Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hmm …

… Stanley Fish's Academic Clickbait | JSTOR Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fish has established himself as a major figure in literary postmodernism while denying that he is a postmodernist and has—famously—“defended” the humanities while denying that they have any practical value. What gives?
Well, here is what he actually said:

"To the question 'of what use are the humanities?', the only honest answer is none whatsoever. And it is an answer that brings honor to its subject. Justification, after all, confers value on an activity from a perspective outside its performance. An activity that cannot be justified is an activity that refuses to regard itself as instrumental to some larger good. The humanities are their own good. There is nothing more to say, and anything that is said diminishes the object of its supposed praise."

What he is objecting to is a utilitarian justification of the humanities. That is a pretty classical view. Reading Homer is its own reward.

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