From Alain de Botton, who among other things, has wrote a book called “The Art of Travel“, which include many thoughts and ideas about traveling, and looking around this world and I would recommend if you would like to be pushed, or challenged to re-think why you go places, and how you feel when you are there.
Here, in this essay on the BBC, he discusses the importance of humanities, universities and how things could perhaps be re-arranged in the university system, teaching us more about how to deal with our lives, than abstract thoughts. I don’t know if I’m agreeing, or dis-agreeing with him, but it is good food for thought on this grey evening.
My personal view of what the humanities are for is simple – they should help us to live. We should look to culture as a repository of useful and consoling ideas about how to face our most pressing personal and professional issues. We should look to novels and historical narratives to impart moral instruction and edification, to great paintings for suggestions about value, to philosophy to probe our anxieties and offer consolations.
It should be the job of a university education to tease out the therapeutic and illuminative aspects of culture, so that we can emerge from a period of study as slightly less disturbed, selfish, unempathetic and blinkered human beings, who can be of greater benefit not only to the economy, but also to our friends, our children and our spouses.