Ross Douthat has written a good little piece about the humanities in the NYT in which he riffs on W. H. Auden and Alan Jacobs’ recent book The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in An Age of Crisis. The entire (short) piece is worth reading, but here’s a snippet:
In an Apollonian culture, eager for “Useful Knowledge” and technical mastery and increasingly indifferent to memory and allergic to tradition, the poet and the novelist and the theologian struggle to find an official justification for their arts. And both the turn toward radical politics and the turn toward high theory are attempts by humanists in the academy to supply that justification — to rebrand the humanities as the seat of social justice and a font of political reform, or to assume a pseudoscientific mantle that lets academics claim to be interrogating literature with the rigor and precision of a lab tech doing dissection.
At the moment both efforts look like failed attempts. But is there an alternative? ….
– Ross Douthat, ‘Oh, the Humanities!’. The New York Times, 8 August (2018).
Image: Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Apollo and Python’ (exhibited 1811). Tate.
This essay provides a profound critique of all of the forms of Western knowledge both secular and so called “religious” and their all the way down the line cultural implications
We may be living in an age where church going is on the decline and secularism is on the rise but I wish the humanities could encourage deep thinking and ‘wisdom’ rather than following the ebb and flow of contemporary society. There is even a new movement called ‘evidence based decision making’,- how else are you supposed to make decisions?