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The Human Sciences - A Historical Perspective

             According to Mazlish, the first historical event that served as a precondition for the emergence of the Modern Human Sciences in the West was the Age of Discovery. Mazlish contends that humans have always needed 'Others' in order to define themselves. In this chapter, 'Others' is defined as "aliensbarbarians non-humans" (Pg. 28). From the perspective of the emerging Western philosophers and human scientists; that is, humans not belonging to their known European culture. The author contends that it is only with the emergence of travel, literature, and history that a new formation towards this "Other' begins to find a place within these theories.
             The concept of culture and later the emergence of what will become anthropology seems to have developed with the discoveries of the New World. As Europeans discovered new peoples with various beliefs, and cultures of their own, the idea of human nature and closer focus on the 'Nature Vs. Nurture' began to take more of a focus of thought. Most problematic to these scientists' schema was whether or not the discoveries of these New World people were to be regarded as, "humans, with souls potentially to be saved, or as cannibalistic inhumans, potentially to be enslaved?" (Pg. 29) It was through philosophical debate, contemplation, recorded experiences and extensive observations that a new sense of the emergence of culture developed. A growing contemplation that humans might be alike as a biological species, and that it was culture that perhaps created our differences, gave way to a freedom to explore that these 'Others' may be capable of the same moral fabric and practice lives with values that contributed to a very slow growth of acceptance for some philosophers and scientist. .
             Mazlish reminds the reader that all observations at this time were from a dominant viewpoint towards inferior groups and not to be analyzed in an equal framework.

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