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The Death of Ideas in Higher Education

November 22, 2014

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This excellent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education is an epitaph for the Humanities. Roughly speaking, the author divides the history of thought into three eras: pre-rational/religious, idealist/humanist, and materialist/scientific. Although a familiar framework, he includes many examples of each strain of thought. In general, I feel that this article is a cogent analysis and useful overview of the death of ideas.

As for the future, I predict a resurgence of religion, as people seek out meaning and ethical precepts to direct their lives in this cold, amoral, and materialist modern society where we find ourselves. As a human institution, Science is not immune from error and therefore I shudder to think of the terrors ahead now that all social, political, and economic theory must conform to our brains rather than our brains confirming to our previously cherished ideals.

The death of ideas is surely a foreboding development and may signal the end of civilization as we know it, and not in a good way. I only hope that these developments indicate that Science has reached its apex and will soon be subsumed or supplanted by a more satisfying system of thought.

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