Both before and after Kant, philosophers have promised to “put metaphysics on the sure path of a science” or drop it altogether. What they meant by this is anything but clear. Contemporary historians and philosophers of science have shown that the models of science on which those promises seem to be based have little to do with the actual practices of science, which are laden with value in form, method and goals. Though every serious study of science is in agreement about this, it hasn’t seemed to stop attempts to rid science of the normative. I argue that the older notion of humanities, rather than the younger one of Geisteswissenschaften, would be helpful against such tendencies. I discuss some differences between humanities and Geisteswissenschaften, and argue that Kant’s best discussions of science are anything but scientistic.
Susan Neiman is director of the Einstein Forum. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Neiman studied philosophy at Harvard and the Free University of Berlin. She was professor of philosophy at Yale University and Tel Aviv University before coming to the Einstein Forum in 2000. Her works include Slow Fire: Jewish Notes from Berlin (1992); The Unity of Reason: Rereading Kant (1994); Evil in Modern Thought (2002), Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-up Idealists (2008) and Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age (2014).