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The Future of the Sciences and Humanities

The Future of the Sciences and Humanities: Four Analytical Essays and a Critical Debate on the Future of Scholastic Endeavour

James McAllister
Johan van Benthem
Arie Rip
Herman Philipse
Diedel Kornet
Keith Devlin
Aant Elzinga
Paul Schnabel
Peter Tindemans
Alexander Verrijn-Stuart
Rob Visser
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    The Future of the Sciences and Humanities
    Book Description:

    The arts and sciences evolve by specialisation and broadening of their scopes. Much innovation results from unusual combinations of views and techniques originating in widely different domains. However, stepping outside an established discipline entails the danger of 'shallowness', even if the primary challenge was a 'deep' integration problem. Acceptance of new departures requires recognition and understanding of what is involved, and this depends, among other things, on the adopted nomenclature of the insiders and the resulting perception by outsiders.Thus, current ways of referring to varieties of research and study - say, 'sciences' vs 'humanities' - often form obstacles to the appreciation of novel approaches. New views are necessary. But which angles must be considered? This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0366-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Preface
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. 1 The Sciences and Arts Debate A review and some conclusions
    (pp. 9-18)
    Peter A.J. Tindemans, Alexander A. Verrijn-Stuart and Rob P.W. Visser

    The 1999 Prize Competition of the Holland Society¹ challenged participants to express innovative views of the Sciences and Arts. Formally, they were asked to provide a meta-description such that newly emerging disciplines might be accommodated without the rigid categorization imposed by traditional nomenclature schemes. This overall objective was paraphrased as “indicating which elements might be helpful or, by contrast, obstructive in guiding scholarly endeavour in the 21st century”, possibly including “a reasoned rejection of the classical distinction sciences/humanities and other restrictive classifications, replacing these by a more effective taxonomy”. Simply put, how can we talk about esoteric or unexpected developments...

  5. 2 Historical and Structural Approaches in the Natural and Human Sciences
    (pp. 19-62)
    James W. McAllister and Diedel J. Kornet

    How does the world come to have the structure that it has? Answering this question is traditionally regarded as a central aim of the sciences. To tackle it, the sciences have developed two fundamental and general approaches which suggest the form that the answer should take. In one approach, the structure of the world is a result of contingent historical events and processes. In the other approach, it is a consequence of constraints and regularities that are general and necessary. I shall call these the historical and the structural approach, respectively.

    Each of these approaches has impressive achievements to its...

  6. 3 Science and Society in Flux
    (pp. 63-98)
    Johan F.A.K. van Benthem and Keith J. Devlin

    This piece is not quite the same after the events of September 11th, 2001. How important is the problem as originally set by the Hollandse Maatschappij today, worrying about the optimal internal organization of the sciences – at a time when we are forcibly reminded of the power of obscurantist mentalities opposed to the central things that science has stood for historically? Some years ago, I met a Kurdish colleague, a Muslim from northern Iraq, who told me about the profound experience of entering the world of science. It was as if he described my own personal history. Entering the...

  7. 4 Science for the 21st Century
    (pp. 99-152)
    Arie Rip and Aant Elzinga

    Science, in its interest in searching for knowledge and trying to make its products robust, can be contrasted with science as an authority, which often relies on traditional ways of knowledge production and disciplinary controls of quality. If authority as such, disciplinary or otherwise, rules, science becomes its own worst enemy.

    This is a strong statement, and I will modify it somewhat later on. But what will remain is the recurrent and unavoidable dilemma between – on the one hand – the need for some order and the reduction of variety that goes with it to be productive in what...

  8. 5 Science and Democracy
    (pp. 153-226)
    Herman Philipse and Paul Schnabel

    The oldest learned society in The Netherlands, theHollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, was founded on 21 May 1752 in the city of Haarlem. According to the preamble to its first proceedings, it came into existence because some citizens sought entertainment in performing, imitating, and discussing scientific experiments. Headed by the Lutheran minister Van der Aa, they had formed a small scientificcollegium, which now obtained official status, consciously imitating “in the Netherlands the admirable diligence of other Kingdoms and Republics in their support and encouragement of the Sciences and Arts”.¹

    On the occasion of its 250thanniversary, the governing body...

  9. 6 Epilogue
    (pp. 227-230)
    Alexander H.G. Rinnooy Kan

    When attempting to sum up the essays, the comments of the discussants and the exchanges in the Debate itself, two major themes would seem to dominate today’s thinking and concerns:

    the blurring of disciplinary boundaries

    the need for social embedding of ‘science’

    They become manifest in different disguises, such as:

    the need to rethink the organization of our universities and other scientific research institutions;

    the evolution of and the increasing connection between the approaches to investigation in the sciences and humanities;

    the financial needs of science on the one hand, and the business opportunities created by science, on the other;...

  10. 7 Appendix
    (pp. 231-240)