Monday, March 10, 2008

The New Darwinism in the Humanities

Something a bit more positive about the humanities...

A couple of years ago Harold Fromm, an English studies professor at the University of Arizona, published the best short study of the application of evolutionary psychology to the humanities I have ever come across. The article, published in the Hudson Review, was "The New Darwinism in the Humanities" and came in two parts: "Part I: From Plato to Pinker" (pdf) and "Part II: Back to Nature, Again" (pdf). As I have mentioned before, while I have don't know the literature well enough to sides in internal debates, a scientific approach (with suitable Darwinian infusions) is exactly what I think the humanities needs. A flourishing, successful, scientifically orientated research program may finally loosen the grip of fashionable nonsense such as postmodernism and start bringing the "two cultures" closer together. Done right, such an approach may fetter theorizing in the humanities to the real world, preventing it from drifting randomly.

In any case, Fromm's article is an excellent guide to an emerging field. Give it a try.

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