The Humanities in General Education

The Humanities in General Education

The Humanities in General Education

The Humanities in General Education

Excerpt

All thoughtful persons are concerned about the lack of an integrating factor in contemporary life. The present disorder contrasts sharply with the closely knit societies of earlier times. Both ancient Greece and the Middle Ages, for example, were characterized by a unified social life based upon a set of guiding principles or world view, the former the metaphysics of the Greek philosophers, the latter, the theology of Thomas Aquinas.

There is among our people today a yearning for greater social stability and a more secure personal life. One manifestation of this desire for a more ordered life, based upon generally accepted convictions concerning the nature and destiny of man, is the reconsideration of the purposes of higher education. More particularly this quest for security expresses itself in a revival of interest in the study of the humanities, the subjects traditionally concerned with human purposes and human values. Even scientists who, as scientists are not concerned with ultimate truths or human values, are urging a revival of the humane studies.

This nearly universal interest in the fate of mankind his caused many new courses of study to appear in colleges and universities. A few institutions, Columbia College, for example, have long prescribed a humanities course as an integral element of general education. Most, however, have only recently begun to reconsider the place of the humanities in the whole program of higher education. There is a desire among the institutions only beginning the reconstruction of humanities courses to profit from the experience of the pioneers in this field. They wish to avoid the unsuccessful and profit by the successful ventures of others.

This volume, Humanities in General Education, like its companion works, is designed to provide within the covers of a single book, descriptions of a variety of courses which con-

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