Two distinct topics have been involved in the recent debate about the future of the humanities, and the worst failure of the debate is that it hardly seems to notice the distinction. The topics in question are the traditional study of the humanities and the study of tradition in the humanities. Attacks on the first tend to shade into attacks on the second, without understanding the very different challenge this entails. At the same time, defenses of the second often try to cover the first as well. Because I want to sketch a position here that I have not seen argued elsewhere, it will be best to start with a disclaimer. I have nothing to say for or against what is now called the traditional study of the humanities; though, in America, few...
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