As long ago as the early 19th century, the poet Keats bemoaned the washing away of the world’s beauty and mystery in the wake of natural philosophy’s reductionist insights—its tendency to “unweave a rainbow.” Two centuries later, the tentacles of science have reached far further, wrapping themselves around questions and disciplines once thought beyond the reach of scientific analysis. But like Keats, not everyone is happy. When it comes to the evaluation of human experience—passion to prayer, consciousness to creativity—what can science explain, and what are the limits of its explanatory powers? What is the difference between science and scientism? Are the sciences and the humanities friends or foes? Join an animated discussion on science, reductionism, the mind, the heart, freedom, religion, and the quest for the human difference.
The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.