The humanities have some of the biggest clues out there about how to fix stuff. We’re very bad at a range of things that these art graduates could help us with.” – Alain de Botton
It's common to see graduations from the humanities, specially those related to arts like music, painting, literature and cinema, being taxed as useless or as graduations that “don’t pay well”. But if it’s true that they may not “pay well” it’s only because we can’t see the “utility” that these professional can have in our lives.
Zygmunt Bauman simplifies the contingencies of our world, through people’s instability and submission to an order that looks inevitable in our modern society. An order that demands flexibility from everyone, a readiness to fit in. However, this flexibility seems to demand too much from the humanities graduates because what we see is that in order to survive they need to abdicate their knowledge and interests.
The School of Life has what I consider one of the best Youtube channels. In their most recent video named “Why Arts Graduates Are Under-Employed”, Alain de Botton argues that the essence of the problem is in the lack of appropriate positions and employers, a problem of education and knowledge:
“But in truth the extraordinary rate of unemployment or misemployment of graduates in the humanities is a sign of something grievously wrong with modern societies. It’s evidence that we have no clue of what culture and art are really for and what problems it can solve.”
It’s not a problem if you’re not so sure about the benefits that culture and art can have to people in general, he tries to give some reasons as to why we are wasting these professionals when the best job we have for them is serving coffee:
“Good news is that the humanities actually do have a point to them. They’re a storehouse of vitally important knowledge about how to lead our lives. Novels teaches us about relationships. Works of art reframe our perspectives. Drama provides us with cathartic experiences. Philosophy teaches us to think, political science to plan and History is a catalogue of case-studies into any number of personal and political scenarios.
The humanities have some of the biggest clues out there about how to fix stuff. We’re very bad at a range of things that these art graduates could help us with.”
Ok, maybe not so many people think that the knowledfe from the humanities is useless. But our incapacity of harness these people to solve our common problems is, in it’s essence, proof of how much we need them:
“That there are so many arts graduates waiting tables isn’t a sign that they have been lazy and self-indulgent. It’s that we haven’t collectively woken up to what culture could really do for us and how useful and totally practical it could be.”
Full video below: