History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Reviving the Humanities, and the bad science education behind Darwinian scientism

April 26th, 2010 · No Comments

Book Review–Troy Jollimore on Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
Review of Martha Nussbaum’s Not For Profit
By Troy Jollimore

Nussbaum’s book looks interesting and I will track it down stat.
I think, however, that the situation calls for something more than trying to revive the Humanities. As culture reaches the final stages of existence in the Iron Cage, more is needed than mere literary flourishes. We need a full blown collision of dialectic between the Geisteswissenschaften and Naturwissenschaften, a Romantic Movement rasied from the dead, German Classical Philosophy using assault and (philosophic) battery on the mindless generation of idiots raised in the Flatland of scientism.
We could have a kickoff with Kantians taking on the Darwinists, followed by further such collisions routing the Know Nothings of contemporary Big Science.
And a reform of education might help. That is part of the reason why science is stuck on Darwinism, unable to see where the problem is, and why the New Atheists have muddled both religion and atheism with an ignorance of the history of religion that is almost puzzling, next the bad to awful theories of the evolution of religion. People overspecialized in science training, with no other exposure to educational resources, should be considered suspect of bad thinking, the kind we see at work in the evolution debate, and the debates over the ‘god gene’, etc… Such people are overvalued and armed-and-dangerous.

As a professor in a large state university system, I am quite familiar with the current state of American liberal arts education, at least in our public institutions of higher learning. And I am here to tell you: The news is not good. The public universities in general are in a sorry state, languishing under constantly dwindling funding and lack of public support. Class sizes are growing even as instructors are being let go. Funds for research and other intellectual activities are rapidly disappearing. Many instructors are not being paid their full salaries. And many universities have responded to the situation, or are considering responding, by slashing if not entirely eliminating humanities and arts programs—programs frequently regarded as expensive, nonessential luxuries, in a world increasingly focused on the economic bottom line.

As a result, an ever smaller number of students have at any point during their university careers the special, indeed irreplaceable experience of sitting in a room with a small number of their colleagues and discussing difficult ideas—ideas, in many cases, that are foundational to our civilization—with an instructor who is willing to challenge them and who has the time and energy to take their thoughts seriously. The anonymity and alienation of the large lecture hall or the online course has largely replaced the person-to-person interaction that was once considered the apotheosis, if not indeed the core, of the college experience.

Individual students often fail to realize, of course, just how much of a raw deal they are getting compared to their predecessors; since they spend only four years or so on campus, they are not aware of how much more crowded their classrooms are, or how much less attention their work and intellectual progress receive from their ever more put-upon instructors. But we professors, who tend to stay around for longer, are more vividly aware of the steepness of the decline. It has been true for a while, sadly, that quite a few students were pretty much illiterate when they entered public universities. What is becoming more and more true is that many students are still essentially illiterate when they leave.

Tags: Evolution · Kant · Philosophy · Science & Religion

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