Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Would George Eliot Do?

The "I could've told them that for fifty bucks" Quote of the Day:

Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, in collaboration with several other scientists, reported in two studies, published in 2006 and 2009, that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.

So much for sola fide, we must now be Justified through Science. And don't get me wrong, I like science, and I have no problem with spending huge amounts of cash to develop complex narratives about all sorts of things.  But so driven by Wall Street Mentality are we that it seems we now have to prove scientifically the market value of every bit of cultural activity we have been actively devaluing for decades. By the way, singing is now good for you.

Nevertheless, speaking as a tiresome pedant myself, let me point out that the deal with Casaubon is not that he's a tiresome pedant ("Ma'am, step away from the Cliff Notes."), but that he has so heroically dedicated his life to reinventing the wheel.


  1. I wonder if this finding can be turned into an argument for funding the humanities? My cynical side says probably not - either that or given the way people often think about university education, maybe it's the only way to do so.

  2. No doubt people will try, and many column inches in the Chronicle will be sacrificed in the attempt. And it will fail as it always has whenever this comes up, because every university is now a trade school, and "empathy" and "understanding" are not skills that serve the bottom line.

    As I said to my Greek prof a couple of years ago, soon this will all be just a hobby.