Science vs. Humanities

Epistemologist
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Science vs. Humanities

I have been having an interesting discussion with some nice forum members. I enjoyed it. Thank you. A stance I held in that discussion is that there are aspects of the human experience that are ineffable to science.

 

Three years ago, I studied a year-long module on the humanities at university. I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences. In other words, academics who specialize in the humanities, from what I have learned, maintain that the humanities study and convey aspects of the human experience that cannot be and/or are not studied or conveyed by the sciences.

 

By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

 

By the humanities I mean music, poetry and other creative writing, drama, painting, sculpture, law, history, linguistics etc.

 

I have some questions about this.

 

Is it irrational to conclude that the humanities study and express truths, meanings, and knowledge, which cannot be and/or are not studied or expressed by the sciences?

 

A related question is, do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience (truths, meanings and knowledge) that are ineffable to the sciences, but not ineffable to the humanities? In other words, are there aspects of the human experience that can be known through the humanities, but not known through the sciences?

 

Do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not reducible to scientific naturalism?

 

Since specialists in the humanities maintain that the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not or cannot be encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that the humanities are in opposition to scientific naturalism?

 

If a person concludes that the humanities do indeed encompass truths, meanings, and knowledge, that cannot be or are not encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that person is not a scientific naturalist?

 

There seem to be many scientific naturalists in this forum, and I would be most interested in your thoughts on this. I am not going to debate you. I just want to know, from your perspective, whether it is irrational to conclude that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings and knowledge that cannot be and/or are not studied and/or conveyed by the sciences.

 

Although I am an atheist, happy Easter! Smiling

 

 


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Quote:I was taught that the

Quote:
I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences.

There's a pretty good chance someone at whatever school you earned your major(s) you were force-fed you a faulty definition of "sciences" by some haughty, idealistic, bleeding-heart professor.

 

You might want to talk to Jormangandr about the 'university indoctrinators'... his experience and insight in this would probably be much more useful and fleshed out than my own.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


cj
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Epistemologist wrote:By the

Epistemologist wrote:

By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

 

By the humanities I mean music, poetry and other creative writing, drama, painting, sculpture, law, history, linguistics etc.

 

I have some questions about this.

What I am going to tell you is my personal opinion, I am not an expert in the humanities nor in any one particular science.

Epistemologist wrote:

Is it irrational to conclude that the humanities study and express truths, meanings, and knowledge, which cannot be and/or are not studied or expressed by the sciences?

Yes.

Epistemologist wrote:

A related question is, do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience (truths, meanings and knowledge) that are ineffable to the sciences, but not ineffable to the humanities? In other words, are there aspects of the human experience that can be known through the humanities, but not known through the sciences?

I don't think so.  The grandeur of music or poetry or etc is equally matched to the grandeur of astronomy or cellular biology or etc.  I studied music formally at a university for three years.  I got a degree in systems engineering.  Music was harder.  And music is very mathematical - just think of how chords are described - thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.  Concert A is 440 cycles per second in our modern world and that is how you tune your instrument.  Poetry the same - beats per measure, syllables per stanza.  A sense of wonder will fill you when you finally understand Markov chains or at the height of a Gothic cathedral.  I could go on.

Epistemologist wrote:

Do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not reducible to scientific naturalism?

I don't think so.  Our sense of wonder or grandeur or awe or any other emotion is directly related to our chemical balances which is directly related to our emotions.  It would be silly to say they are unrelated because they are so intertwined, it is hard to separate chemistry from emotion.  And so, any "aspect of the human experience" can be expressed either in scientific naturalism terms or in fainty new agey voices.  Same dif.

Epistemologist wrote:

Since specialists in the humanities maintain that the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not or cannot be encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that the humanities are in opposition to scientific naturalism?

I don't think so, but I never agreed with my humanities professors anyway.  And I got real sick of hearing how engineers don't have people skills or the ability to understand the nuances of the humanities.

Epistemologist wrote:

If a person concludes that the humanities do indeed encompass truths, meanings, and knowledge, that cannot be or are not encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that person is not a scientific naturalist?

It means that person is an artsy-fartsy doo-doo head.  I'm not intending to call you one, but if the shoe fits.....

Epistemologist wrote:

There seem to be many scientific naturalists in this forum, and I would be most interested in your thoughts on this. I am not going to debate you. I just want to know, from your perspective, whether it is irrational to conclude that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings and knowledge that cannot be and/or are not studied and/or conveyed by the sciences.

  I don't know of any truths, meanings, or knowledge that have not been studied by science.  Somebody has managed to get a grant and do a scientific paper on just about any subject you can think of, including subjects you and I have not covered here.

Epistemologist wrote:

Although I am an atheist, happy Easter! Smiling

My usual way of "celebrating" easter is to do yard work.  Well, my yard is covered in puddles, meaning the ground is too wet to work.  It is even too wet to work in my pot garden.  So I'm a little put out about the day in general.  I'm intending to go for a little extra chocolate.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Epistemologist wrote:I was

Epistemologist wrote:

I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences. In other words, academics who specialize in the humanities, from what I have learned, maintain that the humanities study and convey aspects of the human experience that cannot be and/or are not studied or conveyed by the sciences.

You know who else says stuff like this? Apologists who insist their claims are beyond the realm of scientific investigation.


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Epistemologist wrote:By the

Epistemologist wrote:
By the humanities I mean music, poetry and other creative writing, drama, painting, sculpture, law, history, linguistics etc.

I would consider music, poetry, creative writing, drama, painting, and sculpture, to be a bit different from law, history, and linguistics.

In a certain sense, any topic that seeks truth is a field of 'science.' At the very least, topics like law, history, and linguistics aren't fields of natural science, but they certainly aren't 'exploring something that can't be explored by science.' Any such field works best when you apply reason and evidence i.e. it's not what you typically consider a science, but it's an exploration of truth, so you still use the scientific method to determine what's true or works best.    

Subjects like music, poetry, creative writing, drama, painting, and sculpture, on the other hand, can be understood as an exploration of aesthetics or creating what appeals to our sense-related emotions. This can be explored by science through neuropsychology, etc. 

Quote:
Is it irrational to conclude that the humanities study and express truths, meanings, and knowledge, which cannot be and/or are not studied or expressed by the sciences?

The purpose of science is to discover truth, so I suppose humanities like music would express 'things' that science doesn't to the extent that music appeals to our emotions. Of course, it's not that science cannot ultimately understand emotions, but that it doesn't care about appealing to our emotions for its own sake. I hope that makes sense. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Epistemologist wrote: Three

Epistemologist wrote:

Three years ago, I studied a year-long module on the humanities at university. I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences. In other words, academics who specialize in the humanities, from what I have learned, maintain that the humanities study and convey aspects of the human experience that cannot be and/or are not studied or conveyed by the sciences.

 

 

If these academics told you this and then spent a year teaching you about the humanities. Then, I would expect that they presented at least one truth, at least one meaning, and at least one piece of knowledge that is explored by the humanities and not the sciences. Could you provide an example of each of those? I think at this point it really just depends on how you define the words "truth" "meaning" and "knowledge." So if you provided some examples it could help me understand what you mean by the question.

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Whatthedeuce

Whatthedeuce wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

Three years ago, I studied a year-long module on the humanities at university. I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences. In other words, academics who specialize in the humanities, from what I have learned, maintain that the humanities study and convey aspects of the human experience that cannot be and/or are not studied or conveyed by the sciences.

 

 

If these academics told you this and then spent a year teaching you about the humanities. Then, I would expect that they presented at least one truth, at least one meaning, and at least one piece of knowledge that is explored by the humanities and not the sciences. Could you provide an example of each of those? I think at this point it really just depends on how you define the words "truth" "meaning" and "knowledge." So if you provided some examples it could help me understand what you mean by the question.

Yes, I was going to ask something like that - what would be an example of some "knowledge" that is intrinsically beyond the scope of science - and not just something that science has not to date investigated.

Also, History and Linguistics are empirical studies, or certainly should be, so perfectly within the scope of Science.

Law, insofar as it is a body of knowledge, is also entirely an empirical discipline. Much of it is a set of defined practices and procedures. It is not really a source of new knowledge in the broad sense.

The other areas mentioned were in the creative arts category. The novel content they generate consists of new aesthetic experiences, new ways to engage people's attention and emotions, new ways to perceive the world, which may even lead to new productive insights into verifiable facts about the world and human nature, which can be incorporated into actual science.

