Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human
society and culture. In the renaissance, the term contrasted with
divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of
secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are
more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social,
sciences as well as professional training.
The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or
speculative, and have a significant historical element—as
distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural
sciences, yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central
discipline. The humanities include ancient and modern languages,
literature, philosophy, geography, history, religion, art and
Scholars in the humanities are "humanity scholars" or humanists.
The term "humanist" also describes the philosophical position of
humanism, which some "antihumanist" scholars in the humanities refuse.
Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists. Some
secondary schools offer humanities classes usually consisting of
English literature, global studies and art.
Human disciplines like history and cultural anthropology study subject
matters that the manipulative experimental method does not apply
to—and instead mainly use the comparative method and comparative
Linguistics and languages
Law and politics
1.8 Performing arts
1.11 Visual arts
History of visual arts
1.11.2 Media types
2 Origin of the term
Education and employment
4.2 In the United States
Humanities in American Life
4.2.3 As a major
4.2.4 In liberal arts education
4.2.5 In the digital age
4.3 In Europe
4.3.1 The value of the humanities debate
5 Philosophical history
5.1 Citizenship and self-reflection
5.2 Humanistic theories and practices
Truth and meaning
5.4 Pleasure, the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship
5.5 Romanticization and rejection
6 See also
8 External links
Main article: Anthropology
Anthropology is the holistic "science of humans", a science of the
totality of human existence. The discipline deals with the integration
of different aspects of the social sciences, humanities and human
biology. In the twentieth century, academic disciplines have often
been institutionally divided into three broad domains. The natural
sciences seek to derive general laws through reproducible and
verifiable experiments. The humanities generally study local
traditions, through their history, literature, music, and arts, with
an emphasis on understanding particular individuals, events, or eras.
The social sciences have generally attempted to develop scientific
methods to understand social phenomena in a generalizable way, though
usually with methods distinct from those of the natural sciences.
The anthropological social sciences often develop nuanced descriptions
rather than the general laws derived in physics or chemistry, or they
may explain individual cases through more general principles, as in
many fields of psychology.
Anthropology (like some fields of history)
does not easily fit into one of these categories, and different
branches of anthropology draw on one or more of these domains.
Within the United States, anthropology is divided into four
sub-fields: archaeology, physical or biological anthropology,
anthropological linguistics, and cultural anthropology. It is an area
that is offered at most undergraduate institutions. The word anthropos
(άνθρωπος) is from the Greek for "human being" or "person".
Eric Wolf described sociocultural anthropology as "the most scientific
of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences".
The goal of anthropology is to provide a holistic account of humans
and human nature. This means that, though anthropologists generally
specialize in only one sub-field, they always keep in mind the
biological, linguistic, historic and cultural aspects of any problem.
Since anthropology arose as a science in Western societies that were
complex and industrial, a major trend within anthropology has been a
methodological drive to study peoples in societies with more simple
social organization, sometimes called "primitive" in anthropological
literature, but without any connotation of "inferior". Today,
anthropologists use terms such as "less complex" societies or refer to
specific modes of subsistence or production, such as "pastoralist" or
"forager" or "horticulturalist" to refer to humans living in
non-industrial, non-Western cultures, such people or folk (ethnos)
remaining of great interest within anthropology.
The quest for holism leads most anthropologists to study a people in
detail, using biogenetic, archaeological, and linguistic data
alongside direct observation of contemporary customs. In the 1990s
and 2000s, calls for clarification of what constitutes a culture, of
how an observer knows where his or her own culture ends and another
begins, and other crucial topics in writing anthropology were heard.
It is possible to view all human cultures as part of one large,
evolving global culture. These dynamic relationships, between what can
be observed on the ground, as opposed to what can be observed by
compiling many local observations remain fundamental in any kind of
anthropology, whether cultural, biological, linguistic or
Main article: Archaeology
Archaeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and
analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of
artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural
Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a
branch of the humanities. It has various goals, which range from
understanding culture history to reconstructing past lifeways to
documenting and explaining changes in human societies through time.
Archaeology is thought of as a branch of anthropology in the United
States, while in Europe, it is viewed as a discipline in its own
right, or grouped under other related disciplines such as history.
