Tomás Quintero: Unit 2 Assignment 1––Humanities + Science and the Deeper Meaning

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“The technique of reducing the physical world into mathematical abstractions…played a key role in producing a new physics, and stands as a distinctive feature of the Scientific Revolution” (p. 73). Would it also be accurate to say that this is what’s distinctive of science, and in particular, what distinguishes science from the humanities? Explain.

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The technique in which people reduce the aspects of the physical world into mathematical equations, something that distinguished the Scientific Revolution, is an accurate feature that is still used in contemporary science. One could easily say that calculus is an excellent example of this new physics. Calculus is a study that studies and quantifies changes that happen at any given moment. In essence, this means that calculus can take anything that has change––including the trajectory of a ball, the growth of a plant, or even how quickly a cone can be filled with water––and mathematically abstract the change into an equation so that people can gain a better understanding of what happens. This technique of reduction can also be applied to other disciplines, such as biology. One could study the way that people breathe. The short and commonly known answer is that we breathe because it keeps us alive. But Biology provides a longer and more abstracted answer that gives us a more profound understanding of why we breathe. Biology would say that there are molecules present in the air and humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide because it is necessary to maintain biological functions. This concept of abstractization distinguishes science from other disciplines because its explanations can be quantified through facts and figures. With that being said, I also found that this abstractization ties well with how humanities attempt to analyze people’s writings and from that, it explores the complex, underlying ideas behind their works. 

Question:

Does humanities use the reverse of the technique that science uses? While science takes the everyday and transforms it into the abstract in search of an explanation, humanities takes the abstract ideas and transforms them into everyday examples to explain its ideas.

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