Lost in Thought

What is the value of the arts, humanities, and a liberal arts education? How do we quantify the intrinsic value of intellectual pursuits in an extrinsic-based society?

Lost in thought: the hidden pleasures of an intellectual life

Hitz, Zena. Princeton, 2020
235p index, 9780691178714 $22.95, 9780691189239

Hitz (tutor, Great Books Program, St. John’s College) has a PhD in ancient philosophy, and in this volume, she describes her intellectual journey from various perspectives and approaches. She believes this journey is central to liberal arts higher education and what its goal should be. There is intrinsic value, she argues, in the arts and humanities for true intellectual life. Hitz raises concerns about what seems to be a “mad dash” by higher education institutions to support technology and the occupational claim on the curriculum. The pleasures of pursuing an intellectual life seem not to be found in many of today’s institutions. In making her case, Hitz cites a wide variety of resources, from Aristotle, Socrates, and Einstein to William James, Primo Levi, and Goethe. She is well qualified to address this topic. Very well written and referenced, this book is a reminder that pursuit of the intellectual life, broadly understood, can be of great benefit to individuals and society. Of special interest to advanced scholars, no matter their discipline.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, faculty.
W. C. Hine, emeritus, Eastern Illinois University
Subject: Humanities
Choice Issue: Dec 2020