[Humanist] 27.958 humanities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Apr 11 09:20:45 CEST 2014


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 958.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    ROCCHI PAOLO <procchi at luiss.it>                           (11)
        Subject: RE:  27.954 humanities

  [2]   From:    maurizio lana <maurizio.lana at gmail.com>                   (18)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.954 humanities

  [3]   From:    Wendell Piez <wapiez at wendellpiez.com>                    (171)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.954 humanities


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:45:58 +0000
        From: ROCCHI PAOLO <procchi at luiss.it>
        Subject: RE:  27.954 humanities
        In-Reply-To: <20140410092239.EB99E66AD at digitalhumanities.org>


I agree with the Barzun's work quoted by William.
Not only humanities are essential to modern culture but are essential to science itself. 
I'm striving to show how some linguistic concepts (that is to say, basically humanist notions) can clarify the principles of computer science. 
They operate like a key that opens a complicated lock.

Paolo Rocchi

Docent Emeritus
IBM
via Shangai 53, 00144 Roma

Contract Professor
LUISS University
via Salvini 2, 00197 Roma



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:45:33 +0200
        From: maurizio lana <maurizio.lana at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.954 humanities
        In-Reply-To: <20140410092239.EB99E66AD at digitalhumanities.org>


Il 10/04/14 11:22, chris meister ha scritto:
>>the single biggest "PR handicap" is that most of our disciplines
>>invest next to no effort into defining their future purpose.

probably, simply "the single biggest handicap". i see it operating when we
'humanists' cannot identify a single productive, commercial use of our
disciplines.

don't blame me as if i was thinking only in terms of money:  this is only
the immediate consequence of playing only at the level of principles,
culture, educational needs, and so on. culture in broad sense can produce
economical value, but we are shy of it as if it was a route to lose our
soul.

we prefer to remain in our rooms while the world is struggling outside.maurizio

-------
Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
Università  del Piemonte Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
piazza Roma 36 - 13100 Vercelli
tel. +39 347 7370925




--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:39:52 -0400
        From: Wendell Piez <wapiez at wendellpiez.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.954 humanities
        In-Reply-To: <20140410092239.EB99E66AD at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard, Martin, Manfred and HUMANIST,

Respectfully, I think Prof Mueller may agree with Prof Thaller more
than he says.

The forces of know-nothingism to which Prof Mueller refers are closely
aligned with the nationalistic mode of the (sort of pseudo-)
"humanism" to which Prof Thaller has insightfully referred, aren't
they? The program to use the "study" of history and culture to
valorize and magnify nation and tribe? This is only one step away from
proclaiming superiority and exceptionalism without any appeal to
history at all, for nothing but the (supposed) vindication of it. To
the extent that we have joined or even compromised with the
prosecutors of these agendas (whatever their reasons or motives), we
humanists have been our own worst enemies, building our houses on
sand.

Similarly, the budget pressures that reflect reductive, short-term
"value propositions" are essentially an expression of fear and
loathing, not only (this time) of the other, but also of one's own
potential to be other, and better, than one is. "Culture and
civilization are all very fine, but we can't afford them." Of course,
this is both a rejection of our inheritance of freedom, and a
self-fulfilling prophecy. It achieves beggary in its proclamation of
it. Prof Thaller's word for this was "niggardliness". (It's
unfortunate, if understandable, that this word is now unusable in my
country due to its echo of another word fraught with painful history.)

Prof Mueller is correct to observe that "It is easier to see what is
going on, harder to figure out how to change it", and the reason is
simple: the sewers polluting both of these stinking swamps are in our
own hearts as well as those of our fellow citizens. Changing this
requires seeing clearly and speaking truly, but also faith in
ourselves and each other.

