The goal of the humanities should be to disappear and be replaced by sciences, i.e. to become capable of doing useful, practical work in the world. Humanists should be striving to become scientists. What's dysfunctional is that many of them have rejected this ambition, have rejected the very idea of science, and are bent on remaining humanists forever. Thus they condemn themselves to doing research that can never be useful for anything except the advancement of their own careers. -- Benjamin Geer.
I came across this bit of wisdom over at Ian Bogost's site, with his great essay entitled The Turtlenecked Hairshirt. To wit:
If there is one reason things "digital" might release humanism from its turtlenecked hairshirt, it is precisely because computing has revealed a world full of things: hairdressers, recipes, pornographers, typefaces, Bible studies, scandals, magnetic disks, rugby players, dereferenced pointers, cardboard void fill, pro-lifers, snowstorms. The digital world is replete. It resists any efforts to be colonized by the post-colonialists. We cannot escape it by holing up in Berkeley waiting for the taurus of time to roll around to 1968. It will find us and it will videotape our kittens.
It's not "the digital" that marks the future of the humanities, it's what things digital point to: a great outdoors. A real world. A world of humans, things, and ideas. A world of the commonplace. A world that prepares jello salads. A world that litigates, that chews gum, that mixes cement. A world that rusts, that photosynthesizes, that ebbs. The philosophy of tomorrow should not be digital democracy but a democracy of objects.
If we want the humanities to become central, it is not the humanities that must change, but its members. We must want to be of the world, rather hidden from it. We must be brutal. We must invoke wrath instead of liberation. We must cull. We must burn away the dead wood to let new growth flourish. If we don't, we will suffocate under the noxious rot of our own decay.
And then if you go to the Democracy of Objects, you quickly get into matters that are most definitely over my head. What are the chances that I should actually read and understand Spinoza? Hmm.