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Friday, December 20, 2013

On the Humanist and Scientist

I was tempted to write one of those academic questions today, like something from a writing seminar. But I won’t. I mean, I will, but not in the academic way (I hope).
It seems that when I read science (was reading “The Canon” this morning, which started me on these thoughts), I love paradoxes - incongruities between seeming facts. I try to resolve the dilemma with some sort of explanation - it’s a very rational kind of exercise. When I read literature/humanities, I love similarities - relations between the thoughts and myself or others I know.  I try to understand human nature - it’s a very personal exercise that uses intuition and feelings. 
I have no idea where I’m going with this. Just that, I suppose I’ve also been thinking about the relationship between science and the humanities. To me, science falls in the realm of the thinkers, rationalists. Humanities more so under the feelers, compassion-ists. That, at least, seems to be how I connect with them.
So, when I considered why both sides - the scientists and the humanists (as in humanities-ists) - despair over their decline, my friend brought up a good point: “there are plenty of fields that aren't either humanities or science, and maybe those fields are growing.”
And the more I thought, the more I loved that idea.
You see, I’ve recently come under the confusion about whether it is better to spend your time strengthening your strengths (develop your passion!) or your weaknesses (be well-balanced!). This, for me, includes trying to be a little more of the person I’m not used to being (such as writing to you so openly). This also means toning down my more intuitive, feeling side, and strengthening my sensing, thinking side. So why do I love the idea of the growth of other fields? 
Because I think fields that aren't “either humanities or science” are a mix of the two. Perhaps these fields include political science, sociology, anthropology. And, this notion gives me strength to further believe that in today’s society, it is, in fact, good to be well-rounded (though seemingly not so useful in college admissions to top universities…) - not just academically, but personally (be logical vs be empathetic) as well, which gives me further strength in this journey to, so to say, round myself out a little better.
I think our ideal is not just the humanists, or scientist, nor just the thinker, or feeler, but the ideal lies in the middle (like so many things…). And this from another brilliant friend makes the point well (exerpt below): So, maybe I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’m keeping my ears open.
It’s by listening, as humanists do best, to stories, and seeing what the narratives can teach us. Open your ears and—we promise you—you’ll hear stories that don’t resemble what you read in the media.
Have you heard about the professor of neurology who, as a student, learned to do research by writing a prize-winning senior thesis in history on the death of Captain Cook? No, of course you haven’t. But he exists, too, and so do thousands more.

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