Special Issue "The Challenges of the Humanities, Past, Present, and Future - Volume 1"

Quicklinks

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen (Website)

Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Fax: +1 520 626-8268
Interests: medieval and early modern cultural history and humanities; premodern gender studies; history of mentality; comparative literature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

One of the key issues which have faced the humanities throughout time simply pertains to their justification, legitimization, and hence acceptance in the canon of subjects at the academy. At the same time all cultures have been fundamentally determined by humanities. Yet the increasing capitalization of our world today, oriented toward profit making only, represents a new dimension in the attack on the humanities. Of course, there could be a lot of hype in such cheap shots against literature, the arts, philosophy, religion, or history, but in the present climate everywhere money seems to matter most. Nevertheless, as numerous influential scholars have argued recently, such an approach can only be called short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive since human life in all of its dimension requires considerably more than money, which is certainly necessary, but only a medium for other ends. We do not need to preach to the converted, but we need to engage the community of scholars in the humanities and their allies in all other disciplines to embrace the ideals represented by the humanities and explain effectively and convincingly what we can achieve, why we are important, if not essential, and how we can establish dialogues across the disciplines for the improvement of all human lives. Papers are invited that will probe more deeply what it means to pursue humanistic scholarship and how this can be connected with the basic human quest for meaning. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.

Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • humanities
  • legitimization
  • the canon
  • the academy
  • meaning of life
  • dialogue across the disciplines


