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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

Disregard for humanistic culture harms democracy

Sat, 30 Mar 2019 09:49:00 +0000 Published in El Faro de Vigo, La Opinión A Coruña and El Día (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)

Many social analysts agree that we are currently witnessing a global cultural crisis. One of its symptoms is the eclipse of Humanities, obscured in the heart of a pragmatic society. Professor Alejandro Llano has referred to this phenomenon with these words: "Many current phenomena, which reveal cultural decadence and loss of meaning, find their background in this fierce pragmatism that despises anything that does not offer immediate utility. There is a lack of existential depth to perceive moral values and not infrequently there is a serious blindness to religious meanings. Human life is impoverished, resignation prevails and consumer conservatism is generalized".

Humanistic subjects are suffering a progressive marginalization in the curricula because they are not considered profitable. But this mentality is not new.

It is said that in the old Francoist Cortes, José Solís Ruiz, then Minister University Secretary of the Movement, defended a law project to increase the issue hours devoted to sports in schools to the detriment of the study of classical languages (specifically Latin). In his speech he asked himself: "What is Latin for today? Adolfo Muñoz Alonso, professor at the Complutense University, from his seat replied to Solis: "For one thing, Mr. Minister, so that Your Honor, who was born in Cabra, is called egabrense and not something else."
For Marc Fumaroli "the classical texts are the most enduring creators of culture that have come down to us; those saved from the shipwreck of years and centuries. They are the ones that have marked with their own stamp the cultural progress of that tradition that educates, enlightens and invites to think and feel deeply. For that reason, the current disdain for these classics is a sign of enormous cultural deviation". (In "the light of distant lighthouses").

The American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum published in 1997 "The Cultivation of Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in the Liberal Education ". 

He explains that there are three capacities that only the Humanities develop and that are essential for democratic coexistence: 1) the capacity to critically examine one's own ideas and the cultural traditions in which one has grown up; 2) the capacity to see oneself as a human being linked to other human beings; 3) the capacity for imagination, which allows one to put oneself in the place of others.

In 2010 Nussbaum published her second book with this degree scroll: "Nonprofit: Why Democracy Needs Humanities". She states that the Humanities are a necessary counterbalance to the great diffusion of technocratic knowledge. He adds that Humanities are necessary to think critically, to approach global issues as a "citizen of the world", and to empathetically understand other people. These are three essential qualities for democracy.

 The humanistic training confers quality to professions. Pieper has affirmed that "every professional activity lived with rigor and seriousness has a philosophical dimension". test A good example of this is the fact that many managers at business have recently been hired for their humanistic culture.

Society needs architects trained to build good buildings, but those same architects must be sensitive enough to make constructions that are not only technically viable, but at the same time humane. It would make no sense to be closed to humanistic careers, nor would it make sense to deny that training to other careers.

A risk that exists today in young people is that they may be highly educated but not cultured. Faced with the "culture" of the erudite, Marañón proposed the culture of humanists. Students need to learn to learn by themselves; it consists of the ability to grasp the essence of each topic and to express it clearly and synthetically.

The subordination of truth and culture to what is useful is influencing university students who approach degree program in a utilitarian way. Many do not aspire to know more; they are satisfied with obtaining, however they can, the grades they will be asked for later in interviews at work.

procedure I think that the best way to prevent young people from becoming easy victims of the fascination with technology is to awaken in them, in a preventive way, an interest in humanistic culture.