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Relationship of History with other social Sciences (Politics, Economics, Sociology etc)

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Jul 10, 2022 , Updated: Jul 17, 2022 · 10 min read

History is the study of the past - specifically the people, societies, events and problems of the past - as well as our attempts to understand them.

Many scholars held a view that history is the centre of other social sciences, but social studies goes even deeper than just the story and facts.

History and Political Science

"Prof. Seeley" summed up the relationship between history and political science beautifully that,

"History without political science has no fruit and political science without history has no root."

The State and its political institutions are the product of history and in order to understand them fully one must necessarily know the process of their evolution: how they have become what they are, and to what extent they have responded to their original purposes.

All our political institutions have a historical basis as they depict the wisdom of generations.

History furnishes sufficient material for comparison and induction, enabling us to build an ideal political structure of our aspirations.

In the absence of historical data, the study of Political Science is sure to become entirely speculative.

The writings of historians, in brief, form a vast reservoir of material which a student of Political Science can analyse into meaningful patterns and guide him in understanding the present and outlining the future.

Moreover, with its chronological treatment, history offers a sense of growth and development thereby providing a base or an insight into the social changes.

History, in its turn, has much to borrow from Political Science.

Our knowledge of history is meaningless, if the political bearings of events and movements are not adequate evaluated.

The actions of the states, governments, political parties, political leaders, rulers, statesmen, politicians and diplomats all create history.

Political leaders (power-holders) determine the course of history by their policies, decisions and actions.

The leadership of Mahatma Gandhi gave a turn to history and enabled Indians to secure freedom from the clutches of British Imperialism.

History is only a narration of facts, it is Political Science which analyses the connections among various facts and uses these for answering the questions what should be done and what should not be done.

Prof. Acton has correctly pointed out, "the science of politics is the one that is deposited by the stream of history like grains of gold in the sand of a river."

History and Economics

History is closely related to Economics - the economic history of any period is an important branch of history and it's understanding is absolutely essential for the proper understanding of that period.

Economic conditions play a vital role in the course of history.

If a country could attain a height of civilisation in a period, it must have been because of good economic conditions.

In history we are also told that certain empires faced liquidation only because of economic reasons.

There has been a new orientation in our historical outlook from the days of the materialistic interpretation of history by "Marx", and as such.

Man's skill in earning his daily bread, consumption, distribution, production, agriculture, industry, trade, business and commerce, land revenue, taxes and a host of all other economic activities of the past figure very prominently in history.

History and Statistics

Modern historic theory depends largely on statistical data, and the expression of historic laws have become mathematical in nature.

Historians have not remained free from the influence of statistics, and a new branch called "Cliometrics" has come into vogue, according to which the use of mathematics has come into greater play in the writing of history.

To avoid approximation, ambiguity and vagueness, historians are using statistics to be precise in their data.

But too much use of this science will rob history of all its charm as a fascinating story of the past.

It becomes confusing and uninteresting if an algebraical formula is used.

The proper use of "Cliometrics" has resulted in what is called Quantified History.

But the very nature of historical evidence will resist these scientific modes of expression, and history will essentially remain a humanistic study.

History and Sociology

Sociology (समाजशास्त्र) and History are closely and intimately related to each other, that is why Professor G.E. Howard remarked "History is the past Sociology and Sociology is the present History".

Sociology is a social science that studies human societies, their interactions, and the processes that preserve and change them.

Sociology is also concerned with the study of historical developments of society.

Sociologist studies ancients or old traditions, culture, growth of civilisations, groups and institutions through historical analysis and interpretations.

Sociologists often refer to history to explain social changes, developments and changing face of society over period of time.

Similarly history also needs social aspects (sociological concepts) to explain past.

Social change is a reality. It has to happen. History shows mirror or truer way to analyse it with respect to time and space.

Sociology as a discipline may provide help in terms of offering a particular frame of mind to study history and its phenomenal developments.

Both past and presets are equally important to understand any social issue in totality and in-depth.

Both sociology and history thus depends on each other to take complete stoke of reality.

Radcliffe brown rightly said that - "Sociology is nomothetic while Hstory is ideographic".

The collated histories of cultures and institutions are helpful in understanding Sociology and material culture, and Sociology provides "background" to the study of History; as History is now being studied from the sociological viewpoint.

Whilst Historians supply historical facts, Sociologists interoperate said aspects of study into their enquiries.

History and Ethics

The relationship between history and ethics (नीतिशास्त्र) may seem irrelevant at first; however, these two have been related during the long history of war, violence and mass killing.

