Science and Non-Science in Liberal Education

Harvey C. Mansfield, "Science and Non-Science in Liberal Education," The New Atlantis, Summer, 2013.


Allan Bloom in his famous book The Closing of the American Mind (1987), drawing on Max Weber, calls the “fundamental issue” of our time “the relation between reason, or science, and the human good.” I would say that in the university today the most obvious issue, reflecting directly the fundamental issue, is the relation between science and non-science. Let’s start from non-science as the residue of what is not science. Personally, I am not a scientist; I am a non-scientist; but what is that positively? This is the main question in today’s university, and the main question for liberal education: What is non-science? We see in the universities, among both faculties and students, that, in answering that question, science is confident and non-science is confused. That is the first impression, which I will try to make muddy by showing that science is not so confident and non-science not so confused. But let the confident party speak first.

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