New Dimensions in the Humanities and Social Sciences
There is a transformation of human understanding under way in humanistic and social scientific inquiry today. The subject matter, the methods, and the purposes of the study of human behavior are all undergoing reexaminations, within disciplines and across disciplines. The purpose of this volume is to indicate the benchmarks, the dimensions, along the way of reexamination, for it is the way of reexamining that promises to be transformative. In the essays in this volume there is evidence of a rethinking of the very grounds of understanding. Goldschmidt in "Should the Cultural Anthropologist Be Placed on the Endangered Species List?" explores the role and status of the inquirer. In "Problems of Forbidden and Discouraged Knowledge: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Constraints on Science" Rudner examines some of the levels, limits, and responsibilities attendant on different kinds of formalization, and Raschke clarifies some of the multiple and interwoven activities involved in thinking itself it "Common Sense and the Language of Transcendence." The reach and limits of prevalent senses of such central concepts as human and rational are challenged by Staples in "The Theoretical Structure of Black Sociology" and constructively rearticulated by Opler in "Theory and Data on Human Behavior in Cultural Evolutionary and Cross-Cultural Perspective." This reexamination of the grounds and the contours of contemporary modes of understanding is amplified by a reappreciation of previous traditions of thought by Hochberg in "The Compatibility of Freedom and Natural Necessity in Kant" and by Nielson in "Mill's Proof of Utility." At present there is not yet a new model of understanding, but there is, more importantly, a renewed attention to fundamental questions about the nature of understanding (Section I and Gibbs, "Ritual, Play, and Transcendent Mystery"); a reexamination of the distinctions and interrelations within and among cultures and disciplines (Section II and Piediscalzi, "Erik H. Erikson's Psychology of Religion," Koestenbaum, "The Nature and Management of Depression: A Philosophical Analysis"); and a recommitment of humanistic and social scientific inquiry to being both systematic and historical, analytic and responsible (Section III and Laszlo, "Patterns and Norms in the Development of Sociocultural Systems"). As these essays show, human understanding can be critical and constructive, responsive and responsible, with respect to its own vitality. Such is the transformation under way today.
Contributors: Walter Goldschmidt, Richard S. Rudner, Carl A. Raschke, Robert Staples, Marvin K. Opler, Gary Hochberg, Kai Nielsen, Lee W. Gibbs, Nicholas Piediscalzi, Peter Koestenbaum, and Ervin Laszlo.
About the editor:
Harry R. Garvin was John P. Crozer Professor of English at Bucknell University.
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