THE FUTURE OF THE HUMANITIES by Walter Kaufmann

THE FUTURE OF THE HUMANITIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here is a light, pithy book on the familiar theme: ""The humanities are in deep trouble."" Walter Kaufmann, Professor of Philosophy at Princeton and advocate of humanism in his writings on philosophy, literature, religion, as well as through his own poetry and translations, is vexed that so many of his fellow academicians are indifferent to the nature, purpose, and fate of the humanities. He calls these professors ""scholastics"" because they pursue arcane knowledge and treat learning as ""a kind of 'sport,' if not a game, or a racket."" He accuses them, along with the ""journalists,"" who purvey superficial and erroneous information, of undermining the stature of the humanities, but he believes that stature can be restored by making the goals and methods of the humanities explicit and demanding. The principal goal is ""to teach vision,"" which is a sense of values and the meaning of experience, and this can be achieved only by scrutinizing language and ideas, developing critical thought, and constructing intellectual syntheses. Kaufmann does not offer these convictions as mere generalizations but embodies them in concrete pedagogical and scholarly proposals (with examples from his own teaching). He has also ""leaned over backwards not to be gentle"" to his enemies, so he is more specific, direct, and argumentative than educational writers usually are. Readers will not sleep through Kaufmann's pages, and even if they reject his ideas, they will lay the book aside wondering, as Kaufmann wants them to do: ""What kind of future would we like to build?

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 156000780X
Publisher: Reader's Digest/Crowell