Douthat on the Humanities and Small Liberal Arts Colleges…

Today’s Douthat Column in the NYT is excellent. My readers may know that I attended Amherst College (mentioned in the column) during the 1970’s and can attest to the popularity of the humanities there, at that time. He points out the statistics that show the trend towards the other of C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures. Indeed, when I was at Amherst, I very much wanted to major in political science. It was my parents who pushed me to major in chemistry.

But….it strikes me that Douthat, in despair at the moral crisis of the West, is really just urging us to return, metaphorically, to the modern version of monastery retreats, as the Irish monks did during the Dark Ages when they purportedly saved western cultural tradition.

I don’t think that this will do. Climate Change will not wait for a future Renaissance to arrive. Neither will the thousands of nuclear warheads that sit on alert. It is vital that science and engineering thrive for the future of the planet and the humanities.