Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Fate of the Humanities

Over at The New York Times "Room for Debate" website a few leading academics weigh-in on the fate of the humanities.  Contributors include David Hollinger and Annette Gordon-Reed.

Here is a taste of Hollinger's post:

Today’s many calls for “partnerships” between humanistic, natural scientific and social scientific programs with “real-world” professional schools can yield splendidly creative results. But such partnerships can instead become devices for the diminution of the independence of the liberal arts and the de facto neutralization of their ability to bring under critical scrutiny the practices and ideologies that operate in the professions and in society at large.  

A key mistake in much of this debate is the separation out of the humanities from the natural sciences and social sciences, ignoring the common foundation of all of modern academia in the great Enlightenment challenge of Immanuel Kant to “have the courage to use the power of one’s understanding,” to “dare to know.” We ignore at our peril the curricular and research contributions of scholars and scientists who recognize no client but the truth.