Oh, the Humanities!

The humanities and the sciences are often at loggerheads, particularly when it comes to evolutionary explanations for human behavior. Humanities scholars typically believe that most aspects of human life are driven by variable cultural factors, while scientifically-minded researchers are often more comfortable using genetics or evolution to understand the way humans behave.

This split creates—and is a symptom of—higher-level disagreements about human nature, because evolution is the predominant theory of the life sciences. A recent research paper in a new journal suggests that, by cordoning off their own subject matter from evolutionary theory, the humanities and soft social sciences are isolating themselves from today’s most important intellectual conversations. But the findings also offer some rays of hope, while raising a few questions of their own.

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