The question of what living is for is the most important question you can ask. Yet during your university career, that question is never addressed: it is too personal, too delicate, too difficult to measure. A ridiculous state of affairs, says Anthony Kronman.
According to Kronman, universities have always aimed at making their students think about their own lives by introducing them to the great humanist tradition of arts and sciences. But now, the humanities are caught in a deep crisis. They have started trying to approach science and social studies as much as possible, to resemble hard science with its experiments, mathematical models, and new paradigms. But is this really what the humanities are all about? University teachers of the humanities have allowed themselves to be marginalised by hard research ideals, political correctness, and philosophical disorientation, at the cost of a good and truly valuable education for their students.
However, Kronman sees a change of minds approaching: more and more students and their teachers are longing to deal with the ‘great questions’ at university. Passionately and convincingly, Kronman makes his case for a new, secular humanism based on a forgotten ideal: that of scholarly reflection on the meaning of life through the study of the great literary and philosophical works of present and past. Is Kronman right? The students get to decide for themselves.