Bust of Homer, the most famous Greek poet
Classics, in the Western academic tradition, refer to the studies of
the cultures of classical antiquity, namely Ancient Greek and Latin
and the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Classical studies are
considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its
popularity declined during the 20th century. Nevertheless, the
influence of classical ideas on many humanities disciplines, such as
philosophy and literature, remains strong.
History is systematically collected information about the past. When
used as the name of a field of study, history refers to the study and
interpretation of the record of humans, societies, institutions, and
any topic that has changed over time.
Traditionally, the study of history has been considered a part of the
humanities. In modern academia, history is occasionally classified as
a social science.
Linguistics and languages
Linguistics and Language
See also: All pages with a title containing language
While the scientific study of language is known as linguistics and is
generally considered a social science, a natural science or a
cognitive science, the study of languages is still central to the
humanities. 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, as
Wittgenstein claimed, many of our
philosophical confusions derive from the vocabulary we use; literary
theory has explored the rhetorical, associative, and ordering features
of language; and historical linguists have studied the development of
languages across time. Literature, covering a variety of uses of
language including prose forms (such as the novel), poetry and drama,
also lies at the heart of the modern humanities curriculum.
College-level programs in a foreign language usually include study of
important works of the literature in that language, as well as the
Law and politics
A trial at a criminal court, the
Old Bailey in London
Main article: Law
In common parlance, law means a rule that (unlike a rule of ethics) is
enforceable through institutions. The study of law crosses the
boundaries between the social sciences and humanities, depending on
one's view of research into its objectives and effects.
Law is not
always enforceable, especially in the international relations context.
It has been defined as a "system of rules", as an "interpretive
concept" to achieve justice, as an "authority" to mediate
people's interests, and even as "the command of a sovereign, backed by
the threat of a sanction". However one likes to think of law, it
is a completely central social institution. Legal policy incorporates
the practical manifestation of thinking from almost every social
science and discipline of the humanities. Laws are politics, because
politicians create them.
Law is philosophy, because moral and ethical
persuasions shape their ideas.
Law tells many of history's stories,
because statutes, case law and codifications build up over time. And
law is economics, because any rule about contract, tort, property law,
labour law, company law and many more can have long-lasting effects on
how productivity is organised and the distribution of wealth. The noun
law derives from the late Old English lagu, meaning something laid
down or fixed and the adjective legal comes from the
Main article: Literature
Shakespeare wrote some of the most acclaimed works in English
Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted
definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing
that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds
literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term
Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with
letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts.
Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or
non-fiction, and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further
distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story
or drama; and works are often categorised according to historical
periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features
or expectations (genre).
The performing arts differ from the visual arts in so far as the
former uses the artist's own body, face, and presence as a medium, and
the latter uses materials such as clay, metal, or paint, which can be
molded or transformed to create some art object. Performing arts
include acrobatics, busking, comedy, dance, film, magic, music, opera,
juggling, marching arts, such as brass bands, and theatre.
Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are
called performers, including actors, comedians, dancers, musicians,
Performing arts are also supported by workers in related
fields, such as songwriting and stagecraft. Performers often adapt
their appearance, such as with costumes and stage makeup, etc. There
is also a specialized form of fine art in which the artists perform
their work live to an audience. This is called
Performance art. Most
performance art also involves some form of plastic art, perhaps in the
creation of props.
Dance was often referred to as a plastic art during
Modern dance era.
Concert in the Mozarteum, Salzburg
Musicology as an academic discipline can take a number of different
paths, including historical musicology, ethnomusicology and music
theory. Undergraduate music majors generally take courses in all of
these areas, while graduate students focus on a particular path. In
the liberal arts tradition, musicology is also used to broaden skills
of non-musicians by teaching skills such as concentration and
Theatre (or theater) (Greek "theatron", θέατρον) is the branch
of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of
an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound
and spectacle — indeed any one or more elements of the other
performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style,
theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical
Indian dance, Chinese opera, mummers' plays, and pantomime.
Old French dancier, perhaps from Frankish) generally
refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or
presented in a social, spiritual or performance setting.
