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 Are the Humanities of any Value, really?
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2008 :  13:38:34  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I ask all of you of a Critical and Scientifically Methodical Thinkset to read this short essay by Stanley Fish, a controversial but deep thinker. Any views, PC or otherwise?



IS HIS WORK WORTH THE TIME IT TAKES TO LOOK AT IT?






BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2008 :  13:47:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well without the humanities we become robots, however that doesnt mean you'll get a dime out of me to fund any poetry programs.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2008 :  13:47:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No, they're of no value. And it's really hard to make a career out of it, to boot.
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  12:27:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Largely the humanities seem to be the emotional and intellectual expression of the human mind in its struggle with, and often against, the knowledge of its own true nature. Science on the other hand dispassionately analyzes this nature, lays it out in all it's horrible truth, and renders the struggle moot by ignoring opinions and feelings about it. One doesn't necessarily replace the other but science is certainly of more practical value. And practicality is what it's all about these days. You have to earn your keep if you didn't inherit it and there is little earning potential in whining, however creatively and beautifully, about how cruel life is.

-Chaloobi

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  13:14:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Anti-intellectualism is a shame wherever it rears its head, whenever someone expresses the opinion that some bit of knowledge isn't worth the trouble of absorbing. Whether it's some fact of the natural world or a beautiful lament written by a fellow human being long gone, I can only feel sorry for those who choose reject knowledge. I just can't understand the appeal of living such an impoverished life. I believe the ideal shall always remain the Renaissance Man--equally versed in the arts as well as the sciences.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  13:34:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Failure to recognize analogies, even intuitively leads to such blanket assumptions. Why did Einstein play Bach? Would Einstein have been able sense an unrecognized basis for the relationship of matter and energy or later of gravity without occasional seemingly unrelated aesthetic inspiration from a mathematically oriented early-18th century musician?
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recurve boy
Skeptic Friend

Australia
53 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  14:07:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send recurve boy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

Well without the humanities we become robots


No, just boring.

I don't know many engineers or scientists that don't engage in any humanities. At the very least it is a source of relaxation, a way to focus during long coding sessions and a source of inspiration.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  15:30:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is "playing Wii" a humanity?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  18:07:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd say that all video games are "art", therefore they are definitely part of the humanities.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  19:42:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Perhaps muddying the waters but I would consider the following unrelated diverse objects both to have "artistic value." That is, exhibiting elements that are interpreted by humans to have some relation to the humanities via perception of form and balance as well as a contrasting dynamism and imbalance:

A and B
Edited by - Chippewa on 01/10/2008 10:56:33
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  20:30:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To me, the humanities are they payoff of a society with science and technology. Since they are not a means to an end, but an end in themselves, they need not justify themselves directly in dollar terms or in numbers of lives saved, etc.

Yet the humanities indeed also have economic and, arguably, life-saving value.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2008 :  06:59:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

To me, the humanities are they payoff of a society with science and technology. Since they are not a means to an end, but an end in themselves, they need not justify themselves directly in dollar terms or in numbers of lives saved, etc.

Yet the humanities indeed also have economic and, arguably, life-saving value.


I'm not sure how you reach that payoff conclusion since the humanities predate what we commonly consider a science and technology intensive society. To me the creativity exhibited in the humanities is more about confused and ignorant people trying to understand or communicate some conclusion about the human condition. Before science the humanities were definitely a means to an end, tackling all the big questions: What, Where, When, How and Why. These days science has claimed all these except most of Why and this might explain at least part of the drop in regard for the humanities in modern culture. That and the fact that modern culture increasingly only values something that can be used to create wealth.

-Chaloobi

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2008 :  11:17:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chaloobi
I'm not sure how you reach that payoff conclusion since the humanities predate what we commonly consider a science and technology intensive society.
Primitive societies had primitive humanities. As technology improved and science advanced more stable civilizations, so too did the quality of art and literature progress. There is a big difference in technique and skill between cave paintings and the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, for example.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2008 :  11:44:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chaloobi
I'm not sure how you reach that payoff conclusion since the humanities predate what we commonly consider a science and technology intensive society.


