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THE SCIENCE OF

GEOGRAPHY

Geog 325: Lecture 3

WHAT IS GEOGRAPHY?
In Greek geo means earth and the graphy to
write about, or describe. Simply defined as the study of the earth as the
home of man. ..(National Geographic/Channel?)
Geographers study what is where, why there, and why care? in regard to
the varied features--both physical and human of earth's surface
Geography is a study which looks at all of reality found within the earth
surface from a particular point of view, namely that of areal
differentiation (& Similarities) (Ref: Kants ideas/Strabos (64BC 21AD)
Geography, in addition to its vast importance to social life and the art of
government...acquaints us with the occupants of the land and ocean and the vegetation,
fruits, and peculiarities of the various quarters of the earth.

Geography is a dynamic science; it involves change, time.


Geography is a correlative, integrative, and holistic science.

GEOGRAPHY'S "FIVE THEMES"


Location answers the question
"Where is it?" with reference to the specific or relative position of places on Earth's
surface. Where are you at this moment?

Place helps answer the question: "What is there? What is it like?"


Character of location. Features and conditions of place--both physical and human--give
meaning and character that set each place on Earth's surface apart from all others. (Bermuda
: Fulani Herdsmen; BukoHaram, etc)

"Why is it like this?


Understanding Interaction between cultures and the natural environments they occupy often
helps to explain the nature of places, All places have certain advantages and disadvantages
for human land use and settlement.

Movement explains
"How are places connected or linked?" What comes and what goes, from and to
where, and why? The concept establishes the importance of flow and linkages as
people, ideas, resources, commodities, and other elements move from place to place
over the earth

Region addresses the question,


"How can places be grouped?" Regions are the basic units of geographic
study. In terms of organizing and analyzing data, they are to the geographer what
the period or era is to the historian

Inter-related Themes of Geography


Location

Region

Place

Movement
Interaction

What does Geography study?


What is its contribution to knowledge
Studies "All knowledge of the inorganic, organic, and the human world in
one interlaced whole Geography is Holistic
Dualism in geography: systematic/ special geography or cultural/physical
divisions.
Penck comments that "a dualism is felt only by a person who sees
boundaries rather than zones of contact between the sciences, who
emphasizes the differences between the social and the natural sciences
more than the interconnection of all sciences, their belonging together in one
great unit science
Geography therefore necessarily shares in whatever difficulties or
limitations of the social sciences, and also shares in the greater ease with
which facts and relationships can be determined in the natural sciences.

What is the character of Geography?


How does it explain the world?
Geography attempts to acquire knowledge of the world in which we live,
both facts and relationships, which shall be as objective and accurate as
possible:
Strabo (64 BC AD ...) suggested that geographers must not write about
what they do not believe is true and correct: criticized his predecessors such
as Homer who wrote myths rather than factual geography.

Geography presents knowledge in the form of concepts, relationships,


and principles that shall, as far as possible, apply to all parts of the world Holism
Seeks to organize the dependable knowledge so obtained in logical
systems, reduced by mutual connections into as small a number of
independent systems as possible
With respect to these ideals as essential principles in the pursuit of
knowledge, there can be no differences among the different branches of
science, but only differences in degree of attainment: accuracy, certainty
and approach

What type of knowledge is generated by


Geography?
Science is committed to producing universal knowledge by discovering
laws
It is a common error to overlook that part of our scientific knowledge which
cannot, as yet at least, be expressed in universals. Geography fills the gap
by providing universal and particular knowledge

Geography is concerned with the individual object or phenomenon as


worthy of study.
The sciences that look at general laws of nature are called "nomothetic",
while that which looks at individual phenomena are called "idiographic"
sciences
Geography covers both sciences and makes important contribution in
showing how idiography and nomothetism can produce useful knowledge
of the world.

How are Knowledge Systems Organised?


Geography organises the knowledge it produces into systems
in order that the student of any particular problem may have
ready at hand the knowledge of facts, generic concepts and
principles that bear upon his problem.
Geographical knowledge is organized into systems in two quite
different ways
major groups of closely related phenomena, and thus
develop specialized branches: physical geography,
economic geography, political geography, etc
two other groups: systematic/general geography and
regional geography
The degree of attainment of the ideals of science can be varied
in the different fields: the degree of accuracy and certainty may
be highest in physical geography and decreases in the various
branches of cultural geography.

