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What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Edward Slingerland

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271402,159 (4.42)1
Member:Nymeth
Title:What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture
Authors:Edward Slingerland
Info:Cambridge University Press (2008), Hardcover, 388 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Non-Fiction, TBR

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What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture (New Approaches to European His) by Edward Slingerland (2008)

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This one's a bit of a mindbender for me. Like most readers, I've taken only passing interest over the years in postmodernist theory. No doubt there's some brilliant writing out there engaging that subject. I, however, have never come across it. Theoretical literary texts--how many have I tried to read?--have always left me cold. I read books because of a fascination with the source material, the artist's conception, and whether he or she has brought it off. This is something the postmodernist critics often seemed to relegate to a lower-tier function of the text. What really matters to them it seems is their abstruce intellectual games, which usually come at the expense of the text and its author. While I was always interested in the "how" of the work, its structure, use of metaphor, tone or voice, psychic distance, means of suspense and so forth.

What I find interesting here is Slingerland's post-mortem on post modernism, his list of reasons why so many readers like myself rejected it as little more than mental onanism, and what we might look forward to in its stead. He argues that what we are tending toward now is what he calls consilience or vertical integration of the natural sciences. This view rejects the old fashioned humanist dualism; that is, the view of body and soul being separate if complementary entities, for one that sees them as inextricably integrated, whole, one. Slingerland's use of jargon can be a little difficult for the nonspecialist at times (a glossary would have been a wonderful addition) though his arguments are elegant if lengthy. He believes that what we presently find occuring in the cognitive sciences, AI and robotics demonstrates that any separation of the mind and body is untenable.
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521701511, Paperback)

What Science Offers the Humanities examines some of the deep problems facing current approaches to the study of culture. It focuses especially on the excesses of postmodernism, but also acknowledges serious problems with postmodernism's harshest critics. In short, Edward Slingerland argues that in order for the humanities to progress, its scholars need to take seriously contributions from the natural sciences-and particular research on human cognition-which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and the body is entirely untenable. The author provides suggestions for how humanists might begin to utilize these scientific discoveries without conceding that science has the last word on morality, religion, art, and literature. Calling into question such deeply entrenched dogmas as the "blank slate" theory of nature, strong social constructivism, and the ideal of disembodied reason, What Science Offers the Humanities replaces the human-sciences divide with a more integrated approach to the study of culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:15 -0400)

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