Over at Metamagician, Brother Blackford has a nice post about the ways that humanities, rather than science, can help us “know” stuff. I think I’m pretty much on board with him: our big difference seems to be largely semantic. That is, I construe science broadly—as “empirical investigation combined with reason,” while Russell takes a narrower definition of traditional scientific investigation (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.). Thus, when I say that there is no way other than science to find out things about our world and universe, I’m pretty much agreeing with Brother B. The important point, which we both recognize, is that pure intuition, revelation, and unchallenged dogma are not ways of finding out things, other than about the subjective nature of the person who experiences them. In other words, they’re not “ways of knowing,” if by “knowing” you mean “something that nearly all rational people agree on as truth.”
Do remember that the phrase “there are other ways of knowing besides science” is almost always used as a justification not for the value of the humanities, but for the value of faith.
Why did I say “or at least new to the academy”? It’s because humanities scholars are generally dealing with human experience on Earth, so the stuff they find out will often be stuff that is or was known to somebody. If textual-historical scholarship on the Bible reveals that the Gospel of Matthew relies heavily on the Gospel of Mark and must have been written later, that is finding out something that was once known (very likely by whoever authored the Gospel of Matthew!). If someone manages to resolve what happened to Queen Zenobia after the fall of Palmyra (was she beheaded, as some sources say, or was she taken back to Rome, led in triumph, but ultimately set free, as other sources say?), that will be finding out something that we don’t currently know. Obviously, however, it was once known, for example to the Emperor Aurelian, who defeated her in battle.
I don’t think there is any sharp line between the sciences and the humanities, but you can see, I hope, how humanistic scholars are often trying to find out stuff that was once known by human beings who are not around to ask but have left traces, or sometimes by human beings who are still around but have not organised their knowledge in a sufficiently systematic and public way for the purposes of the academy. . .
However, there’s nothing spooky about the fact that humanities scholars and scientists are often trying to find out different things and that different techniques are likely to work for finding out these different things. An advanced knowledge of mathematics may be much more useful to a physicist than to an historian trying to settle what really happened to Zenobia. The latter may need to develop advanced skills in understanding a raft of ancient languages that are used in our conflicting records of poor Zenobia’s fate. These languages may be of little use to a physicist.
There are no “other ways of knowing”, if this refers to esoteric techniques that get us in touch with a supernatural realm. There are, however, numerous techniques for finding out stuff. Some of these techniques require no unusual training (I can look out the window and find out various things). Others may require advanced training, whether in mathematics, languages, the acquisition of extensive knowledge bases, developing certain ways of thinking about problems (yes, lawyers really are trained to think in a certain way, but there’s nothing spooky about it … it’s continuous with how we’re all trained in critical thinking), and so on.