1. So I’ve gotten a couple of complaints (really) that my contribution to BBS below was insufficiently sensitive to diversity issues. Well, that’s true.
2. The HR officer who called Sheldon in was a black woman skilled, as Leonard would say, in handlIng human relations issues. She’s likely the only smart black woman Sheldon has had contact with. The show, realistically enough (statistically speaking), does not feature any physicists who are black women. Sheldon stereotypes blacks as recent victims of slavery, and so he gives her ROOTS as as a gift. He has to learn why that’s inappropriate, why he should see each particular woman more personally and not as a member of a species or race.
3. That exposure to DIVERSITY does teach Sheldon something about being human, as does his exposure to real women in general. But it doesn’t make him a better physicist. And so we might say that affirmative action in physics or the STEM fields in general makes no sense. The true or legal diversity argument is all about its educational contribution—and not about equity or justice.
4. Sheldon, of course, learns more from the seemingly ordinary—but spirited or gutsy and good looking—white woman Penny. It probably shouldn’t be within the educational vision of elite universities to teach nerds how to relate to pretty girls who give it “the old community college try.” You might object to this line of analysis that Sheldon ain’t a student, but a researcher. But after all his life didn’t really change after getting that second PhD.
5. In general, arguments for DIVERSITY are about making students beter persons. They’re sometimes couched in vocational language, but that’s not what’s really meant. It’s what left of “the transformational ideal” of liberal education. But also part of that old idea is Sheldon’s view that the humanities so understood are relativistic drivel.
6. Minds should be transformed by awakening the longing for what’s really true, independently of “cultural perspective.” Right now we’re stuck with the alternative “worldviews” of the UNITY of physics theory and the DIVERSITY of the humanities.
7. It goes without saying that POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY—and 21st century THOMISM—aim at the science that overcomes that alleged clash of worldviews. The aim, as Walker Percy says, is to put back together what’s true about the existentialism at the foundation of making cultural diversity the bottom line with what’s true about Anglo-American empiricism (as found in analytic philosphy and the “consilence” aspiration of natural science).