Employment and the Unity of Social Sciences

3. Social Sciences

Social sciences are focused on human beings. Contrary to unchangeable “elementary particles” and physical laws, humans undergo biological and cultural evolution. Humans change and they change the world they live in, so the current geological epoch could be appropriately called Anthropocene Epoch.29Our biological evolution accelerated 100-fold in the last 5-10,000 years. Driving forces are growth of the world’s population and changes due to agriculture and all other scientific-technological developments (Success of mutation causing to digest lactoseover the last 3,000 years due to genes controlling the glucose metabolism in the brain is possibly essential for the human brain growth to the size twice that of chimpanzee, our nearest cousin, and possibly suggests why humans have diabetes and chimpanzees do not). Ongoing and future developments are becoming much more pronounced, starting with a pacemaker, implants and transplantations to stem cells, cerebral organoids and regenerative medicine: flat (skin), tubes (blood vessels), hollow organs (bladders made from implanted patients’ own cells), solid (kidney, heart), and synthetic biology (design and construction of new biological devices and systems that do not exist in the natural world and adapting and improving those that exist in the natural world, e.g. sensitivity of sharks to magnetic fields) to be followed so that by 2020 nanomachines will be routinely used in medicine–entering the bloodstream to feed cells and extract waste, by 2030 mind uploading will be possible and by 2040 human body 3.0 could alter its shape and organs can be replaced by superior cyber implants.Converging technologies such as nanotechnology (manipulation with atoms), biotechnology (manipulation of genes), information technology (manipulation of bits) and cognitive neuroscience (of neurons) will be integrated.

It is doubtful whether social sciences developed 100 to 200 years ago are adequate for our times. A brief outline of some social sciences follows:

Language is one of the most important “innovations”, but grammar and linguistics developed much later. It was Panini in 5th century BC, India and Sibawayh in the Arab world in 760 AD, who developed grammar, though the first to use the word “grammar” was the school of the Library of Alexandria. Modern linguistics was developed by W. von Humboldt and notably by Noam Chomsky.

Mercantilism (16-18c) and Physiocracy (18c) are among the first schools in economics, though economic problems were addressed earlier by Aristotle, Xenophon, Kautilya, Th. Aquinas and Ibn Khaldun. Adam Smith (his Wealth of Nations was published in 1776), who called himself a moral philosopher, is credited as the first economist and notably the first political economist, followed by T. R. Malthus (1798 – year indicates publication of their most important work), David Ricardo (1817), John Stuart Mills (1848), Karl Marx (1867), Alfred Marshal (1890), J. M. Keynes (1936), M. Friedman (1970), Jan Tinbergen (first Nobel laureate in economics in 1969), Simon Kuznets (1971 NP), J. Schumpeter (1942), J. Stiglitz (2001), P. Krugman (2008), A. Sen (1999) and N.N. Taleb who introduced Black Swan (for studies on uncertainties D. Kahneman got the Nobel Prize in 2002).

Sociology was studied by Confucius, Plato and Ibn Khaldun, and it is quoted in the Doomsday Book of AD 1086. Modern sociology started with A. Compte (1798-1857), K. Marx (1818-1883), Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), Max Weber (1864-1920) and most notably Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) who first set up the department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux in 1895.

Thales, Hippocrates as well as many scholars of ancient China, Persia and India studied what we now call psychology. Modern psychology has its roots in the works of W. Wundt in 1897 in Leipzig, with W. James, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, known for their work on psychoanalysis followed by E. Fromm, E. Erikson, B.F. Skinner, A. Maslow and Ch. von Ehrenfeld and later Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler, who are known for their Gestalt theories.

Anthropology is a study of humans and therefore a very wide area. It has developed into many branches particularly after the work of Franz Boas and B. Malinowski at the turn of the 20th century.

