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The humanities are academic disciplines which study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytic, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural and social sciences. Examples of the disciplines of the humanities are ancient and modern languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts (including music). Additional subjects sometimes included in the humanities are technology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics, although these are often regarded as social sciences. Scholars working in the humanities are sometimes described as "humanists". However, that term also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some "antihumanist" scholars in the humanities reject.
Humanities fields Classics
Bust of Homer, a Greek poet The classics, in the Western academic tradition, refer to cultures of classical antiquity, namely the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. The study of the classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its popularity declined during the 20th century. Nevertheless, the influence of classical ideas in many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong.
In other traditions. A good deal of twentieth-century and twenty-first-century philosophy has been devoted to the analysis of language and to the question of whether. Literature. literary theory has explored the rhetorical. In modern academia. Languages The study of individual modern and classical languages forms the backbone of modern study of the humanities. College-level programs in a foreign language usually include study of important works of the literature in that language. poetry and drama. When used as the name of a field of study. societies. as an "interpretive concept" to achieve justice.Outside of its traditional and academic meaning. as Wittgenstein claimed. While the scientific study of language is known as linguistics and is a social science. also lies at the heart of the modern humanities curriculum. Lao-tse and Chuang-tzu in China. associative. covering a variety of uses of language including prose forms (such as the novel). as an "authority" to mediate people's interests. the Old Bailey in London In common parlance. and even as . especially in the international relations context. history refers to the study and interpretation of the record of humans. and historians have studied the development of languages across time. the Vedas and Upanishads in India and various writings attributed to Confucius. classics would refer to the Hammurabi Code and the Gilgamesh Epic from Mesopotamia. law means a rule which (unlike a rule of ethics) is capable of enforcement through institutions. institutions. Knowledge of history is often said to encompass both knowledge of past events and historical thinking skills. the "classics" can be understood as including foundational writings from other major cultures. and any topic that has changed over time. Law is not always enforceable. History History is systematically collected information about the past. depending on one's view of research into its objectives and effects. as well as the language itself. the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It has been defined as a "system of rules". Law A trial at a criminal court. Traditionally. the study of history has been considered a part of the humanities. the study of languages is still central to the humanities. many of our philosophical confusions derive from the vocabulary we use. and ordering features of language. The study of law crosses the boundaries between the social sciences and humanities. history is occasionally classified as a social science.
Law tells many of history's stories. it is used as an honorific and applied only to those works which are considered to have particular merit. which can be molded or transformed to create some art object. Performing arts are also supported by workers in related fields. music. Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are called performers. Performers often adapt their appearance. such as songwriting and stagecraft. magic. comedians. face. such as brass bands. Law is philosophy. it can mean any sequence of words that has been preserved for transmission in some form or other (including oral transmission). Performing arts The performing arts differ from the plastic arts insofar as the former uses the artist's own body. it is often used to designate imaginative works such as stories. etc. tort. Laws are politics. and plays. comedy. because any rule about contract. company law and many more can have long lasting effects on the distribution of wealth. it is a completely central social institution. and singers. Performing arts include acrobatics. backed by the threat of a sanction". busking. meaning something laid down or fixed and the adjective legal comes from the Latin word lex. more narrowly. There is also a specialized form of fine art in which the artists perform their work . labour law. and presence as a medium. more narrowly still. dancers. film. dance. metal. case law and codifications build up over time. and theatre. including actors. juggling. opera. Legal policy incorporates the practical manifestation of thinking from almost every social science and discipline of the humanities. Literature Shakespeare wrote some of the greatest acclaimed works in English literature. because moral and ethical persuasions shape their ideas. or paint. property law. musicians. However one likes to think of law. and the latter uses materials such as clay. because politicians create them. "Literature" is a highly ambiguous term: at its broadest. The noun law derives from the late Old English lagu. because statutes. poems. And law is economics. marching arts. such as with costumes and stage makeup."the command of a sovereign.
