The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

There Is No Case for the Humanities - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Aristotle offers the key of wisdom, wrote one despairing 13th-century scholar, but he hid that key in so many books. From that period on, for two centuries, to become a reputable teacher of theology, you needed to produce hundreds and hundreds of pages of densely argued commentary on the Sentences, a 12th-century compendium by Peter Lombard. Tens of thousands of these commentaries weigh down the shelves of European manuscript libraries, many of them very likely unread in the 700-odd years since they were written. Master-of- arts candidates wrote commentaries on Aristotle that number in the thousands. There are so many that we do not even know how many still exist, much less what they actually say. Charles Lohr’s magisterial Latin Aristotle Commentaries, which simply provides a list of authors, works, and manuscripts, is in five hefty volumes. This is the period in which the university was born.


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A Head of Department of mine decided to save space in our departmental library by instructing the library assistants to bin all undergraduate research project reports that were more five years old. He didn't warn the academic staff who would doubtless have taken the view that original experimental data from their research groups were not his to destroy. This folly probably contributed to the uprising that pushed him out of the post.

Posted by: dearieme | Mar 12, 2018 6:10:40 AM

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