Your problem is with the "vs." in the subject line.

Science and the Humanities are complementary, not in conflict, addressing mostly different areas of human need, but with significant overlap.

Art often uses new discoveries in Science for inspiration, and the visual arts frequently incorporate new technology flowing from Science into creating their works, and sometimes as part of the work itself.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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Social Constructionism vs. Naturalism

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses.

 

BobSpence1 said: “Yes, I was going to ask something like that - what would be an example of some "knowledge" that is intrinsically beyond the scope of science - and not just something that science has not to date investigated.”

 

When I studied the humanities for a year, I was taught that the humanities are actually in conflict with the sciences, specifically the natural sciences. The natural sciences are the empirical sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology.

 

It can be argued that psychology is half way between the humanities and the natural sciences because it incorporates the doctrines of both naturalism and social constructionism. Sociology is probably a humanities discipline rather than a natural science because it is based more on social constructionism than naturalism.

 

Although it may be a deviation from this issue, mathematics does not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism either. In that sense, mathematics is an art (a humanity), as well as a science, but it is not a natural science. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think pure mathematicians believe that pure mathematics leads to knowledge and truths that the natural sciences cannot reach. For example, Plato presented this problem as the cave analogy. See ‘Plato’s Cave’. I think that the shadows on the wall of the cave symbolize the knowledge of the natural sciences. However, when one turns around and looks out of the cave, one sees the ‘real’ world, which can only be known through pure mathematics. Plato said this is the world of perfect mathematical forms. See ‘Plato’s theory of forms’ – the perfect universe, which can be known through pure mathematics, but cannot be known through the natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology.

 

When I studied general humanities at university, I was taught that the primary conflict between the humanities and natural sciences is between the doctrines of social constructionism and naturalism. Social constructionism is a key doctrine of the humanities, and naturalism is the primary doctrine of the natural sciences.

 

Maybe I should have been more specific and called this discussion ‘naturalism vs. social constructionism’.

 

The doctrine of social constructionism is that there is no such thing as nature, and there is no such thing as a scientific fact. I think that pure mathematics also maintains that ‘nature’ and ‘scientific facts’ are illusions. Social constructionism, in the humanities, maintains that nature and scientific facts are not real. It maintains that nature and scientific facts are nothing more than ideas and social constructs. And social constructionism claims to ‘know’ that this definition of ‘scientific facts’ and ‘nature’ is true.

 

I agree that aspects of the humanities and natural sciences compliment each other. But the difference between social constructionism and naturalism is a serious conflict between the humanities and natural sciences.

 

So to make my questions more specific:

 

Does the doctrine of social constructionism in the humanities lead to truth, meaning and knowledge, which is inaccessible to the doctrine of naturalism in the natural sciences?

 

A related question is, does the doctrine of naturalism incorporate blind spots, which are not present in the doctrine of social constructionism, or vice versa?

 

Is social constructionism less rational than naturalism? Or putting it differently, is social constructionism irrational, and naturalism rational?

 

BobSpence1 said: “Also, History and Linguistics are empirical studies, or certainly should be, so perfectly within the scope of Science.”

 

I agree with you and butterbattle that history and linguistics are empirical sciences. But they are not natural sciences i.e. they do not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism. There are only three natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology. In that sense, history and linguistics are sciences within the humanities.

 

 


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"Social constructionism", as

"Social constructionism", as you define it, is total insanity, beyond merely irrational. It does not so much have 'blind spots', it is totally blind to reality, IMHO.

Any rational approach to reality would find itself in conflict with such a philosophy.

Plato's idealism is an unhelpful set of concepts, with little or no applicability to reality.

Mathematics is not a science, strictly speaking, at least not an 'empirical' science, but in many ways it is more rigorous and strictly rational than empirical science. In principle, all its theorems are strictly deducible from, and inevitable implications of, the axioms on which it is based. Whereas other sciences are largely empirical and inductive. However, as we pursue more complex worlds of math, with the help of computers, it is taking on aspects of empirical science, where the virtual impossibility of rigorously proving what seem to be the relationships between some complex and esoteric mathematical entities becomes ever more apparent.

Mathematics certainly does not 'regard nature and scientific fact as illusions', it simply does not address them, it is an abstract study.

But it actually is an essential tool for the study of nature and establishment of scientific facts.

What do you see as the 'doctrine' of naturalism??

The normal classification of empirical (as distinct from formal) science is into the natural sciences, which study natural phenomena, pretty much as you list, but also including areas like cosmology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and so on, and the social sciences, which study human behavior and societies.

Social sciences include anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, linguistics, political science, and, in certain contexts, psychology.

Whether 'history' should be regarded as a science seems to be a long debated topic, but if it is a science, it would be a social science.

Mathematics is a formal science, as are statistics and logic.

Hope this helps - you seem to be massively mis-informed about so many things.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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Epistemologist wrote:The

Epistemologist wrote:

The doctrine of social constructionism is that there is no such thing as nature, and there is no such thing as a scientific fact. I think that pure mathematics also maintains that ‘nature’ and ‘scientific facts’ are illusions. Social constructionism, in the humanities, maintains that nature and scientific facts are not real. It maintains that nature and scientific facts are nothing more than ideas and social constructs. And social constructionism claims to ‘know’ that this definition of ‘scientific facts’ and ‘nature’ is true.

Such utter nonsense. The quickest way to dispel this bullshit is to declare that you are going to release a bowling ball above the head of the jackass sputtering the bullshit. They will of course not mind. After all, the concepts of 'gravitational acceleration' and 'mass of a bowling ball' are both illusions.

 

Furthermore, you forgot to answer the question of what would be an example of some "knowledge" that is intrinsically beyond the scope of science.


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I'm gone

Epistemologist wrote:

<......>

Although it may be a deviation from this issue, mathematics does not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism either. In that sense, mathematics is an art (a humanity), as well as a science, but it is not a natural science. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think pure mathematicians believe that pure mathematics leads to knowledge and truths that the natural sciences cannot reach. For example, Plato presented this problem as the cave analogy. See ‘Plato’s Cave’. I think that the shadows on the wall of the cave symbolize the knowledge of the natural sciences. However, when one turns around and looks out of the cave, one sees the ‘real’ world, which can only be known through pure mathematics. Plato said this is the world of perfect mathematical forms. See ‘Plato’s theory of forms’ – the perfect universe, which can be known through pure mathematics, but cannot be known through the natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology.

I don't understand how Plato could reach the conclusion that the "real" world can only be known through pure mathematics and what's more, I don't care.  And I don't get how "pure" mathematics can lead to knowledge and truths that the natural sciences can't reach.  Frankly, it sounds like he had too much lead in his wine.  (A real concern as the pottery the wine was stored in was unglazed and the lead would leach out of the clay.  Also, lead was added to sweeten the wine.)

Epistemologist wrote:

When I studied general humanities at university, I was taught that the primary conflict between the humanities and natural sciences is between the doctrines of social constructionism and naturalism. Social constructionism is a key doctrine of the humanities, and naturalism is the primary doctrine of the natural sciences.

Maybe I should have been more specific and called this discussion ‘naturalism vs. social constructionism’.

The doctrine of social constructionism is that there is no such thing as nature, and there is no such thing as a scientific fact. I think that pure mathematics also maintains that ‘nature’ and ‘scientific facts’ are illusions. Social constructionism, in the humanities, maintains that nature and scientific facts are not real. It maintains that nature and scientific facts are nothing more than ideas and social constructs. And social constructionism claims to ‘know’ that this definition of ‘scientific facts’ and ‘nature’ is true.

You know, this sounds a whole lot like post-modernism - at least as I understood it.  I recommend this book:

Not Out Of Africa: How "Afrocentrism" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History (A New Republic book) (Paperback) by Mary Lefkowitz, http://www.amazon.com/Not-Out-Africa-Afrocentrism-Republic/dp/046509838X/ref=pd_sim_b_2

Why, because she addresses the problems with assuming history knows nothing of truth and she also addresses the means for finding the evidence that gives us as much truth as we can know about history.  The same principles can be applied to philosophy.  Reality is reality, verifiable facts are verifiable.  Woo pulled out of your ass is just that, I don't care what kind of degree you may have.

