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Mon Aug 19, 2019, 09:49 AM

The Humanities in the Age of Loneliness (Combating ecological and constitutional crises)

The Humanities in the Age of Loneliness
By Robert D. Newman
August 19, 2019
Los Angeles Review of Books

HOW CAN THE HUMANITIES help restore the centrality of the public good, an essential step toward the collective action necessary for combating our current constitutional and ecological crises? Like many Americans, I have been thinking a lot lately about these crises, and about how I might direct my outrage and despair productively. Reading for context and background has taken me through biographies, histories, and humanistic reflections by scientists...

...The term Anthropocene has now become the consensus appellation for our current geological age... An alternative was suggested a few years ago by biologist E. O. Wilson, who prefers the term Eremocene, or the Age of Loneliness (eremo coming from the Greek for lonely or bereft). His notion of loneliness refers to both the rapid decline of biodiversity on our planet and the fact that humans, while increasing their proportion of and dominance over the Earth’s population, suffer a consequent isolation...

So how can the humanities aid us in developing a productive counter-response?...The principles grounded in the humanities — notions of character, responsibility, civility, empathy, inquiry, collaboration, the public good, the heroic, beauty, and truth — are also at the center of the revolutionary idealism which forged our Constitution. While the antidote to the Age of Loneliness is not easily conjured, it needs a political as well as scientific response — that is, it will need the lessons we can learn through the humanities. The Paris Climate Accord, near-universally accepted as a necessary, if insufficient first step, was a political agreement; leaving it was a political decision justified by weak reasoning and deceitful rhetoric....

...How can the humanities continue to help? By doing what we have always done best, but in more focused, publicly engaged venues..we are charged with...stories and telling them to our fellow citizens.The stories for the Eremocene must speak of the consequences of Love Canal, the Exxon Valdez spill, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Bhopal, the Dust Bowl, whale and elephant slaughter, and the eradication of biodiversity on the planet. Through literature, history, art, and philosophy, we must teach the impact of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord on the sustainable liberty and happiness of our citizens. And we should return to the ideals of extraordinary moral character for both leaders and citizens...

Note: this is a very long and thoughtful article written by the President of the National Humanities Center. It is worth the read. I struggled as to the location of this post, for it details environmental concerns and political issues. I think it belongs here because education is the home of the humanities.


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Reply The Humanities in the Age of Loneliness (Combating ecological and constitutional crises) (Original post)
bronxiteforever Aug 2019 OP
Democrats_win Aug 2019 #1

Response to bronxiteforever (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2019, 01:24 PM

1. Awesome article, here's another section:

Climate change is not an isolated, apolitical phenomenon, but a symptom, byproduct, and intensifier of a much larger social, legal, and philosophical collapse. The erosion and deliberate attack on fundamental constitutional principles, identified by historian Jill Lepore as political equality, natural rights, and popular sovereignty, has directly contributed to the acceleration of climate change. As we abandon such egalitarian principles, we fail to protect ourselves not only politically but also ecologically.

Oh my gosh! The problem is quite serious. As our country drifts toward a soulless Apartheid regime, we sure do need the humanities.

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