Between object and meaning. Evaluating the objectivity of the humanities

Start - End 
2014 - 2018 (ongoing)
Department of Philosophy and moral sciences
Research Focus 
Research Period 



In this project I investigate whether the human sciences can establish objectiveknowledge. Currently both within the disciplines of the human sciences and withinphilosophical debates the category of objectivity has been subjected to doubts andeven distrust, when it is applied to the human sciences. Most theorists of the humansciences agree on two principles. First, the human sciences try to understand theirobject within a web of intersubjective meaning. Second, this understanding cannotbe rendered by mathematical laws and allows for no straightforward empiricalverification. On the basis of these principles many conclude that the human sciencescannot achieve objectivity, but should instead focus on the story and narratives thatinspire us or have a critical import.Without denying either principle I will re-evaluate the notion of objectivity andinvestigate whether it can incorporate typical claims of the human sciences. To thisend I will use the concepts of objectivity Rudolf Carnap and Ernst Cassirerdeveloped. These concepts do not focus on the empirical or mathematicalrequirements for a claim to be objective, but understand objectivity as the result ofan objectifying rule that specifies the conditions of a legitimate relation betweenobject and concept. I will test these concepts of objectivity on specific cases fromlinguistics, historiography and anthropology. These test-cases will give me anunderstanding of the limits of objectification for the human science.



Phd Student(s)