On Scientific and Humanistic Approaches

There can be two quite different approaches to human behavior and problems: the scientific and the humanistic. Each is relevant in the appropriate context, but neither is exhaustive in its appraisal of a situation.
The scientific approach, which is the primary concern, not to say obsession, of thinkers committed to science and its modes, is to seek explanations for every human thought, word, and deed in the brain and its electro-chemical properties. The humanistic approach considers the human condition in its totality, taking into account the forces and factors that pertain to history, culture, traditions, and such.
The scientific approach, whether reductionist or emergentist, may provide explanations in some contexts, but runs the risk of ignoring important elements that shape humanity in the grander arena of significant everyday experiences. Sometimes, attempts to explain complex behavior in molecular-biological or neuronal terms may even seem ridiculous to those who view matters on the humanistic plane and in a cultural-historical framework.
Chemical explanations of human behavior and misbehavior could help solve some problems that individuals face, through drugs and other medications. Considerations at the humanistic level can be quite helpful in tackling societal, cultural, and civilizational quandaries.
April 18, 2007

Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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