Studying the Humanities
I die a little each time a fellow professor justifies our enterprise by saying, as Professor Greenberg does, that the liberal arts will help you succeed, “even flourish,” in the marketplace. It seems odd to say it’s worthwhile to contemplate Thoreau or Jesus or the French Revolution because doing so will positively affect your bottom line.
Indeed, I think it might not be such a bad idea to warn students that exposure to the liberal arts could make them unfit for the kind of work the marketplace values most highly. As if in compensation, however, humanistic learning may also make them indifferent to the kind of success the marketplace has to offer.
Ashland, Va., May 2, 2012