Epistemologist wrote:

<....>

I agree with you and butterbattle that history and linguistics are empirical sciences. But they are not natural sciences i.e. they do not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism. There are only three natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology. In that sense, history and linguistics are sciences within the humanities.

No, because I don't agree with your definitions.  You don't agree with Wiki's definition of natural sciences.  Who's right?  You or Wikipedia?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_sciences

Science is repeatable and verifiable.  And that holds for any study of anything.  In college, I frequently ran into an attempt to separate "hard" science from "soft" science.  As near as I could tell there were people who were not using the scientific method in the sciences hard or soft and people using the scientific method in a lot of research not traditionally associated with science at all.  As I get older, the lines have become even more blurry.  Stuffing ideas and concepts in little pigeon holes furthers no one's understanding.

I'm out of here.  Have fun without me.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Quote:Although it may be a

Quote:
Although it may be a deviation from this issue, mathematics does not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism either. In that sense, mathematics is an art (a humanity), as well as a science, but it is not a natural science. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think pure mathematicians believe that pure mathematics leads to knowledge and truths that the natural sciences cannot reach. For example, Plato presented this problem as the cave analogy. See ‘Plato’s Cave’. I think that the shadows on the wall of the cave symbolize the knowledge of the natural sciences. However, when one turns around and looks out of the cave, one sees the ‘real’ world, which can only be known through pure mathematics. Plato said this is the world of perfect mathematical forms. See ‘Plato’s theory of forms’ – the perfect universe, which can be known through pure mathematics, but cannot be known through the natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology.

How does math reach knowledge that the natural sciences can't reach? The natural sciences already uses math as a tool to explore reality. You are implying that some believe that "pure mathematics" i.e. using math without referring to reality, could uncover knowledge that couldn't uncover if we DID refer to reality? I think that's absurd.

Plato's allegory of the cave is philosophical masturbation. At no point did Plato use any math in that, as far as I can remember.

Quote:
When I studied general humanities at university, I was taught that the primary conflict between the humanities and natural sciences is between the doctrines of social constructionism and naturalism. Social constructionism is a key doctrine of the humanities, and naturalism is the primary doctrine of the natural sciences.

...

 

The doctrine of social constructionism is that there is no such thing as nature, and there is no such thing as a scientific fact. I think that pure mathematics also maintains that ‘nature’ and ‘scientific facts’ are illusions. Social constructionism, in the humanities, maintains that nature and scientific facts are not real. It maintains that nature and scientific facts are nothing more than ideas and social constructs. And social constructionism claims to ‘know’ that this definition of ‘scientific facts’ and ‘nature’ is true.

 

I'm not familiar with social constructionism, but based on what I've read in wiki and google, if it is proposing that reality only exists as a social construct or that we create reality by talking about it, it is obviously false.

Quote:
Does the doctrine of social constructionism in the humanities lead to truth, meaning and knowledge, which is inaccessible to the doctrine of naturalism in the natural sciences?

If I have interpreted social constructionism incorrectly, please correct me.

 

But, based on what you and other sources have written, it does not access any truth whatsoever. It is complete bullshit.

 

Quote:
I agree with you and butterbattle that history and linguistics are empirical sciences. But they are not natural sciences i.e. they do not incorporate the doctrine of naturalism. There are only three natural sciences – Physics, chemistry and biology. In that sense, history and linguistics are sciences within the humanities.

 Yes, but again, there is no inherent conflict between science and humanities, and this demonstrates it. The natural sciences applies reason and empiricism to nature while fields like history and linguistics are simply further removed.  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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KSMB wrote:Such utter

KSMB wrote:

Such utter nonsense. The quickest way to dispel this bullshit is to declare that you are going to release a bowling ball above the head of the jackass sputtering the bullshit. They will of course not mind. After all, the concepts of 'gravitational acceleration' and 'mass of a bowling ball' are both illusions.

Can't we just "socially construct" all those things? Maybe if we all put our heads together and imagine a bowling ball dropping on Epistemologist's head, it will actually happen. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Mathematics only tells what

Mathematics only tells what follows from the axioms it starts with, it cannot lead to truths not already implicit in those axioms.

So it cannot, by definition, lead to truths beyond what science can reveal, since science actually studies reality.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Postmodernism

 cj said: “You know, this sounds a whole lot like post-modernism - at least as I understood it.”

 

That’s an important related topic. Postmodernism is a key doctrine in the humanities. It concludes that there is no such thing as objective truth. That is a significant point of conflict between the humanities and natural science, since natural science concludes that there is objective truth.

 

Here is an article with some definitions of postmodernism: http://www.answers.com/topic/postmodernism

 

Is postmodernism rational, or irrational? Smiling

 

Does ‘The Rational Response Squad’ reject postmodernism as well as social constructionism?


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thought so

Epistemologist wrote:

Is postmodernism rational, or irrational? Smiling

 

Does ‘The Rational Response Squad’ reject postmodernism as well as social constructionism?

I don't speak for RRS - just for myself.  Postmodernism makes no sense and is irrational - according to my very inexpert opinion.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Ah, but it cannot be true

Ah, but it cannot be objectively true that there is no objective truth, right? It's merely your subjective opinion, is it not?

 

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Does ‘The Rational Response Squad’ reject postmodernism as well as social constructionism?

 

Yep.

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Postmodernism is a key doctrine in the humanities.

We're also going to reject this little claim here.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Reading before replying

 KSMB said: “Furthermore, you forgot to answer the question of what would be an example of some "knowledge" that is intrinsically beyond the scope of (natural) science.”

 

I did answer the question. BobSpence1 found my answer and replied.


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The only concepts you seemed

The only concepts you seemed to bring up as 'beyond the scope' of natural science were things that are purely conceptual, or speculative, or intrinsically abstract, like the ideal perfect forms of Plato, or the theorems of mathematics. That is because they exist only in our minds, as concepts, and so are not open to discovery in the world beyond our imagination.

On the other hand, the brain circuitry which responds to, stores, and manipulates such ideas can actually be identified, at least in principle, maybe with increasing resolution and accuracy in brain scanning equipment, so in that sense, science can access them.

I am assuming that those are the kind of things you were referring to.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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The Rational Response Squad

Epistemologist said: “Postmodernism is a key doctrine in the humanities.”

 

butterbattle replied: “We're also going to reject this little claim here.”

 

But it is though. Postmodernism, along with other doctrines that deny the existence of objective truth, is an important academic perspective in the humanities, according to for example the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism/

 

There are several academic perspectives, in the humanities, that deny the existence of objective truth, including skepticism, nihilism, relativism, postmodernism, social constructionism etc.

 

Does ‘The Rational Response Squad’ reject all of these?

 

This forum section intro says “Irrational Precepts . . . Beliefs that are so irrational they need to be eradicated off the Earth.”

 

How will ‘The Rational Response Squad’ eradicate off the Earth all of the academic perspectives in the humanities that deny the existence of objective truth?

 

For example, skepticism cannot be eradicated by debating it, because it is essentially doubt. So no matter how good the arguments for objective truth are, a hard skeptic will still be skeptical.


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That is skepticism as a

That is skepticism as a philosophical position, not an approach to reality, as employed by actual skeptical societies and associations.

Real-world skeptics, ie not philosophical game-players, are people who demand certain minimum criteria before accepting claims of fact, such as evidence, intrinsic plausibility based on established realities. The less plausible it is as compared to established 'truths', the more strong does the evidence need to be. This form of skepticism is very much part of the RRS approach.

The other form of skepticism, and all those other academic philosophical ideas, are little more than the standard playing with words and ideas that most philosophy has been reduced to since the establishment of Science as the custodian of the serious search for verifiable knowledge.

Had you noticed the last line in my signature?

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist said: “Postmodernism is a key doctrine in the humanities.”

butterbattle replied: “We're also going to reject this little claim here.”

But it is though. Postmodernism, along with other doctrines that deny the existence of objective truth, is an important academic perspective in the humanities, according to for example the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism/

I did not mean to say there aren't numerous intellectuals that support postmodernism. I'm sure there are.    

However, it is not a "key doctrine in the humanities" in the sense that it is not necessary or, arguably, even important, for any field of study. I emphasize this point because it seems like you persistently try to imply that science and the humanities are intrinsically "in conflict" or something, which they're not. 

Quote:
There are several academic perspectives, in the humanities, that deny the existence of objective truth, including skepticism,

Skepticism does not deny the existence of objective truth. I consider myself a skeptic.