Dance is also
used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body
language) between humans or animals (bee dance, mating dance), and
motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind).
Choreography is the art of creating dances, and the person who does
this is called a choreographer.
Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social,
cultural, aesthetic, artistic, and moral constraints and range from
functional movement (such as Folk dance) to codified, virtuoso
techniques such as ballet.
The works of
Søren Kierkegaard overlap into many fields of the
humanities, such as philosophy, literature, theology, music, and
Philosophy—etymologically, the "love of wisdom"—is generally the
study of problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge,
justification, truth, justice, right and wrong, beauty, validity,
mind, and language.
Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of
addressing these issues by its critical, generally systematic approach
and its reliance on reasoned argument, rather than experiments
(experimental philosophy being an exception).
Philosophy used to be a very comprehensive term, including what have
subsequently become separate disciplines, such as physics. (As
Immanuel Kant noted, "Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three
sciences: physics, ethics, and logic.") Today, the main fields of
philosophy are logic, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Still, it
continues to overlap with other disciplines. The field of semantics,
for example, brings philosophy into contact with linguistics.
Since the early twentieth century, philosophy in English-speaking
universities has moved away from the humanities and closer to the
formal sciences, becoming much more analytic.
Analytic philosophy is
marked by emphasis on the use of logic and formal methods of
reasoning, conceptual analysis, and the use of symbolic and/or
mathematical logic, as contrasted with the Continental style of
philosophy. This method of inquiry is largely indebted to the work
of philosophers such as Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore,
and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
The compass in this 13th-century manuscript is a symbol of God's act
New philosophies and religions arose in both east and west,
particularly around the 6th century BC. Over time, a great variety of
religions developed around the world, with Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism,
Buddhism in India,
Zoroastrianism in Persia being some of the
earliest major faiths. In the east, three schools of thought were to
dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day. These were Taoism,
Legalism, and Confucianism. The Confucian tradition, which would
attain predominance, looked not to the force of law, but to the power
and example of tradition for political morality. In the west, the
Greek philosophical tradition, represented by the works of
Aristotle, was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East by the
conquests of Alexander of Macedon in the 4th century BC.
Abrahamic religions are those religions deriving from a common ancient
tradition and traced by their adherents to
Abraham (circa 1900 BCE), a
patriarch whose life is narrated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament,
where he is described as a prophet (Genesis 20:7), and in the Quran,
where he also appears as a prophet. This forms a large group of
related largely monotheistic religions, generally held to include
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and comprises over half of the
world's religious adherents.
History of visual arts
Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong (1107–1187) of Song
Dynasty; fan mounted as album leaf on silk, four columns in cursive
The great traditions in art have a foundation in the art of one of the
ancient civilizations, such as Ancient Japan, Greece and Rome, China,
Pakistan, Greater Nepal,
Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica.
Ancient Greek art saw a veneration of the human physical form and the
development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty
and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods
as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features
(e.g., Zeus' thunderbolt).
In Byzantine and
Gothic art of the Middle Ages, the dominance of the
church insisted on the expression of biblical and not material truths.
Renaissance saw the return to valuation of the material world, and
this shift is reflected in art forms, which show the corporeality of
the human body, and the three-dimensional reality of landscape.
Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval
art, namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour
(meaning the plain colour of an object, such as basic red for a red
robe, rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by
light, shade and reflection). A characteristic of this style is that
the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary
equivalent is the cartoon). This is evident in, for example, the art
of India, Tibet and Japan.
Religious Islamic art forbids iconography, and expresses religious
ideas through geometry instead. 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, but also by unprecedented technological development.
Increasing global interaction during this time saw an equivalent
influence of other cultures into Western art.
Drawing is a means of making a picture, using any of a wide variety of
tools and techniques. It generally involves making marks on a surface
by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface.
Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax
color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools
that simulate the effects of these are also used. The main techniques
used in drawing are: line drawing, hatching, crosshatching, random
hatching, scribbling, stippling, and blending. A computer aided
designer who excels in technical drawing is referred to as a draftsman
Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most recognizable
artistic paintings in the Western world.
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, canvas or a wall. However, when used in an
artistic sense it means the use of this activity in combination with
drawing, composition and other aesthetic considerations in order to
manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner.
