Problem-Posing and the Prospect of Reforming the Sciences and the Humanities

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Jeremy B. Juybari, San Diego State University, Carlsbad, CA
Over the past 30 years, there has been a burgeoning sense of antagonism between the Sciences and the Humanities. However, much popular analysis, as exemplified by Steven Pinker and Leon Wieseltier, has fixated on the reality of academic friction––and the respective need for “reform”––more than the foundations of such acrimony. This paper seeks to take the Science-Humanities debate away from the description of antagonistic realities and into an exploration of the socio-political roots of such disciplinary rivalry. By employing a comparative-historical analysis, we argue that the vocationalization and corporatization of United States universities over the past two centuries has disproportionately impacted the balance between the Sciences and the Humanities. Furthermore, we argue that this imbalance and corresponding educational “scarcity” is the crux of the Science-Humanities chasm. We conclude that the Sciences and the Humanities can reform each other––and that disciplinary antagonism can be quelled––through an institutional emphasis on the use of the “meta-question” aspect of Problem-Posing educational philosophy.