Humanities have been at the heart of education and research for over 2,000 years. Whether it is grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, philosophy, or history: since ancient times, these have all been inextricably linked with knowledge, science, and education in the Western world. This was also the reason why the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy was one of the first priorities when founding Ghent University, 200 years ago.
By the end of the 20th century, humanities were faced with turbulent times, and that was no different at the start of the 21st century. The underlying principles of humanities came under considerable pressure in many ways. What is the use of conceptual and historical critique in a world dominated by mathematical models and binary systems? What is language sensitivity for those that think in terms of algorithms, artificial intelligence, and big data? Can we still learn anything from an idiosyncratic artist-scientist like Leonardo da Vinci, or are we better just bowing down to everything on offer with (gene) technology and digitalisation? And what do we leave for future generations – what examples, inspiration, temptations?
To mark the 200th anniversary of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, eminent scientists Robbert Dijkgraaf and Helen Small delve deeper into these matters to demonstrate that the humanities are still just as essential as ever, after 200 years and even 2,000 years.
Further details about this event are available on the Humanities 20.0 website.