One of Faggen's primary scholarly interests has been the relationship between literature and science, particularly the role that rhetoric and metaphor has played in scientific thought. He explored this question in one of his books, Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin (1997), published by the University of Michigan Press.
The fundamental question has roots in Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy: does art merely imitate reality, or is it a dynamic force that helps to define and shape our reality? The answer to this question will help to determine whether art and rhetoric have a significant influence on the way that science is perceived and the way in which it expresses itself. Faggen has explored this question further in his studies of Czeslaw Milosz, whose work addresses the question of the relation of science to the religious imagination.
Robert Faggen joins us to discuss the relationship of rhetoric and reality in modern science, a question that has provoked strong debates in recent years among the players in the "two cultures" of science and the humanities. This lecture is part of the Faculty Ideas in Progress series.