The philosophy of realism praises reason and logic, but ignores passion, emotion, and feeling. Critics of realism argue that if we want to really understand human beings in the world, we have to consider the total—the whole of human experience. But with all its emphasis on facts and reason and scientific methods, the philosophy of realism ignores the total human.
An important belief of realism is that anything that exists can be measured scientifically. But is that true? Can we measure our passions and feelings scientifically? Can the methods of science really solve big human problems like poverty? Critics of realism say no, because the underlying psychological causes of poverty are very complex and cannot be reduced to mathematics.
Bertrand Russell thought we could use the methods of science to achieve excellence in education. However, Russell also believed that students had to be measured against some objective, “real” criteria. Because of this view, students are compared to fixed standards, such as national examinations. So realism has led to an educational system that’s based on standardized tests, like college entrance examinations and national tests for teachers. Many of our leaders praise the testing movement as “scientific” and “fact-based”—that is, based on realist philosophy. But critics of realism like to point out that the effects on students are negative. Standardized tests dehumanize people because they don’t respect passion, emotion, and feeling, which are important parts of the total person.
Today, the realist ideal of our technological society shows little respect for the unity of knowledge. Think about how scientists often work on one small part of a large project without understanding the whole. Someone who works only on one small part may not understand how the whole project affects humanity, and this might be dangerous to humanity. For example, it’s possible for scientists to work on a project that is antihuman, against life ... a project like biological weapons. They might work on one small part of a weapon system without even knowing it.