“The dominance of the scientific outlook in higher education has turned the modern humanities distinctly un-humanistic. Many contemporary humanities professors no longer even seem to believe in humanism. Thus, the professor of English Stanley Fish can announce that “teachers cannot, except for a serendipity that by definition cannot be counted on, fashion moral character, or inculcate respect for others, or produce citizens of a certain temper.” Likewise, in their scholarly publications such humanities professors don’t foreground the ability of masterworks to provide answers to life’s great questions; rather, they typically focus on minute arcana, as if Homer, Confucius, and Jane Austen can best be studied in a lab coat.
All this underscores the serious and longstanding difficulties for the modern humanities. The dominant Darwinian approach to the college curriculum fights against humanistic values: it devalues the wisdom of the past and esteems disciplines on the basis of their popularity alone. The professionalization of American higher education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has cut professors off from the humanistic tradition, allowing a literary scientism to flourish that is anathema to the proper goals of humanism. Although obviously, the natural and social sciences must play an important part in contemporary American education, we must recognize that for well over a century the deck has been stacked against the humanities. . . .” Read the full article below.