Painting is also used to express spiritual motifs and ideas; sites of
this kind of painting range from artwork depicting mythological
figures on pottery to The
Sistine Chapel to the human body itself.
Colour is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects,
although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is
associated with mourning in the West, but elsewhere white may be. Some
painters, theoreticians, writers and scientists, including Goethe,
Kandinsky, Isaac Newton, have written their own colour theories.
Moreover, the use of language is only a generalization for a colour
equivalent. The word "red", for example, can cover a wide range of
variations on the pure red of the spectrum. There is not a formalized
register of different colours in the way that there is agreement on
different notes in music, such as C or C# in music, although the
Pantone system is widely used in the printing and design industry for
Modern artists have extended the practice of painting considerably to
include, for example, collage. This began with cubism and is not
painting in strict sense. Some modern painters incorporate different
materials such as sand, cement, straw or wood for their texture.
Examples of this are the works of  or Anselm Kiefer. Modern and
contemporary art has moved away from the historic value of craft in
favour of concept; this has led some[who?] to say that painting, as a
serious art form, is dead, although this has not deterred the majority
of artists from continuing to practise it either as whole or part of
Origin of the term
The word "humanities" is derived from the
studia humanitatis, or "study of humanitas" (a classical
meaning—in addition to "humanity" -- "culture, refinement,
education" and, specifically, an "education befitting a cultivated
man"). In its usage in the early 15th century, the studia humanitatis
was a course of studies that consisted of grammar, poetry, rhetoric,
history, and moral philosophy, primarily derived from the study of
Latin and Greek classics. The word humanitas also gave rise to the
Renaissance Italian neologism umanisti, whence "humanist",
In the West, the study of the humanities can be traced to ancient
Greece, as the basis of a broad education for citizens. During
Roman times, the concept of the seven liberal arts evolved, involving
grammar, rhetoric and logic (the trivium), along with arithmetic,
geometry, astronomy and music (the quadrivium). These subjects
formed the bulk of medieval education, with the emphasis being on the
humanities as skills or "ways of doing".
A major shift occurred with the
Renaissance humanism of the fifteenth
century, when the humanities began to be regarded as subjects to study
rather than practice, with a corresponding shift away from traditional
fields into areas such as literature and history. In the 20th century,
this view was in turn challenged by the postmodernist movement, which
sought to redefine the humanities in more egalitarian terms suitable
for a democratic society since the Greek and Roman societies in which
the humanities originated were not at all democratic. This was in
keeping with the postmodernists' nuanced view of themselves as the
culmination of history.
Education and employment
For many decades, there has been a growing public perception that a
humanities education inadequately prepares graduates for
employment. The common belief is that graduates from such programs
face underemployment and incomes too low for a humanities education to
be worth the investment.
In fact, humanities graduates find employment in a wide variety of
management and professional occupations. In Britain, for example, over
11,000 humanities majors found employment in the following
Civil service (5.8%)
Many humanities graduates finish university with no career goals in
mind. Consequently, many spend the first few years after
graduation deciding what to do next, resulting in lower incomes at the
start of their career; meanwhile, graduates from career-oriented
programs experience more rapid entry into the labour market. However,
usually within five years of graduation, humanities graduates find an
occupation or career path that appeals to them. In terms of
employability, humanities graduates are seen to possess some of the
most sought-after skills in large organizations, such as literacy and
There is empirical evidence that graduates from humanities programs
earn less than graduates from other university programs.
However, the empirical evidence also shows that humanities graduates
still earn notably higher incomes than workers with no postsecondary
education, and have job satisfaction levels comparable to their peers
from other fields.
Humanities graduates also earn more as their
careers progress; ten years after graduation, the income difference
between humanities graduates and graduates from other university
programs is no longer statistically significant. Humanities
graduates can earn even higher incomes if they obtain advanced or
In the United States
Humanities in the United States
Humanities Indicators, unveiled in 2009 by the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, are the first comprehensive compilation of data
about the humanities in the United States, providing scholars,
policymakers and the public with detailed information on humanities
education from primary to higher education, the humanities workforce,
humanities funding and research, and public humanities
activities. Modeled after the National Science Board's Science
and Engineering Indicators, the
Humanities Indicators are a source of
reliable benchmarks to guide analysis of the state of the humanities
in the United States.
