Quotable (#56)

Some exceptionally high-quality curmudgeonry from Arthur Krystal at The Chronicle Review, advancing a significant thesis:

Ironically, the last great surge of ideas in the humanities was essentially antihumanist. And because the academy eagerly embraced and paraded these ideas, the humanities themselves began to shrink. For when literature professors began to apply critical theory to the teaching of books they were, in effect, committing suicide by theory. […] … what the postmodernists indirectly accomplished was to open the humanities to the sciences, particularly neuroscience. By exposing the ideological codes in language, by revealing the secret grammar of architectural narrative and poetic symmetries, and by identifying the biases that frame “disinterested” judgment, postmodern theorists provided a blueprint of how we necessarily think and express ourselves. In their own way, they mirrored the latest developments in neurology, psychology, and evolutionary biology. To put it in the most basic terms: Our preferences, behaviors, tropes, and thoughts — the very stuff of consciousness — are byproducts of the brain’s activity. And once we map the electrochemical impulses that shoot between our neurons, we should be able to understand — well, everything. So every discipline becomes implicitly a neurodiscipline, including ethics, aesthetics, musicology, theology, literature, whatever.

Leave a Reply