Saturday, July 13, 2013

Whither the humanities? David Brooks address the humanities crisis

David Brooks writes about the decline in humanities enrollments in higher education, attributing it both to the outside cause of competitive disadvantage it give humanities students in the job market (which I think he overstates) and the inside cause of an over-politicized academia, although Brooks emphasizes the latter:
But the humanities are not only being bulldozed by an unforgiving job market. They are committing suicide because many humanists have lost faith in their own enterprise.
Back when the humanities were thriving, the leading figures had a clear definition of their mission and a fervent passion for it. The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul, or, in D.H. Lawrence’s phrase, “the dark vast forest.”
This was the most inward and elemental part of a person. When you go to a funeral and hear a eulogy, this is usually the part they are talking about. Eulogies aren’t résumés. They describe the person’s care, wisdom, truthfulness and courage. They describe the million little moral judgments that emanate from that inner region.
As the strange and unnatural alliance between postmodernism and scientism tightens its grip on culture, the humanities are needed now more than ever, and yet they have crippled their ability to respond.

The immediate occasion for Brooks' column is the recent report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," which I will be addressing in another post.

HT: The Imaginative Conservative. Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Could you expand on the notion that there is a "strange and unnatural alliance between postmodernism and scientism" that has a (tightening) grip on culture? I followed the link to the piece but saw no reference to that.