If "The STEM Crisis Is a Myth", statements about a "crisis" in the
humanities are also misleading and ignore data of the sort collected
Humanities in American Life
The 1980 United States Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities
described the humanities in its report, The
Humanities in American
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. They reveal how people have tried to make moral,
spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world where irrationality,
despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth,
friendship, hope, and reason.
As a major
In 1950, a little over 1 percent of 22-year-olds in the United States
had earned a humanities degrees (defined as a degree in English,
language, history, philosophy); in 2010, this had doubled to about 2
and a half percent. In part, this is because there was an overall
rise in the number of Americans who have any kind of college degree.
(In 1940, 4.6 percent had a four-year degree; in 2016, 33.4 percent
had one.) As a percentage of the type of degrees awarded, however,
the humanities seem to be declining. Harvard University provides one
example. In 1954, 36 percent of Harvard undergraduates majored in the
humanities, but in 2012, only 20 percent took that course of
In liberal arts education
The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences 2013 report The
Heart of the Matter supports the notion of a broad "liberal arts
education", which includes study in disciplines from the natural
sciences to the arts as well as the humanities.
Many colleges provide such an education; some require it. The
University of Chicago
University of Chicago and
Columbia University were among the first
schools to require an extensive core curriculum in philosophy,
literature, and the arts for all students. Other colleges with
nationally recognized, mandatory programs in the liberal arts are
Fordham University, St. John's College,
Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College and
Providence College. Prominent proponents of liberal arts in the United
States have included Mortimer J. Adler and E. D. Hirsch, Jr..
In the digital age
Researchers in the humanities have developed numerous large- and
small-scale digital corpora, such as digitized collections of
historical texts, along with the digital tools and methods to analyze
them. Their aim is both to uncover new knowledge about corpora and to
visualize research data in new and revealing ways. Much of this
activity occurs in a field called the digital humanities.
Politicians in the United States currently espouse a need for
increased funding of the STEM fields, science, technology,
engineering, mathematics. Federal funding represents a much
smaller fraction of funding for humanities than other fields such as
STEM or medicine. The result was a decline of quality in both
college and pre-college education in the humanities field.
Former four-term Louisiana Governor,
Edwin Edwards (D), has recently
acknowledged the importance of the humanities. In a video address
to the academic conference, Revolutions in Eighteenth-Century
Sociability, Edwards said
Without the humanities to teach us how history has succeeded or failed
in directing the fruits of technology and science to the betterment of
our tribe of homo sapiens, without the humanities to teach us how to
frame the discussion and to properly debate the uses-and the costs-of
technology, without the humanities to teach us how to safely debate
how to create a more just society with our fellow man and woman,
technology and science would eventually default to the ownership
of—and misuse by—the most influential, the most powerful, the most
feared among us.
The value of the humanities debate
The contemporary debate in the field of critical university studies
centers around the declining value of the humanities. As in
America, there is a perceived decline in interest within higher
education policy in research that is qualitative and does not produce
marketable products. This threat can be seen in a variety of forms
across Europe, but much critical attention has been given to the field
of research assessment in particular. For example, the UK [Research
Excellence Framework] has been subject to criticism due to its
assessment criteria from across the humanities, and indeed, the social
sciences. In particular, the notion of "impact" has generated
Citizenship and self-reflection
Since the late 19th century, a central justification for the
humanities has been that it aids and encourages self-reflection—a
self-reflection that, in turn, helps develop personal consciousness or
an active sense of civic duty.
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. This understanding, they
claimed, ties like-minded people from similar cultural backgrounds
together and provides a sense of cultural continuity with the
Scholars in the late 20th and early 21st centuries extended that
"narrative imagination" to the ability to understand the records
of lived experiences outside of one's own individual social and
cultural context. Through that narrative imagination, it is claimed,
humanities scholars and students develop a conscience more suited to
the multicultural world we live in. That conscience might take the
form of a passive one that allows more effective self-reflection
or extend into active empathy that facilitates the dispensation of
civic duties a responsible world citizen must engage in. There is
disagreement, however, on the level of influence humanities study can
have on an individual and whether or not the understanding produced in
humanistic enterprise can guarantee an "identifiable positive effect
Humanistic theories and practices
There are three major branches of knowledge: natural sciences, social
sciences, and the humanities.
