Friday, March 27, 2020

IS THIS A JOKE?

When the academy is forced to explain the value of the humanities, the language that it uses is pathetically insipid. You may have heard the defense du jour, tossed out en route to the next gender studies conference. The humanities, we are told, teach “critical thinking.” Is this a joke? These are the professorial critical thinkers who write sentences like this: 

It is because the proper names are already no longer proper names because their production is their obliteration, because the erasure and the imposition of the letter are originary, because they do not supervene upon a proper inscription; it is because the proper name has never been anything but the original myth of a transparent legibility present under the obliteration; it is because the proper name was never possible except through its functioning within a classification and therefore within a system of differences, within a writing retaining the traces of difference, that the interdict was possible, could come into play, and, when the time came, as we shall see, could be transgressed; transgressed, that is to say restored to the obliteration and the non-self-awareness at the origin.

 And we’re supposed to believe that they can think? Moreover, the sciences provide critical thinking skills as well—far more rigorous ones, in fact, than the hackneyed deconstructions of advertising that the left-wing academy usually means by critical thinking. It is no wonder, then, that we have been hearing that the humanities are in crisis. A 2013 Harvard report, co-chaired by the school’s premier postcolonial studies theorist, Homi Bhabha, lamented that 57 percent of incoming Harvard students who initially declare interest in a humanities major eventually change concentrations. Why may that be? Imagine an intending literature major who is assigned something by Professor Bhabha: “If the problematic ‘closure’ of textuality questions the totalization of national culture.…” How soon before that student concludes that a psychology major is more up his alley? 

No, the only true justification for the humanities is that they provide the thing that Faust sold his soul for: knowledge. It is knowledge of a particular kind, concerning what men have done and created over the ages.
 

from Heather Mac Donald, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

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