Connections:Evaluate Principe’s closing remarks about the disconnect between modern science and the wider culture (see the bottom of p. 134). Is his pessimism exaggerated? What is the role of the humanities, if any, in fixing the problem?
I definitely believe that Principe is correct when he says on page 134 that science has become compartmentalized, highly technical, supremely literal, and disconnected from the broader world around it. One of my favorite things about studying Early Modern Thought was the way science and religion influenced each other. Principe writes, for example, about how early astronomy dealt primarily with circles since they were believed to be a godly, perfect shape. He also discusses how the development of scientific thought led to the rise of deism as a religion. It was also deeply connected to history, and, in one field of study, it encompassed medicine, economics, chemical engineering, and more. Science, in other words, used to be vastly more interdisciplinary than it is today. I’ve always preferred interdisciplinary classes, because I don’t tend to think in just one way. A mint leaf is described differently by artists, chefs, biologists, chemists, writers, and botanists––but each of those descriptions is equally true and all of them coexist within the same leaf. So it is with the universe: many different explanations for our world as we know it can coexist, be equally true, and influence one another. Humanities disciplines are often divided by subject as well, but more recently, at least in schools I’ve been to, I’ve seen a push to bring them back together (like in Humes). I’ve seen it with science and art as well, And, in this particular unit, which is combining philosophy, science, and history after only the first day. Hopefully by the end of the unit it will push students to think much more interdisciplinarily. Interdisciplinary thinking, is, in my mind, thinking of the world as one entity instead of dividing it up between different explanations. In some ways, this applies to the issues of identity we’ve been thinking about too: there is never just one way––or one correct way––to view the world.
Question: What is the relationship between science and religion, and why has it changed so much over time?