Technology is the practical extension of
the natural sciences, as politics is the extension of the social
sciences. Similarly, the humanities have their own practical
extension, sometimes called "transformative humanities"
(transhumanities) or "culturonics" (Mikhail Epstein's term):
Nature – natural sciences – technology
– transformation of nature
Society – social sciences
– politics – transformation of society
Culture – human sciences – culturonics –
transformation of culture
Technology, politics and culturonics are designed to transform what
their respective disciplines study: nature, society, and culture. The
field of transformative humanities includes various practicies and
technologies, for example, language planning, the construction of new
languages, like Esperanto, and invention of new artistic and literary
genres and movements in the genre of manifesto, like Romanticism,
Symbolism, or Surrealism. Humanistic invention in the sphere of
culture, as a practice complementary to scholarship, is an important
aspect of the humanities.
Truth and meaning
The divide between humanistic study and natural sciences informs
arguments of meaning in humanities as well. What distinguishes the
humanities from the natural sciences is not a certain subject matter,
but rather the mode of approach to any question.
Humanities focuses on
understanding meaning, purpose, and goals and furthers the
appreciation of singular historical and social phenomena—an
interpretive method of finding "truth"—rather than explaining the
causality of events or uncovering the truth of the natural world.
Apart from its societal application, narrative imagination is an
important tool in the (re)production of understood meaning in history,
culture and literature.
Imagination, as part of the tool kit of artists or scholars, helps
create meaning that invokes a response from an audience. Since a
humanities scholar is always within the nexus of lived experiences, no
"absolute" knowledge is theoretically possible; knowledge is instead a
ceaseless procedure of inventing and reinventing the context a text is
Poststructuralism has problematized an approach to the
humanistic study based on questions of meaning, intentionality, and
authorship.[dubious – discuss] In the wake of the death of the
author proclaimed by Roland Barthes, 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. This
exposure has opened up the interpretive structures of the humanities
to criticism humanities scholarship is "unscientific" and therefore
unfit for inclusion in modern university curricula because of the very
nature of its changing contextual meaning.[dubious – discuss]
Pleasure, the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship
Some, like Stanley Fish, have claimed that the humanities can defend
themselves best by refusing to make any claims of utility. (Fish
may well be thinking primarily of literary study, rather than history
and philosophy.) 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, according to
Fish, and simply places impossible demands on the relevant academic
departments. Furthermore, critical thinking, while arguably a result
of humanistic training, can be acquired in other contexts. 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.
Instead, scholars like Fish suggest that the humanities offer a unique
kind of pleasure, a pleasure based on the common pursuit of knowledge
(even if it is only disciplinary knowledge). Such pleasure contrasts
with the increasing privatization of leisure and instant gratification
characteristic of Western culture; 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. In this
argument, then, 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 that, according to
many theorists,[who?] is the foundation for modern democracy.[citation
Others, like Mark Bauerlein, argue that professors in the humanities
have increasingly abandoned proven methods of epistemology (I care
only about the quality of your arguments, not your conclusions.) in
favor of indoctrination (I care only about your conclusions, not the
quality of your arguments.). The result is that professors and their
students adhere rigidly to a limited set of viewpoints, and have
little interest in, or understanding of, opposing viewpoints. Once
they obtain this intellectual self-satisfaction, persistent lapses in
learning, research, and evaluation are common.
Romanticization and rejection
Implicit in many of these arguments supporting the humanities are the
makings of arguments against public support of the humanities. Joseph
Carroll asserts that we live in a changing world, a world where
"cultural capital" is replaced with scientific literacy, and in which
the romantic notion of a
Renaissance humanities scholar is obsolete.
