The Moderation of Aesthetic and Literary Judgment

R.C. Jebb, Humanism in Education:

“But the conditions under which that early experience was gained are modified when the student passes to the University. It may be that he works under a system which permits him to devote the whole of his academic course to the classical languages and literatures; if so, the humanistic training begun at school is carried to a certain maturity; but it remains exclusively literary. If, on the other hand, he turns, at a certain point, from the general study of the languages and literatures to one or two special subjects, such as ancient philosophy and history, then he is expected to aim at the standards set by modern specialists in those subjects. That through these subjects he can receive an admirable intellectual training, is not disputed. But his range of view is necessarily contracted. The particular educational merits which belong to humanistic studies of a larger scope are different in kind from those which can be claimed for any special department of such studies when isolated from the rest. It may be added that, when specialization has been carried far in any study of literature or art, that study tends to become technical ; and then a danger arises lest the pursuit of exact method should obscure the nature of the material with which the study has to deal, namely, productions of human thought and imagination ; there is a danger lest analogies drawn from studies conversant with different material should be pushed too far, and what is called the scientific spirit should cease to be duly tempered by aesthetic and literary judgment.”

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