[Humanist] 27.966 humanities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Apr 13 09:53:52 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 966.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2014 08:42:26 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the question of the humanities

It does seem to me that at the core of Jacques Barzun's 1959 essay 
is a most promising way of addressing that which we are calling the 
crisis of the humanities, or more accurately, the anti-intellectualism 
of our time (for curiosity-driven research in the sciences is similarly 
affected). He writes that the conflict with what are now called the 
STEM disciplines, is

> not a real conflict to those who know the realities they are talking about.
> Rather, it is a conflict with the thoughtless about the meaning of 
> utility.

Without the asking of that question "about the meaning of utility", are 
we not vainly trying to prove that our humanities, and so our humanity, 
qualify under the wrong criteria? Should we not be asking, useful in 
what sense, to what end? Is this not a question for digital humanities as 
much as for other disciplines? And I would think that here, with its 
particular struggles at the forefront of the useful, the discipline could 
make a valuable contribution.



Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney

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