A skeptic, most broadly defined, is just someone that questions the validity of something that is claimed to be fact. In popular definitions of skeptic, a skeptic also tends to question claims that many others do not; skeptics require evidence before they will accept the truth of a claim. 

Edit: Ah, so there is some philosophical position of hyper-skepticism that goes hand-in-hand with all of this other bs. Okay. 

Quote:
nihilism, relativism,

Of course, this would only be true of epistemological nihilism and relativism. You can be nihilistic with regard to meaning, relativist with regard to morals, etc.

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For example, skepticism cannot be eradicated by debating it, because it is essentially doubt. So no matter how good the arguments for objective truth are, a hard skeptic will still be skeptical.

This is really not how skepticism is usually defined at all. 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Philosophy of Science

BobSpence1 said: “Had you noticed the last line in my signature?”

 

I will bear that in mind. Smiling

 

I realize you will probably disagree, but professor Jeffrey L. Kasser, in the teaching company course ‘Philosophy of science’ explains that without philosophy, science would not mean anything. He describes many different problems in science that can only be understood through philosophy. Two important philosophical problems in science he describes are the ‘Problem of Demarcation’ and the ‘verifiability principle’ of Logical Positivism. The problem of demarcation is how to logically differentiate science from pseudoscience. The verifiability principle is the problem of how to logically connect an analytic to a synthetic statement. An analytic statement is based on reason, and a synthetic statement is based on observation. Professor Jeffrey L. Kasser maintains that science can only understand itself through, and be defined by, philosophy. That claim may be a point of conflict between philosophy and the natural sciences. Philosophy is a humanities subject, and not a natural science.

 

You can get this teaching company course here: http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=4100

 


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 butterbattle said: “However, it is not a "key doctrine in the humanities" in the sense that it is not necessary or, arguably, even important, for any field of study. I emphasize this point because it seems like you persistently try to imply that science and the humanities are intrinsically "in conflict" or something, which they're not.”

 

I am not an expert on the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences. However, when I studied ‘An Introduction to the Humanities’ (course AZX103) for a year through the Open University, it was emphasized that the humanities view the human experience in a way that conflicts with that of the natural sciences. Both my tutor and my course materials were adamant that this is the case. For example, when I studied sonnets, it was emphasised that the meanings and truths expressed through sonnets are ineffable to natural science. Or putting it differently, if the natural sciences define or describe the meanings and truths encapsulated in a sonnet, they detract from or alter those meanings or truths. The meanings, truth and knowledge encapsulated in a sonnet, from the perspective of literature, can only be known through the sonnet. Likewise for paintings, we were taught that the meanings and truths expressed by an artist through a painting are ineffable to, and cannot be captured by, the natural sciences. The meanings and truths expressed through a painting can only be known by seeing the painting. If a natural scientist scientifically interprets the meaning and truths expressed in the painting, then the painting’s meaning is lost or altered.

 

In the humanities, a painting, a piece of architecture, a sonnet, a sculpture, or a piece of music, is called a text. We were taught that the meanings, truths, and knowledge, expressed through a text, can only be comprehended if the text is allowed to speak for itself in the way intended by the artist who created it.

 

Ultimately, we were taught that the humanities are a vehicle for the transmission of truths, meanings, and knowledge, which cannot be transmitted through, described or defined by, the natural sciences. We were taught that that is what differentiates the humanities from the natural sciences; if the humanities were not differentiable from the natural sciences in this way then they would not exist. There would only be natural science.

 

It is also important to emphasize that in the natural sciences, ‘naturalism’ is the only philosophical position that is accepted. However, in the humanities, naturalism is only one of several different philosophical positions. That is a profound difference and point of conflict between the natural sciences and the humanities.

 

Natural scientists try to interpret works of art in terms of naturalism, but that is complete misinterpretation when the artists who created those works of art did not hold the perspective of naturalism.

 

Epistemologist said: “For example, skepticism cannot be eradicated by debating it, because it is essentially doubt. So no matter how good the arguments for objective truth are, a hard skeptic will still be skeptical.”

 

butterbattle replied: “This is really not how skepticism is usually defined at all.”

 

Regarding skepticism, I know Wikipedia is not the best source of information, but I am going by a definition of philosophical scepticism: “ . . . for Hellenistic philosophers claiming that at least one thing is certain makes one a dogmatist (dogmatism being the opposite of skepticism).”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_skepticism


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

BobSpence1 said: “Had you noticed the last line in my signature?”

I will bear that in mind. Smiling

I realize you will probably disagree, but professor Jeffrey L. Kasser, in the teaching company course ‘Philosophy of science’ explains that without philosophy, science would not mean anything. He describes many different problems in science that can only be understood through philosophy. Two important philosophical problems in science he describes are the ‘Problem of Demarcation’ and the ‘verifiability principle’ of Logical Positivism. The problem of demarcation is how to logically differentiate science from pseudoscience. The verifiability principle is the problem of how to logically connect an analytic to a synthetic statement. An analytic statement is based on reason, and a synthetic statement is based on observation. Professor Jeffrey L. Kasser maintains that science can only understand itself through, and be defined by, philosophy. That claim may be a point of conflict between philosophy and the natural sciences. Philosophy is a humanities subject, and not a natural science.

You can get this teaching company course here: http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=4100

I am most prepared to accept "Philosophy of ..." type disciplines, as extensions of some particular empirical discipline, in considering aspects of the discipline not readily addressable strictly within the discipline. IOW it is philosophy with some anchor in empirical reality.

That said, I think the most useful of the two aspects you mention is how best to approach verification. Popper was the first to seriously address this with his principle of 'falsification', which has some real utility, but is not well applicable to all scientific situations in a simplistic way.

Of course there is a risk of infinite regress in some abstract sense, as how do you verify the verification method itself?

I personally think Bayesian analysis addresses this in a convergent, iterative manner. Successive experimental results are applied to update the initial 'a priori' assessment of likelihoods of the various options to be analysed. This also answers the old 'problem of induction'.

The 'demarcation' thing is a non-problem, since a rigorous checking and updating of the likelihood of the various results being accurate and their contribution to the relative accuracies of the various predictions should automatically cover the possibility of error, which is all that 'pseudo-science' can mean.

I honestly don't see that philosophers have much to contribute here, informed 'common sense' is quite adequate.

They should feel free to make as many suggestions as occur to them, but someone with real familiarity with the science and and a solid sense of empirical reality is needed to filter the abstract nonsense from the occasional worthwhile suggestion, sort of like a 'brain-storming' session.

There really shouldn't be that much of a need for philosophy as such in working out verification,etc, since valid philosophy is not really involving that different a mode of thought than science - science ultimately derived from philosophy, after all - it just requires considering the problem from a few different angles, including thinking up ways to disprove the theory.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Epistemologist wrote:I am

Epistemologist wrote:
I am not an expert on the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences. However, when I studied ‘An Introduction to the Humanities’ (course AZX103) for a year through the Open University, it was emphasized that the humanities view the human experience in a way that conflicts with that of the natural sciences. Both my tutor and my course materials were adamant that this is the case. For example, when I studied sonnets, it was emphasised that the meanings and truths expressed through sonnets are ineffable to natural science. Or putting it differently, if the natural sciences define or describe the meanings and truths encapsulated in a sonnet, they detract from or alter those meanings or truths. The meanings, truth and knowledge encapsulated in a sonnet, from the perspective of literature, can only be known through the sonnet.

Meh. As before, we could pose the same question; what would be an example of a truth expressed through sonnets that is ineffable to natural science? I don't know of any.

Quote:
Likewise for paintings, we were taught that the meanings and truths expressed by an artist through a painting are ineffable to, and cannot be captured by, the natural sciences. The meanings and truths expressed through a painting can only be known by seeing the painting. If a natural scientist scientifically interprets the meaning and truths expressed in the painting, then the painting’s meaning is lost or altered.

If we cannot capture the meaning of a painting through observation, reason, evidence, etc., then what method do we use? You say you were taught that we can only know a painting by looking at it. But, what does this imply other than that we will observe and analyze the painting? Isn't that using reason? 

Quote:
In the humanities, a painting, a piece of architecture, a sonnet, a sculpture, or a piece of music, is called a text. We were taught that the meanings, truths, and knowledge, expressed through a text, can only be comprehended if the text is allowed to speak for itself in the way intended by the artist who created it.

