12/20/2019

Losing Faith in the Humanities

"[I]n the West, secularization has happened not once but twice. It happened first in relation to religion, and second, more recently, in relation to culture and the humanities. We all understand what religious secularization has been — the process by which religion, and especially Christianity, has been marginalized, so that today in the West, as Charles Taylor has famously put it, religion has become just one option among a smorgasbord of faith/no-faith choices available to individuals. 

A similar process is underway in the humanities. Faith has been lost across two different zones: first, religion; then, high culture. The process that we associate with thinkers like Friedrich Schiller, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Matthew Arnold, in which culture was consecrated in religion’s place, and that in more modest forms survived until quite recently, has finally been undone. We now live in a doubly secularized age, post-religious and postcanonical. The humanities have become merely a (rather eccentric) option for a small fraction of the population."