With best regards as always,
Wendell

On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 5:22 AM, Humanist Discussion Group
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 954.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2014 12:33:24 +0000
>         From: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
>         Subject: Re:  27.951 humanities
>         In-Reply-To: <20140407110052.8FC2F61DE at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> What Manfred Thaller says is is true in some ways but not in others.
> Support for 'pure' research in most areas of science has markedly declines
> in the U.S. in recent years, and as a percentage of GDP it is only a
> fraction of what it was during the fifties and sixties. Budget pressures
> are only partly to blame; there are deeper cultural and political forces
> that feed on forms of 'know-nothingism' and look at 'value propositions'
> from an aggressively short-term perspective. It is easier to see what is
> going on, harder to figure out how to change it.
>
> Martin Mueller
> Professor emeritus of English and Classics
...
>>
>>--[2]---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>---
>>        Date: Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:29:38 +0200
>>        From: Manfred Thaller <manfred.thaller at uni-koeln.de>
>>        Subject: Re:  27.947 humanities to what end? & Re: [Humanist]
>>27.948 social dynamics of the new
>>        In-Reply-To: <20140406095341.B3DD0627D at digitalhumanities.org>
>>
>>
>>Dear Christoph, Dear Willard,
>>I think you look at two sides of the same coin. (Being a virtual one, it
>>may have more than two.)
>>
>>Christoph writes:
>>> In my practical experience (that is, as
>>> past HoD of Humanities departments competing with other disciplines for
>>> attention and funds within and beyond two universities) the single
>>> biggest "PR handicap" is that most of our disciplines invest next to no
>>> effort into defining their future purpose.
>>I think that is connected to what I usually refer to as the "lack of  an
>>implicit communicable vision of the Humanities".
>> http://en.bab.la/dictionary/english-german/communicable
>>
>>There are many areas of the hard sciences who have absolutely no
>>practical value within any realistic planning period. Nevertheless,
>>there is an absolute consensus in the public and in the political arena,
>>that they have to be supported and funded at a rather high level.
>>
>>Example 1: Fusion research. Uncounted billions have been spent since the
>>forties to find a viable way of producing energy out of controlled
>>nuclear fusion. That has resulted in fusion being under control not only
>>for microseconds, but up to the milisecond range. If a specific approach
>>in the hard sciences has been supported for half a century with that as
>>a result, we can be rather sure, that it will lead to nothing - until
>>somebody has a totally new approach, which will scarcely come out of
>>trying to repeat the old aproaches with more ressources.
>>Nevertheless, there is the vision of "the final solution of mankind's
>>problems with energy".  Who would be so niggardly to prevent pursuing so
>>noble a goal?
>>
>>Example 2: Radioastronomy. How can a research policy, that allegedly
>>insists on a short term profitability of research fund that? Will we
>>have startups who serve the expanding market of create-your-own-universe
>>tool-sets within the next five years?
>>No, but there IS the noble goal of "uncovering the last secrets of the
>>universe". Who would be so niggardly to prevent pursuing so noble a goal?
>>
>>Example 3: Research in particle physics has been eminently practical and
>>changing our world. As CERN employed Tim Berners-Lee for sometime.
>>Otherwise ...
>>However, there is the vision of "solving the mystery of matter". Who
>>would be so niggardly to prevent pursuing so noble a goal?
>>
>>These visions are not usually pronounced all that frequently, but they
>>ARE shared by society today. And, before I am misunderstood: I am as
>>intrigued by them, as anybody and would NOT propose to stop supporting
>>them. I would like to point out however, that the prosaic,
>>business-admin lead policies, which are allegedly based on prosaic
>>notions of profitability have actually a strong undercurrent of very
>>romantic notions.
>>
>>The Humanities HAD such a vision until ca. 1950, though it has very
>>rarely been made explicit. Nation building and defining national
>>identities since ca. 1780 could not have worked without Humanists
>>uncovering the big treasures of national literatures, the noble
>>character of national histories, the wonderful heritage of ancient
>>times.  Of course, this had to be taken very serious. So, even if it
>>took totally incomprehensible studies of the "long tailed g" in the
>>charters of a local count - that was as necessary a contribution to the
>>creation of identity as the equally incomprehensible output of physics
>>were for the understandign of the universe.
>>So the study of literature, history and the heritage was absolutely
>>necessary to understand your own place in a world of competing nations.
>>Who would be so niggardly to prevent pursuing so noble a goal?
>>
>>I am afraid, as long as the Humanities do not agree - implicitly or
>>explicitly - upon a vision of such magnitude again, it will remain
>>extremely simple to treat them niggardly.
>>
>>To avoid two misunderstandings:
>>If the price to be paid for the eventual disappearance of nationalism is
>>the disappearance of the Humanities, I am tempted.
>>
>>And: I am NOT speaking about Martha Nussbaum's "Not For Profit: Why
>>Democracy Needs the Humanities".
>>This is a wonderful statement, why the Humanities should be taught at
>>the gymnasium / college level. I cannot derive any reason from it,
>>however, why we should undertake Humanities' research.
>>
>>Enters Willard:
>>> In fact anxieties that the
>>> historical literature tells us were commonplace in the 1960s-1980s,
>>> expressed as the fear of being replaced, scholarship being mechanized
>>>and so
>>> on, I have heard uttered by highly intelligent people this year.
>>Could it possibly be, that such Humanists themselves are unconsciously
>>aware, that they are missing a vision, which should be followed by
>>whatsoever means it takes? "The way is the goal" is a wonderful notion,
>>if the long term goal has at least an outline. The saying is supposedly
>>derived from Gandhi, who could NOT describe what he had in mind for
>>article 123, clause (c)  of the constitution of India, but who most
>>certainly had a  long term vision, what she should become. Given that,
>>what is there beyond the next bend of the way, is, indeed, irrelevant.
>>
>>Kind regards,
>>Manfred

-- 
Wendell Piez | http://www.wendellpiez.com
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