I explore an area in the philosophy of knowledge that has rarely been examined in detail: knowledge production in humanities disciplines. I contend that similar processes shape the structure and content of knowledge in the humanities as well as the hard sciences, and that power dynamics and factionalism are more dominant in what ideas are and are not published, gain influence, or disappear, than many humanities researchers themselves believe. Factionalism is especially important in the development of debates and sub-disciplines in the humanities. This is because the burden of proof for some hypothesis in the humanities is the plausibility of one’s argument. All one must do to change the orthodoxy of some field in the humanities is argue well on behalf of your idea. In one sense, one’s task is easier, because a humanities researcher needs no more resources than a library and personal ingenuity. But the task is also far more difficult, because orthodoxies in the humanities are entrenched simply by their coming to be accepted as the obvious truth. A radical idea in the humanities has no empirical ground to fall back on for defence, which makes it immensely difficult for a skeptic even to consider it. Being a field of pure discourse puts the humanities at great risk of growing moribund and stale.
|Keywords:||Humanities, Peer Review, Academic Culture, Knowledge Production, Social Epistemology|
Graduate Student, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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