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Knowledge and Study of Social Science


. Human being Knowledge & social science

Human beings are the best creature of the Creator. Why? Human being has got some distinct qualities, behaviors, sensitiveness, instincts, education, capability of prediction which are absent in beasts and other creature. The mankind is considered as 'ashraful makhlukat' and is immensely blessed by the Creator. Only the human beings have been given the ability to acquire knowledge of different branches of civilization. But unfortunately education the prime means of acquiring knowledge, as it appears is no more knowledge based and now a days, its aim appears mainly to have an institutional degree or certificate just for securing one's earning. Needless to say, efforts of building up the next generation and a healthy society can only ensure prosperous and happy future of our society and growth of civilization.

Man is rational animal and his activities are expected to be founded on rational thinking, conscious prediction, belief and knowledge based wisdom. Generally an educated people are considered to be a knowledgeable people. But indeed mere institutional education is not enough to be rational and knowledgeable in true sense. Rationality differs from nation to nation, society to society and it changes with time and development of civilization.

II. Components of Knowledge

For the sake of up to date development of all disciplines the people have to become knowledgeable in real sense. A man has to transform his knowledge into wisdom. In the task of locating problem, formulating plan, taking decision, execution of decision a person must apply his knowledge gathered mainly from the study of social science. Knowledge thus consists of some essential components which are as below:

a. Education
b. Ability of perception
c. Attitudes
d. Belief
e. Prediction
f. Rationality
g. Consciousness

The above components are discussed below as I have understood from the lectures listened. I consider the deliberations on the topic to be effective and fruitful for understanding the public administration one of disciplines of the social science.

II.a Education: the foundation of acquiring Knowledge

Studentship is a key part of one's life. It builds up a man to be educated. Once this part ceases he enters into his working world where he faces the reality, solves problems by using and exercising the knowledge he gathered by way of getting education. Even though acquiring knowledge is a continuous process and it never ceases.

A man can change the structure and chemistry of his brain in a specific area by repeatedly using his mind in a certain way? The way must be a rational one. The first implication here is that he can make permanent changes in the way he thinks and feels, but there is another implication. Permanent change means that if he is to change the way he thinks, he has to undo concrete changes. This takes more than wisdom; it takes time and effort, not just knowing, but doing. Rational prediction is a brain storming task that needs knowledge and wisdom to materialize an action designed for the welfare of the society.

The question is not of knowing, but of developing our wisdom, our inner knowledge. Our understanding should increase. Wisdom is the essence of knowledge. Just like perfume is attained by squeezing the essence out of flowers, so wisdom is the sum and substance of all knowledge, all experiences. Wisdom is a fragrance. When a thousand experiences and knowledge are compressed, one drop of wisdom is attained.

Vision is to be broadened, otherwise traditional knowledge will be of no use for the betterment and welfare of the society and mankind. Now-a-days, mostly, information is regarded as knowledge. The more one knows, the more knowledgeable he considers himself to be. Quantity means quality to him. However much information he gathers, it will all be borrowed. Knowledge is one's own.

A human being is like an onion. Remove one layer, and there is another layer; remove this and there is yet another. A man is nothing but a collection of knowledge, experience, information, understanding, education, impressions, culture and tradition. A man is hidden by his own coverings.

II.b. Ability of perception

A man has to acquire ability to perceive the 'cause and effect relationship' of any work or incident and its consequence. Only ability to do some work or to understand the necessity or causes of doing the work does not make a man knowledgeable. He must have some quality enabling himself to foresee the consequences of the work he intends to do in achieving the goal.

That is to say that a man must have some ability or techniques to predict the effects or consequences of the work he intends to do. In plain words, one should consider the costs and benefits. Understanding potential gains and eventual losses or effects will fuel a man's endeavors and get his brain to cooperate. What will happen if he does not reach his goal? How will he feel? How will his life change if he does succeed? The concept of 'prediction' lies with the above thinking.

II.c. Diversity of attitudes

Thoughts and attitudes differ from man to man. Men having same education may not have identical attitude and way of thinking as each independent people belongs to some own values, morals, religion and they are nourished in different socio-economic environments. Besides, the family, the primary institution of human development, also significantly influences a man in carrying some settled values, norms, morals in his mind.

