What is the modern world

Answers for a modern world

Humanities: Word battles without new knowledge, gigantic text production institutions, without utility in this modern time? On the contrary, explained the emeritus professor Odo Marquard from Giessen. "The more modern the modern world becomes, the more inevitable the humanities become." To explain this thesis, Marquard put forward his thesis of the "inevitability of the humanities" as early as 1985.

Accordingly, the modern natural sciences depend on people in the world becoming "the same" everywhere. Quite simply because the results of the natural sciences must be universally verifiable. This sets in motion a process in which the subjects are brought into line with one another. "But that's difficult with humans. Cultures and religions are very different," explained Marquard. This is exactly where the humanities, according to Marquard, have to start: They enable us to understand cultural differences.

The literary and linguistic studies or also the history of art are particularly suitable for this, judged Marquard. Because they still do something: They compensate for the effects of an increasingly accelerated world. "It is no coincidence that so many museums are being built in our time," diagnosed Marquard. They create a culture of slowness, a 'culture of continuity' - on which we are dependent: "Otherwise we would not be able to live!"

What does this mean for a modern university? Should students first complete a general degree in the humanities before starting their subject, perhaps at an artist faculty like in the Middle Ages? Marquard thought little of that: "Study phases, first one, then the next, and so on - that lengthens the study." But that could not change the meaning and purpose of the humanities.