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What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture: Beyond Dualism (New Approaches to European His) Paperback – 11 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (11 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521701511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521701518
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 925,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'… intellectually acute, wide-ranging, well-written, and deeply knowledgeable survey of the hard and soft disciplines behind consciousness …' Science

'I greatly enjoyed and admired Slingerland's What Science Offers the Humanities, and recommend it highly. It not only addresses a weariness and lack of curiosity at the heart of some major areas in the humanities, but is also very adept at summing up the best thinking in the natural sciences. It teems with ideas that will intrigue and delight an open mind, and is also lively and positive in its bridge building. Slingerland shows real intellectual brio. This is an important book.' Ian McEwan, bestselling author of Atonement and On Chesil Beach

Book Description

This book examines the deep problems facing the study of culture. Edward Slingerland argues that in order for the humanities to progress, its scholars need to take seriously contributions from the natural sciences, which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and the body is entirely untenable.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Buffs on 4 July 2011
Format: Paperback
A fascinating account of the arguments between the humanities (post-modernists etc.) and the scientific community about the nature of knowledge and whether what we know or understand about the world can ever be 'objective'. Using recent insights into brain function and human behaviour in the field of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, this book gives a thorough and fascinating account of recent developments and discusses how they will shape the thinking of future academics and students of all disciplines. If it serves to push the artificial boundaries between art and science even just a little it will have done the world a great service.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A call to pragmatic, empirically grounded understanding 16 Jan 2009
By Brad Foley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A nice, readable account of the current state of evolutionary and cognitive psychology (even where the genetics is a little dated, the logic still holds). Where it really grabbed me most was the application of cognitive linguistics and metaphor theory to old texts. Slingerland demonstrated, pretty dramatically, how robustly similar the ways are that different humans in different places understand the world. I loved the way he uses literary analysis as a tool to watch how human brains, grounded in biology and similar experiences of a common world, bootstrap their way into understanding. Excitingly, understanding that can be shared between different individuals and different cultures. His argument represents to me an example of a way forward, out of the agnostic malaise postmodernism has gotten stuck in.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Preaching to the choir 19 Dec 2008
By Jerry Schwarz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not an academic, I have a scientific bent, and philosophically I'm a thorough going realist. So I am not a member of Slingerland's target audience for this book. But precisely because of this background I found the book fascinating. Among my friends Slingerland's arguments in favor of what he calls "physicalism" are taken for granted. But Slingerland travels in different circles. Apparently among humanists far from being taken for granted these arguments are either unknown or ignored. Slingerland's stated intention is to demonstrate to humanists that they need to incorporate empirical knowledge, specifically cognitive science into their work. Looking at the "also bought" list here I see mostly books on cognitive science and very few works on humanist subjects. This suggests to me that his target audience isn't buying this book.

The best sections of the book are those where Slingerland applies his physicalism to humanist subjects. For example he discusses how empirically grounded reasoning interacts with religion. The argument is almost circular. He applies empirical reasoning to discuss how religions non-empirical reasoning works. If you don't accept empirical reasoning in the first place (which I gather many of his humanist colleagues don't) then you have no reason to accept this discussion. But he is saved from circularity by a prior discussion of why, by virtue of the way our brains evolved, humans favor empirical reasoning.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Productive Conversation 23 Mar 2009
By Robert von Thaden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone working in the humanities (I teach in a Religious Studies Department) interested in how cognitive science helps us think about what we do, this is the book for you. Slingerland makes a compelling argument for an embodied theory of culture that, as he articulates it, steers between enlightenment objectivism and extreme postmodern constructivism. Not only does this book give those of us in the humanities much to think about, but Slingerland's prose is a pleasure to read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
What Science Offers the Humanities 2 Aug 2008
By Manneke Budiman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Definitely a must-read for anybody with a genuine concern for the future of humanities in the Age of Science. Coming from the humanities background, Edward Slingerland offers a unique, 'insider' perspective of how the humanities could and should profit from what science has to offer.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Marvelous premise, too academic 1 Jun 2011
By Jebron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book's premise that matter and cognitive existence are unified at their base is beautifully stated, but the underlying proof is (perhaps necessarily) stated in abstruse academic terminology which is difficult to follow for the average reader. The high-minded intellectual quarrels get tedious in the face of the universal connections so essential to our understanding of our exisxtence.
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