In one of the Social Policy lectures at LUMS, the instructor of that particular course touched upon the definition of poverty. That would, then by corollary, also entail defining basic human needs because only then policymakers could measure if a certain person is poor or not and deserves state welfare. What the course premises on is the Capabilities Approach by Amartya Sen – a much renowned political philosopher. The concept illustrates the real needs of humans and how they can be fulfilled. In the lecture, the concept was then extrapolated to critique the prevalent social policies in Pakistan and their various shortcomings.
We, students, generally hold the opinion that Social Sciences have no bearing on the fields of business, law or engineering for that matter. However, we have forcefully drawn rigid lines between different disciplines and categorized them according to entry requirements or job market entailing those disciplines. This is the issue that really matters and has grave ramifications on us as a student body. We consider philosophy or psychology or sociology as obsolete, ancient, and subjects from the antiquity. accordingly, we believe they have no real application in the ‘practical world’ so to speak and social scientists are always caught up in their own worlds; their own unfounded fantasies. The more I try, personally, to differentiate business management from social science, the more I am convinced that they are the two sides of the same coin. The concepts in management courses, especially public management/policy courses are more or less founded on doctrines of Social Sciences. If one wants to manage people, that can’t be materialized until or unless one resorts to Psychology. If one wants to design a policy affecting hundred thousands of people, they can’t even think of that without deliberating upon Economics and Political Science. Even areas as ostensibly distinct as Accounting and Finance also operate within a larger framework of Global Political Economy. Where to invest? Where not to invest? Many of the moral problems originate from enterprises operating within the developing third world too.
The same link holds true for the realm of engineering. One might not find a common ground between Social Sciences and Natural Sciences – except for the word “sciences”, of course. The truth remains evident that all great scientists were in one sense or other great philosophers. Be it Einstein, Pythagoras, or Newton, all based their ideas on patterns found in the nature. And what better deciphers nature than the Social Sciences themselves? The point, again, is not to express that one domain is superior or inferior to the other. The wisdom here to grasp is the interconnection and inter-dependency between seemingly unrelated spheres. Ideas move the corporate industry. They inspire new discoveries. They move the world. Why not we approach and engage with those ideas more effectively and combine them with our respective undertakings? We don’t we undergo this powerful journey from the abstract to the concrete?
Therefore, ideas are for everyone. Creativity is for everyone. And so is curiosity.