Stanley Fish, in a new NYTs piece called “What Is Academic Work?”, makes an important point: there should be precincts where the parry and thrust of thinking is done separate from the political implications of that thinking. Amen to that.
There should be a distinction between thinking and advocacy, or policy making. Fish’s mistake is in thinking this is the entire story. For such work needs to be complemented by academic engagement, not as a supplement, but as another essential part of the work of the academic. In fact, the two roles operate dialectically, and each need the other.
It is the latter task that is not taught, or at least taught well, in the humanities. And this is a missed opportunity to demonstrate our virtues to the world.