20.448 persistent inability to stay put?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 08:33:40 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 448.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 13:58:09 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: persistent inability to stay put

In his book The Dilemma of Context (NYU Press, 1989), Ben-Ami
Scharfstein explains his choice of subject. There are two reasons for
his choice, he explains: an interest in comparative culture and
philosophy -- he uses mainly anthropological examples -- and "a
persistent inability to confine myself to philosophy in dealing with
philosophical problems". He goes on:

>My inability to stick to philosophy shows itself when ideas from
>psychology, anthropology, or elsewhere intrude, unbidden and irrelevant
>by ordinary philosophical standards. I then ask myself if philosophy
>should in principle be shielded from the social sciences, as many
>philosophers have preferred, and if the social sciences should be
>shielded from philosophy, as social scientists, though not philosophers,
>have often preferred. Does it undermine philosophy if its professional
>modes of reasoning are supplemented by and even judged in the light of
>the theories and empirical descriptions of the social sciences? And does
>it undermine the social sciences if they are confronted with the sharp,
>purely conceptual reasoning of philosophy and its developed and
>sometimes hypertrophied insistence on verbal distinctions? Is reality,
>or whatever it is that we are trying to understand, divided along the
>same lines as our various disciplines? Should we always favor an
>immaculate purity over an untidy cohabitation? (p 5)

For obvious reasons, I suppose, I collect such statements and seek
out such authors. We are not only in great need of help from wherever
we can find it, but we are also (I keep arguing) by nature
disciplinary vagrants. Be that as it may, who else of vagrant mind
comes to mind? Any recommendations?


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
Received on Thu Feb 15 2007 - 07:08:14 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Thu Feb 15 2007 - 07:08:23 EST