Friday, February 20, 2015

Can esoteric reading save the humanities?

Allan Bloom leading a class at the University of Chicago

From a review of an exciting new book on esoteric writing in The American Interest:
"I am much struck today by the total disarray of the humanities in American academia. The job market prizes quantitative skills far higher than qualitative ones; there is also a widespread feeling that while anyone can become an English or classics major, learning a “hard” skill like statistics or physics is far more difficult. The humanities as taught in many contemporary universities have only themselves to blame for the latter view: Under the influence of postmodernism and deconstructionism, textual interpretation has become lazy, arbitrary, indulgently expressive, and scornful of the idea that books have anything true to teach their readers. Esoteric reading reestablishes a discipline that has been lost, for it requires close and slow reading, and it restores an assumption that there is in fact a “true” interpretation reflecting the author’s intent that is not simply the whim of the interpreter."
I agree that majoring in a STEM discipline can be more difficult than majoring in the humanities. But that is largely because: 1) STEM teaching is generally atrocious, and 2) the course content is inherently less interesting, because STEM is largely concerned with things, not people.







1 comment:


  1. Faithful servant yet master's bane,
    Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane.

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