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Introduction to Humanities

Humanities Through The Arts

Chapter One The Humanities A Study Of Values

What is humanities?

Humanus(latin)- human, cultured, refined Human qualities- rationality, kindness, and tenderness which gain connotation based on values, beliefs and experiences.


The humanities are those studies that are directly concerned with human values. Unlike the sciences, which are expressed through numbers and symbols, human values can be perceived, felt, and expressed in subtle and enduring ways.

Meaning of Humanities


In the medieval period the word Humanities distinguished that which pertained to humans from that which pertained to God. At present it refers to the defined group of academic subjects united by the commitment to study aspects of human conditions. Academically, we refer to the humanities as the study of arts (architecture, painting and the like). Branches of learning concerned with human thought, feelings and relations. Study of arts is the study of mankind. However, it should be stressed that the humanities emphasize analysis and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts.

Humanities a Study in Values

Humanities covers a broad area of human creativity but are distinct from mathematics and the hard sciences. The separation between the humanities and the sciences is illustrated in the way values work differently in the two areas. Both the scientist and the humanist must make value judgments.

The development of powerful weapons is seen as a positive development for the scientist - because of the many possibilities the development of the weapon might bring. On the other hand the humanist might see the development of powerful weapons as a bad thing that will eventually affect or even destroy a culture, people and or an entire life style.

A Humanist Approach

humanists say, what we need is a study that will get us closer to ourselves.  Of the many ways to study an approach to the humanities is through art and the subtle & enduring ways values are expressed in the arts.

Taste: is an exercise values!


People are often quick to say they like or dislike a piece of work because of taste. An there is no accounting for taste. The taste of the mass public shifts constantly. It does not matter if it is in; fashion, programs, slang words or terms, etc., it will one day go out of style. Examples: gold teeth, mini skirts, the thong, etc.

Regardless- Everyone

can and should be educated about the arts and should learn to respond to as wide a variety of the arts as possible  Because when we do there is a change within us - something has been added.

Significance of Humanities

Art constitutes one of the oldest form and most important means of expression developed by man. Language charged with feelings and significance Art communicates ideas and feelings by means of sensuous medium (colors, sounds, words and film) symbolic language (design and form) appeals to our minds, arouses emotions, kindles imagination, and enchants our senses thus, it reflects the ideals, hopes and fears of the times in which an individual live.

Significance of Humanities

Humanities are the stories, the ideas, and the words that:  help us make sense of our lives and our world.  It help us decide what is important in our lives and what we can do to make them better.  By connecting us with other people, they point the way to answer about what is right or wrong, or what is true to our heritage and our history  Help us address the challenge we face together in our families, our communities and as a nation.

Why should we study the Humanities?

The course is expected to help the students grow up to be better human beings than they were before they enrolled in the course. Why?  The course intend to make the students realize that the mere possession of knowledge is useless unless put to useful ends.  It aims to help the students to be aware that knowledge alone is meaningless unless it is accompanied by values, sentiments, priorities, insights, inter-relationships and other inspiring realities not subject to practical proofs which also form part of the persons education.

Short Film


Taste and Hunger

Many facts are involved in the study of the arts


We can verify the dates of Beethovens birth and death; the dates of his important compositions, as well as, their key signature and numbers. We can investigate the history of jazz and the claims of Jelly Roll Morton for having been its inventor. We can make lists of the Impressionist painters and those they influenced. There are oceans of facts attached to every art form. But our interest is not in fact alone.

What we mean by a study of the arts penetrates beyond facts


relates to the values that evoke our feelings  In other words we go beyond the facts about a work of art and get to the values implied in the work.  We learn to recognize the values expressed in such works as well as to understand the ways in which they are expressed.

Responses to Art

responses to art are complex  Education in the arts permits us to observe more closely and thereby respond more intensely to the content.  Consider the short film Food, Taste and Hunger by Ferdinand Dimadura

Knowledge about a work of art can lead to your knowledge of the work of art,

implies a richer experience.  THIS IS IMPORTANT as a basic principle since it means that we can be educated about what is in a work of art, such as its form, shapes, and objects, as well as what is external to a work, SUCH AS its political references.

