Over the last decades, the humanities have come under pressure from the scientific worldview. To many, it seems as if the humanities provide us at best with less-than-objective knowledge claims. Arguably, there are at least two overall reasons for this. On the one hand, the scientific worldview tends to associate objectivity with the kind of knowledge-acquisition, explanation, and justification characteristic of the natural sciences. On the other hand, the humanities themselves have contributed to the impression that they might be less relevant than the natural sciences to epistemic progress due to internal problems having to do with the very concept(s) of knowledge, reality and objectivity.
New Realism is a term for a whole series of current trends in philosophy that has important consequences for our understanding of knowledge in general. In particular, it reshapes our account of the human being qua source and object of knowledge claims. In this context, New Realism draws on a crucial indispensability thesis: we simply cannot eliminate the standpoint from which humans gather information about human and non-human reality alike from our account of reality itself. In light of this thesis, it turns out that the humanities are fully-fledged contributions to objective knowledge about reality – a fact we cannot ignore without succumbing to illusion. Against this background, the talk concludes that the so-called “scientific worldview” is untenable: it is built upon a denial of knowledge we actually possess, and so, by not being scientific enough, it fails to respect its own premises.
About the speaker:
Markus Gabriel holds the chair in epistemology, modern and contemporary philosophy at the University of Bonn. He is the director of the International Center for Philosophy and the multidisciplinary Center for Science and Thought. With Jocelyn Benoist he also directs Bonn-Paris Center for Research on New Realisms. His work focuses on contemporary philosophy, in particular epistemology and ontology, in an attempt to spell out the consequences of various trends in philosophy in a conversation with the humanities. Currently, he is working on a book called Fictions which deals with topics at the intersection of philosophy, literary studies and sociology.
The NYU Department of German and Deutsches Haus at NYU present “Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism,” a talk by Professor Markus Gabriel.
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“Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism” is a DAAD-supported event.