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The Value of the Humanities$
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Helen Small

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199683864

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683864.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 November 2019

‘Democracy Needs Us’

‘Democracy Needs Us’

The Gadfly Argument for the Humanities

Chapter:
(p.125) 4 ‘Democracy Needs Us’
Source:
The Value of the Humanities
Author(s):

Helen Small

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683864.003.0005

‘Democracy Needs Us’ is the most politically ambitious argument now regularly heard for the humanities in Britain. It has a proximate source in the American liberal arts tradition and much longer roots in Socrates’ claim to be ‘a sort of gadfly, given to the polis’. Chapter 4 examines the strengths and potential weaknesses of the classical model, making a case for adapting and modernizing what was, in its origins, a description of the philosopher as isolated agitant (not, as it now needs to be, a description befitting institutionally based professionals). It also addresses the necessary difference between what can be claimed for a liberal model of general education, and what is viable with respect to a (largely) single honours system.

Keywords:   democracy, liberal arts, Plato, professions, professionalism, criticism, critique, Mulhern

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