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.
Introduction; Part I. Exorcising the Ghost in the Machine: 1. The disembodied mind; 2. They live among us; 3. Pulling the plug; Part II. Embodying Culture: 4. Embodying culture; Part III. Defending Vertical Integration: 5. Defending the empirical; 6. Who's afraid of reductionism?; Conclusion.
"For years humanists have been heralding the end of the great age of Theory. But no one can agree on what comes next. Edward Slingerland knows what comes next: a turn toward science. No one with an interest in where the humanities have recently been, and where they will now be going, can afford to miss out on What Science Offers the Humanities." --Jonathan Gottschall, Washington and Jefferson College
"Inquiry into what it means to be human has been hindered by an artificial separation of the humanities and science. Historically, adherence to this separation has been a minority position - one whose intellectual damage Slingerland shrewdly appraises and sets out to repair. This is an intelligent and timely project." - Mark Turner, Case Western Reserve University.
". . . intellectually acute, wide-ranging, well-written, and deeply knowledgeable survey of the hard and soft disciplines behind consciousness . . ." ---Science
"I greatly enjoyed and admired Slingerland's What Science Offers the Humanities, and recommend it highly. It not only addresses a weariness and lack of curiosity at the heart of some major areas in the humanities, but is also very adept at summing up the best thinking in the natural sciences. It teems with ideas that will intrigue and delight an open mind, and is also lively and positive in its bridge building. Slingerland shows real intellectual brio. This is an important book." --Ian McEwan