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The Significance of the Humanities and Liberal Arts in Higher Education

  • Guoqiang Qiao (a1)


Two tendencies in present-day higher education in China, namely the neglect of the humanities and liberal arts and their incorporation of officialized programmes, are bringing about a change in the values that the humanities and liberal arts foster, and are making for unclear programming. A case in point is the practice that has identified higher education as a tool, overemphasizing its functions and ‘usefulness’ for the nation. It is reasonable to consider higher education from the perspective of national interests. Nonetheless, the author of the current article contends that the overemphasis on function and ‘usefulness’ runs counter to the nature of higher education that endeavours to cultivate a student’s humanity. The author will also argue that one of the principal methods for this humanization is to learn about human nature and to know how to follow one’s good conscience. That is, students have to be educated to know their essential human character and the various demands that are embedded in all intellectual and moral virtues and all language games, and abhor and refrain from any practices that violate them. In this sense, the humanities and liberal arts can provide various human experiences that would be a great help for students to know and to learn the above-mentioned human nature and virtues.



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1. Kazepides, T. (2010) Education as Dialogue (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press), pp. 163164.
2. Bishop, M. (1951) Literature and literary history. The French Review, 24(5), pp. 415420, p. 415.
3. Snyder, G. (1980) The Real Work: Interviews and Talks 1964-1979 (New York: New Directions Book), p. 4.
4. Jones, H.M. (1967) The nature of literary history. Journal of the History of Ideas, 28(2), pp. 147160 p. 147.


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