Artistic Form:

is the interrelationships of lines, color, light, textures and shapes.  Form of any painting can be analyzed because any painting has to be organized


we need to know something about the background of a work of art that would aid our perception.  Composition is basic to all the arts  To perceive any work of art adequately, we must perceive its structure.

Abstract Ideas and Concrete Images:


Examine the following poem l(a- by e. e. Cummings. Cummings poem presents an abstract idea fused with a concrete image or word picture. It is concrete because what is described is a physical event; a falling leaf. Abstract idea on the other hand deal with words or terms such as; love, hate, indecision, arrogance, jealousy, ambition, justice, civil rights, etc.

What is a work of art?


A work of art is often said to be something made by a person. Not natural beauties. Instead it is of human creation! Identifying Art Conceptually: Criteria for determining whether or not something is a work of art: 1. That the object or event is made by an artist, 2. That the object or event is intended to be a work of art by its maker 3. that important or recognized experts agree that it is a work of art. mass produced works do not qualify as works of art.

Identifying Art Perceptually:


what we can observe and conception, what we know or think we know, are closely related. Do they possess artistically perceivable qualities?

Four Factors for Identifying Art Perceptually


1. Artistic form: All objects and events have form. Form is the interrelationships of part to part and part to whole. Perceptible unity! Artistic form distinguishes art from objects or events that are not works of art. 2. Content: Content is the meaning of artistic form. The meaning! 3. Subject Matter: is the content or meaning of the work of art; is never directly presented in a work of art; 4. Participation: We must not only give but also sustain our undivided attention. Only by participation can we come close to a full awareness of what the painting is all about. Good Analysis

Cumming, e.e.

l(a... (a leaf falls on loneliness) l(a le af fa ll s) one l iness

Being a Critic of the Arts

Chapter 3

There are methods and means for becoming a good critic and understanding the goals of responsible criticism. The act of responsible criticism aims for the fullest understanding and the fullest participation possible. It requires being at the height of awareness while examining a work of art in detail, establishing its context, and clarifying its achievement.

Being A Critic Of The Arts



are already an art critic - when you; choose a film or change the channel looking for something better, turn a radio dial looking for good music, when you stop to admire a building or a sculpture.  Our experience is one factor which qualifies us to make such critical judgments. It helps us make critical judgments without hesitation.

Critics of the arts


has limitations as a critic.  Without some specific critical training ourselves we are capable of going only so far.  By learning some principles about criticism and how to put them to work, we can develop our capacities as critics.

Being a Critic of the Arts


basic critical purpose is to learn, by reflecting on works of art,  how to participate with these works more intensely and enjoyably;  good criticism will sharpen our perception of the form of a work of art and increase our understanding of its content.

Kinds of Criticism:
Descriptive Criticism



Descriptive criticism concentrates on the form of a work of art, Describing the important characteristics of that form in order to improve our understanding of the part-to-part and part-to-whole interrelationships. Still, we miss things and oftentimes we miss things that are right there for us to observe. Good descriptive critics call our attention to what we might otherwise miss in an artistic form.

Kinds of Criticism:
Interpretive Criticism

criticism gives detailed explanation of the content of a work of art.  It helps us understand how form transforms subject matter into content: what has been revealed about some subject matter and how that has been accomplished.

Kinds of Criticism:
Evaluative Criticism

criticism to evaluate a work of art is to judge its merits (praiseworthy quality).  At first glance, this seems to suggest that it is prescriptive criticism, which prescribes what is good as if it were a medicine and tell us that this work is superior to that work.

Kinds of Criticism:
Evaluative Criticism continued


evaluative criticism makes you uncomfortable, your reaction is based on good instincts.  Nevertheless, evaluative criticism of some kind is generally necessary.  Evaluative criticisms three fundamental standards: perfection, insight, and inexhaustibility. -30-