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The humanities in a time of changing demands, boundaries and reconfigurations

Paper to Nordic Summer University (NSU) seminar "Humanioras oppgaver og humanisternes roller", Ågrenska Villa, University of Gothenburg 28-29 May 2009

Författare och institution:
Aant Elzinga (Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori)
Publicerad i:
The Humanities/Society Blog, February 2009 ( 17/02/09 )
Konferensbidrag, övrigt
Sammanfattning (abstract):
The paper discusses reconfiguration of boundaries in the sciences with special reference to the humanities. Essensialist definitions of disciplines are criticized and it is indicated that apart from the subject matter (ontological reference) of research fields, changes in instrumentation and methodology as well as new societal contexts and functions of research must be taken into consideration. The 19th century historical divide between natural sciences and humanities (Naturwissenschaft & Geisteswissenchaft) and their associated ideals of science is taken as a point of departure for revisiting C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures" thesis, which is found to be an outdated (albeit constantly repeated) myth that emerged in the wake of World War II to invest more power in the natural sciences, medicine and technology. Given current disciplinary reconfigurations and some of the philosophical and ethical challenges posed by new science-based technologies like biotechnology, information and visualisation technologies, new pharmaceutics, and nanotechnology the old age question arises, "what is it to be human?". Opportunity spaces for collaboration across faculty boundaries are identified. The paper concludes with a typology of self-understanding of humanities scholars in terms of traditional, pragmatic and criticist approaches within a context of what is called "The (changing) social contract of the humanities".
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Annan samhällsvetenskap ->
Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap
Annan samhällsvetenskap ->
Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap ->
Teknik och social förändring
Historia och arkeologi
C.P. Snow, two cultures thesis, new technologies, ideals of science, Geisteswissenschaft, hermeneutics, critical theory
Ytterligare information:
This is a working paper that will be further modified in connection with a European Science Foundation (ESF) conference on science in transition.
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2009-05-14 12:48
Posten ändrad:
2009-05-14 14:59

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