Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture by Edward Slingerland

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 – in particular research on human cognition – which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and 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 humanities-sciences divide with a more integrated approach to the study of culture.

Edward Slingerland taught in the School of Religion and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California, where he was recipient of  the 2002 General Education Teaching Award. He is currently an associate professor of Asian Studies and a Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and EmbodiedCog-nition at the University of British Columbia. His previous books include The Analects of Confucius and Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China, which won the American Academy of Religion’s 2003 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award.

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