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Quotes on the human sciences

Quotes on the human sciences

These quotes will kick-start your exploration of the human sciences, and help you reflect on your own understanding of this area of knowledge.

Which quotes do you find the most and least insightful? Do the quotes challenge or support your understanding of the human sciences? What do the quotes reveal about the way the human sciences interlink with the TOK themes, and the other areas of knowledge?

Quotes on the nature and scope of the human sciences

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 1 (What are the human sciences, and why do we study them?), the first unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

My students often ask me, ‘What is Sociology?’. And I tell them, ‘It’s the study of the way which human beings are shaped by things that they don’t see.
Sam Richards

The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.
Paul Valery

The true function of philosophy is to educate us in the principles of reasoning and not to put an end to further reasoning by the introduction of fixed conclusions.
George Henry Lewes

Economics is uncertain because its fundamental subject matter is not money but human action. That’s why economics is not the dismal science, it’s no science at all.
Julian Baggini

Like all science, psychology is knowledge; and like science again, it is knowledge of a definite thing, the mind.
James Mark Baldwin

In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.
Plato

Philosophy is the product of wonder.
Alfred North Whitehead 

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
Kofi Annan 

The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.
Pierre Bourdieu

Quotes on the relationship between the human sciences and values

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 2 (How does our knowledge about the world inform our values?), the second unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to the arts and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.
Margaret Mead

My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.
John Lennon

The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.
Zygmunt Bauman

The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.
Ruth Benedict

‘Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights.
Dag Hammarskjold

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
Theodore Roosevelt

Where there is politics or economics, there is no morality.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

Quotes on the communication of ideas in the human sciences

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 3 (How is our understanding influenced by the way knowledge is communicated?), the third unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men – the man he is and the man he wants to be.
William Feather

Philosophy is common sense with big words.
James Madison

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

A novel is never anything, but a philosophy put into images.
Jim Rohn

Quotes on the human sciences, perspectives, and context

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 4 (How do our perspectives and biases shape our knowledge?), the fourth unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.
Will Durant 

History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.
W. H. Auden

If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.
James Reston

If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, iIf the nineteenth century was the age of the editorial chair, ours is the century of psychiatrists couch.
Marshall McLuhan

Quotes on the creation of new ideas in the human sciences

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 5 (How is new knowledge about the world created?), the third unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Sociology is the science with the greatest number of methods and the least results.
Henri Poincare

The creative act is not pure. History evidences it. Ideology demands it. Sociology exacts it.
Nadine Gordimer

Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.
Mason Cooley

Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.
C. Wright Mills

Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.
Stephen Hawking

Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfying explanation of our psychology.
Steven Pinker

Quotes on becoming a discerning knower about the human sciences

  • These quotes on the human sciences relate to Big Question 6 (How do we become discerning knowers?), the final unit of our BQ approach to TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Philosophy and Art both render the invisible visible by imagination.
George Henry Lewes 

Philosophy has to be enquiring; it can take nothing on faith, and its methods are based not on the blind acceptance of authority, but on establishing truths by reason and argument.
Julian Baggini 

Policy makers, like most people, normally feel that they already know all the psychology and all the sociology they are likely to need for their decisions. I don’t think they are right, but that’s the way it is.
Daniel Kahneman

In fact, it is Shakespeare who gives us the map of the mind. It is Shakespeare who invents Freudian Psychology. Freud finds ways of translating it into supposedly analytical vocabulary.
Harold Bloom 

Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.
David Hume

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