Geisteswissenschaften and Naturwissenschaften

Geisteswissenschaften and Naturwissenschaften

(German) general terms to refer to the human and social sciences (the sciences of the spirit) and the natural or physical sciences. The. German usage, especially by DILTHEY, seems to have derived in part from a translation of John Stuart MILL's distinction between the ‘moral’ and the physical sciences. The distinction is now mainly associated with the view that the human and social sciences, since they deal with human meanings and purposes, must be constituted and must operate using different methods than those appropriate to the physical sciences (see MEANINGFUL UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLANATION, VERSTEHEN, HERMENEUTICS, RICKERT, WINDELBAND, WEBER).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000