Science, the Humanities, and the University

Commentaries on the role of science in the university usually bemoan the supposed scarcity of American scientists and engineers, especially in comparison to the numbers graduating from schools in China and India. Whatever the merits of those concerns, far less attention is paid to the ways science has transformed — and continues to transform — higher education, especially the humanities. In the essays that follow, five non-scientists remark on the state of the modern university. First, Patrick J. Deneen argues that science and global competition have hollowed out the liberal arts. Ivan Kenneally connects the contradictions of today’s university to America’s unique relationship to modernity. Peter Augustine Lawler explores the tension between freedom and dignity on campus and beyond. Shilo Brooks brings us Nietzsche’s account of the different characters of scientists and philosophers. And Rita Koganzon picks apart the meritocracy lament in recent memoirs of Ivy League education.