The unconvincing case for the value of the humanities

June 14, 2017

“Many humanists have difficulty in presenting their case because they are used to speaking one way among themselves and another way to outsiders,” write Gary Morson and Morton Schapiro for Inside Higher Ed. The authors argue that when humanists speak to the public, they still make claims about the value of great books written by great writers, whereas among one another, they find these ideas to be outdated and naïve. The only remedy to this situation, the authors argue, is for humanists to approach “great literature as a source of wisdom that cannot be obtained, or obtained so well, elsewhere.” The authors conclude that few students will think it worth the effort to read difficult books if those books do not contain some knowledge or perspective that they could not gain otherwise, adding, “if you really want to save the humanities, make sure it is a version worth saving.” Inside Higher Ed