The New York Times today has an article, "In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth." Here's the url. http://nytimes.com/2009/02/25/books/25human.html?8dpc
Really. Because the economy is bad, WE have to justify OUR worth? I don't think so. When the net worth of big business is several trillion dollars in the red, what is the net worth of the humanities that give meaning and value to life? When swindlers walk away with bonuses calculated against our loss, how much does it cost to think deeply and understand? When we are borrowing against the future because of the greedy politics of the MBA's, the derivative traders, and those who believe in unregulated flows of capital (straight into their pockets), we who value history, and truth, and art, and poetry, and critique, and thoughtfulness, and introspection, and the social power of culture, are the ones who have to justify ourselves? That is as bad a calculation as the ones made by Morgan Stanley, AIG, Bank of America, Lehmann Brothers, and on and on. You don't get rid of bad credit by buying it. You reconsider what counts, what has value, what teaches values. That's the humanities, in the deepest and best sense.
We ARE value added.
Let the New York Times know. I did. Mine is Comment #53, reblogged here. Add your own!
Comment #53: Response to "In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify their Worth":
"Never have the humanities been needed more. The larger point of thehumanities are that, without critical thinking, without remembering thelessons of history, without appreciation of how the stories we make(witness Obama's speech last night!) shape our world, we are doomed torepeat mistakes, we are doomed to not understand. Science andtechnology don't make paradigms--humanists do: historians,philosophers, artists, journalists. If people are astonished at thecomplexity of Obama's thought, they don't remember their liberal artseducations. That complexity, the ability to stand back from crisis andperceive patterns that are bigger than the expedients that push us andtoss us and turn us, are exactly what the liberal arts train andsupport. Now more than ever. Futurist philosopher Alvin Toffler saysthat literacy in the 21st century isn't just reading, writing, and'rithmatic but the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Thehumanities are what give you the tools for complex learning and evenmore complex unlearning precisely because they provide the overview,context, and modes of critical thinking that allow us to create andalso to turn from a course that may seem doomed. "To Be Or Not To Be?"isn't just a question---it is a way of asking what the big questionsare. Humanities 101. It should be required of everyone."? cathyd, North Carolina
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