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Paavo Hohti

Paavo Hohti
Born October 19, 1944, Helsinki

PhD 1976 (Greek and Roman literature), University of Helsinki
Docent 1977–, University of Tampere and University of Helsinki

Managing Director 2004–13, Council of Finnish Foundations
Director 1980–89, Secretary General 1990–2004, Finnish Cultural Foundation
Lecturer in Latin 1971–80, University of Tampere

Board member 2011, Bonier Books Finland
Board of administration member 1990–99, Board of directors 1999–2008
WSOY Board of administration member 1991–99

Research themes and publications:
Studies of the historical writing and rhetoric of ancient Greece and Byzantium, and papyrology.

Acta Byzantina Fennica, editorial work 1985–90

Finnish translation of Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric (1997)

Publications on the activities and history of private foundations

Awards and honours:
Honorary title of professor 2003

First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland, Commander of the Order of the Holy Lamb, Commander, first class, of the Greek Order of Honour

Photo: Ida Pimenoff
Written by Olli Siitonen
Translated by Matthew Billington

The Danger of Commercialising Research

Paavo Hohti, Professor of Classical philology and advocate for the humanities, wonders how students of the humanities will get by in these tough economic times and deal with increasing competition. Dr Hohti believes that studying the humanities gives students the ability to understand what it means to lead a good life and maintain mental wellbeing. It is the task of the humanities to promote these views in all areas of life, from personal life to public discourse. The present moment has its own challenges, and the humanities cannot retreat into the past. Instead it is possible to achieve a wider perspective on the issues we face.

Research can also provide new perspectives founded on the events and needs of our own time. On this basis, results can be achieved that are relevant to society as a whole. Thinking of research in terms of its instrumental value for attaining short-term benefits is a real danger, and according to Dr Hohti it goes fundamentally against the principles of the humanities.

“Bringing forth ideas and perspectives is an inherent part of the humanities. If this is neglected, much of the intellectual resources of society will remain untapped. A certain kind of optimism is part of the humanities, a belief in people and the ability to find solutions. Although reality is not always blissful, somewhere in my mind I can always hear something professor Holger Thesleff said during my second year at the University: “it is the responsibility of a civilised person to be in a good mood.”

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