Such arguments appeal to judgments and anxieties about the essential
uselessness of the humanities, especially in an age when it is
seemingly vitally important for scholars of literature, history and
the arts to engage in "collaborative work with experimental scientists
or even simply to make "intelligent use of the findings from empirical
Outline of the humanities (humanities topics)
Great Books programs in Canada
The Two Cultures
List of academic disciplines
"Periodic Table of
Human Sciences" in Tinbergen's four questions
^ Oxford English Dictionary 3rd Edition.
^ a b "Humanity" 2.b, Oxford English Dictionary 3rd Ed. (2003)
^ Bod, R. (2013). A New
History of the Humanities: The Search for
Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present. Oxford: Oxford
^ Stanford University, Stanford University. "What are the Humanities".
Humanities Center. Stanford University. Retrieved 16 July
^ "Humanist" Oxford English Dictionary. Oed.com
^ Wallace and Gach (2008) p.28
^ Wallerstein, I. (2003). "Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious
Disciplines". Current Anthropology. 44 (4): 453–465.
^ Lowie, Robert (1924). Primitive Religion. Routledge and Sons. ;
Tylor, Edward (1920). Primitive Culture. New York:: J. P. Putnam's
Sons. Originally published 1871.
^ Nanda, Serena and Richard Warms.
Culture Counts. Wadsworth. 2008.
^ Rosaldo, Renato.
Culture and Truth: The remaking of social analysis.
Beacon Press. 1993; Inda, John Xavier and Renato Rosaldo. The
Anthropology of Globalization. Wiley-Blackwell. 2007
^ Sinclair, Anthony (2016). "The Intellectual Base of Archaeological
Research 2004-2013: a visualisation and analysis of its disciplinary
links, networks of authors and conceptual language". Internet
Archaeology (42). doi:10.11141/ia.42.8.
^ Haviland, William A.; Prins, Harald E. L.; McBride, Bunny; Walrath,
Dana (2010), Cultural Anthropology: The
Human Challenge (13th ed.),
Cengage Learning, ISBN 0-495-81082-7
^ Social Science Majors, University of Saskatchewan
^ Boeckx, Cedric. "
Language as a Natural Object;
Linguistics as a
Natural Science" (PDF).
^ Thagard, Paul, Cognitive Science, The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
^ Robertson, Geoffrey (2006). Crimes Against Humanity. Penguin.
p. 90. ISBN 978-0-14-102463-9.
^ Hart, H. L. A. (1961). The
Concept of Law. Oxford University Press.
^ Dworkin, Ronald (1986). Law's Empire. Harvard University Press.
^ Raz, Joseph (1979). The Authority of Law. Oxford University Press.
^ Austin, John (1831). The Providence of Jurisprudence
^ Etymonline Dictionary
^ Mirriam-Webster's Dictionary
^ Thomas Nagel (1987). What Does It All Mean? A Very Short
Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford University Press, pp. 4-5.
^ Kant, Immanuel (1785). Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, the
^ See, e.g., Brian Leiter  "'Analytic' philosophy today names a
style of doing philosophy, not a philosophical program or a set of
substantive views. Analytic philosophers, crudely speaking, aim for
argumentative clarity and precision; draw freely on the tools of
logic; and often identify, professionally and intellectually, more
closely with the sciences and mathematics than with the humanities."
^ Turney, Jon (2003-09-06). "Does time fly?". The Guardian. London.
^ "Internet Modern
History Sourcebook: Darwin, Freud, Einstein, Dada".
www.fordham.edu. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
^ "humanism." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. 
^ Bod, Rens; A New
History of the Humanities, Oxford University Press,
^ Levi, Albert W.; The
Humanities Today, Indiana University Press,
^ Walling, Donovan R.; Under Construction: The Role of the Arts and
Humanities in Postmodern Schooling Phi Delta Kappa Educational
Foundation, Bloomington, Indiana, 1997.
Humanities comes from human
^ Hersh, Richard H. (1997-03-01). "Intention and Perceptions A
National Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Liberal Arts Education".
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. 29 (2): 16–23.
doi:10.1080/00091389709603100. ISSN 0009-1383.
^ Williams, Mary Elizabeth. "Hooray for "worthless" education!".
Salon. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
^ Kreager, Philip. "
Humanities graduates and the British economy: The
hidden impact" (PDF).