Geography and Cosmography


Geography enjoyed its strongest relative position among the sciences
during the so-called golden age of exploration form the 15th 19th
centuries, not because of its academic status, but to the work of a number
of people who were actively involved with the mapping and description
of the new lands being discovered (by cosmographers)
Cosmography included not only geography and cartography but also
natural sciences e.g. biology, geology, geophysics and social sciences
e.g. anthropology (Schmithusen , 1976)
Geography developed as an academic discipline partly on the basis of a
cosmographic philosophy that was developed to give coherence to the
geographical societies different activities (National Geographic, etc)

Geography a Science of Synthesis


Geography has no obvious place in the traditional
classification of the sciences by faculty
Some parts of Geography have their strongest affiliations
with mathematics; others with history, philosophy and
social sciences
Other sciences study distinctive phenomena: geologists
rocks; botanists plants: sociologists social groups
The work of Geographers involves several types of
phenomena each already studied by another science
Some argue that the subject matter is shared with other
disciplines but is treated in a different way for geographical
purposes.
Others affirm that that the subject matter of geography is
exclusive: geographers alone study places

The Circumference of Geography


(Adapted from Fenneman, 1919)
Geomorphology

Geology

Climatology

Meteorology

Historical Geography

History/Archaelogy

Economic Geography

Economics

Biogeography

Biology

Beach Study AnalogyPeter Haggett (1983), Geography, A modern Synthesis

Geologist sand, rock particles


Zoologist marine life
Sociologist - behaviour of different groups
Economist marginal costs of different ice cream
vendors/entrpreneurs
Geographer population variations, cultural
landscape (roads, restaurants, ice cream vendors,
accessibility), etc. maps, air photos,

Study of Variations & Similarities


Geography exists to study variations in
phenomena from place to place, and its value as
an academic discipline depends on the extent
to which it can clarify the spatial relations and
processes that might explain the features of an
area or a place

Geographical curiosity starts with the question,


Why is it like this here?

Geography, a jack of all trades?


Geography is a mother discipline from which other
disciplines like geodesy, meteorology, soil science, plant
ecology and regional science have emerged.
Geography has become an outward-looking discipline
that has frequently created new specializations.
The multidisciplinary perspective may be regarded
both as our raison detre and our life-raft in the sea of
knowledge. (Capelle, 1999, p.65).
If the periphery seems interesting, why not explore it; this
will only widen the circle of geography

Concepts and Personalities in the Development of


Geography during the Pre and Classical period

Concepts
Physical Geography
Areal differentiation
Regional Geography
Reine geographie
Systematic geography
General/Special Geography
Universal Geography
Regional network of boundaries
Landekunde
Environmental Determinism
Armchair Geography
Chorography
Cosmography
Comparative method
Anthropogeographie

Key Personalities

Carl Ritter
Von Humboldt
Strabo
Varenius
Kant
R. Hardshorne
Vidal de la Blache
Geographia Generalis
Buache
Pure geography

Summary
Although geography has its roots in Classical Antiquity, its development as a
modern discipline crystallized in Europe, and primarily in Germany during
the period 1750 to 1850.
The writings of geographers in the Pre-classical and Classical periods
helped shape the discipline
Geography is a Science of locations that studies the features of the world as
one interlaced whole Holism
The main themes of geography gave focus to the discipline in its study of the
world
Geography attempts to acquire knowledge of the world which must be as
objective and accurate as possible
In Geography, knowledge is broadly organized into systematic and regional
studies
The attainment of the ideals of science varies in the different fields or
branches of Geography, as well as in the other disciplines

Trial questions
Identify (comment on) the major dualisms in the
methodology of geography during the Preclassical and Classical periods.
Discuss the five themes of geography?
Geography is purely descriptive, and devoid of
any scientific content. Discuss

Geography is the science of synthesis that


straddles the nomothetic and idiographic divides
in modern science. Discuss

Quiz ?
Expatiate on the definition of Geography
as the study of the earth as the home of
man
Discuss the contribution of Emmanuel
Kant to the development of modern
geography
Elaborate on the definition of geography
as the study of the earth as the home of
man

Personalities & Shifting Viewpoints


during Classical Period: 19-20th C

Alexander von Humboldt (1769 1859)


Carl Ritter ( 1779 - 1859)
Walter Hermann Bucher (1889 1965)
Osker Ferdinand Peschel (1826 1875)
Friedrich Ratzel (1844 1904)
Ferdinand Friherr von Richtofen (1883 1905)
Alfred Hettner ( 1859 1942)

NEXT LECTURE

Explanation in Geography