From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"We do not know whether the study of the humanities, of the noblest that has been said and thought, can do very much to humanize. We do not know; and surely there is something rather terrible in our doubt whether the study and delight a man finds in Shakespeare make him any less capable of organizing a concentration camp." --"To Civilize Our Gentlemen" (1965) by George Steiner
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, related to humanities are ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, visual and performing arts (including music). Additional subjects sometimes included in the humanities are technology, anthropology, communication studies and cultural studies, 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.
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.
- Great Books
- Liberal Arts
- Social sciences
- Phronetic social science
- Human science
- The Two Cultures, an essay by C. P. Snow.
- List of academic disciplines
- "Periodic Table of Human Sciences" in Tinbergen's four questions