Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The End of Philosophy?

From the NY Times:

As money tightens, the humanities may increasingly return to being what they were at the beginning of the last century, when only a minuscule portion of the population attended college: namely, the province of the wealthy.

That may be unfortunate but inevitable, [one theorist] said. The essence of a humanities education — reading the great literary and philosophical works and coming “to grips with the question of what living is for” — may become “a great luxury that many cannot afford.”

By all means; let's entrust the "wealthy few" with that, too. (And hope that some of their hard-won insights will trickle down to the rest of us!)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/books/25human.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&em

4 comments:

  1. What would a nation look like if it were run by politicians and lawmakers who were unfamiliar with humanities? How would a democracy work if its people could not think critically and lacked a firm set of values? If those administrators, policy makers, and parents were trained in philosophy and critical thinking, they would understand the value of a humanities program.

    A liberal education is not an investment for money; that is just a welcomed bonus. I think of my philosophy degree as an instant 401k. I know that no matter what state the economy is in, I will have something of value when I'm older. The value of such an education goes much further than personal benefit. All the money and power in the world will make a society any better. Only intellectual development brings true freedom and joy to a society.

    ReplyDelete
  2. They do seem to be caught in a vicious circle of ignorance. See also Keane's comments (misplaced below, under "Bell and Circularity")

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kyle said: "What would a nation look like if it were run by politicians and lawmakers who were unfamiliar with humanities? How would a democracy work if its people could not think critically and lacked a firm set of values?" I think we already know the answer to those questions. How else could it have been possible for the last administration to seize power for eight years? The emphasis on science and the de-emphasis on the humanities started before I graduated from high school in 1958! We (the citizens) have known for a long time that those in power benefit from the general ignorance of the masses. That is why education generally gets little more than lip service – until now. Call me an eternal optimist, but I think the people will finally be heard, if only they will speak up! All you had to do was look at John McCain’s face during the President’s recent address. All this rabble that’s coming out of Washington now is just the death throes of a dying breed. The 2010 election will be the measure of whether or not the people will step up to their responsibility and let Washington know their will. The media calls it “political capital” but I hear revolution. We’ll have to wait and see. – Martha C.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The last eight years saw not merely a decline in the centrality of the humanities but a lack of humanity!

    ReplyDelete