May 02, 2003

Refreshing Quote of the Day

Refreshing Quote of the Day

From Pay-Per-View only Chronicle, an interesting article by an English professor among physicists, in which he explores the differences in collaboration and collegiality between the disciplines. Reading this explained to me the faith my hard science pals had in peer review versus my scepticism about the process in the humanities. But beyond that, there's this quote:

The story of the Bell Labs physics scandal initially intrigued me because I thought it might turn out to be a scientific version of the culture wars, with scientists coming under attack from groups that help finance them. It didn't turn out that way. ... But humanists have long been embroiled in their own conflicts with the society that finances them--and one of the reasons lies in the way that we raise roadblocks and bar the world from entering our neighborhood. That's the opposite of what we ought to be doing, and it's all the more shameful because humanists are in an unusual and enviable position: The nature of our work makes it easy to open our doors and share that work.

Thank you, professor Cassuto. Part of my extreme disillusionment with the English discipline came from the desperate attempts of faculty to justify its worth by making it more "scientific" and thereby more exclusive. I believe that the worth of humanities education is in teaching subjective versus objective analysis, and in learning how to read, comprehend, ENJOY, and make cogent and accessible arguments about a text. There is value in those skills--the declining quality of debate in this country demonstrates that when the humanities give in to their insecurity and try to add "science" to their field, the students--and by extension, the populace at large--suffer.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at May 2, 2003 05:13 AM