Eloquent defenses of the humanities have appeared – essays explaining why we need these subjects, what their loss would mean. 一些坚决捍卫人文学科的文章阐述为什么我们需要这些学科以及削减它们的后果。
Those of us who teach and study are aware of what these areas of learning provide:
the ability to think critically and independently; to tolerate ambiguity; to see both sides of an issue; to look beneath the surface of what we are being told;
to appreciate the ways in which language can help us understand one another more clearly and profoundly –
or, alternately, how language can conceal and misrepresent. They help us learn how to think, and they equip us to live in – to sustain – a democracy.
Studying the classics and philosophy teaches students where we come from, and how our modes of reasoning have evolved over time.
Learning foreign languages, and about other cultures, enables students to understand how other societies resemble or differ from our own.
Is it entirely paranoid to wonder if these subjects are under attack because they enable students to think in ways that are more complex than the reductive simplifications so congenial to our current political and corporate discourse?
I don’t believe that the humanities can make you a decent person.
We know that Hitler was an ardent Wagner fan and had a lively interest in architecture.
But literature, art and music can focus and expand our sense of what humans can accomplish and create.
The humanities teach us about those who have gone before us; a foreign language brings us closer to those with whom we share the planet.
The humanities can touch those aspects of consciousness that we call intellect and heart –
organs seemingly lacking among lawmakers whose views on health care suggest not only zero compassion but a poor understanding of human experience, with its crises and setbacks.