When visiting Boston a couple weeks, an old friend of mine remarked that he thought that the humanities should be “the pinnacle of human achievement”. I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time, but the phrase has been rattling around in my head. In between working on a conference presentation, attending a law conference and reading the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, I think I’ve come up with an explanation that makes sense (at least for me):
Science and technology, for all their towering achievements, are concerned with improving and extending human existence. By contrast, the humanities, (and I think also the arts) should inform and improve how humans live.