The text only speaks what has been written. If it's badly written, then it's very easy to interpret the text in some way other than the artist intended. There isn't any mystical force that exudes the correct meaning; unless you can talk to the artist, the only way to figure out the meaning of the text is to observe it, analyze it, think about how it appeals to you aesthetically, etc.

Quote:
Regarding skepticism, I know Wikipedia is not the best source of information, but I am going by a definition of philosophical scepticism: “ . . . for Hellenistic philosophers claiming that at least one thing is certain makes one a dogmatist (dogmatism being the opposite of skepticism).”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_skepticism

Okay. That's fine.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Epistemologist wrote:There

Epistemologist wrote:

There seem to be many scientific naturalists in this forum, and I would be most interested in your thoughts on this. I am not going to debate you. I just want to know, from your perspective, whether it is irrational to conclude that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings and knowledge that cannot be and/or are not studied and/or conveyed by the sciences.

 

I think that at this point, you have started debating the people on this thread

However, I would still be interested in answering your question as to whether it is irrational to conclude that the humanities convey truths, meanings and knowledge that science cannot.

When I first read this post, it confused me. I am currently a student at Duke university and while the humanities are not subjects I focus on (I hope to graduate with a double major in mathematics and economics and a minor in computer science) I have taken many courses involving them. For example, I have studied music, history, art, creative writing, drama, and poetry (in both English and Spanish). Throughout all this time never have I come across a single piece of information (except for basic facts taught in history classes) that I would consider to be a truth, meaning or knowledge inaccessible to the sciences. Also, my roommate is a music major, and in the discussions we have had with each other about our respective fields, he has never claimed that music leads to truths meanings or knowledge that the sciences do not. Due to the fact that I have devoted a significant amount of time studying the humanities and not come across a single truth, meaning or knowledge or person who is willing to claim that they contain such information that is inaccessible to the sciences, I must conclude that you define these terms differently than I do. (In fact, you may recognize that almost all the debating that has occurred in this thread so far is really just the result of you defining terms differently than many of the other people who have posted.)

Since I do not fully understand the question you have asked, I have asked you to help me understand it by providing examples of truths, meaning or knowledge that the humanities provide but are not accessible to the sciences. This should be a very easy task. For example, you specifically stated that sonnets can provide such information. Could you please provide an example of a sonnet and then state which truths, meanings, and knowledge it conveys that the sciences cannot access. Or, you also specifically stated that paintings also contain this information. Could you please do the same for an example of a painting? I am convinced that until you state examples of these things, this thread will just be fairly useless debates which result from the different parties disagreeing on various definitions of terms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Epistemologist wrote:KSMB

Epistemologist wrote:
KSMB wrote:
Furthermore, you forgot to answer the question of what would be an example of some "knowledge" that is intrinsically beyond the scope of (natural) science.

I did answer the question. BobSpence1 found my answer and replied.

Oh yeah? He must be a better man than I. All I saw was some handwavy ancient Plato speculations with absolutely no evidence to back it up.


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Philosophy of Art

butterbattle said: “Meh. As before, we could pose the same question; what would be an example of a truth expressed through sonnets that is ineffable to natural science? I don't know of any.”

 

Now we are into the philosophy of art. The philosophy of art is what differentiates art (the humanities) from science, particularly natural science. You mentioned aesthetics before. The philosophy of art defines art as the study of works of humanity (the humanities), and it differentiates art from natural science in that natural science is the study of nature. So the philosophy of art maintains that works of humanity and nature are different objects of investigation. That is a key difference between the humanities and natural science. This Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy article explains this: http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046

 

This article explains, for example, that in art, aesthetic attitude is a form of perception of a work of art. Perception is knowledge, and so the aesthetic attitude or experience of a work of art, as a way of knowing, is different from the way of knowing as defined by natural science. The main characteristic of a work of art, beauty, is known by immediate apprehension, and not through reason. In contrast, the knowledge of natural science is acquired through reason.

 

That goes some way to answering your question of what truth, knowledge or meaning is transmitted through a work of art that cannot be transmitted through natural science. Beauty can only be known by immediate apprehension. A scientific description of beauty in a work of art does not convey its beauty. So beauty cannot be transmitted through science, but it can be through the arts (humanities).

 

The other central issue here, besides the philosophy of art, is naturalism. In the natural sciences, naturalism is the only philosophical position. However, in the humanities there are numerous different philosophical positions, including naturalism, existentialism, phenomenology, idealism, utilitarianism, anti-realism, nominalism etc. That the different philosophical positions exist in the humanities, but not in natural science, is a serious point of conflict and difference between the humanities and natural science.

 


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faces

Epistemologist wrote:

That goes some way to answering your question of what truth, knowledge or meaning is transmitted through a work of art that cannot be transmitted through natural science. Beauty can only be known by immediate apprehension. A scientific description of beauty in a work of art does not convey its beauty. So beauty cannot be transmitted through science, but it can be through the arts (humanities). 

You need to get your money back from that online course you took.

"The Human Face" staring John Cleese and David Attenborough http://www.amazon.com/Human-Face-John-Cleese/dp/B00005LC1B also available through netflix

In the video, beauty and the perception of beauty is one entire episode out of four.  It turns out that facial beauty can be measured.  One of the interesting interviews was with a plastic surgeon.  His mother was horribly disfigured in an auto accident when he was five - so bad he screamed when he first saw her afterward.  He wanted more than anything to restore people to good looks and so he specializes in facial reconstructions - not face lifts.  He said when he first started, he learned to repair damage so well that the actual facial structure was improved when he had completed.  But there were too many times when the person was less attractive despite the success of the surgery.  He began researching and discovered the "golden ratio".  Turns out the golden ratio is what we think of as beauty. 

The theory is that this ratio implies regularity and balance.  Athletes whose body proportions conform to the ratio do better than athletes whose bodies do not conform.  This conformity is continued though out the body into the proportions of the face.  So a face that is well proportioned is considered beautiful.  The video describes the studies done on facial beauty and how the same faces are considered beautiful regardless of culture or age depending on conformity to the golden ratio.

this ratio is (1+sqrt(5))/2 approximately 1.61803..........

And the plastic surgeon?  He says when he began incorporating the golden ratio into his work, he can guarantee his patients are more attractive than before their accident or illness. 

This ratio has been used by many architects and painters to produce beautiful works.  You need to study the classical period some more.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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Natural Science vs. Humanities

cj said: “ . . . beauty can be measured.”

 

Yes, I agree that beauty can be measured, and is measured by the natural sciences and maths. However, the philosophy of art (aesthetics) maintains that works of art transmit beauty in a way that the natural sciences cannot and do not. According to aesthetics, beauty can only be known by immediate apprehension, and not through reason. A measurement of beauty and beauty itself are two different things. A measurement of beauty is not itself beautiful, but beauty obviously is.

 

I am also talking about the difference between natural science and art here. Mathematics is not a natural science, so it does not conflict with art (the humanities) in the way that natural science does.

 

Thank you for your information and link.


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Epistemologist wrote:That

Epistemologist wrote:

That goes some way to answering your question of what truth, knowledge or meaning is transmitted through a work of art that cannot be transmitted through natural science. Beauty can only be known by immediate apprehension. A scientific description of beauty in a work of art does not convey its beauty. So beauty cannot be transmitted through science, but it can be through the arts (humanities).

 

O.K. so the example of a truth, meaning, or knowledge conveyed in art but not in science is beauty. If you maintain that beauty is a truth meaning or knowledge, then I am inclined to agree with you. This is why I asked for how you define the terms. If I were making the definition, I certainly would not define them in such a way as to include beauty and here is why:

 

beauty is an opinion which varies from person to person and is certainly not universal. therefore it is not a truth

the knowledge of whether or not beauty exists is accessible to science.

beauty has no meaning. it is just a preference people have for one thing or quality over another

Epistemologist wrote:

The other central issue here, besides the philosophy of art, is naturalism. In the natural sciences, naturalism is the only philosophical position. However, in the humanities there are numerous different philosophical positions, including naturalism, existentialism, phenomenology, idealism, utilitarianism, anti-realism, nominalism etc. That the different philosophical positions exist in the humanities, but not in natural science, is a serious point of conflict and difference between the humanities and natural science.

 

I disagree with the statement that this is a point of conflict. They use different philosophies only when attempting to answer fundamentally different types of questions; therefore, they do not conflict with each other.

