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n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Die Geisteswissenschaften heute
The state of humanities today
The debate about the role of the humanities continues. How can they be justified? Do they only continue to exist if they have entertainment value, or are they necessary to compensate for shortcomings or damages of modernity? Both questions have given rise to very controversial answers. One thing is certain, that the hypothesis of the two cultures (Ch. P. Snow) has resolved itself. The humanities can perhaps survive if they (again) become the "fundamental ressort for all sciences", as Francis Bacon wrote in 1605. And if they can answer the "fundamental question": "What does it mean to be human?" - as posed by the "Commission on the Humanities" of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1980. The humanities also have to speak out on the conditio humana - as in the times of Lessing and Herder, and if they do the opposite of Schopenhauer's proposition "And yet nothing is easier than to write in such a way that nobody understands it." The humanities more than ever must be understandable. Then they can even become a key to their own understanding.
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