Complacency: Classics and Its Displacement in Higher Education - A New Book by John T. Hamilton

April 6, 2022


IN RESPONSE TO PHILOSOPHER SIMON BLACKBURN'S PORTRAYAL of complacency as a vice that impairs university study at its core, John T. Hamilton examines the history of complacency in classics and its implications for the twenty-first century.

The philosophies and literatures of ancient Greece and Rome were once
treated as the foundation of learning. Hamilton investigates what this model
of superiority shares with the current hegemony of mathematics and the sciences.
He considers how the qualitative methods of classics relate to the quantitative
positivism of big data, statistical reasoning, and presumably neutral
numerical abstraction, which often dismiss humanist subjectivity, legitimize
self-sufficiency, and promote a fresh brand of academic complacency. In
acknowledging the reduced status of classics in higher education, he questions
how scholarly stagnation continues to bolster complacency today.

"This beautiful book details a vision for the future of the humanities. It is not
a plan but a call to avoid the easy route, to stay attentive, to keep our eyes and
ears open. This is a vital message from one of today's most important voices."
Sean Gurd, University of Texas at Austin

Complacency can be ordered at The University of Chicago Press.