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The Humanities: An Overview

What is meant by the term humanities and explains what distinguished the humanities from other modes of human inquiry and expression.

List a current example of each of the expressions of the humanities listed below and tell why each example you give reflects current developments in politics, socioeconomics, and technology.


Can you help me? I have not recevied my books for this class yet. Just started class on Thursday. Information due on Monday midnight.

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Dear Student,
Hello. Don't worry about this question much even if your books haven't yet arrived. It's a general inquiry that seeks to measure how much of the subject you understand or studied so far. The solution below is general - as should be the case when starting your studies on Humanities. To expand the information provided, please feel free to use the web references listed below. Good luck with your studies and thank you for using Brainmass. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Humanism and 'The Humanities'

Humanism is broad as a field of study. Humanism is essentially a collection of ethical philosophies that have sprung as early as the Renaissance in Europe, the 7th Century in the Islamic Middle East and in Asia, around 563 BC in India through the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (the first Buddha), and around 551 BC in China during the time of Confucius. Humanism as a whole is aimed at using rationality in determining right & wrong; it also looks to ensure the dignity of man by seeking truth & morality through a human framework while avoiding transcendental explanations even if the arguments presented have a metaphysical connotation. A humanist endorses universally accepted sense of morality, the right & the good; belief without reason is always questioned although claims sometimes are accepted via a well supported debate (i.e. Confucian philosophy). We refer to the collection of disciplines that seek to study the human condition via analytical & speculative means (not empirical) as the 'Humanities'. These include literature, art, languages, early science and music. In the Middle Ages, areas of study that are 'man-centered' and not 'God-centered' is referred to as part of 'Humanities'. Therefore, even mathematics and the early sciences were 'lumped' into the 'Humanities Cabinet' of knowledge. Today of course, Humanities has completely separated from the sciences which itself is has divided into two 'main' designations - 'social sciences' and 'natural sciences'.

To differentiate itself from scientific studies, humanists follow a non-scientific approach (that is, it does not take on the scientific mode of inquiry where the goal is to proof or disprove hypothesis and put together theories about reality). In the humanities, experts critically interpret a work of art, text, documents or traditions (like dances) within a historical and cultural context. In written texts for example, humanists critically analyze a material by putting it side by side with other sources to validate and relate materials presented. Because subjects in ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides an overview of the Humanities field of study, explaining what the field is about and what it encompasses (i.e. literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy) and its importance in the study of human knowledge - its nature, progression, expression and development. The solution is concise yet comprehensive, providing a narrative on the varied expressions and their relevance in relation to socio-political development (i.e. politics, technology) as well as in investigating and finding meaning in the human experience. The solution is in the form of an essay following the APA-format. references are provided. A word version is attached for easy printing.