And then it comes to politics, which was referred by Aristotle as a master science. Politics is a mixture of art and science, intuition, emotion, facts and visions, leadership and collective endeavor. It seems to me that the most appropriate quote to open and to conclude the discussion of politics is from F. Schiller written in 1796: “Our century has given birth to a great epoch, but the great moment finds a stunned generation and even more stunned politicians.”<sup”>30 “It is absurd to believe that everything is going to change, but politics will and can remain the same.”31

Each technological development survives only when accepted and used by humans, therefore, engineering and technology have their matching counterpart in the social sciences. Since, as Julian Huxley stressed, humans are now in charge of evolution, understanding contemporary evolution implies understanding human behavior, i.e. “contemporary” evolution becomes part of social science: “Evolution on this planet is a history of the realization of ever new possibilities… through the new knowledge. It has defined man’s destiny and responsibilityto be an agent for the rest of the world in the job of realizing its inherent potentialities as fully as possible. It is as if man had been suddenly appointed managing director of the biggest business of all, the business of evolution. What is more, he can’t refuse the job.”32 According to Aurelio Peccei, “Humankind became the basic factor of change in this corner of the universe.”33 And similarly, robotics, ICT and artificial intelligence are merged with psychology, sociology, economics and politics.

4. Paradigm Change

The concept of paradigm (?a?ade??µa) was used by Plato in his book Timaeus to mean a pattern used by God to create the universe. It was again used more than two millennia later by Th. Kuhn in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions34 to describe “universally accepted scientific achievements that – for a time – provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners.” ‘Paradigm’ means a pattern of activity and an accepted worldview. Mattei Dogan argued in 200135 that there is no paradigm in social sciences since concepts are polysemic (having a number of meanings and understandings). On the contrary Larry Laudan (1977) and M.L. Handa (1986) introduce social paradigms.36

5. Employment

Full employment is desirable and possible.37 Employment increases human capital and decreases income inequalities. Inequalities are negatively correlated with most socio-economic-health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and crime rate, and decrease Human Development Index (HDI) (see Fig. 138 and Table 2). Taking inequality into account HDI decreases 27% for Arab States, 33% for Sub-Saharan Africa and 30% for South Asia. Loss is largest in education (57%, 32% and 50%, respectively) and in health (24%, 45%, 34%, respectively) sectors.

Fig. 1: Income Inequality vs Health and Social Problems Index29


In addition inequality freezes human-made capital. Obviously, having several hundred shirts and ten cars freezes all those unused and unnecessarily consumes material resources and increases pollution.

Gandhi stated that there is enough for human needs, but not for human greed. Adding to greed are unnecessary “needs”,40 needs enforced upon us through advertizing agencies.

Human needs include spiritual, emotional, artistic, intellectual, physical and material needs, and fulfillment of many of them requires work – often jobs by other people. If there are more jobs needed than people, then full employment is possible, even demanded. Of course, it requires that people have skills and knowledge, and that again increases the need for employment – procedure to provide skills and knowledge, i.e. process we call education. Science and technology have introduced a competitor to humans – robots and various other “agents” that do human work. We already witnessed that the percentage of people involved in agriculture dropped from over 60-70% to just few percents during less than 100 years, and we witness that many other jobs are disappearing. Actually, during their lifetime our children and grandchildren will have to change their “professions” several times.

Several developments are characterized by very different time scales. Our life expectancy is about 70-80 years (life expectancy doubled in about 100 years and is still increasing), knowledge doubles every 5-10 years and new technologies are introduced at the same rate (e.g. Moore’s law), demography will superimpose the demographic transition (i.e. decreasing fertility rate in many countries to below 2.1) until 2060 increasing global population close to ten billion producing migration and cultural problems. These clashing time scales add to already alarming destruction of natural, human and social capitals and to highly vulnerable political structures. Where does the world go from now? Theoretically possible future scenarios are: 1) static, 2) business-as-usual, 3) incremental and 4) paradigmatically changing world. Static world is impossible since the rate of change is increasing and drivers of change are imbedded in our society. Business-as-usual is not sustainable and leads to disaster. The question is whether incremental changes are sufficient or a paradigmatic change is needed, or most likely a combination of both – incremental and paradigmatic, producing essentially a paradigmatic change (Notwithstanding quantum physics and theory of relativity, classical physics remained valid in a narrowly specified domain). Insights into human needs suggest that the “jobs” will undergo major paradigmatic changes. We need and will need less and less production of material goods (they are destroying natural capital anyway, polluting the environment by enormous waste and adding little to our quality of life) and we will need more and more of knowledge (just to be a citizen of a democratic country an enormous knowledge is required unless we plan to surrender to manipulation, dictatorship and self-destruction led by stupidity), more research to understand the world we live in and more and more creative, revolutionary and out-of-the-box ideas to achieve a sustainable, human-centered secure world. As Don Giovanni says, “To drift is to be in hell, to steer is to be in heaven.” (G. B. Shaw).