and pantomime. Chinese opera. while graduate students focus on a particular path. ballet. sound and spectacle ² indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. musicology. mating dance). music education (training music teachers). kabuki. Dance was often referred to as a plastic art during the Modern dance era. Dance Dance (from Old French dancier. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style. aesthetic. Music Concert in the Mozarteum. artistic. theatre takes such forms as opera. gymnastics. including music performance. classical Indian dance. virtuoso techniques such as ballet. acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech. Theatre ) is the branch of the performing arts concerned with Theatre (or theater) (Greek "theatron". mime. music. Salzburg Music as an academic discipline can take a number of different paths. Choreography is the art of making dances. Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social. Most performance art also involves some form of plastic art. perhaps in the creation of props. In the liberal arts tradition. figure skating and synchronized swimming are dance disciplines while Martial arts 'kata' are often compared to dances.live to an audience. music is also used to broaden skills of non-musicians by teaching skills such as concentration and listening. and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as Folk dance) to codified. Undergraduate music majors generally take courses in all of these areas. gesture. Philosophy . perhaps from Frankish) generally refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or presented in a social. and motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind). dance. cultural. mummers' plays. This is called Performance art. music theory and composition. Dance is also used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance. and the person who does this is called a choreographer. In sports. spiritual or performance setting.
the philosophy done in universities (especially in the English-speaking parts of the world) has become much more analytic. and Ludwig Wittgenstein.") Today. justice. theology. truth. justification. rather than experiments (Experimental philosophy being an exception). the field of semantics. for example. Since the early twentieth century. metaphysics. "Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three sciences: physics. the "love of wisdom"--is generally the study of problems concerning matters such as existence. beauty. such as physics. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these issues by its critical. such as philosophy. ethics. This method of inquiry is largely indebted to the work of philosophers such as Gottlob Frege. and language. Moore.The works of Søren Kierkegaard overlap into many fields of the humanities. Bertrand Russell. there continues to be plenty of overlap with other disciplines. Religion . music. brings philosophy into contact with linguistics. psychology. and logic. including what have subsequently become separate disciplines. the main fields of philosophy are logic. and classical studies. knowledge. validity. rigorous method of inquiry that emphasizes the use of logic and more formal methods of reasoning. literature.E. mind. right and wrong. (As Immanuel Kant noted. and epistemology. ethics. Philosophy ² etymologically. Still. Philosophy used to be a very comprehensive term. generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument. G. Analytic philosophy is marked by a clear.
the Greek philosophical tradition. three schools of thought were to dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day. and also worship of the Sun and the Moon as deities. but to the power and example of tradition for political morality. In the east. and Islam comprises over half of the world's religious adherents. Abrahamic religions are those religions deriving from a common ancient Semitic tradition and traced by their adherents to Abraham (circa 1900 BCE). These were Taoism. Over time. and in the Quran. Most religious belief during this time period consisted of worship of a Mother Goddess. and Confucianism. Zoroastrianism in Persia being some of the earliest major faiths. and Buddhism in India. Christianity. Visual arts History of visual arts . a Sky Father. In the west. looked not to the force of law. This forms a large group of related largely monotheistic religions. where he also appears as a prophet. where he is described as a prophet (Genesis 20:7). particularly around the 6th century BC. was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East by the conquests of Alexander of Macedon in the 4th century BC. generally held to include Judaism. (see also Sun worship) New philosophies and religions arose in both east and west. Most historians trace the beginnings of religious belief to the Neolithic Period. Legalism. The Confucian tradition.The compass in this 13th century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of creation. a patriarch whose life is narrated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. represented by the works of Plato and Aristotle. a great variety of religions developed around the world. with Hinduism. Jainism. which would attain predominance.
which show the corporeality of the human body. the art of India. The great traditions in art have a foundation in the art of one of the ancient civilizations. A characteristic of this style is that the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary equivalent is the cartoon). the dominance of the church insisted on the expression of biblical and not material truths. China. and expresses religious ideas through geometry instead.g. Greece and Rome. and this shift is reflected in art forms. shown with characteristic distinguishing features (e. Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica. beauty and anatomically correct proportions.. The physical and rational certainties depicted by the 19th-century Enlightenment were shattered not only by new discoveries of relativity by Einstein and of unseen psychology by Freud. Ancient Greek art saw a veneration of the human physical form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature. Tibet and Japan. rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by light. This is evident in. such as Ancient Japan. for example. The Renaissance saw the return to valuation of the material world. An artist's palette Religious Islamic art forbids iconography. and the threedimensional reality of landscape. fan mounted as album leaf on silk. shade and reflection). namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour (meaning the plain colour of an object. four columns in cursive script.Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong (1107±1187) of Song Dynasty. Zeus' thunderbolt). India. Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval art. In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Middle Ages. poise. but also by . Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans. such as basic red for a red robe.
