HASS split up

Curious what people think about the split of HASS into two different colleges, with the arts (“fine arts”) becoming a college and the humanities and social sciences remaining (HSS, and I propose we pronounce this “hiss”).

College of HSS:  Humanities: English, History, Languages, Philosophy, Speech and then the Social Sciences: Aerospace Studies, Journalism, Military Science, Sociology, Social Work, Anthropology, Political Science

Caine College of Arts: Arts, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Music, Theater.

Here is something that has been tumbling around my head:  As a philosopher, I feel closer to the Arts than I do to the Social Sciences. Broadly speaking, let’s say philosophy concerns the good, the true and the beautiful.  The arts concern the beautiful, often the good, and perhaps the true (whether they consider the true is a philosophical debate).  The social sciences, on the other hand, do not consider the beautiful and they do not consider the good.  They don’t even consider the true, except in some reduced sense of the “factual”.  I should say that I don’t mean this in a derogatory way.  There is value in the social science exercise.

Notable exception is political science.  It considers the good and probably the true.  But I am not sure political science is a “social science”.  I majored in “Politics” in college, it was only later that my college renamed the department “political science”.  In fact, I am tempted to advance this claim – the more political inquiry trends toward being a social science the less those engaged in the inquiry consider the good or the true and the more they consider the “merely factual”.

Assuming that the Arts here are not taught in a merely technical way, might we then say that philosophy (and we could make a similar case with the other humanities) are closer to the Arts than to the Social Sciences.  The college reorganization, then, should have been to have a HA college (humanities and arts) and an SS college (social sciences).

Thoughts?  Am I being unfair to any of the disciplines?

Author: Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

7 thoughts on “HASS split up”

  1. Well. Art is a concretization of meta-physics, so that makes sense I suppose. Philosophy often deals with the relationships of man to one another, which is almost exclusively the realm of politics these days and certainly the social sciences revolve around that theme, so I get that perhaps. Theres another possibility maybe you haven’t thought about, which is another science that deals with man’s relationship to man, and the quest for “truth”, economics. So maybe you need to be part of the Huntsman Business School! ;-)

    Ultimately does it matter? Because philosophy _is_, wherever it is.

    Good luck with the changes though.


  2. I can’t see that the division matters all that much. It probably will make it an easier job to manage either of the resultant colleges, and might provide each of the deans more of a chance to build and “gain a vision” than the current configuration allows.


  3. I agree, from the point of view of practice I don’t see that it matters much. And I think it is likely a good thing for the arts and probably a wash for the humanities and social sciences. I was asking the question from the intuitive but in fact false assumption that departments are collected together into colleges because of some relationship between those disciplines, their content, and their methods.


  4. I would second Kleiner’s observation concerning political science. Unfortunately, since the development and rise of “political economy”, some in the field have increasingly seen political theory has obsolete. They claim, not without some cause, that there is little political theory has to say that public choice and game theory cannot account for, at least to a large degree. Perhaps the best example of this being Robert Nozick’s account for the origin of the state in “Anarchy, State, and Utopia.” (Ironic, in a way, considering he was a professor of philosophy)

    A survey of political science grad programs, and their increasing emphasis on Methodology and Political Economy, while having contributed greatly to the field (Rochester comes immediately to mind), does not bode well for political theory. I hope the day does not come when political theory is dropped entirely from the field, instead (relegated ?) to being a small sub-field of philosophy. Alas, it requires only a cursory glance at our own department to recognize how low political theory has sunk as a priority to the administration, and those making such decisions.

    On a side note, as the Polisci department is currently down to one full-time professor and one adjunct in poli-theory, how abysmal are the chances of hiring a faculty member to cross teach in Polisci and LPSC? Heaven knows both departments, while currently staffed with excellent faculty, could use more instructors.


  5. I would agree with fatally_conceited that political theory is often seen by political scientists to have been replaced by the methodologies of public choice and game theory. But, in a way, that only shows that these scientists’ views have become impoverished, by philosophy’s standards anyway. I’ve been studying Nozick’s book recently and am a bit surprised by how myopic it is, given its large reputation. It treats people as if they are nothing but enlightened wallets. That seems to me out of touch with reality, unimaginative, and ultimately bankrupt.


  6. I would have preferred they split it into the College of Humanities and the College of Arts and Social Sciences, for rather juvenile reasons.


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