There is a famous scene in “Dead Poet’s Society” where the teacher, Mr. Keating, deconstructs the introduction to his students’ poetry textbook. That introduction advises how to examine the worth of every poem mathematically by charting each poem on a graph relative to a set of objective, measurable properties.
Mr. Keating balks at the very idea: “Excrement! That’s what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard! We’re not laying pipe! We’re talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? ‘I like Byron, I give him a 42 but I can’t dance to it!'”
Keating’s protest is a shot across the bow of a flatfooted reductionism that presumes every field of inquiry is subject to the same objective mathematical model.
Could there be a “science” of literary criticism and aesthetic appreciation? Never mind, “could be”. There certainly is a science in this field in the sense that we can have scientia (knowledge) of the thematic and literary quality of poetic works. But if you want to become a “scientist” in this field, you go to the English department. Understanding of the emergent complexity that exists with a literary work requires a distinct field of inquiry from that one finds in STEM disciplines.
The same goes when the subject matter shifts to other spheres, such as the nature and causes of human history, the structure of knowledge, or the meaning of meaning. Just as you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, so you don’t bring a calculator to a Byron seminar, and you definitely don’t bring a telescope to a conference on medieval scholastic philosophy.
One of the challenges for the practitioners of every discipline is to discern the boundaries of their discipline (and their expertise within it) and then beyond that to follow the wisdom of Wittgenstein:
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”