Branches of knowledge that investigate human beings, their culture, and their self-expression.

Distinguished from the physical and biological sciences and, sometimes, from the social sciences, the humanities include the study of languages and literatures, the arts, history, and philosophy. The modern conception of the humanities has roots in the classical Greek paideia, a course in general education dating from the 5th century BC that prepared young men for citizenship. It also draws on Cicero's humanitas, a program of training for orators set forth in 55 BC. The Renaissance humanists contrasted studia humanitatis ("studies of humanity") with studies of the divine; by the 19th century the distinction was instead drawn between the humanities and the sciences.

* * *

      those branches of knowledge that concern themselves with human beings and their culture or with analytic and critical methods of inquiry derived from an appreciation of human values and of the unique ability of the human spirit to express itself. As a group of educational disciplines, the humanities are distinguished in content and method from the physical and biological sciences and, somewhat less decisively, from the social sciences. The humanities include the study of all languages and literatures, the arts, history, and philosophy. The humanities are sometimes organized as a school or administrative division in many colleges and universities in the United States.

      The modern conception of the humanities has its origin in the classical Greek paideia, a course of general education dating from the sophists in the mid-5th century BC, which prepared young men for active citizenship in the polis, or city-state; and in Cicero's humanitas (literally, “human nature”), a program of training proper for orators, first set forth in De Oratore (Of the Orator) in 55 BC. In the early Middle Ages the Church Fathers, including St. Augustine (Augustine, Saint), himself a rhetorician, adapted paideia and humanitas—or the bonae (“good”), or liberales (“liberal”), arts, as they were also called—to a program of basic Christian education; mathematics, linguistic and philological studies, and some history, philosophy, and science were included.

      The word humanitas, although not the substance of its component disciplines, dropped out of common use in the later Middle Ages but underwent a flowering and a transformation in the Renaissance. The term studia humanitatis (“studies of humanity”) was used by 15th-century Italian humanists to denote secular literary and scholarly activities (in grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, moral philosophy, and ancient Greek and Latin studies) that the humanists thought to be essentially humane and classical studies rather than divine ones. In the 18th century, Denis Diderot and the French Encyclopédistes censured studia humanitatis for what they claimed had by then become its dry, exclusive concentration on Latin and Greek texts and language. By the 19th century, when the purview of the humanities expanded, the humanities had begun to take their identity not so much from their separation from the realm of the divine as from their exclusion of the material and methods of the maturing physical sciences, which tended to examine the world and its phenomena objectively, without reference to human meaning and purpose.

      Contemporary conceptions of the humanities resemble earlier conceptions in that they propose a complete educational program based on the propagation of a self-sufficient system of human values. But they differ in that they also propose to distinguish the humanities from the social sciences as well as from the physical sciences, and in that they dispute among themselves as to whether an emphasis on the subject matter or on the methods of the humanities is most effectual in accomplishing this distinction. In the late 19th century the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (Dilthey, Wilhelm) called the humanities “the spiritual sciences” and “the human sciences” and described them, simply, as those areas of knowledge that lay outside of, and beyond, the subject matter of the physical sciences. On the other hand, Heinrich Rickert (Rickert, Heinrich), a turn-of-the-century Neo-Kantian, argued that it is not subject matter but method of investigation that best characterizes the humanities; Rickert contended that whereas the physical sciences aim to move from particular instances to general laws, the human sciences are “idiographic”—they are devoted to the unique value of the particular within its cultural and human contexts and do not seek general laws.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Humanities —   [hjuː mænɪtɪːz], Liberal Arts [ lɪbərəl ɑːts], englische Bezeichnung für die Geisteswissenschaften …   Universal-Lexikon

  • humanities — 1702; plural of HUMANITY (Cf. humanity), which was used in English from late 15c. in a sense class of studies concerned with human culture (opposed variously at different times to divinity or sciences). Latin literae humaniores, they were those… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Humanities — 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Humanities — Humanity Hu*man i*ty, n.; pl. {Humanities}. [L. humanitas: cf. F. humanit[ e]. See {Human}.] 1. The quality of being human; the peculiar nature of man, by which he is distinguished from other beings. [1913 Webster] 2. Mankind collectively; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Humanities — Der Begriff der Humanities ist eine im englischen Sprachraum verbreitete Wissenschaftskategorisierung. Er ist nicht mit dem Begriff der Humanwissenschaften identisch und umfasst jene Wissenschaften, die sich mit der Conditio Humana… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • humanities —    The liberal arts the non scientific branches of study, such as philosophy, history, literature, and the arts, that are concerned with human thought and culture. On the other hand, Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 1911, German historian, psychologist,… …   Glossary of Art Terms

  • humanities — noun the humanities subjects of study such as literature, history, philosophy etc …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • humanities — plural noun if higher education becomes any more driven by corporate objectives, the humanities will be grappling for survival Syn: arts, liberal arts, literature, philosophy; classics, classical studies, classical literature …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • Humanities in the United States — refers to the study of humanities disciplines, such as literature, history, language, performing and visual arts or philosophy, in the United States of America.OverviewMany American colleges and universities believe in the notion of a broad… …   Wikipedia

  • Humanities College — Humanities Colleges were introduced as part of the Specialist Schools Programme in the United Kingdom. The system enables secondary schools to specialise in certain fields, in this case, humanities. Schools that successfully apply to the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”