No personal attack interpreted. All in the spirit of lively and intelligent discussion.Again I bridle at your use of practicality as, itself, a measure of validity. Sometimes the least practical of all things is also the most educational. There is a time for practicality, but there is also a time for mental exercise performed in an artificial atmosphere, where the brain "muscles" themselves can work free of practical concerns. In fact, I believe that studying for the LSAT (and, to some degree, simply attending law school) is more an act of flexing mental muscles "impractically" in exercises, than it is an act of learning a set of real-world-applicable skills and data. But your idea about "naively feels good" is to me a sad comment on how far from rigorous the academy has allowed the humanities to slide. As someone who doesn't know Classical Attic Greek, yet attempted to complete doctoral studies in medieval literature, I consistently did the opposite of "naively feel good" about myself as I compared my accomplishments to those now unattainable standards of the high Victorian era of scholarship. Gosh, I could hardly have taught Latin on my own! And there they were, fluent in Anglo-Saxon, Greek, Latin, probably Hebrew ... there wasn't much "naively feeling good" about ME relative to THEM.QuoteI certainly don't mean this as any sort of attack (as I mentioned, I'm a humanities student) and I enjoyed the work I did for my degree. But while I certainly can't say whether or not the work I did could be considered be "harder" than the sciences, I think that the latter can and necessarily does involve (to quote you) "analyzing, categorizing, rearranging, synthesizing, breaking into parts, building parts into wholes, recognizing portions, finding patterns, repeating patterns, absorbing new assumptions..." Yes, higher levels of the sciences allow for that array of mental skills. Perhaps I was in the wrong science courses when I was in undergrad. (We had one saying about Chemistry: "D!ck Rammette before he dicks you." Dr. Richard Rammette was famous for failing people for no reason. But he's misrepresentative ... I hope.) I found that 99% of the work was just ... memorizing. And I found, that somehow, the students in science assumed, that because the memorizing was difficult to enjoy (indeed, who wants to recite a phone book?), it was therefore more valid. Were I in courses where a wider range of mental skills had been expected, or ideally in classes where my mental capacity to sort out and rearrange arguments and procedures had been CHALLENGED, perhaps I wouldn't have found science so monolithic and myopic. In fact, I'll change my tune a bit: I didn't find most of my humanities courses very challenging either. I did well in school just by paying attention. The few times I did poorly, it was because I decided I didn't like or trust the subject matter (as in Economics 101, for example; I am still convinced of the following: "Economics is full of rules, all of which apply to real-world situations and to valid theoretical analysis 100% of the time; except for the 99.999% of the time that an exception applies instead."), or I had something personal going on (like being despondent over not losing my virginity AGAIN ... ). I guess what attracted me to the humanities over the sciences was the fact that, presuming neither will be adequately challenging, at least in one there will be some other reward. For you, perhaps, the applicability was that reward. (I often bemoan my own lack of practical "resume" certifications. A BA in the Liberal Arts from some school and a two-dollar-bill will still only get ya' a cappucino. Even if that school is in US News's top 5 for the country!) For me, it was a different kind of stimulation: that of "projecting" my mind into the world views of another human -- Rembrandt, Shakespeare, a Mongolian herder.Here's the ticket. I'm the sort of guy who solved the Rubik's Cube on his own. I still can do it, and sometimes I fiddle with it here in my bedroom. I worked out some permutations about what happens if you break it apart and then put it back together "wrong," what the topological implications would be (a rotation of 120 degrees left in one corner piece equates to two rotations of 120 degree right in ... etc.). I still look for that kind of stimulation. I certainly didn't find it in my undergrad science classes, and I'm sad that I didn't realize until "it was too late" that upper-level science might have been a lot more interesting for me. Ever since then, I've been living with the stigma of "having taken the easy road" by majoring in the humanities, although in fact my choice was made as much on the basis of mental rigor and a quest for difficulty, as on anything else, when I chose English. I just didn't know the rest of the world didn't have the same perception of English that I did at the time, and I've been trying to live it down ever since. "Oh, couldn't HANDLE something HARD like Chemistry" is the constant assumption. (Also, I attended a legitimate small private Liberal Arts school, but most employers understand that to mean, "couldn't HANDLE something REAL like a major university, had to major in the FAKE courses like "liberal schmiberal.") So I feel the humanities deserve a little defending, if only because of my own enlightened self interest. I have the brainpower, I just got mislead into labeling it wrong. This has been a delightful exchange. I'm glad there's no rancor. I really should study. Alonzo, Bobo, Chico, Dingo, Edwardo, Filostrato, and Georgio are calling.
I certainly don't mean this as any sort of attack (as I mentioned, I'm a humanities student) and I enjoyed the work I did for my degree. But while I certainly can't say whether or not the work I did could be considered be "harder" than the sciences, I think that the latter can and necessarily does involve (to quote you) "analyzing, categorizing, rearranging, synthesizing, breaking into parts, building parts into wholes, recognizing portions, finding patterns, repeating patterns, absorbing new assumptions..."