- MA/PhD, Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
University of California, Los Angeles
- MDiv, Old Testament
Talbot School of Theology
- BA, Humanities
What is an "Empirical Humanist"?
It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? After all, knowledge is divided into the "hard" sciences, and the humanities are all "touchy-feely" subjective knowledge, aren't they?
But a study of intellectual history throughout the ages shows that this supposed hard line of demarcation has never actually been accepted. The Information Age has demonstrated that number crunching machines -- computers -- can not only store and manipulate text, but can be taught to understand and even produce natural language.
This blog's tagline, Putting the Object Back into the Subject, is a jab at the post-modernist idea of epistemology -- that knowledge is fundamentally subjective -- and a reference to linguistics. Linguistic methods of analysis allow us to approach the subjective in an objective manner. By "objective", I mean that linguistics allows us to count and examine the real elements of language and so recover the meaning or intent of the speaker/writer. It must be so, otherwise humans would use another method other than language to communicate with each other.
In a way analogous to how the natural sciences use the scientific method to observe, categorize and theorize about the natural world, so empirical humanities seek the same epistemological rigor for the observation, categorization and theorizing about speech acts, spoken and written.
Language must be so studied, since it is as much a part of the real world as chemical, physical, or biological action.
Much, much more can be -- and will be -- said.