The humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture, using methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts such as musicand theatre. The humanities that are also sometimes regarded as social sciences include history, anthropology, area studies,communication studies, cultural studies, law and linguistics.
The word “humanities” is derived from the Renaissance Latin expression studia humanitatis, or “study of humanitas,” a classical Latin word meaning—in addition to “humanity” — “culture, refinement, education” and, specifically, an “education befitting a cultivated man”.
Scholars in the humanities are “humanities scholars” or humanists. The term “humanist” also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some “antihumanist” scholars in the humanities reject. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also calledhumanists. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes, usually consisting of English literature, global studies, and art.
Human disciplines like history, cultural anthropology, and psychoanalysis study subject matters that the experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method and comparative research.
In the Western academic tradition, the classics refer to cultures of classical antiquity, namely the Ancient Greek and Romancultures. 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; for example, the Gilgamesh Epic from Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Vedas and Upanishads in India and various writings attributed to Confucius, Lao-tse and Chuang-tzu in China.
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.
While the scientific study of language is known as linguistics and is generally considered a social science or a cognitive science, the study of languages is still central to the humanities.
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.
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 derives from Latin literatura/litteratura “writing formed with letters”, although some definitions include spoken or sung texts
The performing arts differ from the plastic 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.
Music as an academic discipline can take a number of different paths, including music performance, music education (training music teachers), musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory and composition. Undergraduate music majors generally take courses in all of these areas, while graduate students focus on a particular path. In the liberal arts tradition, music is also used to broaden skills of non-musicians by teaching skills such as concentration and listening.
Theatre (or theater) 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.
Dance 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.
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.
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, and 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.
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, inkedbrushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers.
Painting taken literally is the practice of applying pigment suspended in a carrier (or medium) and a binding agent (a glue) to asurface (support) such as paper, canvas or a wall.