Beyond Doom-and-Gloom: A Humanities "Manifesto"

Dr. Charles T. Vehse
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Throughout much of human time, people have been predicting doom and gloom. While academic life generally seems secure, humanistic studies increasingly have come under attack by government officials and others for their lack of "applicability" or "utility". The humanities, therefore, face of crisis of existence in the form of a question: what are they good for?

This paper argues for a comparative approach to understanding, explaining, and advocating the "usefulness" of humanistic learning. Contrasting the goals and methods of the humanities with those of natural scientific and technical disciplines, it asserts that the humanities are uniquely useful in human experience. Wisdom is an application, and wisdom is what humanistic learning brings into the world.

Keywords: Comparison, Wisdom, Utility, Usefulness, Applicability, Application, Natural Science, Method, Goals
Stream: Knowledge, Teaching and Learning, Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Charles T. Vehse

Program for Humanities and Religious Studies, West Virginia University

Ted Vehse is lecturer in humanities and religious studies at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. He earned a bachelor's degree in German at Brown University and both a master's degree and a doctorate in the history of religions at the University of Chicago. He has studied at universities abroad as well, including the University of Tuebingen, Germany and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. His areas of disciplinary interest lie within the general history of religions, with special emphasis on ritual theory and socio-contextual historiography. His areas of topical specialization include rituals of contemporary popular culture — notably, post-game sports-fan violence — and modern European, especially German Judaisms.

Ref: H05P0464