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Monday, 17 November 2014

UnCracked Monday: How the Humanities Committed Suicide

The next time some asshole complains about how no one takes Arts degrees seriously, or why don't we have more funding for the humanities, or issues lamentations about how things like engineering are more appreciated these days than philosophy, you may want to point them to this article.

The moment humanities academia abandoned the idea of Truth and instead embraced the nothing-is-real philosophy of foucault, and the gramscian contempt for the very civilization that made their jobs possible, they committed suicide.

If there's no such thing as truth, and if everything is opinion, and if one opinion is absolutely just as good as any other opinion, so that if you're the foremost world expert in the field what you have to say on your subject is not even a tiny bit more True than some semi-illiterate moron who read the title of a link on Yahoo News once and is pulling ideas out of his ass; then why the fuck should we fund you, English department? Comparative Lit? History? Philosophy?  The hard sciences produce something, not just opinion. If what you're doing is not any better than anything else, if Shakespeare is not better than the latest ramblings of Kanye West, if Michelangelo's works are not better than someone who defecated on a canvas and called it 'art', then we have no reason to keep supporting you, humanities.

If nothing has meaning, then neither do you.  If no one is better than anyone else, then you're certainly useless. If the causes of great art, religious experiences, inspirational texts, etc. are purely marxist materialistic consequences of socio-economic trends and the only good way to observe history is as a series of demographics, and there's definitely no Great People doing Great Things because they were inspired by great causes; then why the fuck should we care, history department? We can get all that on the History Channel, whose claims about Aliens and Hitlers and Ghosts and Alien Hitler Ghosts are just as valid as anything your feminist marxist post-structuralist professors could come up with, and way more funny.
If  there are no such things as archetypes, if there isn't an underlying Human Formula of religion, and religion is a purely meaningless pantomime caused by a conflation of regional geography, socio-economic factors, and disconnected local narrative, then what use are you, Religious Studies?
If there is no way to establish truth, and every argument is essentially just as valid as any other, and whatever you 'feel' is a 'way of knowing', then why should you even exist, Women's Studies?  Everyone can just go with what they feel.

And this is the tragedy of it: by committing intellectual suicide, the humanities has created an environment where everyone believes the humanities is pointless and easy, and that you don't actually have to WORK at it.  If whatever you 'feel' is right, then there's no need to think about big questions.  If there are no absolute truths, then there's no justification for you to try to oppose evil.  If everything great humanity has produced has been a byproduct of materialism, then we can just live an existence of wallowing in our ignorance, satisfying our material wants, imagining that every imbecilic thing that comes out of our heads is profound and that we don't need to actually learn or study (much less PROVE) anything.  And then the fascists have got us exactly where they want us all.   The Intellectual Left's wholehearted embrace of post-modernism has destroyed that which can defend us from the very world of ruthless overlords and sheep-like ignorant masses they at least claimed to despise. 


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  1. Oooh, what started this rant? It's right down the alley of why I eventually gave up on ever finishing my anthropology MSc. The ramming of cultural relativism down every topic just got more than I could stomach.

    When I came to realize there was a simple metric—the individual, actual human being and how much independent activity they can engage in—based on which societies, cultures and civilizations could be compared and, yes, ranked from absolutely shitty to pretty decent, I lost all patience with my neo-marxist and post-modern professors. I also lost any chance of ever getting my thesis approved, so queue a bit of head-scratching and a great experience in advertising (evil, evil capitalism) and a very shitty experience in non-profits (we're going to save the world from itself!) ... yeah.

    Having moved from a socialist country (Slovenia, where communism is still the truest gold ever shat out upon this world) to a rather-less-socialist country (Switzerland, where individual and local communal autonomy seems to be the norm), I have to admit: the socialist left that has lost sight of the individual is gazing at a navel, wallowing in its own excreta and and confirming to one another that the emperor's new bathtub mud is much finer and more delicate and better than what went before.

    1. What started the rant was pretty much just reading the really excellent article I linked to.

    2. I confess the article was excellent. From reading it, I must admit I had not realized the softest of social sciences had so invaded the humanities in general

  2. You are not going to do well when it is time for the next Martian hive purge.

  3. Yep, neo/post/cultural/feminist/whatever-Marxism lost its way a long time ago. That's why I stick with plain old-school Marxism.

    I thought Post-Modernism had been dead for some time though...

  4. Somehow I missed this one. Interesting conversation. I think truth is important. People seem to regard it as a quaint notion. My view is truth should be viewed as an ideal. We won't always connect 100% with reality when we try to understand it, but we are much better with truth as a compass than throwing our hands in the air because of any lingering uncertainty.

    You may be pleased to know that, in the states at least in the school I studied, in Philosophy and in History Postmodernism has lost a lot of ground. I have an unusual perspective because I started college in the 90s when it was kind of at its height (you couldn't walk five steps without someone dropping the names Derrida, Lacan and Foucault all in the same paragraph). But I took a break before finishing my first year to focus on music then martial arts. I came back to school in the early 2000s and found, at least in the history department I was a student in, that Foucault had become a dirty word (which is significant because he started as a Historian in the annales school, and pretty much with him that school started to lose, at least in the opinion of the Historians who trained me, a lot of credibility). While postmodernism had been strongly rejected by most of the Professors in my department, there was still something of a battle over how to approach history and doing so through various lenses. There were different camps, you still had some activist historians and you still had historians who took critical lenses and applied them to history. I think that is misguided personally. The teachers I tended to follow guided me away from that kind of thinking. I think there is nothing wrong with focusing on a particular slice of history (say the history of women during the early roman empire) but when you step beyond that as an activist for the present and use history for a modern agenda, then I think it is a misuse of the discipline (though in fairness you see activists of all political persuasions doing this). Objectivity and truth are hard. It is maybe even impossible to be 100% truly objective, but it is much better to have that as your guiding principle, to work toward the truth and strive for objectivity, than it is to give into the easy path of treating everything as subjective (or worse treating history as nothing more than a literary text). But I think doing that also demands an honest assessment of what you don't know, where grand ideas break down, etc. So that is why I think some of the criticism of the earlier historians who maybe put a bit too much confidence in their theories is warranted (the problem is we threw the baby out with the bath water).

    1. Thank you for that assessment. I think it may give me some hope, if you noticed the change in that period of time. But I'm still dubious. As much as I'd like to hope for some great revival of sanity, from what I see the poison is everywhere. It may be too late.