Stanford University Professor Jennifer Summit’s fascinating article on “Renaissance Humanism and the Future of the Humanities” (Literature Compass, 9/10 (2012): 665–678), raises a number of important questions worth discussing regarding not only the future of the humanities, but the past and future of liberal arts education, broadly understood.

Part of the challenge she raises is the daunting task of trying to sort through the

thoroughly secular Modern (and Post-Modern) spins on
the emergent secular Renaissance redefinitions of
a sacred Medieval understanding of wisdom-and-discipleship filtered through
a frequently syncretistic reading of the pagan Greeks (ala Plato and Aristotle, especially) of
a Solomonic (Proverbs 1-13), Pauline (Eph. 6:4) and Hebraic (as in Hebrews 12) vision of paideia.

For example, consider this passage and its challenging questions from Professor Summit:

“. . . [T]he deep history of the studia humanitatis encourages us to view the humanities as a long-term dialectic between episteme and techne, whose two poles, equally valuable, are necessary, though difficult, to balance. Formulating the problem this way invites the humanities to respond to the different and more interesting challenge of not just defending embattled turf, but engaging in the necessary task of self-definition for a new age, which might begin with questions such as these: what kinds of knowledge (episteme) do the humanities produce, and what kinds of skills (techne)? What is the relationship between the teaching of knowledge and skills and moral education (paideia, or phronesis)? And what impact do digital cultures of literacy – not to mention visual, musical, and informational consumption – have on the epistemic and technical practices of our disciplines, as well as on our understanding of the moral and ethical challenges of the world into which we are launching our students?

Read the entire article here.