(p. 44--I believe this is the only idea of Wittgenstein's that Heidegger ever mentions)Wittgenstein also distinguishes two ways of thinking about or seeing things in the Lecture on Ethics. One he associates with science, and labels trivial, the other he associates with religion, ethics, and aesthetics, and regards as incapable of fitting into language (any more than a gallon of tea will fit into a tea cup). The natural and the supernatural, the worldly and the otherworldly, are simply not compatible. There is no translating the language of one into the language of the other. At any rate, this seems to be the general idea here.
That's what comes to mind when I read this and this. The first is a reasonable-sounding suggestion that we make the relevance of the humanities to the real world evident in our teaching:
For the past year, I have been a member of a several nursing search committees. In their teaching presentations, the candidates almost always stated clearly “Now we’re going to learn to think critically. Let’s begin by defining it.” I am wondering whether doing something similar in humanities classes might not help our students more clearly see the value of the humanities...I don't mean to reject this kind of thing completely (perhaps I should), but it has some problems. One is that it seems likely to become tedious very quickly. Why not just always insist on defining terms that need to be defined, so that students get into the habit of doing this? From time to time we could point out the practical value of this habit, but almost always stating that you are about to learn to think critically before doing so would surely drive everyone mad. Secondly, what are students going to think when you don't preface your remarks or activities with words like these? That this part of the class is a waste of time? That seems quite likely to me. A friend of mine recently suggested that the point of teaching Victorian literature is to teach students how to construct an argument. That surely is not the whole point of it. The point has to do with the value of (some) Victorian literature, and its importance in and to our culture. If we give up on the idea of intrinsic aesthetic value and the importance of culture, then we give up on the humanities.
My second linked "this" above refers to a piece by Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed about a book by Toby Miller called Blow Up the Humanities. It sounds dreadful, but I haven't read it and so should bite my tongue. In McLemee's words:
According to his website:What we must recognize, his argument goes, is that there are two forms of the humanities now. What the author calls "Humanities One" (with literature, history, and philosophy at their core) is just the privileged and exclusionary knowledge of old and dying elites, with little value, if any, to today’s heterogeneous, globalized, wired, and thrill-a-minute world. By contrast, we have studies of mass media and communications making up “Humanities Two,” which emerged and thrived in the 20th century outside “fancy schools with a privileged research status.”In the future we must somehow establish a third mode: “a blend of political economy, textual analysis, ethnography, and environmental studies such that students learn the materiality of how meaning is made, conveyed, and discarded.” Enough with the monuments of unaging intellect!
Miller ultimately insists that these two humanities [One and Two above] must merge in order to survive and succeed in producing an aware and concerned citizenry.So literature, philosophy and history are irrelevant and must be replaced by the study of "how meaning is made" so that citizens become "aware and concerned." Students are to be made aware without being made aware of history, presumably, and to study meaning without studying the philosophy of language. And the people who fund public (non-elite) education are expected to pay for this? The non-privileged students who study it are expected to be able to get jobs with these skills (or this awareness and concern)? Art for art's sake I can buy. The same goes for raising political consciousness through the study of history and philosophy. But political goals without history or philosophy? The humanities without literature, or with some literature but with ethnography and environmental studies taking the place of some literature? This doesn't sound like the humanities at all any more. It sounds like a doomed attempt to replace the humanities with some hodgepodge of amateur science or pseudo-science. I feel the open chasm beneath our feet.