For a couple of years, Gardner has been recommending I read Jerome Bruner’s The Culture of Education. This summer I finally had the opportunity to do so. It wasn’t an easy read; rather for me it required study and reflection. But it was worth it because, frankly, it rocked my world.
While there’s much of the book to be recommended, the part that really shook me was the chapter on the narrative of science. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the difference in methodology between the humanities and the sciences, how an argument in the humanities is “subjective”, while an argument in the sciences was objective. Okay, I know this is overstated, but this is a blog posting, afterall. I know, of course, that there is subjectivity in science, but I thought the method, as opposed to the interpretation of results, was strictly objective. Bruner makes a compelling case, drawing on the testimony of scientists, that it’s not.
Bruner’s argument has a lot in common with D. McCloskey’s The Rhetoric of Economics. What McCloskey did for the methodology of economics, Bruner, I think, does for the sciences. I would really enjoy participating in a discussion of this chapter with a group of physical scientists to hear their take on it. I suspect that if they were open to it, it would rock their world too.