1986-1987: The Humanities & Science

The theme for 1986-87 will be "The Humanities and Science: A Reassessment." What are the relations between humanistic and scientific inquiry? Recent work from a variety of perspectives leads to the conclusion that scientific inquiry is not the formal, presuppositionless inquiry, immune from cultural influences, it is sometimes taken to be. Although there is growing agreement that the positivistic conception of the contrast between humanistic and scientific thought and methods is fundamentally wrong, significant disagreement remains about the correct, postpositivist characterization of scientific and humanistic inquiry. For example, the fact that scientific inquiry is profoundly presupposition-dependent or that it is subject to cultural influences receives quite different interpretations that should be more fully debated.

The Society hopes to bring together scholars with different approaches to those questions. (1) We encourage research on the relations between logic of inquiry in the sciences and the humanities, including the nature and role of theoretical constructs. (2) We also invite applications of historical, literary, and philosophical interpretive methods and theories to the reading of scientific writings and to the analysis of science as a culturally located activity. The proposed theme suggests many specific sorts of questions: How is scientific thinking marked by race, sex, and class? Do the emotions and feelings have a positive role in scientific investigation? (3) Fellows might investigate the effects of scientific and technological advances, particularly techniques for data processing, on our self-concept (e.g., the analogy of the computer to the human mind) and on what we value in human capacities. Specific studies might ask how science has influenced conceptions of memory, originality, moral responsibility, or freedom or of the talents studied by particular disciplines: how does the concept of painterly talent change with the introduction of photography or musical talent with the development of sound synthesis?

Invited Fellows
Samuel Delaney (science-fiction writer)
Evelyn Fox Keller (Science, Technology & Society, M.I.T.)
Dean MacCannell (Applied Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Davis)
Peter Railton (Philosophy, University of Michigan)

Society Fellows
Jay Bolter (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Kenneth Knoespel (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Robert Markley (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Sally Shuttleworth (University of Leeds)
Barbara Von Eckardt (Rhode Island School of Design)
Eric White (University of Colorado)

Cornell Faculty Fellows
Richard Boyd (Philosophy)
Mary Jacobus (English)

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows
Amitai Avi-ram (English)
Marilyn Migiel (Romance Studies)
Elliot Wolfson (Near Eastern Studies)
Dorothy Figueira (Comparative Literature)
Ann Grodzins Gold (South Asian Studies)