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Should Universities Dump the Humanities?

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Sam Weaver discuss the humanities “crisis” in American universities. They explain the most common arguments in defense of the humanities, why they are not compelling, and the vital role that these studies play in an individual’s life and the culture.

Among the topics covered:

  • How the humanities curricula shape our intellectual culture;
  • Why the mere reduction of humanities majors does not necessarily imply a “crisis”;
  • Why learning critical thinking skills is not unique to the humanities;
  • How the emphasis on “empathy” in the humanities leads to a dangerous relativism;
  • Why focusing on citizenship is too impersonal and uncritical;
  • Why saying that the humanities have intrinsic value is a non-argument;
  • Philosopher Agnes Callard’s confession of ignorance about the value of the humanities;
  • The humanities’ role in guiding a successful human life;
  • The universities’ failure to give students the tools to answer life’s questions.

Recommended in this podcast are Ayn Rand’s essays “For the New Intellectual” and “The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,” and the previous New Ideal Live episode “The Real Scandal Underlying Campus Antisemitism.”

The podcast was recorded on December 20, 2023. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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Ricardo Pinto

Ricardo Pinto, BA in philosophy, is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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