theoreticians. Kandinsky. Moreover the use of language is only a generalization for a colour equivalent. when used in an artistic sense it means the use of this activity in combination with drawing. Isaac Newton. can cover a wide range of variations on the pure red of the spectrum. scribbling. Black is associated with mourning in the West. Digital tools which simulate the effects of these are also used. Painting The Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable artistic paintings in the Western world. have written their own colour theory. crosshatching. writers and scientists. and blending. Colour is highly subjective. composition and other aesthetic considerations in order to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner. or moving a tool across a surface. hatching. The main techniques used in drawing are: line drawing. It generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool. but elsewhere white may be. However. Colour is the essence of painting as sound is of music. Increasing global interaction during this time saw an equivalent influence of other cultures into Western art. The word "red". Some painters. pastels. Painting taken literally is the practice of applying pigment suspended in a carrier (or medium) and a binding agent (a glue) to a surface (support) such as paper. random hatching. crayons. An artist who excels in drawing is referred to as a draftsman or draughtsman. pen and ink. and markers. although these can differ from one culture to the next. canvas or a wall. for example.unprecedented technological development. wax color pencils. including Goethe. Media types Drawing is a means of making an image. Painting is also used to express spiritual motifs and ideas. stippling. Common tools are graphite pencils. but has observable psychological effects. sites of this kind of painting range from artwork depicting mythological figures on pottery to The Sistine Chapel to the human body itself. There is not a formalized register of different colours . using any of a wide variety of tools and techniques. inked brushes. charcoals.
Other colleges with nationally recognized. Adler  and E. Jr. collage. This began with cubism and is not painting in strict sense. straw or wood for their texture. The 1980 United States Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities described the humanities in its report. the study of the humanities can be traced to ancient Greece. such as C or C# in music. hope. John's College. astronomy and music (the quadrivium). and the arts for all students. as the basis of a broad education for citizens. D. many millions of veterans . with the emphasis being on the humanities as skills or "ways of doing. with a corresponding shift away from the traditional fields into areas such as literature and history. which requires all college students to study the humanities in addition to their specific area of study. Saint Anselm College and Providence College. Prominent proponents of liberal arts in the United States have included Mortimer J. despair. geometry. Humanities today In the United States Main article: Humanities in the United States Many American colleges and universities believe in the notion of a broad "liberal arts education". and reason. "Increasing numbers of critics view education in the liberal arts as irrelevant"  or "learning more and more about less and less"  which no longer prepares the students for the American job market in the face of increased competition due to more graduates . Modern and contemporary art has moved away from the historic value of craft in favour of concept. The Humanities in American Life: Through the humanities we reflect on the fundamental question: What does it mean to be human? The humanities offer clues but never a complete answer. this view was in turn challenged by the postmodernist movement. After World War II. Modern artists have extended the practice of painting considerably to include. cement. as a serious art form. and intellectual sense of a world in which irrationality. Examples of this are the works of Jean Dubuffet or Anselm Kiefer. Hirsch. Some modern painters incorporate different materials such as sand. loneliness. During Roman times. although the Pantone system is widely used in the printing and design industry for this purpose. In the 20th century. involving grammar.. and death are as conspicuous as birth. the concept of the seven liberal arts evolved. this has led some to say that painting. required two year programs in the liberal arts are St. although this has not deterred the majority of artists from continuing to practise it either as whole or part of their work. for example. is dead. History of the humanities In the West. literature. when the humanities began to be regarded as subjects to be studied rather than practiced. The University of Chicago and Columbia University were among the first schools to require an extensive core curriculum in philosophy.in the way that there is agreement on different notes in music. spiritual. which sought to redefine the humanities in more egalitarian terms suitable for a democratic society. These subjects formed the bulk of medieval education. friendship. They reveal how people have tried to make moral. rhetoric and logic (the trivium). along with arithmetic." A major shift occurred with the Renaissance humanism of the fifteenth century.