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Whatthedeuce wrote:When I

Whatthedeuce wrote:

When I first read this post, it confused me. I am currently a student at Duke university and while the humanities are not subjects I focus on (I hope to graduate with a double major in mathematics and economics and a minor in computer science) I have taken many courses involving them. For example, I have studied music, history, art, creative writing, drama, and poetry (in both English and Spanish). Throughout all this time never have I come across a single piece of information (except for basic facts taught in history classes) that I would consider to be a truth, meaning or knowledge inaccessible to the sciences. Also, my roommate is a music major, and in the discussions we have had with each other about our respective fields, he has never claimed that music leads to truths meanings or knowledge that the sciences do not. Due to the fact that I have devoted a significant amount of time studying the humanities and not come across a single truth, meaning or knowledge or person who is willing to claim that they contain such information that is inaccessible to the sciences, I must conclude that you define these terms differently than I do. (In fact, you may recognize that almost all the debating that has occurred in this thread so far is really just the result of you defining terms differently than many of the other people who have posted.)

Same here. I'm a student at the University of Washington, Seattle. I have never come across any humanities instructor or material that claims that the humanities has access to "knowledge" that is outside the scope of science.

I don't automatically grant much respect to Epistemologist's tutors nor his course material, as he took his classes from some online thing.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle wrote:Same

butterbattle wrote:

Same here. I'm a student at the University of Washington, Seattle. I have never come across any humanities instructor or material that claims that the humanities has access to "knowledge" that is outside the scope of science.

I don't automatically grant much respect to Epistemologist's tutors nor his course material, as he took his classes from some online thing.

 

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss his course or instructors. I have found many online sources to be quite informative and accurate. Also, he seems to be implying that the course was sponsored by an accredited university, thought even if it weren't it can still be useful.

To me it seems more likely that the course was of good quality; however, at the beginning of the instruction they briefly covered a justification of the importance of the course material. They probably defined terms as broadly as possible and did not go into detail discussing the nuances of what they meant. Epistemologist has now taken this and assumed his teachers meant something more specific than they actually did.

This miscommunication is very understandable. I have personally done this many times, and have seen my peers do it several times as well.

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

Whatthedeuce said: “beauty is an opinion which varies from person to person and is certainly not universal. therefore it is not a truth . . . the knowledge of whether or not beauty exists is accessible to science. . . . beauty has no meaning. it is just a preference people have for one thing or quality over another”

 

Your definition of truth is controversial in philosophy. Philosophers do not all agree on a definition of truth as universal. Your definition of beauty differs from that in the philosophy of art (aesthetics). The philosophy of art maintains that beauty, in art, is indeed a form of knowledge that can only be known by immediate apprehension of a work of art. It cannot be known through natural science. See: http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046

 

Whatthedeuce said: “I disagree with the statement that this is a point of conflict. They (humanities and natural sciences) use different philosophies only when attempting answer fundamentally different types of questions; therefore, they do not conflict with each other.”

 

The problem is that humanities actually are their different philosophies. The natural sciences have only one philosophy – naturalism. From the perspective of natural science, the alternative philosophies in the humanities are irrelevant to truth. That is a point of conflict between natural science and the humanities.

 

I also raised the issue of rationalism vs. empiricism earlier in this discussion. The natural sciences maintain that verifiable knowledge can ultimately only be attained through empiricism. However, the humanities conflict with this in that they maintain that verifiable knowledge can be attained through both rationalism and empiricism, only through empiricism, or only through rationalism. These alternative views of rationalism and empiricism exist in the humanities, but not in natural science.

 


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Epistemologist wrote: cj

Epistemologist wrote:

cj said: “ . . . beauty can be measured.”

 

Yes, I agree that beauty can be measured, and is measured by the natural sciences and maths. However, the philosophy of art (aesthetics) maintains that works of art transmit beauty in a way that the natural sciences cannot and do not. According to aesthetics, beauty can only be known by immediate apprehension, and not through reason. A measurement of beauty and beauty itself are two different things. A measurement of beauty is not itself beautiful, but beauty obviously is.

 

I am also talking about the difference between natural science and art here. Mathematics is not a natural science, so it does not conflict with art (the humanities) in the way that natural science does.

 

Thank you for your information and link.

No-one here, and no scientist, is claiming that beauty is apprehended through reason. It is a form of direct response from parts of our mind which react to various aspects of a perceived object to produce an 'emotion' of attraction or repulsion, possibly modulated by responses to particular details of the work. That is why it is a matter of immediate apprehension, as you say, which is fully understood by the sciences of the mind.

And of course no-one would claim a 'measurement of beauty' is beautiful, any more than a measurement of the height of an object has a specific height, or a measurement of the speed of an object is somehow moving at that speed. That doesn't invalidate the measurement, which predicts very closely what forms will be perceived as more or less beautiful.

I hope that comment was not meant to be a serious criticism of the validity of the measurement described, and was just a rhetorical point...

Mathematics has been described as a 'formal', ie non-empirical, science, ie not based on external data/observation, natural or otherwise ('social'). Its nature is such that it is the most 'mechanical' of disciplines. Computers have been successfully programmed to discover new theorems of mathematics, and computers are perfect for the everyday application of mathematics, since they are not prone to the imprecision and logic and arithmetic errors we are.

But natural sciences do not conflict with the humanities, they complement them, ie they address aspects of reality that the humanities do not.

Natural science does conflict with philosophies like PostModernism, if they are seriously proposed as addressing the full scope of reality. But if they are teated as just different perspectives on reality, as mostly metaphorical, allegorical, ways to stimulate fresh ideas, there need be no conflict.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 said: “No-one here, and no scientist, is claiming that beauty is apprehended through reason.”

 

It depends how you interpret what people have written. For example, cj said in post #29: “Turns out the golden ratio is what we think of as beauty.” That pretty much means cj is saying that beauty can be apprehended through reason.

 

BobSpence1 said: “It (beauty) is a form of direct response from parts of our mind which react to various aspects of a perceived object to produce an 'emotion' of attraction or repulsion, possibly modulated by responses to particular details of the work.”

 

I am pleased that you didn’t say ‘brain’. Whether or not the brain exists is controversial in the humanities, but it is not in the natural sciences. For example, idealistic philosophies in the humanities, like existentialism, and phenomenology, maintain that the brain is nothing more than an idea in the mind. This conflicts with the view of the natural sciences.

 

BobSpence1 said: “I hope that comment was not meant to be a serious criticism of the validity of the measurement described, and was just a rhetorical point...”

 

I wasn’t disputing the validity of the measurement. I was disputing that reality and measurement are not the same thing. For example, natural science only knows reality as representations of it. Reality and its representations are two different things. So a work of art and a scientific description of a work of art are two different things. Representation is a serious issue in the humanities.

 

BobSpence1 said: “But natural sciences do not conflict with the humanities, they complement them, ie they address aspects of reality that the humanities do not.”

 

I have to dispute your claim. The natural sciences compliment, conflict, and coexist, with the humanities, on different issues.

 

BobSpence1 said: “Natural science does conflict with philosophies like PostModernism, if they are seriously proposed as addressing the full scope of reality. But if they are teated as just different perspectives on reality, as mostly metaphorical, allegorical, ways to stimulate fresh ideas, there need be no conflict.”

 

A perspective is a collective decision by academics that reality is of a particular nature. From my studies of the philosophy of mind, there are several perspectives in the humanities, under the umbrella of metaphysical idealism, which maintain that the entire universe is actually an idea inside the human mind e.g. existentialism and phenomenology. This conflicts with the naturalism of the natural sciences.

 

 


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

Whatthedeuce said: “beauty is an opinion which varies from person to person and is certainly not universal. therefore it is not a truth . . . the knowledge of whether or not beauty exists is accessible to science. . . . beauty has no meaning. it is just a preference people have for one thing or quality over another”

 

Your definition of truth is controversial in philosophy. Philosophers do not all agree on a definition of truth as universal.

This is correct, not all philosophical theories of truth define it in this way. However, the truths that are conveyed in the natural sciences are universal. By referring to the fact that the natural sciences convey truths I assumed that you were implying that this is the type of truth we were discussing.

In other words, in my opinion, it is a waste of time to say:

"The humanities convey truths that the sciences cannot access. However, this statement requires a definition of the term truth that is much broader than what is necessary to encompass all of the truths that the sciences convey."

