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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Monday, July 05, 2010

The Human Sciences

Posted by Bill Benzon on 07/05/10 at 04:10 AM

I’m discussing Cultural Evolution: A Vehicle for Cooperative Interaction Between the Sciences and the Humanities, a blog of the National Humanities Center. Here’s the blurb:


William Benzon, an independent scholar who has written about cognitive science, art, music, and the web, is in the Forum. The author of Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture (2001), he outlines here a comprehensive approach to the human sciences, championing methods and insights from researchers trained in the humanities and the sciences. His essay,”Cultural Evolution: A Vehicle for Cooperative Interaction Between the Sciences and the Humanities,” claims that a humanistic range of knowledge of cultural phenomena is necessary for effective description of the objects of analysis. Lacking such background, students of the human are likely to produce unscientific models and theories about population-wide maintenance, propagation, and incremental change of cultural codes.

To build accurate models at what Benzon calls the micro-scale, one needs to understand perceptual and cognitive processes and how meaning is negotiated through interaction. On the larger canvas, one needs to see at the macro level how changes in cultural codes support the emergence of new forms of mental activity. Properly pursued, the study of humanity can reveal the design of cultural codes as emerging from the collective efforts of populations where each individual negotiates his or her life transaction by transaction.

Bill Benzon is on the scientific advisory board for the Institute of Music and Neurologic Function in New York City. Previously he was a Senior Scientist with MetaLogics, Inc., where he worked on knowledge representation and information design for web-based health services. Benzon taught in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has published scholarly articles, reviews, and technical reports on African-American music, literary analysis and theory, cultural evolution, cognition and brain theory, visual thinking, and technical communication. In conjunction with Richard Friedhoff, he wrote a book on computer graphics and image-processing entitled Visualization: The Second Computer Revolution.

Come on down!


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