Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our humanity needs the humanities.

A recent NYT article, Starving for Wisdom beautifully highlights what we have known since
 Homer— of the importance of a close marriage between the sciences and humanism— “science depends upon the humanities to shape judgments about ethics, limits and values.”

The study of humanities, and here I focus on literature, enrich a person’s soul. As the poet, William Carlos Williams said

It is difficult to get the news from poems

yet men die miserable every day for lack

of what is found there.

If the enrichment of our soul is not enough reason to read literature, let us be aware that much of our happiness depends upon our interactions with those around us, and evidence increasingly tells us that literature nurtures a richer emotional intelligence. Literature builds bridges of understanding of others and helps readers better know themselves.

An important read that furthers our thinking about the importance of the humanities is Fareed Zakaria’s book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. He brings to life what E. O. Wilson said,

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.

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