Since I feel that it is a waste of time to make that claim, I assumed that it was not the claim that you intended to make. However, I suppose you disagree with me on that point, and I made an incorrect assumption.

Epistemologist wrote:

Your definition of beauty differs from that in the philosophy of art (aesthetics). The philosophy of art maintains that beauty, in art, is indeed a form of knowledge that can only be known by immediate apprehension of a work of art. It cannot be known through natural science. See: http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046

 I admit that I am unfamiliar with the philosophy of art. However, I did read the link you provided. It certainly does not make the claim you just stated.

Also, it is interesting to note that under this definition, beauty is only knowledge because you have defined beauty to be knowledge. Using only the statement you have given, beauty does not necessarily possess any of the characteristics we normally associate with knowledge.

 

 

Epistemologist wrote:

The problem is that humanities actually are their different philosophies. The natural sciences have only one philosophy – naturalism. From the perspective of natural science, the alternative philosophies in the humanities are irrelevant to truth. That is a point of conflict between natural science and the humanities.

That is a point of conflict only if the humanities convey truth in the same sense that the sciences convey truth. (AND these truths are discovered by using a philosophy other than naturalism) You have stated one truth which the humanities may convey. However, this truth is not relevant to the definition of truth that fits what the sciences convey. I have not seen any truth of the same nature that the sciences convey which is conveyed by the humanities.

 

 edit: Also, what do you mean by  humanities are their different philosophies? Painting for example, is a method of creating images on surfaces. How is this a philosophy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

BobSpence1 said: “No-one here, and no scientist, is claiming that beauty is apprehended through reason.”

 

It depends how you interpret what people have written. For example, cj said in post #29: “Turns out the golden ratio is what we think of as beauty.” That pretty much means cj is saying that beauty can be apprehended through reason.

Cj could have phrased that more carefully.

'Think of' does not imply 'concluded by reason'.

That comment does not conflict with the idea that the 'judgement' that such a ratio feels 'right' is a direct 'gut' reaction.

We can also apply reason to it, and find elegant and interesting properties of figures with dimensions in that ratio, but that is not what we would say is happening when we have a positive apprehension of a face or figure with such proportions when we see it.

Quote:

BobSpence1 said: “It (beauty) is a form of direct response from parts of our mind which react to various aspects of a perceived object to produce an 'emotion' of attraction or repulsion, possibly modulated by responses to particular details of the work.”

 

I am pleased that you didn’t say ‘brain’. Whether or not the brain exists is controversial in the humanities, but it is not in the natural sciences. For example, idealistic philosophies in the humanities, like existentialism, and phenomenology, maintain that the brain is nothing more than an idea in the mind. This conflicts with the view of the natural sciences.

It conflicts with any sane view of reality.

Quote:

BobSpence1 said: “I hope that comment was not meant to be a serious criticism of the validity of the measurement described, and was just a rhetorical point...”

 

I wasn’t disputing the validity of the measurement. I was disputing that reality and measurement are not the same thing. For example, natural science only knows reality as representations of it. Reality and its representations are two different things. So a work of art and a scientific description of a work of art are two different things. Representation is a serious issue in the humanities.

So you still don't 'get it'. No-one is conflating the work with a description of it, scientific or otherwise. 

There is no warrant for assuming with certainty that any experience actually apprehends directly anything but an internal representation of reality.

Quote:

BobSpence1 said: “But natural sciences do not conflict with the humanities, they complement them, ie they address aspects of reality that the humanities do not.”

 

I have to dispute your claim. The natural sciences compliment, conflict, and coexist, with the humanities, on different issues.

 

BobSpence1 said: “Natural science does conflict with philosophies like PostModernism, if they are seriously proposed as addressing the full scope of reality. But if they are teated as just different perspectives on reality, as mostly metaphorical, allegorical, ways to stimulate fresh ideas, there need be no conflict.”

 

A perspective is a collective decision by academics that reality is of a particular nature. From my studies of the philosophy of mind, there are several perspectives in the humanities, under the umbrella of metaphysical idealism, which maintain that the entire universe is actually an idea inside the human mind e.g. existentialism and phenomenology. This conflicts with the naturalism of the natural sciences.

Which is a fun idea, but anyone taking it seriously as corresponding to reality is bat-shit crazy.

If you really mean the entire universe, you are saying the human mind is not part of the entire universe, which is a contradiction. So you don't mean the entirety of existence by the phrase 'entire universe', so you would need to define what you mean by universe.

Ideas like that are riddled with such contradictions, usually involving conflating the alternative meanings and usages of words and phrases. Word games.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Kapkao wrote:You might want

Kapkao wrote:

You might want to talk to Jormangandr about the 'university indoctrinators'... his experience and insight in this would probably be much more useful and fleshed out than my own.

To be fair, only two classes had blatant indoctrination in them. In one, the grad student teaching a writing course deviated hard from the course plan in order to try to indoctrinate us. In the other I learned that feminist and gender studies are filled with dogma and post-modern/anti-science nonsense. If I described how much time they spent denouncing science in that class, it would sound like I was exaggerating. Repeatedly denouncing science in every way they could every day of class is how I would describe that experience.

Post modernism is a real problem in some of the humanities. I hope it isn't as bad everywhere as it was in that international feminism/gender studies class I took. I remember not hearing any post-modern nonsense in polysci or anthropology, so there seem to be some disciplines untouched by that non-sense. If anyone wants a fun read, look into the Alan Sokal "Social Text" affair. Post modernists were really caught with their pants down in that whole incident.

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/#papers

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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That's the problem with

That's the problem with things like PostModernism, once you are prepared to bend logic and re-interpret experience to that degree, you can accept or justify almost anything.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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 Whatthedeuce said: “I admit that I am unfamiliar with the philosophy of art. However, I did read the link you provided. It certainly does not make the claim you just stated.”

 

In the article I linked it says: “What is the nature of aesthetic appreciation? It has often been thought that there is a particular attitude that is distinctive of aesthetic appreciation: you must adopt this attitude in order for the item’s aesthetic properties to be manifest to you, and if you are in this attitude you are in a state of aesthetic contemplation (see Aesthetic attitude). This suppositious attitude has often been thought of as one of disinterested contemplation focused on an item’s intrinsic, non-relational, immediately perceptible properties . . . Another idea is that awareness of an object’s aesthetic properties is the product of a particular species of perception, an idea which stands in opposition to the claim that this awareness is nothing but the projection of the observer’s response onto the object (see Artistic taste).” http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046

 

So in this article, aesthetic contemplation is equated with perception. It is a type of perception or immediate apprehension. Perception is knowledge. So works of art are a way of transmitting aesthetic knowledge, which cannot be transmitted through the natural sciences. You will probably disagree with me, but that’s my view of aesthetics.

 

Whatthedeuce said: “You have stated one truth which the humanities may convey. However, this truth is not relevant to the definition of truth that fits what the sciences convey. I have not seen any truth of the same nature that the sciences convey which is conveyed by the humanities.”

 

And you won’t. A key difference between the natural sciences and humanities is that natural science is dogmatic, and the humanities are not. The humanities are open minded. In the humanities there are many alternative philosophical perspectives, each of which has a different definition of truth.

 

Whatthedeuce said: “Also, what do you mean by  humanities are their different philosophies? Painting for example, is a method of creating images on surfaces. How is this a philosophy?”

 

A painting can be a philosophy, or perhaps more specifically a representation of a philosophy. Artists usually adopt a particular philosophical perspective, creating an ‘art movement’, and then express that through for example painting and sculpture.


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Epistemologist, I think you

Epistemologist, I think you might also be confusing the natural sciences with science as a general method of acquiring knowledge. Clearly, I can't usually apply the 'natural sciences,' such as physics or biology, to law or linguistics, but I can constantly apply the scientific method to form ideas and conclusions concerning law and linguistics.  

Whatthedeuce wrote:
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss his course or instructors. I have found many online sources to be quite informative and accurate. Also, he seems to be implying that the course was sponsored by an accredited university, thought even if it weren't it can still be useful.

 

To me it seems more likely that the course was of good quality; however, at the beginning of the instruction they briefly covered a justification of the importance of the course material. They probably defined terms as broadly as possible and did not go into detail discussing the nuances of what they meant. Epistemologist has now taken this and assumed his teachers meant something more specific than they actually did.