 Responses to those changing institutional norms. resulting in an increased demand for academic disciplines to justify their existence based on the applicability of their disciplines to the world outside of the university. however.2% having graduated with a Bachelor's degree or higher."  In the digital age Researchers in the humanities have developed numerous large and small scale digital corpora. The modern "crisis" facing humanities scholars in the university is multifaceted: universities in the United States in particular have adopted corporate guidelines requiring profit both from undergraduate education and from academic scholarship and research. the percentage of enrollments and majors in the humanities is shrinking. they claimed. including 8% who graduated with a graduate degree. a self-reflection which in turn helps develop personal consciousness and/or an active sense of civic duty. have varied greatly both inside and outside of the university system.  That conscience might take the form of a passive one that allows more effective self-reflection or extend into active empathy which facilitates the dispensation of civic duties in which a responsible world citizen must engage. Through that narrative imagination. The field where much of this activity occurs is called the Digital Humanities. Further expansion of federal education grants and loans have expanded the number of adults in the United States that have attended a college. Citizenship. it is claimed. although overall enrollment in the humanities expressed in actual numbers has not significantly changed (and by some measurements has actually increased slightly). Their aim is both to uncover new knowledge about corpora and to visualize research data in new and revealing ways. and the humanities Since the late 19th century. Increasing corporate emphasis on "life-long learning" has also impacted the university¶s role as educator and researcher. ties like-minded people from similar cultural backgrounds together and provides a sense of cultural continuity with the philosophical past.  The counter view is that "A familiarity with the body of knowledge and methods of inquiry and discovery of the arts and sciences and a capacity to integrate knowledge across experience and discipline may have far more lasting value in such a changing world than specialized techniques and training. a central justification for the Humanities has been that it aids and encourages self-reflection. on the level of impact humanities study can have on an individual and . along with the digital tools and methods to analyze them. and to changing emphasis on what constitutes "useful skills" in an increasingly technological world. humanities scholars and students develop a conscience more suited to the multicultural world in which we live. self-reflection. This understanding.took advantage of the GI Bill. There is disagreement.  In 2003. Scholars in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries extended that ³narrative imagination´ to the ability to understand the records of lived experiences outside of one¶s own individual social and cultural context. roughly 53% of the population had some college education with 27. Legitimation of the humanities Compared to the growing numbers of undergraduates enrolled in private and public post-secondary institutions. Wilhelm Dilthey and Hans-Georg Gadamer centered the humanities¶ attempt to distinguish itself from the natural sciences in humankind¶s urge to understand its own experiences. which can quickly become outmoded. such as digitized collections of historical texts.
