On the humanities and value

Quick quote from Agnes Callard’s inspiring piece, I Teach the Humanities, and I Still Don’t Know What Their Value Is:

Humanists are not alone in their ignorance about the purpose of their disciplines. Mathematicians or economists or biologists might mutter something about practical applications of their work, but very few serious scholars confine their research to some narrow pragmatic agenda. The difference between the humanists and the scientists is simply that scientists are under a lot less pressure to explain why they exist, because the society at large believes itself to already have the answer to that question. If physics were constantly out to justify itself, it would become politicized, too, and physicists would also start spouting pious platitudes about how physics enriches your life.

(…) The task of humanists is to invite, to welcome, to entice, to excite, to engage. And when we let ourselves be ourselves, when we allow the humanistic spirit that animates us to flow out not only into our classrooms but also in our public-self presentation, we find we don’t need to defend or prove anything: We are irresistible.