4.0530 Social Sciences and the University (3/86)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 26 Sep 90 17:49:06 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0530. Wednesday, 26 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 25 Sep 90 23:18:45 EDT (27 lines)
From: Frank Dane <FDANE@UGA>
Subject: Re: 4.0527 On the Nature of Universities

(2) Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 11:59 EST (26 lines)
From: Norman Miller <NMILLER@TRINCC>
Subject: A footnote

(3) Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 11:37 PDT (33 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0527 On the Nature of Universities

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 90 23:18:45 EDT
From: Frank Dane <FDANE@UGA>
Subject: Re: 4.0527 On the Nature of Universities

As long as Norman Miller was brave enough to be first,let me join in the
discussion concerning social sciences. Like Sociology, Psychology began
as a poor cousin; either applied Philosophy or experimental Physiology.
When James started the first Psychology Lab in the U.S. at Harvard,
littlemore went on there other than "introspection of the illogical side
of the mind" (NOW the building is named after him). To this day, I am
asked (most often by Literature types) whether I'm a behaviorist or a
Freudian, as though those two extreme points of view represent all there
is to Psychology. (Linguists generally ask for my views about Chomsky.)

If I may be permitted to use an analogy tha stems from catching only
snatches of the PBS Civil War series as I pass the VCR, the issue of
funding for Literature, Linguistics, and "social sciences" seems similar
to the field hands' envy of the house slaves. Ain't none of us getting
what we should, unless we happen to be able to contribute to Defense or
Medicine in some way.

For the record, Psychology at Mercer is in the second oldest building on
campus. We got it from Chemistry years ago when they convinced the
administration it was "unfit." (Administration has the oldest building,
but it's been refurbished; ours is just old).

Frank Dane
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------30----
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 11:59 EST
From: Norman Miller <NMILLER@TRINCC>
Subject: A footnote

In praising Humanist for the quality of the writing one generally finds,
I should have mentioned as well IOUDAIOS, which is moderated by our
fellow-Humanist Steve Mason and which deals ostensibly with First Century
Judaism; but calendars are arbitrary things and there are signs of an
expanded horizon.

At any rate, the high scholarly level of the discussion and the fact
that it serves as distributor of as-yet unpublished manuscripts--an
innovation, I believe--makes IOUDAIOS something special. Among the
outstanding recent articles is a stunning piece by Baruch Halpern which
links social structures and ideologies.

While Halpern gives no sign of having read Marx or Mannheim or Marcel
Granet, his analysis is profoundly sociological. I don't know whether
this will please or anger him. My own reading is that he draws heavily
on the tradition of Continental biblical scholarship, a tradition that
knows little of the Anglo-American wall between humanist and social
scientist, and that sociological concepts are therefore part of his
instrument case.

And this footnote, which started out simply to praise and thank Steve
Mason, is getting out of hand.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------197---
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 11:37 PDT
Subject: Re: 4.0527 On the Nature of Universities

Dear Norman Miller: I offered you a public apology, saying I was (half)
jesting with you as sociology's rep on these Story Boards, so to say.
Perhaps the West is too full of high rises for sociology and psychology
(the latter of which in its physiological work is always most
impressive). Ancient history, such as poor Veblen's incarceration in a
basement room at Columbia, from which he was later ousted, does not
excuse the second part of the 20th Century. I agree of course it is a
battle for funding, and the Humanities went to the wall about 1950, where
they have remained, perhaps for good and sufficient reasons. I have
learned much from the great sociologists, and I dont knock it. But, I
also believe that the lack of integration of training in sociology with
the Humanities, or History, and/or History, has led since 1950 to a
deplorable mental state of affairs, as evidenced in the alienation from
one another's discourse in both camps. If they are camps. That is a
result of both disciplines crowding their students out by cramming their
requirements schedules, which is a battle for space, classrooms,
teaching positions, at bottom. Furthermore, I sense that in the 20th
Century, while the number of literary, or humanist documents remains more
or less fixed, the number of texts or documents for the social sciences
has swollen uncritically. I seem to have galled your kibe, Professor
Miller; but I did so carelessly and jocularly, in the sense of jesting
or complaining or criticizing among colleagues. Perhaps it remains
true: loose lips sink ships. No deep offense was meant. I could say
much more harsh things about the quality of the discourse I have known
among the people in my own discipline that I would ever dare to say
about folks in sociology. That should be understood. We all of us
could. You ought to try talking to the law profs sometime! Or Bus
Administration! Power corrupts, said the Lord Acton. We are now the
meekest of the meek, and we squeak. Yours with best wishes, Kessler