The importance of the humanities

Surrender of Cornwallis 2.

The importance of the humanities

Origin and meaning of the term humanism The ideal of humanitas The history of the term humanism is complex but enlightening. It was first employed as humanismus by 19th-century German scholars to designate the Renaissance emphasis on Classical studies in education.

These studies were pursued and endorsed by educators known, as early as the late 15th century, as umanisti—that is, professors or students of Classical literature. The word umanisti derives from the studia humanitatisa course of Classical studies that, in the early 15th century, consisted of grammarpoetryrhetorichistoryand moral philosophy.

The studia humanitatis were held to be the equivalent of the Greek paideia. Renaissance humanism in all its forms defined itself in its straining toward this ideal.

No discussion of humanism, therefore, can have validity without an understanding of humanitas. Humanitas meant the development of human virtue, in all its forms, to its fullest extent. The term thus implied not only such qualities as are associated with the modern word humanity—understanding, benevolencecompassion, mercy—but also such more assertive characteristics as fortitudejudgment, prudenceeloquence, and even love of honour.

Consequently, the possessor of humanitas could not be merely a sedentary and isolated philosopher or man of letters but was of necessity a participant in active life. Just as action without insight was held to be aimless and barbaric, insight without action was rejected as barren and imperfect.

Humanitas called for a fine balance of action and contemplation, a balance born not of compromise but of complementarity.

The importance of the humanities

The goal of such fulfilled and balanced virtue was political, in the broadest sense of the word. The purview of Renaissance humanism included not only the education of the young but also the guidance of adults including rulers via philosophical poetry and strategic rhetoric.

It included not only realistic social criticism but also utopian hypothesesnot only painstaking reassessments of history but also bold reshapings of the future.

Humanism had an evangelical dimension: The wellspring of humanitas was Classical literature. Greek and Roman thought, available in a flood of rediscovered or newly translated manuscripts, provided humanism with much of its basic structure and method.

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For Renaissance humanists, there was nothing dated or outworn about the writings of AristotleCiceroor Livy. Compared with the typical productions of medieval Christianitythese pagan works had a fresh, radical, almost avant-garde tonality.

Indeed, recovering the classics was to humanism tantamount to recovering reality. Classical philosophyrhetoric, and history were seen as models of proper method—efforts to come to terms, systematically and without preconceptions of any kind, with perceived experience.

Moreover, Classical thought considered ethics qua ethics, politics qua politics: Classical virtue, in examples of which the literature abounded, was not an abstract essence but a quality that could be tested in the forum or on the battlefield.

Finally, Classical literature was rich in eloquence. In particular, humanists considered Cicero to be the pattern of refined and copious discourse, as well as the model of eloquence combined with wise statesmanship.

In eloquence humanists found far more than an exclusively aesthetic quality. As an effective means of moving leaders or fellow citizens toward one political course or another, eloquence was akin to pure power.

Humanists cultivated rhetoric, consequently, as the medium through which all other virtues could be communicated and fulfilled. Detail of a Roman copy 2nd century bce of a Greek alabaster portrait bust of Aristotle, c. Other uses It is small wonder that a term as broadly allusive as humanism should be subject to a wide variety of applications.

Of these excepting the historical movement described above there are three basic types: Accepting the notion that Renaissance humanism was simply a return to the Classics, some historians and philologists have reasoned that Classical revivals occurring anywhere in history should be called humanistic.

AugustineAlcuinand the scholars of 12th-century Chartres have thus been referred to as humanists. In this sense the term can also be used self-consciously, as in the New Humanism movement in literary criticism led by Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More in the early 20th century.

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The word humanitieswhich like the word umanisti derived from the Latin studia humanitatis, is often used to designate the nonscientific scholarly disciplines: Thus, it is customary to refer to scholars in these fields as humanists and to their activities as humanistic.

Humanism and related terms are frequently applied to modern doctrines and techniques that are based on the centrality of human experience. In the 20th century the pragmatic humanism of Ferdinand C. Schillerthe Christian humanism of Jacques Maritainand the movement known as secular humanism, though differing from each other significantly in content, all showed this anthropocentric emphasis.

Not only is such a large assortment of definitions confusing, but the definitions themselves are often redundant or impertinent. To say that professors in the many disciplines known as the humanities are humanists is to compound vagueness with vagueness, for these disciplines have long since ceased to have or even aspire to a common rationale.Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences is the heart of SMU.

We are home to the humanities and social, natural and mathematical sciences – disciplines that are at the core of higher education. Through the work of humanities scholars, we learn about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making a work of art, about how history is made.

Their efforts preserve the great accomplishments of the past, help us understand the world we live in, and give us tools to imagine the future. About HSEE. The Humanities and Social Sciences Entrance Examination or HSEE is a national level entrance test conducted every year by Indian Institute of Technology Madras for admission to the master programme offered by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) of the Institute.

Why do the humanities matter? | Stanford Humanities

Chair, Department of Humanities G Arts & Sciences Bldg [email protected] () Sherree Buchanon Administrative Assistant Department of Humanities To support and strengthen your local arts community by learning to appreciate the importance of creativity. RGraf is an accountant who loves to read, study history, and travel.

She has researched and written for educational sites and authors. An Illustrated Guide to the 10 Events That Defined History and Changed the World Choosing the 10 most important events in history is one of the most difficult and.

American Revolutionary War Letter Archives Caleb Brewster correspondence with General George Washington. The Caleb Brewster Project is a digital archive of letters between Black Rock, Connecticut’s Caleb Brewster and General George Washington and other members of our nation’s first intelligence network.

The site seeks to demonstrate, through attention to the letters and text of.

Puritanism and Predestination, Divining America, TeacherServe®, National Humanities Center