Can Humanities and Sciences work together?

As author and physicist C. P. Snow wrote in 1959, ‘intellectual life of the whole of Western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups…’. Despite a common belief that there is a division between Humanities and Sciences, perhaps since it is undeniably harder currently to study both fields to a high degree simultaneously, historical figures such as Leonardo da Vinci highlight how this division is artificial, with many being able to excel in both areas. Although some people do have a ‘natural’ ability for one over the other, I believe attempting to study both allows for a more well-rounded education. As someone who studies Maths, Chemistry and History at A Level, I often receive comments about how this could appear an odd combination, with many preferring to choose subjects that fall completely into either the Science or Humanities category. However, I am glad I chose these contrasting subjects, and I have gone on to apply for History and Economics at university, a degree that naturally combines techniques I have learnt from Science and Humanities A Levels.

On the most basic level, a simple knowledge and understanding of numbers can help people who focus their research on the Humanities, for example, by aiding historians trying to understand statistics and raw data from events, whilst studying Humanities will assist scientists in communicating their finds. For me, Humanities and STEM subjects should not be an either/or situation, but should work together. When STEM subjects can answer the ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions, Social Sciences and Humanities can help answer the ‘why’ questions. Although the study of Maths and Sciences can bring about advances in medicines, weaponry and technology, the study of Humanities can shed light on the influence science has had on the quality of people’s lives and on the shaping of society, both positively and negatively. Going forward, the study of Humanities can also inform us of what needs to be changed and introduced, and are therefore important considerations for scientists to appreciate and learn from.

Although, in the past, questions brought about by the Humanities were beyond the scope of science, such as questioning the equality and intrinsic value of a person or theorising about the nature of reality, the evolution of technology means science can begin answering these questions and the two disciplines should be coming closer together. To say one discipline is superior to the other, or that one can learn more from the other, to me is a flawed debate, as without each other I think Humanities and Sciences would be fundamentally different.

Zara (Year 13)

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