Published Papers (11 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-11
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Humanities’ Metaphysical Underpinnings of Late Frontier Scientific Research
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 740-765; doi:10.3390/h3040740
Received: 26 May 2014 / Revised: 1 December 2014 / Accepted: 2 December 2014 / Published: 22 December 2014
PDF Full-text (265 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The behavior/structure methodological dichotomy as locus of scientific inquiry is closely related to the issue of modeling and theory change in scientific explanation. Given that the traditional tension between structure and behavior in scientific modeling is likely here to stay, considering the [...] Read more.
The behavior/structure methodological dichotomy as locus of scientific inquiry is closely related to the issue of modeling and theory change in scientific explanation. Given that the traditional tension between structure and behavior in scientific modeling is likely here to stay, considering the relevant precedents in the history of ideas could help us better understand this theoretical struggle. This better understanding might open up unforeseen possibilities and new instantiations, particularly in what concerns the proposed technological modification of the human condition. The sequential structure of this paper is twofold. The contribution of three philosophers better known in the humanities than in the study of science proper are laid out. The key theoretical notions interweaving the whole narrative are those of mechanization, constructability and simulation. They shall provide the conceptual bridge between these classical thinkers and the following section. Here, a panoramic view of three significant experimental approaches in contemporary scientific research is displayed, suggesting that their undisclosed ontological premises have deep roots in the Western tradition of the humanities. This ontological lock between core humanist ideals and late research in biology and nanoscience is ultimately suggested as responsible for pervasively altering what is canonically understood as “human”. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Encounter of Nursing and the Clinical Humanities: Nursing Education and the Spirit of Healing
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 660-674; doi:10.3390/h3040660
Received: 18 June 2014 / Revised: 21 October 2014 / Accepted: 23 October 2014 / Published: 4 November 2014
PDF Full-text (193 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Practicing the clinical humanities requires throwing oneself into the unpredictable locus of suffering, where one is unable to infer the actual situation of the other, a process which fosters self-disclosure. By using the term “clinical humanities” we are attempting to free the [...] Read more.
Practicing the clinical humanities requires throwing oneself into the unpredictable locus of suffering, where one is unable to infer the actual situation of the other, a process which fosters self-disclosure. By using the term “clinical humanities” we are attempting to free the humanities and social sciences from their self-imposed boundaries which have brought them to their current dispirited condition. Bringing the depth of the humanities and social sciences into the clinical field in the service of relieving suffering and setting up a humanities support network will help the humanities renew itself by listening attentively to the great amount of suffering in the world. Conceived in this way, the clinical humanities has its own methodology and way of generating insight, and also has a unique contribution to make to the amelioration of suffering in all its forms. In moving beyond their current condition and into the clinical field, the humanities and social sciences take on a new conceptual framework and a distinctive rhythm. From this perspective, the encounter between nursing and the clinical humanities might be seen as the unlikely meeting of fundamentally different and incompatible fields. Indeed, the humanities and social sciences may seem quite alien to nursing and clinical practice. In this paper I explore diverse aspects of the clinical humanities and how they can be applied to nursing and nursing education. I also investigate some innovative perspectives on healing and the clinical humanities and the implications they have for nursing and nursing education. Full article
Open AccessArticle The New Humanities Project—Reports from Interdisciplinarity
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 415-441; doi:10.3390/h3030415
Received: 9 June 2014 / Revised: 4 August 2014 / Accepted: 14 August 2014 / Published: 4 September 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
New Humanities is an international research and teaching project promoted by an interdisciplinary group of people from five different faculties and departments based at the University of Roma Tre. Initially set up as a forum for academic dialogue between the humanities and [...] Read more.
New Humanities is an international research and teaching project promoted by an interdisciplinary group of people from five different faculties and departments based at the University of Roma Tre. Initially set up as a forum for academic dialogue between the humanities and the sciences (including social sciences), the project became a transition space and platform for experiencing new research methodologies and teaching curricula that would question the present epistemological order of the European university system. In order to develop this approach, we have organized our work around a number of interdisciplinary clusters, each describing an epistemological node. In this paper we will discuss five interconnected case studies that emerged from an active collaboration between scientists and humanists. The first node, Protocols of Vision, investigates the cognitive nature of sensory perception and the different forms of knowledge it produces—empirical, artistic, and scientific. Memory: Mathematics, Computer Science, and Literature recapitulates many of the different threads in these discussions by exploring the interdependencies between the various kinds of memory: from external to subjective memory, from storage tools and techniques of self-construction to the invariance of mathematical structures. The third node, Signs and Bodies between Digital and Gendering, reflects on the problematic relationship between digital media and literary and linguistic gendering. Narrative Identity: Nature, Ontogeny and Psychopathology critically re-examines the main concepts and theories concerning the nature, ontogeny, and pathologies of the autobiographical self or narrative identity. Finally, the last node, Contribution of Quantum Physics to the Idea of Consciousness is a cross-cultural investigation into the phenomenon of consciousness tackled from the points of view of quantum field theory and ancient Indian philosophy. Full article
Open AccessArticle Democratic Citizenship and the “Crisis in Humanities”
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 398-414; doi:10.3390/h3030398
Received: 9 June 2014 / Revised: 14 August 2014 / Accepted: 26 August 2014 / Published: 29 August 2014