Table 2: Indicators of Development


Socio-economic and political world changes quite rapidly now and social sciences describing specific aspects are not adequately explaining the changes. If one appreciates that social sciences deal with a society composed of humans, then a human-centered approach could lead to unity of all social sciences. Achievements of social sciences during the last century are enormous (just as physics achieved a lot during the 19th century but still two minor clouds led to quantum physics and theory of relativity), there is an increasing amount of observation, data and analyses, but we still lack a reasonable basic theory (and as Boltzmann stated, “Nothing is as useful as a good theory”). Physical theories are guided by experimental data and the imperative of beauty since we strongly believe and have evidence that Nature is beautiful. Social human-centered theories can be guided by essential characteristics of humans, also expressed in all major cultures and religions:

  1. Humans have rights and responsibilities, and our basic right and responsibility are to LIVE and assure that future generations live! Raison d’humanite.41
  2. Humans are curious – Sapere aude – as stressed by Aristotle in the opening words of his Metaphysics. We should never succumb to vanity and believe that we know everything – our knowledge and understanding are very small and inadequate.
  3. Humans are social beings living on Earth. Preservation of natural capital is our duty.
  4. The Golden Rule is imperative: even more strongly formulated: Love thy neighbor!
  5. Humans have to be active and wisely decide when and how to be active.

Recent progress in sciences indicated Nature-Nurture Interaction (Life sciences-Socio-political-economic sciences).42 Comparison of identical and fraternal twins shows the heritability of politically related behavior. Gene DRD4 is implicated in the development of political affiliation. Those with a variant of DRD4 called 7R and also a large network of friends acquired during adolescence tended to be more left wing (in the USA). However, there is no particular gene for left-wing, but inclinations. Political action is the collective expression of some primal biological motives: survival and procreation. Genes seem to assist in deciding which opinions an individual will find most attractive to cling to. It looks like there is a sort of granularity, the need to accept partial rather than universal explanations for biological phenomena. A person’s gene can propel him/her more easily in one direction than another. Her/his free will may be a little freer to turn right than left, or vice versa.

It is not US vs. THEM, but rather WE and THEY.43 This is the only and the best way to overcome crises, to eliminate threats and to assure prosperous, sustainable and secure development.<sup44 “Difference is our greatest opportunity,” wrote B. Clinton echoing Hungarian King Stephen I. “People are the real wealth of nations. The basic aim of development is to enlarge human freedom and choices so that people live full and creative lives. This must benefit everybody equitably.”45

30. Friedrich Schiller, Gedichte und dramen (Berlin: Cotta, 1855)
31. Yehezkel Dror, Avant-Garde Politician: Leaders for a New Epoch (Washington DC: Westphalia Press, 2014)
32. Julian Huxley, Transhumanism in New bottles for new wine (London: Chatto and Windus, 1957): 13-17
33. Aurelio Peccei, “Agenda for the End of the Century,” The Club of Rome
34. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962)
35. Mattei Dogan, “Paradigms in the Social Sciences,” International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences 16 (2001): 11023-11027
36. Madan Handa, Peace Paradigm, Transcending Liberal and Marxian Paradigms (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1986)
37. Garry Jacobs and Ivo Šlaus, “Global Prospects for Full Employment,” Cadmus 1, no. 2 (2011): 60-89
38. Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better (Harmondsworth: Allen Lane, 2009)
39. “Human Capital: Its Self-Augmenting Growth & Individuality A Simple, Possibly Naïve Approach,” Eruditio 1, no. 1 (2012): 2-8
40. Ivan Illich, Towards a History of Needs (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1977)
41. Dror, Avant-Garde Politician
42. Peter Hatemi and Rose McDermott, “The Genetics of Politics: Discovery, Challenges and Progress,” Trends in Genetics 28, no. 10 (2012): 525-533
43. Todd L. Pittinsky, Us Plus Them: Tapping the Positive Power of Difference (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012)
44. Ivo Šlaus et al., “Our Common Enemy and Our Best Friends,” Cadmus 2, no. 3 (2014): iii-iv
45. “The State of Human Development, Human Development Report 2004,” UNDP Human Development Reports, 127

Pages: 1 2