Since the 1970s historical consciousness has played an important role in articulating an approach to history with an ethical mindset.

"Emmanuel Levinas" as a philosopher has tried to define ethics in a way that suits the terrible historical condition of humanity in the twentieth century.

In his view, ethics is the infinite responsibility towards other human beings.

History takes us to the intersection of principles and practice, the place where ethical ideals uneasily coexist with the necessity of choice.

Like historical explanations in general, history's moral lessons are deeply embedded in life's messy specificity.

Although a true historian is not expected to pass distinct and sensitive judgments on the historical incidents and characters, yet he must know about the ethical principle of the time which influenced the conduct of the people in the past.

Probably in the past, there was not reliable ethical science and much of followed were merely a reflection of the bigotry, partial and complexes of the different writers.

A historian must understand and master this science of ethics to have a wider perspective of the issue.

History and Psychology (मनोविज्ञान)

History is the ultimate manifestation of human behavior, and thus he who wishes to understand the psyche will study history.

In history always lies truth about the human spirit; for every action has a cause rooted in the mind.

A more explicit illustration would be the following: History is the meta-representation of psychology.

On the other hand, psychology is of great help to history in training a historian in the detection of motives and intentions and in drawing inferences from strange behaviour.

Historical studies were enriched by the work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) who laid down the basis of psycho-analysis and widened the scope of psychology.

Psychology is useful for historical research as activities, experiences and motives are the matters that are closely studied by historians in understanding the meaning of the activities of eminent men in history.

A historian must have to show some psychological insights while making an analysis of the motive and actions of men and societies.

The eccentricities and mysterious behaviour of the public leaders which many a time confounds all could be understood property if Freudian, psycho-analysis is adopted.

Adolf Hitters obsession with anti-Semitism appeared strange in the beginning but the mania to persecute Jews had its origin in his ancestors being of Jewish extraction.

Great thinkers of history, from Aristotle to Zoroaster raised questions that today would be considered psychological.

They wanted to know how people take information through the senses, use information to solve problems, and become motivated to act in brave or villainous ways.

They wondered about the elusive nature of emotion and whether it controls us or it can be controlled.

So psychology is the scientific explanation of possible human behaviour in general, especially individual behaviour.

History is the description and explanation of specific, actual human behaviour in the past, especially the behaviour of large groups like armies and nations and governments, and the unique explanations for those specific events.

History and Geography

Geography is an important constituent of history along with other human-centered disciplines such as political science, anthropology, sociology, and economics.

The relationship between history and geography is especially close because they represent two fundamental dimensions of the same phenomenon.

In the words of Prof. Immanuel Kant - "Geography and history fill up the entire circumference of our perceptions, geography, that of space and history that of time."

Geography is the stage on which drama of history is enacted and it is the geography which determines the historical events.

The story of man's evolution since primitive stage, cannot be told without the varied geographical settings of the world.

Man's mode of living, dieting and dressing etc., are all determined by his physical environment.

If the USA grew into a powerful nation and acquired a rich history, it was very much due to its geographical conditions.

The history of hostility between France and Germany can be explained on the basis of existence of river Rhine and Lorrain coal-fields.

The geography of Egypt has preserved the remains of her ancient civilisation.

The Indus and the Ganges have played a vital role in the history of India.

Climatology has played a vital role in the formation of national character, and influenced human endeavours and achievements, Floods, drought, hurricanes, earthquakes, mineral deposits, fertility of the soil, rivers, lakes, meadows, coastline and other factors are responsible for many historical events.

No history can be complete without some reference to space.

Similarly, no geographical account can be intelligible without reference to development in time.

So, both history and geography are concerned with the inter-play of human and physical factors.

History and Literature

History and literature (साहित्य) have been intertwined since the very beginning.

The relationship between history and literature is complex and multifaceted.

First, literature often presents historical people, places, and events in story form.

Second, even literature that presents the world of its day can become "historical" over time and give modern readers a sense of the story's original time and place.

The relationship between history and literature is that history is often reflected in literature, while literature has the potential to affect history.

Real events were recounted as stories to teach the younger generation wisdom or lessons about their origins.

These stories sometimes stretched the truth to entertain the audience or make them reflect further.

The main difference between history and literature is the purpose of each: History intends to record events as accurately as possible, while literature interprets historical or everyday events in an imaginative way.

Indeed, history and literature are connected in many ways, and these connections can make for an interesting and valuable study.

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