The Humanities in Dispute: A Dialogue in Letters

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The humanities are under attack from many sides: from conservatives who decry political correctness in the classroom; from liberals, who are impatient with the traditional curriculum; and from legislators and students, who are looking for relevance and marketable skills. Disturbed by these acrimonious arguments, the authors - former colleagues and university-press board members - embarked on an ambitious project to reexamine a number of major literary and philosophical works dealing with the liberal arts and education. With their discussions ranging from Plato to Rousseau, from Cicero to Vico, from Erasmus to Matthew Arnold, Sousa and Weinsheimer offer not a history of education philosophy but an examination of the present. They read these astonishingly diverse works with one question foremost: Do our predecessors' reflections offer anything better in defense of humanities education than modern platitudes about 'broadening one's horizons'?