The 'soft sciences' - a response

This is a response to Mr. James Cuno’s opinion article of June 25, “The soft sciences matter as much as ever.”


Mr. James Cuno’s report on specialized education and the broader consequences that society will endure, if we acknowledge the vacuum he speaks of in the creation of an information void. I applaud his tenacious gaze into the future, noting that unlike folks voicing an array of opinions, he arrives with an arsenal of facts.

For years, educators and social scientist have only too pleasantly, brought this information to the very edge of the scholastic table. Mr. Cuno engraves it on a lead tablet and before it hits and dents the table, he details the grasping nature of a collapse of more significance than just an opinion. Actually, if I might translate, he is explaining the ramifications of the current education system itself eliminating the very principles that launched modern society into its present state; a valid reason to be passionate as well as punctual.

I realize that sounds complex, but that’s why little stories that are expanded in analogies are capable of giving answers. Well, let us say society was a full room and within the circumference indwells the population of an entire culture; a people that became dependant on only one aspect of technology to manage its economy and virtually trained the education system to support a very successful venture. Over time the focus on this one product enveloped a large portion of a generation’s intellect and they became disconnected with the aesthetics; absent of the ability to appreciate or understand the very principles that developed the merchandise in the first place.

On the one hand you have a product and the other the science it required to make it come into being. You may ask the question, should the 21st century mentality shoulder the poetic equivalence of intellect of that of a 1st century man? His comments strive beyond museum preservation. Mr. Cuno, as most intuitive educators do, desires that humanity, during this “particular era,” strategize a broader understanding of the elements that make up the particulars and then the nuclear end result. Whether it is any number of topics, those subjected to western culture’s education, even by osmosis, should be the crispest apple on the tree. Thus, Mr. Cuno’s article has merit.

Our simple electric motors are comprised of specific principles that have harnessed our universe’s core elements. In mankind’s relatively short relationship to technology, consumers use this motor in numerous products and the application has expanded greatly. “One aspect” of electric motors are used to start cars, wash clothing, keep time, operate tools, support hydraulics to land planes and life support systems in hospitals. Though the application is vast, using the apparatus verses knowing how it functions is an important part of Mr. Cuno’s dialogue. The other “aspect” is that we are losing an ability to examine knowledge; as society taps science as an element of convenience to make our lives easier.

Mr. Cuno’s urgency could be classified well beyond that of a whistle blower; a true scholar announcing with authority that an unhealthy social phase does exist today and is creating a multi-cultural void, dismissing the essence of what connects culture regardless of language or boarders. Indeed, the virtue of the aesthetics “verses” the social remedy for economic development. Mr. Cuno’s well rounded findings gravitate towards recognizing the poetry we have already lost. It may require several demonstrations to break this spiral?

• R. D. Robinson is a sculptor, a resident of Douglas and honored to be Grand Marshall in the Douglas July 4th parade, thank you!


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