This miscommunication is very understandable. I have personally done this many times, and have seen my peers do it several times as well.

Ah, okay, that seems plausible.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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And you’ve made a fundamental contradiction right there.

 

BobSpence1 said: “It (philosophies under the umbrella pf metaphysical idealism e.g. phenomenology, phenomenalism and existentialism – which hold the view that all things are only ideas in the mind) conflicts with any sane view of reality.”

 

BobSpence1 said: “So you still don't 'get it'. No-one is conflating the work with a description of it, scientific or otherwise. . . . There is no warrant for assuming with certainty that any experience actually apprehends directly anything but an internal representation of reality.”

 

You implied that it is insane for the humanities to hold the perspective that the brain and the universe are nothing more than ideas in the mind. Then you implied that we only know the world as representation.

 

That’s a big, screaming, I’ve just pulled my pants down and don’t realize it, contradiction i.e. if we only know the world as representation, then the world is only representation. Representations only exist in the mind. Therefore the world only exists in the mind. There you go, you share the same insanity as the phenomenologists and existentialists. Smiling

 

 


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 Whatthedeuce wrote: “This miscommunication is very understandable. I have personally done this many times, and have seen my peers do it several times as well.”

 

butterbattle replied: “Ah, okay, that seems plausible.”

 

Also bear in mind what Jormungander said in this discussion.

 

Jormungander said: “To be fair, only two classes had blatant indoctrination in them. In one, the grad student teaching a writing course deviated hard from the course plan in order to try to indoctrinate us. In the other I learned that feminist and gender studies are filled with dogma and post-modern/anti-science nonsense. If I described how much time they spent denouncing science in that class, it would sound like I was exaggerating. Repeatedly denouncing science in every way they could every day of class is how I would describe that experience.”

 

So I am not the only person who has experienced humanities higher education as very ‘anti-science’, particularly very ‘anti-natural science’.


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Epistemologist wrote:And you

Epistemologist wrote:
And you won’t. A key difference between the natural sciences and humanities is that natural science is dogmatic, and the humanities are not. The humanities are open minded.

Wtf? Where do you get this stuff? As a great counter example, today I went to a presentation by an optical physicist. He, together with a highly respected artist, managed to show that a bunch of medieval artists used optics (mainly concave mirrors) to produce some of their stunning details way before Galileo stole the idea of a telescope from the Dutch. Guess which class of people can't accept the very convincing evidence? That's right, the oh so open minded art historians.

 

http://www.optics.arizona.edu/ssd/art-optics/index.html


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 butterbattle said: “Epistemologist, I think you might also be confusing the natural sciences with science as a general method of acquiring knowledge. Clearly, I can't usually apply the 'natural sciences,' such as physics or biology, to law or linguistics, but I can constantly apply the scientific method to form ideas and conclusions concerning law and linguistics.”

 

Thanks butterbattle. I am only contrasting the natural sciences against the humanities i.e. the sciences that incorporate the philosophical perspective of naturalism. Please correct me if I am wrong, but the sciences of linguistics and law do not incorporate the philosophy of naturalism. In that sense, linguistics and law are not natural sciences. They are sciences, but they are also humanities disciplines. Likewise, philosophy is a science and a humanity, but it is certainly not a natural science.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

 Whatthedeuce said: “I admit that I am unfamiliar with the philosophy of art. However, I did read the link you provided. It certainly does not make the claim you just stated.”

 

In the article I linked it says: “What is the nature of aesthetic appreciation? It has often been thought that there is a particular attitude that is distinctive of aesthetic appreciation: you must adopt this attitude in order for the item’s aesthetic properties to be manifest to you, and if you are in this attitude you are in a state of aesthetic contemplation (see Aesthetic attitude). This suppositious attitude has often been thought of as one of disinterested contemplation focused on an item’s intrinsic, non-relational, immediately perceptible properties . . . Another idea is that awareness of an object’s aesthetic properties is the product of a particular species of perception, an idea which stands in opposition to the claim that this awareness is nothing but the projection of the observer’s response onto the object (see Artistic taste).” http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046

 

So in this article, aesthetic contemplation is equated with perception. It is a type of perception or immediate apprehension. Perception is knowledge. So works of art are a way of transmitting aesthetic knowledge, which cannot be transmitted through the natural sciences. You will probably disagree with me, but that’s my view of aesthetics.

 

So, my reading comprehension does not fail and the article never states that beauty is knowledge.

Now it appears you have shifted your example of a knowledge conveyed by the humanities from "beauty" to the "transmission of aesthetic knowledge"t. However, this is also not stated in the link you provided. It is instead extrapolated from your own personal interpretation (an interpretation which, as you predicted, I do not agree with) of the information provided in the link. In the OP you stated that your instructors told you that the humanities convey knowledge that the natural sciences do not. Since this statement did not originate from you, it seems like there should be some examples of external sources which present such knowledge without the need for such interpretation.

Also, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in the paragraph you quoted it states that you need to have an aesthetic attitude in order for aesthetic properties to be manifest. They then provide a link to their definition of an aesthetic attitude. In this link they admit that they cannot make a coherent definition for the term and that they are not sure if it even exists or not. So, the one example of knowledge that you have provided may not even exist even if your interpretation of the article is valid.

Epistemologist wrote:

Whatthedeuce said: “You have stated one truth which the humanities may convey. However, this truth is not relevant to the definition of truth that fits what the sciences convey. I have not seen any truth of the same nature that the sciences convey which is conveyed by the humanities.”

 

And you won’t. A key difference between the natural sciences and humanities is that natural science is dogmatic, and the humanities are not. The humanities are open minded. In the humanities there are many alternative philosophical perspectives, each of which has a different definition of truth.

 

If the humanities do not convey truths which would be recognized as truths by the standards of the natural sciences, then where is the point of conflict? Are you now agreeing that the humanities do not conflict with the natural sciences?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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KSMB wrote:Epistemologist

KSMB wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:
And you won’t. A key difference between the natural sciences and humanities is that natural science is dogmatic, and the humanities are not. The humanities are open minded.

Wtf? Where do you get this stuff? As a great counter example, today I went to a presentation by an optical physicist. He, together with a highly respected artist, managed to show that a bunch of medieval artists used optics (mainly concave mirrors) to produce some of their stunning details way before Galileo stole the idea of a telescope from the Dutch. Guess which class of people can't accept the very convincing evidence? That's right, the oh so open minded art historians.

 

http://www.optics.arizona.edu/ssd/art-optics/index.html

 

I disagree with you KSMB. The fact that medieval artists used optics does mean that art can lead to knowledge about optics. The link you provided clearly states that the technology of the lenses they needed was both available to them and inexpensive. They used physics to learn about optics and then applied the physics to give them more tools which they used while creating their paintings.

 

edit: O, nvm. Upon rereading your post I realize that you were criticizing the assertion that humanities are open-minded. When I made the post, I thought you had been criticizing the statement that the humanities cannot lead to the same type of truths that the natural sciences do. However, your post is still mainly an irrelevant tangent to the subject of the thread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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I think humanities are

I think humanities are useful, in that they are a shortcut to 'knowledge' based on intuition and subjective feeling over empiricism.  That means that they are often quicker to obtain a result, especially in areas where science is difficult and the human mind is, on its own, rather capable like music, art, aesthetics, poetry, etc.  People are wired to like certain things and be 'moved' by certain things.  It makes sense that our intuition can be a good tool to use when looking for those results.

 

However, that doesn't mean it is antithetical to natural science, and the only people who would say such a thing are people trying to add some woo to their discipline to make it mysterious and attractive.  I've never heard of any 'knowledge' gained by the humanities that does not have some explanation backed by the natural sciences.

 

Sure, the humanities are open minded and that means they get a lot of really, really stupid ideas like multiple theologies and some philosophical ideas that are absurd.  I would caution you though: Your idea of what the humanities are all about is not a common perception.  Most legitimate professionals in that field don't think the humanities are some kind of intuitive free-association event where you are so open minded your brains leak out and grant you some kind of mystic insight into "Truth".  Much of the humanities are actually rather empirical.  Good, useful humanities know when to call in real science to do fact checking and make sure an idea has merit.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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And can you please use

And can you please use proper quotes?  Your responses are very difficult to read.  Just type: [ quote=soandso] whatsoandsosaid [ /quote]

Only without the spaces between the [ 's and the quote part.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.