Who Needs the Humanities?

Nowadays, in country after country, policymakers have become obsessed with the need to strengthen science education. But without the humanities, the primate Homo sapiens would never have been transformed into a creature whose interests, aspirations, and achievements extend beyond successful sexual reproduction.

WARWICK, UK – Nowadays, in country after country, policymakers have become obsessed with the need to strengthen science education. But what about the humanities – all those disciplines (literature, history, languages, and so forth) whose relevance to economic competitiveness is not so obvious?

We need the humanities only if we are committed to the idea of humanity. If the humanities have become obsolete, then it may be that humanity is losing its salience.

I do not mean that we are becoming “less human” in the sense of “inhumane.” If anything, we live in a time when traditionally human-centered concerns like “rights” have been extended to animals, if not nature as a whole. Rather, the problem is whether there is anything distinctive about being human that makes special demands of higher education. I believe that the answer continues to be yes.

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