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    letters | the future of the humanities

    Liberal arts form the basis for living

    Associated Press

    RE “HUMANITIES at risk” (Op-ed, June 16):

    It would seem odd if a person bought a Rodin or Brancusi sculpture to use as a doorstop. Yet our pundits consistently promote the liberal arts — the activities that characterize a free person — only as implements for work or material success. They claim to promote science (knowing things according to their causes), but what they mean is technology (using science to make or manipulate things).

    Business and technology are valid pursuits, but they are only a means to survive, to dispose us for living. To make a life of business or technology is like spending a lifetime pouring a foundation. A genuine education is based on the liberal arts and sciences because those are what a fulfilling human life is.

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    To reduce the liberal arts to mere “mind training” is to miss the point. Weiss’s liberal arts recommendations are a slapdash approach at best. It cannot be effective without several units of history, literature, languages, philosophy, and math.

    Donald Novak

    Canton