It’s occurred to me from some recent correspondence that folks who don’t know me (or my snark) might be taken aback by some of my more rascally posts.
Truth is, I engage in the sciences for a living, and used to do so in the humanities as well. I am not anti-science, but anti-scientism. Scientism, for me, is the unquestioned belief in the supremacy of the natural sciences when it comes to adjudicating questions of taste, truth, and value.
For example, I trust medical science to give me the best information with regard to what constitutes a healthy life or lifestyle. Anecdotal evidence, alternative medicines (such as acupuncture and homeopathic remedies), a distant but firm second.
However, I don’t think for a minute that living healthily is the always and everywhere the same as living happily. In a similar manner, I think we often tend to assume if something’s legal it must also be moral.
In the process, I see us foreclosing a line of thinking I’ve always regarded as properly philosophical in nature: what is the good or best life? Not to compete with science, but to enrich a human life.
It goes without saying, I think, that healthy cultures need both the humanities and the natural sciences in order to grow. As a fan of the humanities – especially philosophy – I just feel the need to speak out on occasion when it’s threatened.