Blogs >> Meet our new Lecturer in Holistic Science, Dr Troy Vine

Meet our new Lecturer in Holistic Science, Dr Troy Vine

We’re very pleased to be able to announce a new member to the teaching faculty here at Schumacher College. Dr Troy Vine will be taking on the position of Lecturer on our prestigious Holistic Science MSc, programme, and he joins us from Humbolt University in Berlin, where he has been working on a second PhD. We caught up with Troy to find out a bit more about our new member of the team.

Tell us about your past career and how you have ended up taking not one but two PhDs?
At school, mathematics was an area that I enjoyed, whereas writing based activities were a struggle due to my dyslexia. It therefore seemed natural for me to pursue physics at university, a path that led me to complete a PhD in particle physics. For that I spent a number of years working at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, near Chicago, which I enjoyed very much. While I particularly liked computer programming, which is now a central part of experimental physics, it was clear to me that I did not want to spend the rest of my life doing this. This was when I began to develop my interest in holistic science and did a number of courses on Goethean science.
I was looking at my bookshelf one day and I realised that more than half of my books had been translated from German. So I decided to learn the language. I began by paying my uncle in Stuttgart a visit, and stayed in the country ever since. In 2010 I attended a conference on Newton and Goethe at Humboldt University in Berlin, and was amazed that it was possible to do research on Goethean science at a leading university. I moved to Berlin to study philosophy, and ended up doing a PhD in this area. I am now in the writing stage of my PhD and hope to finish my thesis in the next couple of years.

What most inspires you about the subject of Holistic Science?
For me, holistic science raises the question not only of what holistic science is, but what science in general is and also what it can become. I think this is one of the profound questions of our time, whatever our views about science happen to be. In holistic science, we address this question by looking at how science developed historically, paying attention to possibilities that did not get taken up by mainstream science at the time, such as Goethe’s colour science, but nevertheless remain open as possibilities for further development. Science is an evolving thing, and holistic science charts out possible waters for future navigation.

How does that fit into your current research interests?
My PhD focusses on the metamorphosis of the conception of colour from Descartes, via Newton and Goethe, to Wittgenstein. I think this is an excellent example of the development of a holistic conception of nature. This is part of a larger project to use Wittgenstein’s philosophy to develop a holistic approach to the history and philosophy of science. A part of this is to investigate the evolving language of science and the role of metaphor in this process. I found the work of philologists such as Owen Barfield inspiring and also studied classics for a number of years at Humboldt University to provide a foundation for research in this area. So far, however, I have not developed this into a clear project.

What brought you to Schumacher College?
When I began studying Goethean science, the work of Henri Bortoft was my biggest inspiration in this area, and much of my subsequent research is an engagement with Bortoft’s thought. I was thus always aware of Schumacher College, and was eager to meet him at the conference in Berlin mentioned above. He decided not to present at the last minute and sadly died soon after, so I never got to meet him. It is an enormous privilege to teach on the program he helped shape, and I’ll be placing Bortoft’s work at the centre of my teaching.

We’ve talked a lot about your academic work, so tell us a bit about what you get up to in your spare time…
I have always been interested in music. As a child I spent all my spare money on guitar equipment and as a student on vinyl. At university my main engagement was as a DJ, but after my undergraduate I studied Jazz on the double bass in London. I have played the bass ever since in a number of different bands, including my own band for which I wrote songs. I also produce electronica, which is another great genre for exploring the possibilities of bass (it’s all about the bass...).
My other interests involve being in the great outdoors. In my gap year I taught English in Nepal, which is where I got into trekking. I was there again last spring, which was amazing. At university I got into snowboarding, and more recently I have learnt to enjoy the more tranquil experience of cross-country skiing. I also enjoy diving, which is another great excuse for travelling, which I don’t manage to do nearly as much as I would like.

For more information on Troy, including an up to date list of his publications and editing work, head to his profile page.

There is still time to apply for the MSc in Holistic Science, starting here in January 2021. Click here to find out more about the Holistic Science programme and apply.

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