^ a b Adamuti-Trache, Maria; et al. (2006). "The Labour Market Value
of Liberal Arts and Applied
Evidence from British
Columbia". Canadian Journal of Higher Education. 36: 49–74. CS1
maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)
^ Koc, Edwin W (2010). "The Liberal Arts Graduate College Hiring
Market". National Association of
Colleges and Employers:
^ "Ten Years After College: Comparing the Employment Experiences of
1992–93 Bachelor's Degree Recipients With Academic and Career
Oriented Majors" (PDF).
^ Bulaitis, Zoe (2016). "Employability in Higher Education" (PDF).
Pearson Efficacy and Research.
^ "The Cumulative Earnings of Postsecondary Graduates Over 20 Years:
Results by Field of Study".
^ "Earnings of
Humanities Majors with a Terminal Bachelor's
^ "Career earnings by college major".
^ The State of the
Humanities 2018: Graduates in the Workforce &
Beyond. Cambridge, Mass.: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2018.
pp. 5–6, 12, 19.
^ "Boost in Median Annual Earnings Associated with Obtaining an
Advanced Degree, by Gender and Field of Undergraduate Degree".
^ "Earnings of
Humanities Majors with an Advanced Degree".
^ "American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Amacad.org. 2013-11-14.
Humanities Indicators. Retrieved
^ Charette, Robert N. (2013-08-30). "The STEM Crisis Is a Myth - IEEE
Spectrum". Spectrum.ieee.org. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
Humanities Scholars See Declining Prestige, Not a Lack of Interest
^ Debating the State of the Humanities
^ Schmidt, Ben. "A Crisis in the Humanities? (10 June 2013)". The
Chronicle. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
^ Wilson, Reid (4 March 2017). "Census: More Americans have college
degrees than ever before". The Hill. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
^ Schuessler, Jennifer (18 June 2013). "
Humanities Committee Sounds an
Alarm". New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
^ Humanities, social sciences critical to our future
^ Colbert Report: The humanities do pay
^ Louis Menand, "The Problem of General Education," in The Marketplace
of Ideas (W. W. Norton, 2010), especially pp. 32-43.
^ Adler, Mortimer J.; "A Guidebook to Learning: For the Lifelong
Pursuit of Wisdom"
^ a b America Is Raising A Generation Of Kids Who Can't Think Or Write
Clearly, Business Insider
^ Stefan Collini, "What Are
Universities For?"(Penguin 2012)
^ Helen Small, "The Value of the Humanities"(Oxford University Press
^ Palgrave Communications 3, Article number: 17020 (2017)
^ The Social Impact of the Arts
^ Bulaitis, Zoe (2017). "Measuring impact in the humanities: Learning
from accountability and economics in a contemporary history of
cultural value". Palgrave Communications. 3.
^ Dilthey, Wilhelm. The Formation of the Historical World in the Human
^ von Wright, Moira. "Narrative imagination and taking the perspective
of others," Studies in
Education 21, 4-5 (July, 2002),
^ a b Nussbaum, Martha. Cultivating Humanity.
^ Harpham, Geoffrey (2005). "Beneath and Beyond the Crisis of the
Humanities". New Literary History. 36: 21–36.
^ Harpham, 31.
^ Mikhail Epstein. The Transformative Humanities: A Manifesto. New
York and London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012, p.12
^ Dilthey, Wilhelm. The Formation of the Historical World in the Human
^ Fish, Stanley, The New York Times
^ Alan Liu, Laws of Cool, 2004,
^ Bauerlein, Mark (13 November 2014). "Theory and the Humanities, Once
More". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 27 February 2016. Jay treats it
[theory] as transformative progress, but it impressed us as hack
philosophizing, amateur social science, superficial learning, or just
^ ""Theory," Anti-Theory, and Empirical Criticism," Biopoetics:
Evolutionary Explorations in the Arts, Brett Cooke and Frederick
Turner, eds., Lexington, Kentucky: ICUS Books, 1999, pp. 144-145. 152.
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1936 Language, Truth, and Logic
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History and Class Consciousness
Logic of Scientific Discovery
1936 The Poverty of Historicism
1942 World Hypotheses
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