reflected the widening geographical horizon, continued to form the essential part of the histories of geography down to the beginnings of the 20th century; histories which some authors now considered part of the history of science, and particularly useful in the study of the discipline because, as Vivien de Saint Martin wrote: In the second half of the 19th century, coinciding with the spectacular growth of the scientific community of geographers, the history of geography turned its attention to new topics.

The resonance of the Historical Essay conceming the Progressive Development of the Idea of the Universe, which was published in Alexander de Humboldt's Cosmos 1845-1862 11and the development of physical geography, brought to these histories the evolution of ideas about the physical structure of the world and about the interrelationship between different natural phenomena. At the same time as developing a growing interest in human concerns -which was to lead to the creation of a systematic human geography- attention was also directed towards the history essays on the structure of social science models the techniques and procedures used to establish the wealth and population of countries censuses, tax-lists, etc 12.

At the same time, the development of a new regional geography in the second half of the 19th century implied the search for antecedents in order to delimit the chorographic units. In this respect, certain 18th century geographical contributions, such as those of Buache or the geographers of the Reine Geographie, could now be highlighted.

Meanwhile, the issues of the theoretical foundations of the discipline in relation to other scientific fields led to a study of figures in the past, such as Varenius, who had reflected on the contents and methods of this science. During the last decades of the 19th century, the academic institutionalization of geography was made by affirming the notion of a break with the past. The "new geography" that appeared in the 1880's reduced everything prior to Humboldt and Ritter to being considered as a pre-scientific stage that was now superseded, and converted it into simply an object of attention in the search for antecedents of current ideas.

At the same time, the history of cartography and the history of discoveries -which, as we have seen, were traditional ingredients of the history of geography - acquired an independent development and, although they continued to be the subject of attention for certain geographers, began to be increasingly studied by specialists: From the end of the 19th century, every important theoretical change in the science of geography, and every debate concerning its foundations and methods, has been accompanied by incursions into the history of the discipline with a view to using arguments from the past to support one or other of the contesting conceptions.

Important theorical works, like those of Alfred Hettner 15 or Richard Hartshorne 16also contain a historical dimension which seeks to illuminate current thinking "in the light of the past". Our discipline had a difficult struggle towards the end of the 19th century in order to achieve recognition in the universities; moreover, because of its situation at the crossroads between the natural sciences and the social sciences, it has not only had serious problems with its foundations, it has also had numerous critics and competitors.

This underlies its felt need for a justification of the discipline and the affirmation of its dignity and independence from the other natural and social sciences.

Introductions to university handbooks as well as longer and shorter compendia have approached this task, and frequently there has also been a debate concerning its relations with the sciences that are "adjacent" or "auxiliary" to geography l7.

  • With the rise of the idea of quantitative measurement in the physical sciences, for example Lord Rutherford 's famous maxim that any knowledge that one cannot measure numerically "is a poor sort of knowledge", the stage was set for the conception of the humanities as being precursors to "social science;
  • Another important line of thought which gave rise to the development of social theories is to be found in statistical collections and in reflections on the growth in population;
  • An example of this is the rise of the concept of Intelligence Quotient , or IQ;
  • At the same time, however, hiking, climbing and mountaineering clubs became a factor in the spread of science; in some cases they made outstanding contributions to the inventory and study of the environment, of our heritage, or of the ethnography and folklore in the countries of Europe andAmerica 118.

In general, as in other disciplines, one has attempted to show the route that has led to modern, truly scientific geography. However, as one might expect in a subject with both ancient roots, a powerful institutional development, and also a long tradition of historical studies, the histories of geography that have been written throughout the present century are richer and more varied.

While it is true that a large number are written out of concern for current issues, there has also been, in past epochs, an important school of histories of geography that were directly linked to the history of science and the history of culture: Interest in the biographies and the individual contributions of the most illustrious geographers 22 has more recently given way to the ambitious attempt to produce a complete biographical inventory of every geographer who has contributed to the science 23and to a concern to collect the testimony of those still alive concerning their training and their ways of working 24.

Emphasis on the origins and evolution of geographical ideas, as well as on their intellectual and social context, appear again -and with increasing intensity - in certain works that have responded to the call that J K Wright made in 1926, and they continue, more or less explicitly, the line laid down in the works of Lovejoy 25.

