Gombosi Defends Views of Conant On Humanities
Two members of the humanities teaching staff yesterday defended President Conant's statement about "antiquarianism" and "snob appeal" in that area from the attack by four of their colleagues Thursday.
The original criticism was directed against Conant's section called "The Role of the Humanities in a Technological Age" in his report for 1951-52, in which he said "Much of what passes for appreciation of the arts and letters in some circles is a combination of antiquarianism, a collector's instinct and the old snob appleal of a 'gentleman's education.'
Otto J. Gombosi, professor of Music, yesterday denied that there is anything to get excited about in this statement. "There is no need for those of us who still value antiquarianism and even the snob appeal of a 'gentleman's education' to get hot under the collar. Of course, a world without snobs would be terribly lonely for us, and the teaching of the arts in General Education would find itself on the old spot of 'ain't it lovely.' I am sure this is not what Conant had in mind."
"Some of us who are antiquarians are not averse to efforts toward making the past come to life. I am sure that Mr. Conant's reference to antiquarianism does not include these people among the damn able. I am sure that all of us, snobs and no snobs, agree with Mr. Conant on the general aims."
Philip R. Rhinelander '99, lecturer on General Education and Philosophy, denied that "there is a controversial issue here or that Mr. Conant's statements were intended to create one."
Rhinelander said there are different approaches to the study of the humanities, but stressed that they are complementary, not in conflict. "The direct aesthetic experience of a work of art may be blind, if it is not enlightened by a knowledge of the work's historical context and the course of critical opinion and analysis."