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DOI 10.12887/28-2015-1-109-11

Iwona BARWICKA-TYLEK – The Humanists, or Black Swans of Science

Cena brutto: 7,00 PLN za szt.

The discussion on the future of the humanities is part of a larger debate on a reform of the educational system that would be equal to the challenges of the contemporary world. Therefore this discussion is unavoidable. However, its participants often apply too narrow a field and thus distort the understanding of the humanities, which results from the long-standing domination of the positivist paradigm. In the wake of the ongoing pursuit of the positivistic laurels the humanities turned into a set of disciplines called ‘human sciences.’ Using tools like Ockham’s razor and Hume’s guillotine, the latter have cut down their prior interests to a size that would ensure meeting the criteria of scientific accuracy. The general goal was to gather empirical and applicable knowledge on human beings and their inventions. Unfortunately, the unquestionable progress that can be observed in this area translates into a bitter success. As a whole human science would admittedly be able to proclaim its own victory, but it seems like there is no one to applaud it any more. The voices of criticism can be assembled under three labels: (1) undermining the credibility of positivism as such; (2) contribution of humanistic knowledge to the dehumanization of social reality (objectification of individuals, inventing methods of social engineering, etc.); (3) the ‘overproduction crisis,’ or the abundance of humanistic disciplines and academic courses claimed to be responsible for the growing rate of unemployment.

The article argues that all the above accusations, though serious and deserving a rebuttal, are nevertheless aimed at the wrong direction, and this fact should be realized first of all by the humanists themselves. Human science does not exhaust the term ‘humanities.’ On the contrary, even though representatives of the former are legitimately claimed to be a dominating force in this field, it is worth remembering that there have always been ‘black swans’ of the humanities (to use an analogy introduced by Karl Popper). These ‘black swans’ represent thinkers and scholars pursuing the renaissance ideal of studia humanitatis and who thus believe in educational and practical potential of the humanistic curriculum. This kind of curriculum is not confined to improving and transmitting knowledge on human affairs, but instead concentrates upon showing a creative role of doubt and uncertainty in motivating human reasoning and action. Owing to its essence, the curriculum in question importantly transgresses the rigid positivistic paradigm. The anamnesis of this fact, which is the subject of the second part of the article, recollects some vital aspects of the humanities in the broad sense and offers a new perspective on possible ways of ameliorating the quality of higher education. To achieve this, it gathers some ideas drawn from the works of such ‘black swans’ as Aristotle and Francesco Petrarca, but also fathers of the scientific outlook like René Descartes and Immanuel Kant.

Keywords: philosophy of education, studia humanitatis, positivist paradigm, criticism of positivism, methodology of human science, intellectual history.

Kontakt: Katedra Historii Doktryn Politycznych, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Pałac Larischa, ul. Bracka 12, 31-005 Cracow, Poland
E-mail: i.brawicka-tylek@uj.edu.pl
Phone: +48 12 66631942

Pliki do pobrania:

» 109_Tylek.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 20.00
  3. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  4. DOI Prefix 10.12887