according to many theorists.[dubious ± discuss] Pleasure. Poststructuralism has problematized an approach to the humanistic study based on questions of meaning. and simply places impossible demands on the relevant academic departments. various theoretical currents such as deconstruction and discourse analysis seek to expose the ideologies and rhetoric operative in producing both the purportedly meaningful objects and the hermeneutic subjects of humanistic study. Instead. In this argument.whether or not the understanding produced in humanistic enterprise can guarantee an ³identifiable positive effect on people. then. and authorship. And the humanities do not even provide any more the kind of social cachet (what sociologists sometimes call "cultural capital") that was helpful to succeed in Western society before the age of mass education following World War II. What distinguishes the humanities from the natural sciences is not a certain subject matter.) Any attempt to justify the humanities in terms of outside benefits such as social usefulness (say increased productivity) or in terms of ennobling effects on the individual (such as greater wisdom or diminished prejudice) is ungrounded. the pursuit of knowledge. meaning. purpose.´ Truth. Imagination. intentionality. This exposure has opened up the interpretive structures of the humanities to criticism humanities scholarship is ³unscientific´ and therefore unfit for inclusion in modern university curricula because of the very nature of its changing contextual meaning. as part of the tool kit of artists or scholars. according to Fish. Humanities focuses on understanding meaning. and goals and furthers the appreciation of singular historical and social phenomena²an interpretive method of finding ³truth´²rather than explaining the causality of events or uncovering the truth of the natural world. it thus meets Jürgen Habermas¶ requirements for the disregard of social status and rational problematization of previously unquestioned areas necessary for an endeavor which takes place in the bourgeois public sphere. is the foundation for modern democracy. rather than history and philosophy. narrative imagination is an important tool in the (re)production of understood meaning in history. only the academic pursuit of pleasure can provide a link between the private and the public realm in modern Western consumer society and strengthen that public sphere which. (Fish may well be thinking primarily of literary study. while arguably a result of humanistic training. Furthermore. culture and literature. can be acquired in other contexts. critical thinking.[dubious ± discuss] In the wake of the death of the author proclaimed by Roland Barthes. Such pleasure contrasts with the increasing privatization of leisure and instant gratification characteristic of Western culture. scholars like Fish suggest that the humanities offer a unique kind of pleasure. no "absolute" knowledge is theoretically possible. have claimed that the humanities can defend themselves best by refusing to make any claims of utility. a pleasure based on the common pursuit of knowledge (even if it is only disciplinary knowledge). a world in . Joseph Carroll asserts that we live in a changing world. and the humanities The divide between humanistic study and natural sciences informs arguments of meaning in humanities as well. Since a humanities scholar is always within the nexus of lived experiences. Apart from its societal application.  Romanticization and rejection of the humanities Implicit in many of these arguments supporting the humanities are the makings of arguments against public support of the humanities. but rather the mode of approach to any question. like Stanley Fish. serves as vehicle to create meaning which invokes a response from an audience. knowledge is instead a ceaseless procedure of inventing and reinventing the context in which a text is read. and humanities scholarship Some.
Katherine Hayles. Examples include: Harold Bloom. transhumanists in particular tend to be more concerned with testing and altering the limits of our mental and physical capacities in fields such as cognitive science and bioengineering in order to transcend the essentially bodily limitations that have bounded humanity. Frank B. amiel domingo . Such arguments appeal to judgments and anxieties about the essential uselessness of the humanities." The notion that 'in today's day and age. Bill echoes arguments put forth by scholars and cultural commentators that call themselves "posthumanists" or "transhumanists. however. Why Does Literature Matter? (2004). Rather than engage with old-style humanist scholarship. Alexander Nehamas.I. Lisa Zunshine. And in recent years there has been a spate of books and articles re-articulating the importance of humanistic study." Minsky's faith in the superiority of technical knowledge and his reduction of the humanities scholar of today to an obsolete relic of the past supported by the tax dollars of romantics fondly recalling the days of the G. Farrell. history and the arts to engage in "collaborative work with experimental scientists" or even simply to make "intelligent use of the findings from empirical science. Why We Read Fiction (2006). Rita Felski. Examples of these trends are assertions by cognitive scientists that the mind is simply a computing device. Despite the criticism of humanities scholarship as obsolete. What Good Are the Arts? (2006). or by bioengineers who claim that one day it may be both possible and desirable to create human-animal hybrids.give me that money and I will build you a better student. according to some postmodern linguists). Production of Presence (2004). history. by geneticists that human beings are no more than ephemeral husks used by self-propagating genes (or even memes. How to Read and Why (2001).' with its focus on the ideals of efficiency and practical utility. John Carey. many of the most influential post-humanist works are profoundly engaged with film and literary criticism. scholars of the humanities are becoming obsolete was perhaps summed up most powerfully in a remark that has been attributed to the artificial intelligence specialist Marvin Minsky: ³With all the money that we are throwing away on humanities and art . Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. Uses of Literature (2008). especially in an age when it is seemingly vitally important for scholars of literature." The idea is that current trends in the scientific understanding of human beings are calling the basic category of "the human" into question. and cultural studies as can be seen in the writings of Donna Haraway and N. Only A Promise Of Happiness (2007).which "cultural capital" is being replaced with "scientific literacy" and in which the romantic notion of a Renaissance humanities scholar is obsolete.
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