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What sort of contribution to the public weal constitutes a natural extension of the goals and values of humanities scholarship, and what sort a betrayal? This essay aims to shed light on this question by restating one historically influential conception of humanities scholarship and speculating about how humanities scholarship thus understood might play a positive role in society without betraying its own distinctive mission. The view of humanities scholarship adopted here is inspired by a broad humanistic tradition developed by thinkers like Wilhelm von Humboldt, John Henry Newman, and Karl Jaspers. This tradition views humanistic scholarship not only as the soul of the university, but also as a promoter of high culture and truth in society at large. In the context of the increasingly fashionable notion of “public humanities,” this essay offers a restatement of the traditional view of humanities scholarship and a brief discussion of the challenges of “doing public humanities” while honouring a broadly Humboldtian ideal of humanistic research and teaching.