The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Last Professor

Stanley Fish, brash post-modernist and self-proclaimed "anti-foundationalist," now dean at Florida International University, recently wrote in his NY Times blog about the death of the humanities. 

The blog entry was a partial review of a new book, The Last Professor, by one of his former students, Frank Donoghue.

Fish and Donoghue, like so many, claim the humanities' downfall is a function of the free market. They argue that with increased pressure to produce students who can graduate into a profession - be "useful" - and financial difficulties, universities are pulling resources from the humanities.

Never mind that:
1. In recent years universities have been "under increasing financial pressure" due to their competition for the large number of college students available as a result of the massive federal grant and loan programs.
2. Most humanities departments - e.g. philosophy, literature, art - have made themselves increasingly irrelevant to students' personal, long-term goals and of expanding the reaches of the mind, by politicizing most everything they teach.

The problem is the free market?


y-intercept said...

The fact that people are studying to be cogs in a machine indicates that we don't have a free market.

One could argue that capitalism would lead to the decline of the humanities.

In making this argument, one would come to realize the the free market and capitalism aren't the same thing.

The distinction is that capitalism is a system where people are ruled by money.

The free market is a state where people are free to pursue their interests. Capital in the free market is a simply a tool that people use to pursue their dreams.

A decline in interest in the humanities could be seen as a sign that we have been veering away from the free market toward either capitalism, or socialism.

It could also be a sign that the left-wing indoctrination camps that have replaced the once proud humanities department just don't have a compelling product.

Marsha Familaro Enright said...

Regarding capitalism, I would argue that capitalism is the system of production and trade that results from having a free market, which exists when individual rights are protected.

My next post will address some of the factors I think are going in to the decline of the humanities.