Stanley Fish's Essay Will The Humanities Save Us

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n the essay entitled "Will the Humanities Save Us?", the author, Stanley Fish, exposes respective arguments advanced by those who support and do not support Arts and Humanities as parts of the college curricula. In other words, Fish cites several justifications (as he calls them) offered by several observers why Arts and Humanities receive less or minimal funding or assistance. On the other hand, Fish balances his criticism by quoting some authors that shed positive lights relative to what Arts and Humanities can provide not just in the academic culture but as well how it enhances life in general.

However, at the end, Fish gives his own personal critical opinion of what and how Arts and Humanities can or cannot impact education in partucular
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He respects all of the differing opinions but he has his doubts. He asks, "Does it really work that way? Do the humanities ennoble? And for that matter, is it the business of the humanities, or of any other area of academic study, to save us?"

Fish's answers in both cases, is no. He declares that "the premise of secular humanism (or of just old-fashioned humanism) is that the examples of action and thought portrayed in the enduring works of literature, philosophy and history can create in readers the desire to emulate them." But Fish sees no practical benefit in delving into great works of literature and impressive philisophical treatises. He supports this contention by saying that "if it were true that arts and humanities are beneficial, then the most generous, patient, good-hearted and honest people on earth would be the members of literature and philosophy departments, who spend every waking hour with great books and great thoughts. . . " But Fish believes this is not obviously the case for the simple reason that not everybody has willingly become a literary figure or philisophically erudite. He even goes as far as saying that even teachers and students of literature and philosophy have not themselves all become highly literate and
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