Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge - The Great Branches of Learning Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 505 words
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The Great Branches of Learning Summary and Analysis

The evidence from the natural sciences shows that Enlightenment thinkers made correct assumptions about the material world as well as the unity of knowledge. They attempted to link sciences and humanities, but despite their efforts the current state of knowledge is fragmented.

Consilience, a term revitalized by Edward Wilson, implies an agreed approach to different subjects, and linking facts and theory to provide a unified justification. Through consilience theories and facts can be tested. One way of testing its effectiveness is employing it in social sciences and humanities. When linking environmental policy, ethics, social science, and biology, we discover that inquiries in one area can lead to reasoning in other areas. Some areas have little analysis. Subsequently, no sufficient knowledge of ecology exists to formulate ethical guidelines to achieve agreement. There is also no scientific knowledge of the long-term valuation of forests.

Government policies stem from the way politicians think. They have little to do with the way intellectuals think. With consilience this situation can improve when all disciplines are employed—not just abstract principles. The material world confirms unity, where consilience is implicit. Not all philosophers would agree that philosophy is vital in intellectual unification. Its importance lies in its ability to reach into the future. Some philosophers claim that it can answer issues that some sciences, including physics, biology or sociology, are unable to provide. Hence scientists and philosophers should collaborate in the areas of biology, social sciences, and humanities. In this way philosophy can become science. The world implies consilience of knowledge. In the twenty-first century some areas such as natural sciences, humanities, and creative arts will be linked with science and become large areas of learning.

The ability of science to provide rational answers manages to enter the communal mind. People are able now to see reality in a way that exceeds the ability of a single mind to see. In the same way science provides greater opportunities for the arts, giving it a wider range of narratives and images. Consilience can be employed in education facing a decreasing number of mandatory courses and an increasing number of undergraduate courses. Currently, science is the least mandatory subject but vital for understanding the relation between science and humanities as well as their importance for human welfare.

Most issues that vex politicians and come before the US Congress such as ethnic conflict, escalation of arms, environment or poverty require that knowledge from natural science is integrated with social sciences and humanities so that these problems can be solved. Only in this way a clear picture of the real world can be achieved. The training that politicians receive is limited to social sciences and humanities, with little knowledge of natural sciences. Although professionals, including public intellectuals or media interrogators can make correct analyses, the basis of their wisdom is fragmented. Consilience can produce order, and that is why it is necessary in the increasing diversity of knowledge.

This section contains 505 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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