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Gabriela Medrano

English 110
MWA 3
November 20, 2014
Where Are Your Humanities?
Many people argue that certain majors in college are not useful in the real world.
Among these is anything that has to do with humanities and whether that opinion was formed
based off of just thought or reported salaries, we should take a close look at the concept as a
whole. To change others views of this topic, people used the basic methods of persuasion by
using pathos, logos, and ethos. In his article Nicholas Kristof displays his knowledge of applying
these appeals to the thought that maybe humanities in this century full of technological
advances isnt as bad as everyone thinks.
Once again we go back to the meaning of logos which can be said in many ways. More
commonly seen as facts, reason, and statistics; it is much more than that. In logos we see how
the use deductive and inductive reasoning can convince us in very subtle ways. Nicholas
Kristofs view of this issue with humanities really caught my attention. He discussed many
controversial issues and how they tied back to our morals as human beings and how that also
ties into humanities. This is a logical argument which has the necessary back up for people in
doubt.
In Dont Dismiss the Humanities, Nicholas Kristof explained his viewpoint in a very
clear manner, which helped the audience understand this topic without sounding confusing.
The article is based on logical thinking. He displays this by stating a cause and effect for every

philosophers beliefs. For example, he talks about how much less knowledge we would have as
an entire human race if everyone was focused on developing software and advancing in
technology. The cause here would be focusing our attention elsewhere and the effect would
become a looser handle on our understand of why the world works the way it does.
Skeptics may see the philosophy as the most irrelevant and self-indulgent of the
humanities, but the way I understand the world is shaped by three philosophers. Here,
Nicholas Kristof is referring to Socrates, Plato, and of course, Aristotle. By doing this he is
showing the audience that the foundation of our appeals were founded by humanitarians
themselves. This is yet another example of how he uses logos to tell his audience how this
argument is intertwined with ideas that have been established long ago. By giving both sides of
the story Kristof assists listeners comprehend why dismissing humanities is an issue.
Dont Dismiss the
Humanities exhibits uses of pathos as well. Pathos does not only appeal to emotions but
evokes an emotional response, whether this is taking a stance on the subject or causing
sadness, anger, or happiness. The author brings up the issue of having to question what type of
food we put on our plates. This is a form of pathos because it makes us think beyond what
were expected to, is this food really healthy and wholesome? I believe he also used pathos by
showing us how we as humans, have moral standards. He uses situation where we would feel
obligated to speak up such as torturing kittens and organizing dog fights, and tells us that there
are consequences like jail for offenses like that. I think this statement is used in a way that we
can use our common sense and say, Youre right, we dont really need to put people in jail for

hurting animals, but as humans we feel obligated to defend their rights. Well, at least those
were my thoughts but I tend to be a very logical thinker.
Establishing credibility in articles like this is vastly significant because this shows us the
author is appealing to us by using ethos. Nicholas Kristof talks about these three recent
philosophers to back up his claims even further. All three of these individuals convey ideas that
are very much relevant to our world today. For example, Sir Isaiah Berlin pushed the idea of
acknowledging doubts and uncertainty. I see this as a way to tell people to not be afraid of
going out there and discovering more, not only for yourself but for the world as well. He also
uses John Rawls idea of institutionalizing what our society gravely lacks: empathy. Now, Rawl
wanted us to have a social contract, which I believe would be an agreement with the human
race. This would put us in a position where we wouldnt know our social class, our financial
status and such. He stated that by doing this we would push forward to favor measures that
protect those at the bottom. Finally, Nicholas Kristof uses the last of these three recent
philosophers to prove his credibility. He refers back to Peter Singer, from Princeton University,
to prove his statement of how important morals are to us as humans.
With all the information Nicholas Kristof gives us, it is safe to assume he hit all the main
points of the appeals. This article was very interesting to me because his argument made
perfect sense. I can see (and I hope the audience can also see) how all these ideas contribute to
his main question, what could humanities be used for in a digital age? As humans our moral
obligations will always be a part of us. Questioning our existence and the existence of the world
will be something individuals are going to be intrigued about. At the beginning of Dont
Dismiss the Humanities the author talked about how it would be a nightmare for parents if

their student majored in humanities. This shows how unimportant people think the humanities
in todays world are.
Overall this article was effective and I agreed with the author. Thinking logically and
with common sense is something were programmed to do. Here we have clear examples and
explanations as to why humanities continue to be applicable in todays world. Nicholas Kristof
reveals many uses for this controversial concept. He presents his argument to the audience by
using all three of the persuasive appeals; pathos, logos, and ethos. I hope more people can read
this article and agree with me when I say that humanities will always be important. I leave you
with this quote by Norman Vincent Peale, Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Resources

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/opinion/nicholas-kristof-dont-dismiss-thehumanities.html

http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html