Purpose – The purpose of this essay is to argue the importance of the humanities as a problem‐solving “system”, one which has for thousands of years provided humankind with the tools to make reasoned decisions about complex problems in an ever‐changing world. Design/methodology/approach – This essay places the idea of complexity within a historical and philosophical context. Findings – The rise of new technologies has resulted in the notion that human beings are no longer capable of addressing complex problems. Too dogmatic a reliance upon technology, however, instead of leading to clarity, can lead to chaos and confusion. Social implications – One of the few remaining “big structures” which retains a significant degree of public trust is higher education. If we continue to devalue the one area of study – the humanities – which has as its ultimate purpose precisely the analysis of “complex issues” – in favor of quasi‐human systemic solutions or an alteration of the “epistemology” of education, we will surely render ourselves irrelevant. Originality/value – This is an original approach and an original piece of work.
On the Horizon – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2011
Keywords: Chaos theory; Complexity theory; Higher education; Problem solving
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