II.d Belief

Belief is the fundamental thing of all activities planned and done by men; belief awakens one's self consciousness that help a man to exercise the moral sense or sense of right and wrong ; good or clear, bad or guilty. Thus, self consciousness and determination based on belief ultimately enable a man to design his way of action and implement of it. Consciousness relates to persons as each of persons can see himself from the inside.

A belief is inculcated in the mind of a person by various factors. But not so with knowledge. Knowledge is gained by a person by making use of his perceptional faculties. The perceptional faculties enable a man to predict the 'cause and effect relationship' of his action in rational way.

II.e Prediction

The concept of prediction is another aspect which is founded on

1 Knowledge
2 Self consciousness
3 Attitude
4 Way of thinking
5 Belief
6 Method of studying social science

The pattern of prediction varies from man to man because of diversity of age, values, morals, intelligence of different peoples. In the light of cause and effect relationship as discussed in the social science prediction is to be made. Imaginary prediction in fact is no prediction as it is devoid of knowledge, self consciousness and is not based on 'causal relationship'. The ability of prediction is a special faculty of human beings which is enriched through acquiring knowledge. Prediction not based on knowledge and self consciousness will be of no use and is incomplete in nature.

II.f Rationality

Human being is a complex creature having multiplex thoughts, instincts, values etc. External behavior of a man can easily be seen and studied but his inner instincts that are invisible cannot. Man is rational being. He is able to kill the ill instincts hidden in his inner mind only through acquiring knowledge and nourishment of rational norms and values. If he fails, there will be no difference between a beast and human being.

Reason is man's only means of knowing reality, upon which his survival in reality depends. Whether man is alone on a desert island, scurrying around with a pack of savages, or living in a city of billions: man must think-and then act on his thinking, if life is his goal. Man is a rational animal, and reality dictates that to survive, man must be rational-by choice.

The dominant position of rationality in Western civilization and philosophical tradition dates from the time when Ren Descartes explicitly placed it in its key position within his conception of philosophy. His conception of philosophy of rationalism is based on respect for and the confidence in scientific knowledge, which he defines with his own means as an activity having rationality in its essence.

Rationality involves some universal and settled morals, values, practices, attitudes etc. In the society the matters before the men are to be viewed and considered in rational way or path by keeping the causal relationship as discussed in the social science in mind. In our civilization to act rationally means the same as to act correctly. This is in the core of the philosophy of rationalism. To think rationally means to approach decisions how to act in a correct way.

Two Kinds of Rationality

Substantive Rationality Functional Rationality It involves the way to achieve goal. It involves the strategy to be fixed for achieving the goal.

Strategy is something like technique that helps to achieve the goal through a particular way. Strategy is a changing factor depending on the needs, pattern, norms, resource, values, and habits of a particular society. Thus, formulation of strategies also needs one's knowledge, self consciousness, openness of mind, wisdom, ability of prediction.

Human conducts and activities are pregnant of diversities reflecting various attitudes some of which may have adverse effect on the society that needs a rational control by the knowledge. For the knowledge and rational path walk side by side. Human faculties must be rational. Otherwise society, family, or community will be in disorder.

II.g Consciousness

Philosophers such as Immanuel Kant think that rationality is a distinct feature of persons. This position implies that to be a person means to be a rational being and that one cannot be a person unless one is rational. Other philosophers think that in order to be termed a person; one must have a certain level of consciousness of one's own consciousness that helps him to acquire the art of prediction. Thus, ability to predict makes a knowledgeable person wise and vice versa. A man by exercising wisdom based on knowledge is an able person to predict the cause and effect relationship.

A man must keep his eyes and conscience open and aware of the matters and things prevailing and happening surrounding him and in the society and the things happened in the world history. A man is to keep his mind as an open window. Thus openness of mind in other words is linked with one's consciousness.

III. Selectiveness And human perception: Modern Approaches Every man is selective in his own sphere of his activities. It is indeed inherent characteristic of human being. In the process of decision making the characteristics and attitudes of man plays a vital role. Thus, for correct decision correct prediction is essential and here also inevitably comes the concept of 'cause and effect relation'. There are two modern approaches of selectiveness by man in social science which are as below:

1 Close system approach
2 Open system approach

Extreme close system approach prompts a man to make one eyed or arbitrary decision causing adverse effect. In this system idea of better prediction is ignored resulting narrow vision and thus a man fails to spray the fragrance of his knowledge which is called 'wisdom'.

