Thursday, November 26, 2009

Will empirical method and the humanities ever meet?

A short post, simply because I like this drawing by Mariet Numan. In a way it summarizes the state of empirical method in the humanities... ("It does not rain")
(See also discussion on Facebook)

1 comment:

Henkjan Honing said...

Summary of Facebook discussion:

Vincent Meelberg: I think it's more complicated than that (spoken as a true humanities scholar ;-) it does not so much represent the state of empiricism in the humanities, as it is a symptom of the lack of understanding between theoretical and empirical research. I have always wondered about the apparent hostility between these two fields, whereas it is so completely obvious that they really need each other! We need empiricism to be able to ascertain that it rains, but we need theoretical reflection to think through the consequences of this fact. We need both in order to fully assess the situation. Why can't we just all get along... ?

Henkjan Honing: I couldn't agree more. The misunderstanding was well-indentified by David Huron in his 1999 Bloch lectures (see his website), and it can be traced back in a large part to the impact of postmodernism (see my 2009 book, chapter 2). More recently, the discussion was revitalized in the first issues of Empirical Musicology Review (EMR), as I'm sure you know. In addition, and more locally, the Computational Humanities program committee of the Royal Society of Arts & Sciences (KNAW) is doing its best to formulate a research agenda that will encourage Humanities researchers that are more comfortable with using computational and empirical methods.

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