The Public Humanist has a new home

Cutting to the chase: The Public Humanist’s current and archived posts can now be found here: http://masshumanities.org/the-public-humanist/ And now to back up a little. Many of you will have gleaned that The Public Humanist is the one blog on the Valley Advocate site that is sponsored by another Northampton organization: Mass Humanities. Since May 2007 the Advocate has hosted our blog written by multiple contributors, most of them MA...

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Let’s Show ‘Em What a Liberal Arts Education is Good For

I will always love Ralph Nader for publicly validating English majors. I joined the Green party soon after his speech at the First Churches in Northampton in the summer before the fateful 2000 presidential election. He said a lot of things that were sensible, clear, and truthful to me, but he really got me on my feet when he invited all the English majors in the room to stand up. He said, “When I speak to young college graduates...

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Putting “Humanities Capital” to Work: The Public Role of Humanities and Humanities Scholars

In the very full arena of public policy discourse, what do humanities scholars have to add to the conversation? On some level, as non-policy experts, the answer would seem to be a simple “nothing” (or, if one is being more generous, “fairly little”). But I would like to propose what might seem a radical idea: that it is impossible to have public policy discussions at all without the use or invocation of some of...

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In Search of the Common Good

American society today suffers from two fundamental anxieties. One is economic and has many sources, including the accelerating pace of technological change, the impact of our economy and ways of life on the environment, the globalization of both labor and capital, and worrisome demographic trends. Our other anxiety is moral. Its causes are varied as well, but chief among them is increasing social fragmentation resulting in a loss of...

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The Limits of Reflection

By Joe Cruz In the wake of half chagrined confessions that I am a philosophy professor, not infrequently — and positively reliably on cramped airplanes — I’m asked what my personal philosophy is. It’s not an entirely unreasonable question. Philosophers are expected to have developed, or at least be on the way to developing, an articulate view of the world, of right conduct, and of the good life. Moreover, having...

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A Philosopher's Calling Card

Every profession gets a standard response. You know, the response you get when you mention your work. Lawyers get the eye-roll. Doctors get the question about sore elbows and the like. Teachers get the nod of approval, then expressions of regret at how they’re not valued. I’m a philosophy professor. The response to me? "What do you DO with philosophy, anyway?" I’ve heard it so many times. "Well,"...

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