The Humanities and Scientism

Whitehouse flyer.pdf Dr. Glenn Whitehouse will present a lecture in honor of Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Dr. Richard Frothingham, this Wednesday, March 9th, at 7:00 pm in Dickenson Hall Auditorium: The Sustainability of the Humanities and the Challenge of Scientism.

Abstract: Scholars like E.O. Wilson, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins have proposed that evolutionary biology is a better model for the study of human culture than the traditional methods of the humanities, and that science should replace those methods. This talk will oppose the suggestion that the humanities find their proper field of study in “consciousness” and their proper method in reduction of cultural phenomena to their causes. To the contrary, the study of culture is about the ways that language and symbol systems shape worlds of human experience, and the method of the humanities is much more one of translation than reduction. Utilizing phenomenology and hermeneutics, the talk will outline how the humanities hold open “the human” as a space of meaning distinct from nature, thus reconnecting the humanities to their birthplace in classical and renaissance humanism. Humanity, as Montaigne said, is an “imperfect garden,” and the task of the humanities is to sustain each kind of human expression in its particular excellence, and to tend it lest one crop take over the whole plot.

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