Truth in Advertising

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.


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