"A Meaning for Humanism" by Joseph Wood Krutch

Essay by jonesantCollege, UndergraduateA+, October 2004

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In "A Meaning for Humanism," Joseph Wood Krutch mentions there are two types of people in the world, "geometers" and "humanists." He explains how "geometers" or scientists are starting to replace literature, reason, and purpose. Humanists believe in literature, philosophy, and facts not in things that can be measured and statistics like geometers. With the geometers taking over people are unable to rest on value and reason, the basis for humanism. Krutch continues to explain a parable at the end of his writing that compares humanism to a simpleton and geometers to three wise men. By understanding the parable at the end of this essay, we see the great danger of under valuing the humanities in modern society.

As Krutch begins to tell the story from the Sanskrit Panchatantra, he describes the three magicians as being friends from early youth. They come across a pile of bones and decide to bring what it was back to life, not knowing what it was, just doing it to prove that they can.

Along comes a "simpleton" who tells them that it is a tiger and not to do it, but the wise men continue their spell. The simpleton climbs a nearby tree when the three bring the bones back to life. Once back to life, the tiger devours the 3 wise men and leaves. Krutch states, "There is no more perfect parable to illustrate what happens when know-how becomes more important than common sense- and common sense is at least the beginning of wisdom." What Krutch is saying is that these people were just out to make a point and didn't think of what the consequences were, which is much like science, everything is trial and error, to where geometers use common sense, reason, and logic to prove their points. In...