Anthologies of geographical texts have put at the disposal of students selected fragments from the most important geographers 26in some cases alongside evidence of the geographical knowledge of other historical authors poets, philosophers, theologians, travelers, etc. The changes that have taken place since 1950 have caused a fissure in the unity, which the discipline had maintained since the beginning of the century, based on the acceptance by the whole scientific community of the regional paradigm and the historicist approach.

These changes led to new generations of historical works, some of which have sought to recount the vicissitudes and the protagonists of the transformations that have taken place 28. All of this meant, first, greater attention on the present; second, a search for appropriate antecedents for each revolutionary change; and finally, a greater attention to geography's relations with the general evolution of the natural and social sciences, as well as with the general evolution of ideas and of philosophical frames of reference 29.

It has also reinforced the tendency towards a shortened chronology of the history of the subject, one that restricts itself to contemporary geography, that is to say developments subsequent to the contributions of Humboldt and Ritter, who are solemnly considered by all sides as the fathers of present-day geography.

The attempts that have recently been made to present in a global form the discipline's historical development since antiquity faithfully reflect, as always happens, the authors' standpoint vis-a-vis the changes that have been taking place. By way of an example, we only need to cite the case of Preston James's work published in 1972. The different chronology of the changes in different countries becomes evident if we compare this work with that of the German Hanno Beck published the following year 30.

While in the latter the quantitative revolution is totally absent, in the work of James -some 20 years older than the German- we see reflected both his acceptance of the regional paradigm and also his sensitivity to the changes that had been taking place in the discipline in its Anglo-American context 31. James insists that geography deals with the differences in the earth's surface geodiversity and investigates "what things are combined in different places to produce the essays on the structure of social science models characteristics of the world's landscape"; this shows that James is set in the same line as Hartshorne, that is to say in the conception of a geography of regions and landscapes.

However, at the same time, the allusions to the mental images, to the importance of relative location, and the statement that "scientists have formulated many different kinds of explanations to make the mental images plausible and acceptable, and their explanations, in turn, often determined what features they choose to observe", all essays on the structure of social science models which demonstrates that the work was written after the debates of the 1 950's and 1 960's. One sentence in particular reflects his awareness of, and his reservations about, quantitative geography: In this "nevertheless" we see unconsciously reflected his disqualification of those mathematical discoveries which, faced with the urgency to find provisional solutions, provide only momentary satisfaction.

In other words, we see in him all the dissatisfaction of a traditional - though sensitive and open geographer with one of the fundamental aspects of the quantitative revolution. Thence arises an excellent history, conceived in a particular place and time USA, 1970with a wide perspective, and with great attention to the most recent developments in the 1 960'sthough at the same time without renouncing his own viewpoints.

With all this evolution, the history of geography is today an extraordinarily rich and diverse field, with a long tradition of research carried out within the discipline. Ever since the first International Geographical Congress in Amberes in 1871, practically all meetings have devoted attention to these topics, usually in specific sections dedicated to "The History of Geography and Historical Geography".

More recently since 1968within the International Geographical Union a commission devoted to "The History of Geographical Thought" has been formed; this has stimulated new research, and there have been discussions on reports of the most varied types: As one might expect, in all these works there is a mixture: Studies in the history of geography in this country have a long tradition to which we can refer only briefly here.

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It has undoubtedly been a field of interest to geographers, but also to social historians, naval historians, and historians of science. These studies, together with those of historical geography, have also had great significance in the general development of the subject, since they were, for a long time, predominant among the different geographical studies.

Owing to the intimate association which existed, as we have mentioned, between the history of geography and the history of discoveries, it has been sailors interested in naval history who have produced some of the most important contributions. The founding during the Restoration -specifically in 1876- of the Geographical Society of Madrid subsequently the Royal Geographical Society 33 allowed the gathering of a large number of geographers interested in all aspects of the discipline including, among the foremost, the history of geography.

The historical topics that were developed by this nucleus of geographers, and by certain historians and naturalists connected to them, were mostly very much in line with the traditional focus which associates the history of geography with the history of geographical discoveries Table 1.