The True Spirit of Humanism

R.C. Jebb, Humanism in Education (1899)

“But in the last thirty years the position of the Present humane letters, relatively to other studies, has been humanism, altered in several important respects. The study of the natural sciences is now firmly established in schools and universities ; it can no longer be said that a haughty and exclusive humanism keeps them out of the educational field : indeed, there are not a few seats of learning where they hold a clear predominance. Modern languages and literatures have also their recognised place in the higher education ; if they do not yet attract as many disciples as they deserve, the reason is not that they are neglected or discouraged by educational authorities, but rather that they are new studies, with methods and aims which are still in some measure tentative, and competing with highly equipped rivals of older standing. This establishment of the modern studies is, so far as I have seen, viewed by humanists generally with cordial satisfaction. The spirit of humanism, indeed, wherever it is not a narrow pedantry, is one which welcomes every accession to the domain of sound knowledge. Meanwhile, the claims of humanism itself, sifted by a period of controversy, and illustrated by the larger views of liberal education which now prevail, are usually stated with more discrimination than formerly, and are more willingly and more widely acknowledged.”

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