When a man is not conscious of abstracting, when he assumes more knowledge than he really has or when he acts as if he knows it all, he falls victim to the "allness orientation". This is the person with the closed mind, the person who thinks he knows it all. Characteristics of a closed mind person are -

1 Extremely subtle
2 Refusal to learn
3 Refusal to listen
4 Refusal to look or look again
5 Refusal to change or keep up to date
6 Assuming knowledge that one doesn't have
7 Refusal to ask questions
8 Jehovah complex
9 Self-satisfied Man
10 Refusal to delegate responsibility
11 One-way communication
12 Poor mental health and Inferiority Complex

We know wisdom teaches a man to select right or wrong. If the selection or any decision is right then its maker is said to be wise. Thus, we may conclude that he who applying the essence of his knowledge designs a plan or way of action predicts better is a wise man.

Multiplex principles make a man flexible in nature and attitude and thus he may sometimes fail to predict correctly before taking a decision or designing policy. In order to study social science one has to learn the 'open system approach' so that he becomes able to know the prevailing socio-economic picture of the society. A particular society consists of various people belonging to different religions, values, culture, ethics, needs, family structure.

There are many other variables involved in human perception. A person's ability or capacity, his existing knowledge, education or training all play an important role in abstracting. Change and process are important limiting factors, for we live in a dynamic world where things, as well as ourselves, are constantly changing. Despite the fact that our evaluations and perceptions are personal the above variables play an important role in our consideration of dogmatic behavior.

IV. Causal Relationship and Study of Social Science

Mathematics helps to understand physical science while language helps to understand the study and research of the social science. Language is the very tool that we use in communication. Anthropologists and linguists such as Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, along with Alfred Korzybski, have emphasized the important role that language plays in thinking, perceiving and behaving.

Study of social science is essential for acquiring efficiencies and knowledge in rational way to understand the cause and effect relationship. It is to be noted that cause and effect combinedly said to be the 'causal relationship'. Through the practice of perception of 'causal relationship' we may have clear ideas and prediction about the cause and effect of the events that take place surrounding us.

However, the way of proper and clear utilization of one's knowledge in proper manner can promote human resource development and organization management.

The extensive study of social science enables a man to attain the ability of correct prediction in rational way. Methods of studying social science are:

1 Descriptive method
2 Historical Method

IV.a Descriptive method: This method has to be utilized in all kinds of research; its only difference will be either more or less. For example, we use observational technique in investigation of the problem but later we have to describe and write down what we have found from such research. Whitney points out that by descriptive method of research it means an attempt to locate and define difficulty that has started the thinking process, many checks of present status in the field of investigation may be made.

In other words, Whitney's concept of descriptive method of research is a 'fact-finding with adequate interpretation'. Good thinks of descriptive studies as the studies which may include present facts or current conditions concerning the nature of a group of persons, a number of objects, or a class of events and may involve the procedures of induction, analysis, classification, enumeration or measurement. Whitney divided 'descriptive method' of research into five different types which are as below:

1 The research survey
2 Continuity description
3 Case-study research
4 Job and actively analysis
5 Library and documentary research.

IV.b Historical Method :This method involves "the use of records of previous events for the purpose of arriving at generalizations that may be used for the solving of current problems". We know that the past contains, if it can be located, the key to the present. Sometimes the past lends us light in taking decision by applying our knowledge to achieve the goal. Society is not a static organization, but as an organism continually growing through dynamic changes helps us gain greater insight into its structure and functioning. Everything has an antecedent history a natural development of which tends to exert influence on the present.

Thus we see that historical method of research can be applied to use in all disciplines regardless of their natural or social sciences .Historical approach is universal in almost all disciplines. For example, the physician secures case-history from the patient, the lawyer asks his client to disclose the whole story from the beginning, and psychologist inquires about the past of the patient's mental malfunctioning or lack of adjustment. According to Gottschalk the historical method consists of -

1 The collection of probable sources of information

2 The examination of those sources for genuineness (either as a whole or in part).

3 The analysis of the sources or parts of sources proved genuine for their credible particulars.

Shahinur Islam
A student of Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka having special interest in writing assignment on different topics. Now studying in 2nd year BSS (hons). Keenly interested to have higher degree on the discipline in abroad.


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