Although it doesn’t look like it, I did study the humanities. It was in a decade of excess and decadence said to have eclipsed the roaring Twenties. The Soviet Union was nicknamed ‘the Evil Empire’ by the American president at the time. The defence initiative against said Evil Empire was thus nicknamed Star Wars by critics and the media.
Of course, if I’d been told I was studying a group of subjects glamorously called the humanities, I might have studied harder.
Instead, I found everything humanist a drag, except Greek mythology. That could have been subtitled Racy Stories for Teenagers.
However, I did find journalism and the realism of news reporting and editing refreshing and exciting because it involved talking to real people, valuing what they had to say, and analyzing what they said, within a context that would interest large audiences.
I kick myself now for not signing up for Philosophy. At the time, I was terrified of Philosophy 101 because I was traumatized by an overload of abstraction that was driving my mind to distraction. It’s become my Achilles heel, this profound inability to make reasonably reasoned arguments based on logic and a bunch of abstract stuff.
Frankly, this post is made up just to go with the title, which I love because of the way it sounds.
But it is true that most of what I studied of the humanities, without any decent study of philosophy and it’s bouquet of logic, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics, is all gone up in smoke.
One thing’s for sure: I didn’t start the fire.
- Brian Leiter on Nietzsche (3quarksdaily.com)
- A physicist flirts with philosophy (and lives to tell the tale) (blogs.scientificamerican.com)