Humanities through eulogies

June 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote yesterday about disinterest in the humanities. In the course of explaining why this was the case, he offered this overview of what is meant by “the humanities” that I thought was a rather original way of explaining it:

Back when the humanities were thriving, the leading figures had a clear definition of their mission and a fervent passion for it. The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul, or, in D.H. Lawrence’s phrase, “the dark vast forest.”

This was the most inward and elemental part of a person. When you go to a funeral and hear a eulogy, this is usually the part they are talking about. Eulogies aren’t résumés. They describe the person’s care, wisdom, truthfulness and courage. They describe the million little moral judgments that emanate from that inner region.

 

Posted by Matt Emerson.

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