Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading Two New Sciences by Galileo; I may or may not get around to blogging about it.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Saturday, November 14, 2015

We need to strengthen the humanities, not weaken them.

There is much to criticize in the current political mood among (some) campus activists.  Some of the demands being made are, frankly, illiberal, and merely weaken marginalized groups rather than strengthen them.  Many of these demands are made in the language of rather shallow ideologies that make fragility a virtue.  HOWEVER, all too often the criticism of these movements becomes a broad brush against the humanities as a whole. In his latest post, Freddie DeBoer, no shrinking violet when it comes to speaking out against political correctness, reminds us that the state of the humanities is far more varied than the narrative offered by critics.

I would go so far as to say that if you really want to defeat the people demanding that the entire world be a giant "Safe Space", we need to strengthen the humanities departments, not weaken them. I can think of nothing worse than a situation where there are fewer people getting ideas from great books and more people getting ideas from hypersensitive Twitter Warriors. Likewise, I have found that the best remedy for the maddening ideas out forth by (some) edufad purveyors is to read more widely in the social sciences, not to dismiss the social sciences.

The logical extrapolation from this, incidentally, is that the best cure for offensive speech is more speech, not more restricted speech.