It may be that the humanities are just not needed as much as they used to be. While it is true that a Michaelangelo is a far cry from a cave painting, its hard to argue that the technological advances since then have produced much if any improvement over the pre-industrial masters. In our modern age the painting has made way for the photograph and the written word has lost its former power, it would be hard to argue that poetry is more potent today than it was 3000 years ago.

Times change and so will the humanities, today's Leonardo is making hilarious web videos between Halo 3 tournaments..

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2008 :  13:14:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Originally posted by chaloobi
I'm not sure how you reach that payoff conclusion since the humanities predate what we commonly consider a science and technology intensive society.
Primitive societies had primitive humanities. As technology improved and science advanced more stable civilizations, so too did the quality of art and literature progress. There is a big difference in technique and skill between cave paintings and the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, for example.
I think you're leaving out a great deal of history here. Science as a culutral force is a pretty recent thing but sophisticated sculpture, painting, philosophy, mythology (religion), drama and so on have been around a LOT longer.

The beginnings of our scientfic civilzation, per Wiki:

Tracing the exact origins of modern science is difficult. This is due in large part to the scant documentary and physical evidence of ancient investigations of nature. Even the word scientist is relatively recent -- first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Previously, people investigating nature called themselves natural philosophers.

While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since antiquity (for example, by Aristotle), and scientific methods have been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham), modern science is generally traced back to the early modern period, during what is known as the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Scientific methods are considered to be so fundamental to modern science that some especially philosophers of science and practicing scientists consider earlier inquiries into nature to be pre-scientific. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those inquiries.[1]
There's a hell of a lot of human civilization pre-16th century and their hunger for understanding the human condtion was fed by the humanities. The Greeks were exploring philosophy, creating drama and sculpture as early as 550 BC and the various yarns and fables of the bible date back up to 6k years ago. The Egyptians were creating sculpture starting 3000 BC and prehistoric sculpture goes back 24k years.

And to say that art today is higher quality than the art of Ancient Greece or Egypt or China, or even prehistoric cave people, is to misunderstand what is more a matter of subjective taste, purpose and culture than one of objective assessment of ability, technique and aesthetics. To claim superiority is more than a little ethnocentric and more or less baseless in any objective measure. You might feel the cave paintings in France are inferior to the Sistine Chapel ceiling and that is somehow a function of the culture being more scientific, but compare the Sistine Chapel to Picasso's cartoonish paintings or Pollack's sloppy scribbles. It's all a matter of what the artist was trying to do, how the art fit into the contemporary culture, and ultimately the individual observer's opinion. I've heard cave drawings described as elegant and beautiful. Assessments of art have little to do with any objective judgement of quality.

Science has not made us better at the humanities. It has changed our arts, given us a wider range of materials, mediums and techniques, changed how we relate to the arts we create, but it hasn't made the arts we create superior to that created in pre-science.

-Chaloobi

Edited by - chaloobi on 01/09/2008 13:17:57
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2008 :  14:14:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chaloobi

Originally posted by HalfMooner

To me, the humanities are they payoff of a society with science and technology. Since they are not a means to an end, but an end in themselves, they need not justify themselves directly in dollar terms or in numbers of lives saved, etc.

Yet the humanities indeed also have economic and, arguably, life-saving value.


I'm not sure how you reach that payoff conclusion since the humanities predate what we commonly consider a science and technology intensive society. To me the creativity exhibited in the humanities is more about confused and ignorant people trying to understand or communicate some conclusion about the human condition. Before science the humanities were definitely a means to an end, tackling all the big questions: What, Where, When, How and Why. These days science has claimed all these except most of Why and this might explain at least part of the drop in regard for the humanities in modern culture. That and the fact that modern culture increasingly only values something that can be used to create wealth.
Well, yeah, I kinda forgot how history happened. So screw the humanities.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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