PDF Full-text (82 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As a consequence of the recent global recession, a new “crisis in the humanities” has been declared, and ideas of how best to defend the humanities have been vigorously debated. Placing this “crisis” in the context of neoliberal reforms to higher education [...] Read more.
As a consequence of the recent global recession, a new “crisis in the humanities” has been declared, and ideas of how best to defend the humanities have been vigorously debated. Placing this “crisis” in the context of neoliberal reforms to higher education since the 1980s, I examine the argument expounded by Martha Nussbaum that the very foundation of democratic citizenship is at stake. I indicate a number of problems with Nussbaum’s case. First, to resist the neoliberal agenda that pits disciplines against one another, I maintain that we need to understand the humanities broadly to include the social sciences. Second, I indicate that the humanities are not just important to democracies, but are a vital aspect of any society because they form a crucial part of human existence. Third, I argue that the humanities are important to democratic societies not merely because they promote critical thinking about our political processes and sympathetic understanding as Nussbaum argues. More fundamentally, the diversity of the humanities in both their content and approaches to knowledge is central to freedom. Finally, I warn against framing the challenges facing the humanities in terms of a crisis discourse that deprecates freedom in accord with the neoliberal agenda. Full article
Open AccessArticle Timely Meditations: Reflections on the Role of the Humanities in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 379-397; doi:10.3390/h3030379
Received: 30 April 2014 / Revised: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 11 August 2014 / Published: 15 August 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (147 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
What may be the relevance of the European tradition of the humanities and of humanism today? In his novels, Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year, the South-African writer, academic, and current resident of Australia, J.M. Coetzee, both enriches and [...] Read more.
What may be the relevance of the European tradition of the humanities and of humanism today? In his novels, Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year, the South-African writer, academic, and current resident of Australia, J.M. Coetzee, both enriches and puts into question the European traditions that have shaped scholarship, literary writers and academic professions in the humanities. His characters’ meditations on the value of literature, humanism, and the humanities, their present crisis and future possibilities, are timely interventions made from a complex, critical, comparative, cultural and geographic distance. The metafictional investigations of the two novels test the limits of the genre in a manner consistent with more experimental strains of postmodern fiction, while the two protagonists reflect two main personae of the author as itinerant, ageing academic and writer. It is the position of this paper that Coetzee constructs a minor literature within the major language of English; this is made evident by the entirety of his oeuvre to date though it becomes thematized in these two works. This paper will trace some of the contours, confrontations and dialogs of the two books and explore certain tangents of the radical quests and questions they put to their readership. Full article
Open AccessArticle Economicism and Nihilism in the Eclipse of Humanism
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 340-378; doi:10.3390/h3030340
Received: 28 April 2014 / Revised: 1 August 2014 / Accepted: 4 August 2014 / Published: 11 August 2014
PDF Full-text (194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article is based on the conviction that the major problems nowadays are not technical, but ethical, and are incumbent on homo qua homo. The origin of these problems is the advancement of economicism as a supreme interpretation of human and social [...] Read more.
This article is based on the conviction that the major problems nowadays are not technical, but ethical, and are incumbent on homo qua homo. The origin of these problems is the advancement of economicism as a supreme interpretation of human and social reality, which means the primacy of the “market” and considering human beings in terms of what they have rather than what they are. Economicism emerges in “modernity” and assumes that everything that does not have market value is either devaluated or rejected. In consequence, the human being has been devaluated and has turned into a simple object of the market. “Postmodernity” mixes economicism and techno-scientificism (chrematistics and instrumental rationality) with nihilism (absence of values), giving way to a technological and decadent capitalism that has erased “humanism” and the very idea of the human being. Thus, we are in urgent need of a humanist recovery of the “human” based on a rehabilitation of ontology. Full article
Open AccessArticle Climate Change and Virtue: An Apologetic
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 299-312; doi:10.3390/h3030299
Received: 28 April 2014 / Revised: 20 June 2014 / Accepted: 24 June 2014 / Published: 30 June 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (69 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then [...] Read more.
The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth”. This is a remarkable conclusion to his magisterial survey of the state of the planet. Climatic and other environmental changes are showing us not only the extent of human influence on the planet, but also the limits of programmatic management of this influence, whether through political, economic, technological or social engineering. A changing climate is a condition of modernity, but a condition which modernity seems uncomfortable with. Inspired by the recent “environmental turn” in the humanities—and calls from a range of environmental scholars and scientists such as Flannery—I wish to suggest a different, non-programmatic response to climate change: a reacquaintance with the ancient and religious ideas of virtue and its renaissance in the field of virtue ethics. Drawing upon work by Alasdair MacIntyre, Melissa Lane and Tom Wright, I outline an apologetic for why the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate response to the challenges of climate change. Full article
Open AccessArticle Present Teaching Stories as Re-Membering the Humanities
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 264-282; doi:10.3390/h3030264
Received: 9 April 2014 / Revised: 19 June 2014 / Accepted: 19 June 2014 / Published: 25 June 2014
PDF Full-text (100 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The ways in which Humanities scholars talk about teaching tell something about how we interact with the past of our own discipline as well as anticipate our students’ futures. In this we express collective memories as truths of learning and teaching. As [...] Read more.
