Defending the Humanities


There’s a thought-provoking post over at Acculturated that asks the question: Do the Humanities Deserve Defending? (H/T, Sarah Hoyt)

Apologists for the study of philosophy, history, literature and art usually claim that the humanities train us to be: creative, logical and nimble thinkers (this is the pragmatic, skill-set thesis). The humanities do this, in part, by imparting the kind of knowledge about culture that makes us more empathetic and, thus, ethically minded global citizens (the altruistic, good human being thesis).

These arguments rely on unsound reasoning and are unsubstantiated by any acknowledgement of contradictory examples. In other words, they fail to employ the very same wisdom that literature, philosophy and history supposedly provide when they teach us rhetoric, logic and our pasts.

Read the whole thing. If you do, you’ll see my comment: “Yes. We should defend the humanities—from the humanists!”