linguistics (was: Tamil words in English)

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at BLR.VSNL.NET.IN
Thu Feb 19 21:12:02 UTC 1998

J.B. Sharma wrote:

> Social Science - gen held to include sociology, psychology,
> anthropology, economics, political science and history.
>  If Indology is just 'Humanities', history and  chronology is not
> in its domain and the debate is moot in this forum. This is
> operationally not the case. This is a severe contradiction.

Your quote said "gen held" ("generally", I presume), and I do not
know who holds this. In my alma mater, history was in the faculty
of humanities, not social sciences, and from a methodological view
there is a good deal to be said in favour of that. So it is not
evident that we have a contradiction here. And history is, very
happily, a part of Indology.

>  If indeed Indology ligitimately involves historical science (which
> it does) then it involves the scientific method as well. This is a
> legitimate domain for scientists to comment;

Interesting as this is, this would involve a fundamental debate on
what 'science' and 'knowledge' and 'truth' are. That the human
sciences (or 'humanities') cannot follow the same methods as the
natural sciences ('sciences' in the Anglo-Saxon world) and yet give
access to truths was already established a long time ago by
theoreticians such as W. Dilthey, and we need not go through all
that again here.

> And models being able to withstand Popperian
> falsification  are more believeable.

I imagine that a publicly accessible time machine would be still
better, so that anyone can go have a look at history in the making.
But this too may be just a bit too unrealistic.

> Furthermore, and curiously enough, does biology, management, engg.
> etc prepare a person to contribute to 'humanities' as
> 'math-physics' does not ?

Certainly not; I think we could also add farming, hairstyling, and
a host of other things to the list of non-preparatory professional
activities. But I think Dominik singled out those two particular
fields for special mention on the basis of personal experience with
the Indology List, and they should be thought of more as examples
than as an exhaustive list.

I hope you will understand that the remarks in my earlier message,
to which you responded, were in response to repeated immature and
irritating remarks about linguistics in particular, made by a
person who is charmed by mathematics. That is why my remarks
concerned linguistics and why I quoted that particular passage by
Dominik Wujastyk. I have nothing against archaeologists /
historians / mathematicians / physicists (nor farmers and
hairstylists). But before criticising what e.g. mathematicians do,
I would first seriously study mathematics -- but I notice that some
people with 'scientific' pretensions do not similarly respect
linguists and their discipline.


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