There is little doubt that the humanities (›Geisteswissenschaften‹) are on the defensive. The reason is not that their subjects are less interesting than those of the sciences, or that our factual knowledge about these subjects has not considerably increased. But the hard sciences go beyond mere accumulation of facts: they are increasingly successful in deriving the observable facts from a small set of general principles; hardly any attempt in this direction has been made for classical issues of the humanities, such as aesthetic properties or the reasons for evolution in history, society, literature or the arts. Instead, new opinions are added. It is shown that a mere transposition of explanatory factors such as deterministic analysis of the freedom of will, as advanced by some brain researchers, or an appeal to Darwinian notions such as selectional advantage would not be helpful. The humanities must start this quest in their own terms, if their voice should not fade out from the chorus of scientific work.
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