Cu Michelangelo la raze

Scientism in the Arts and Humanities by Roger Scruton

 

This transformation of the humanities into an anti-cultural force seems to be where we are today — or nearly so. Increasingly, we can see attempts to rectify the humanities’ difficulties by assimilating their subject matter to one or another of the sciences.

Take, for instance, art history. Generations of students have been drawn to this subject in the hope of acquiring knowledge of the masterpieces of the past. Art history had developed in nineteenth-century German universities, under the influence of the Swiss historians Jacob Burkhardt, Heinrich Wölfflin, and others, to become a paradigm of objective study in the humanities. The Hegelian theory of the Zeitgeist, put to astute use by Wölfflin, divided everything into neatly circumscribed periods — Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, neoclassical, and so on. And the “comparative” method, in which images were shown side by side and their differences assigned to the distinguishing mental frameworks of their creators, proved endlessly fertile in critical judgments. Look at the works of Wittkower, Panofsky, Gombrich, and the other products of this school of thought, many of whom fled to safety from the Nazi destruction of the German universities, and you will surely conclude that there has never been a more creative and worthwhile addition to the curriculum in modern times.

Yet the scholars are not satisfied. Is there any more “research” to be done on the art of Michelangelo, or the architecture of Palladio? Is there anything to be added to the study of the Gothic cathedral after Ruskin, von Simson, Pevsner, and Sedlmayr? And how do we confront the complaint that this whole subject seems to be focused on a narrow range of dead white European males, who spoke clearly for their times, but who have no great relevance to ours? All in all, the subject of art history has been condemned by its own success to a corner of the academy, there to be starved of funds and graduate students — unless, that is, it can be endowed with some new field of “research.”

 

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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