I’ve recently begun to think that the Humanities are not called the Arts for no reason. In fact, I’m currently inclined to argue that that is a most apt descriptor, and much better than “science”. Science allows us to investigate and understand the universe in terms of its details; Art allows us to study and understand the universe holistically and indirectly. ..or something like that: I’m sure this idea is not new by any measure, and that many people have put it much, much better than I have. But for example, literary criticism fares poorly when compared to cardiology in terms of how many lives has it helped to save. Yet lit. crit. gives one an immeasurably superior training in being human and understanding the universe than cardiology does.
What does this matter? Well, currently the Humanities are getting shafted in terms of funding and whatnot, wich constantly being compared to the ‘hard sciences’ and being required to “prove their worth and usefulness to society”. And I think the measuring stick is wrong – not that the Humanities (or some branches thereof) are incapable of delivering such proofs, but rather that it is much the same as requiring Medicine to contain social commentary and be provoking and beautiful. In other words, the system is biased.
..hmm, I’m not entirely happy with my argument here, but what the hey, this is a blog.