Why teach humanities?

The City Beat: The tension between art and science

Tran isn’t arguing against the humanities, but it seems that some of the humanities professors at UND are worried about the new national focus on science and technology. The question raised is essentially “Of what worth are the humanities?” in response to interviews with candidates for the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

I think Tran answered this question in his previous post: “The arts make life pleasant here.” If it weren’t for literature or art or philosophy, what would we do when we weren’t working? If nearly everyone hadn’t had at least some exposure to Shakespeare, would we find as much meaning in modern film (including movies)? I know philosophy helped me as a critical thinker, and even if I disagreed with someone’s worldview, I could still recognize the beauty of their logic.

I know that not everything makes money for the university (aside from tuition), but there has to be more to life than that. Not everything is about economic development, and not everyone has grand schemes about the future of the country as a whole–most of us just want to survive, and it’s the art and those other nonessentials that make the in-between times worth living.

There is more to develop here, but I have to eat breakfast*.

*Have you ever noticed those non-sequiturs when you write them? Here I am, throwing around grandiose ideas about the meaning and value of the non-sciences, and I mention eating breakfast. Not a particularly scholarly thing to do, perhaps, but certainly humanizing.