The ways in which Humanities scholars talk about teaching tell something about how we interact with the past of our own discipline as well as anticipate our students’ futures. In this we express collective memories as truths of learning and teaching. As cultural artifacts of our present, such stories are worthy of excavation for what they imply about ourselves as well as messages they pass onto our successors. This paper outlines “collective re-membering” as one way to understand these stories, particularly as they present in qualitative interviews commonly being used to research higher education practice in the Humanities. It defines such collective re-membering through an interweaving of Halbwachs, Ricoeur, Wertsch and Bakhtin. It proposes that a dialogic reading between this understanding of collective re-membering and qualitative data-sets enables us to both access our discursive tendencies within the Humanities and understand the impact they might have on student engagement with our disciplines, noting that when discussing learning and teaching, we engage in collectively influenced myth-making and hagiography. The paper finishes by positing that the Humanities need to change their orientation from generating myths and pious teaching sagas towards the complex and ultimately more intellectually satisfying, articulation of learning and teaching parables. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Without an Analytical Divorce from the Total Environment”: Advancing a Philosophy of the Humanities by Reading Snow and Whitehead Diffractively
Humanities 2014, 3(2), 244-263; doi:10.3390/h3020244
Received: 30 April 2014 / Revised: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 16 June 2014 / Published: 20 June 2014
PDF Full-text (102 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article develops a philosophy of the humanities by reading C.P. Snow’s famous thesis of “the two cultures” through the early work of Alfred North Whitehead. I argue that, whereas Snow refers to Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World, he ultimately [...] Read more.
This article develops a philosophy of the humanities by reading C.P. Snow’s famous thesis of “the two cultures” through the early work of Alfred North Whitehead. I argue that, whereas Snow refers to Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World, he ultimately paves the way for a reductive interpretation of humanities scholarship, which is a move that can be repaired by delving into Snow’s own reference to Whitehead following a diffractive reading methodology. This way of reading was first formulated in the context of feminist epistemology (but can be found elsewhere and under different names) in an attempt to generate constructively conceptual rather than closed hermeneutical readings of theoretical texts by making the reading dynamic and open-ended (in Karen Barad’s terms: reading their insights “through” one another). As such, reading diffractively shies away from relying on classification and is playful with the past, present, and future of the humanities. The article argues that the diffraction of Snow and Whitehead hinges on theories of “beauty” and will demonstrate (with Whitehead) that humanities scholarship originates in a total environment in which works of art—as the subject matter of humanities research—stand out and preserve themselves as “enduring objects”. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Imagining What We Know”: The Humanities in a Utilitarian Age
Humanities 2014, 3(1), 73-87; doi:10.3390/h3010073
Received: 5 January 2014 / Revised: 24 February 2014 / Accepted: 25 February 2014 / Published: 5 March 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (98 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the ways that critics writing in the early nineteenth century developed arguments in favor of what we think of today as the humanities in the face of utilitarian pressures that dismissed the arts as self-indulgent pursuits incapable of addressing [...] Read more.
This paper explores the ways that critics writing in the early nineteenth century developed arguments in favor of what we think of today as the humanities in the face of utilitarian pressures that dismissed the arts as self-indulgent pursuits incapable of addressing real-world problems. Its focus reflects the extent to which the financial crisis in our own day has manifested itself in a jarring shift in research priorities towards applied knowledge: a retrenchment which has foregrounded all over again the question of how to make the case for the value of the humanities. These problems, however, also constitute an important opportunity: a chance to re-imagine our answers to questions about the nature and role of the humanities, their potential benefits to contemporary life, and how we might channel these benefits back into the larger society. The good news is that in many ways, this self-reflexive challenge is precisely what the humanities have always done best: highlight the nature and the force of the narratives that have helped to define how we understand our society—its various pasts and its possible futures—and to suggest the larger contexts within which these issues must ultimately be situated. History repeats itself, but never in quite the same way: knowing more about past debates will provide a crucial basis for moving forward as we position themselves to respond to new social, economic, technological, and cultural challenges during an age of radical change. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Challenges of the Humanities, Past, Present, and Future: Why the Middle Ages Mean So Much for Us Today and Tomorrow
Humanities 2014, 3(1), 1-18; doi:10.3390/h3010001
Received: 20 August 2013 / Revised: 22 September 2013 / Accepted: 16 December 2013 / Published: 23 December 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (126 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Every generation faces the same challenge, to engage with the past and to cope with the present, while building its future. However, the questions and problems inherent in human life remain the same. It is a given that our society can only [...] Read more.
Every generation faces the same challenge, to engage with the past and to cope with the present, while building its future. However, the questions and problems inherent in human life remain the same. It is a given that our society can only progress if we work toward handling ever newly rising demands in appropriate ways based on what we know and understand in practical and theoretical terms; but the drumming toward the future cannot be a one-way street. Instead, we have to operate with a Janus-faced strategy, with one eye kept toward tomorrow, and the other eye toward yesterday. Culture is, however we want to define it, always a composite of many different elements. Here I argue that if one takes out the past as the foundation of culture, one endangers the further development of culture at large and becomes victim of an overarching and controlling master narrative. This article does not insist on the past being the absolute conditio sine qua non in all our activities, but it suggests that the metaphorical ship of our cultural existence will not operate successfully without an anchor, the past. I will illustrate this claim with reference to some examples from medieval literature, philosophy, and religion as they potentially impact our present in multiple fashions. Full article

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Humanities Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
humanities@mdpi.com
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Humanities
Back to Top