Story skills and hierarchies of needs and values: a defence of the humanities

11 May 2010

This article1 1The article was developed as a thought paper in the NRF's project Shifting Boundaries of Knowledge – The Role of Social Sciences, Law and Humanities. A first version was presented at a regional workshop of the project at Tshwane University of Technology on 28 May 2004. View all notes is a defence of the humanities that emphasises the nature and value of humanistic knowledge. I firstly outline the present negative perceptions of the humanities and the factors that constrain their development in South Africa. Chief among them is the privileging of technical rational knowledge above Bildung and self-development. Against the background of views on social dedifferentiation and the end of the book I emphasise the career value of the humanities. I try to reverse the opposition between technical rationalist knowledge and Bildung by analysing Maslow's hierarchy of needs and confronting his theory with a number of findings of our recent research into identity and literary space. Two keywords that feature strongly are centrality and narrativity. The implications of this view are explored in a brief analysis of Eben Venter's novel Foxtrot van die vleiseters (1993) [Foxtrot of the Meat-eaters].