“But we’re Science students: they don’t make us think!” Such was the objection of a fellow Science student confronted with the task of writing an essay. I’m afraid to say, it was said without irony.
This student was the victim of a constructed battle between the Arts and Sciences. Though it may be comforting to specialise in one of the two, it may also be narrowing the range of thought processes we take out of university.
By my second year, I began to question the divide between Arts and Sciences and thought, “Why not both?”
Enter the Philosophy of Science. It’s not an oxymoron; there is a School of the Philosophy of Science. Stumbling upon it in the faculty handbook, I was confused, intrigued, and signed up.
I walked hesitantly into the lecture. I was expecting a battlefield; blood dripping from a protractor-induced wound in an Arts student’s neck; a Science student crushed under the weight of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Not so. Instead, I found perfect harmony: students of all academic creeds engaged in lively conversation on subjects of Science and its Philosophy: Karl Popper and falsificationism, realism and empiricism, scientific paradigms, and so on. Both sides could pit their knowledge against a common subject. I had found what I was looking for.
It is amazing what good can be done by taking a short stroll from your familiar academic grounds. Science students venturing into the Arts will be given the chance to articulate their opinions, form unique ideas and construct arguments. On the other side, an Arts student taking a Science subject will be trained in logic and problem solving, and begin to see the world more clearly in terms of cause and effect.
So, a call to arms. To the Arts student: dig out that scientific calculator with the missing lid. Men and women of science: open that Complete Works of Shakespeare currently holding your bedroom door open. On second thoughts, this is not so much a call to arms as a call for a ceasefire in this battle of Arts vs. Science.