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Introduction to Humanities


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Introduces the subtopics of the humanities, such as philosophy, history, law, religion, and the visual and performing arts reflecting these topics.

Introduces the subtopics of the humanities, such as philosophy, history, law, religion, and the visual and performing arts reflecting these topics.

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  • 1. Introduction to Humanities Just What Are Humans?
  • 2. Humanities
    • The Study of the Human Condition
    • What is the human condition?
    • We remember the past
    • We imagine the future
    • We have emotions
    • We can reason
    • We know we will die
  • 3. Taxonomy: We are Homo sapiens
    • We are the only human species worldwide
    • We can think
    • We can communicate using language
    • We can make and manipulate object
    • So we can paint, write, perform
    • We are bipedal
  • 4. What Goes into Humanities? Language
    • Language is the backbone of the humanities
    • Cuneiform (left) was invented in the Near East.
    • Classical Languages are key to understanding the Greeks and the Romans
    • Latin was used by medieval churchmen
    • Written language (poetry, novels, drama)
    • No language, no humanities
  • 5. What Goes Into Humanities: History
    • Humanities appeals to the past
    • Traditionally, scholars have to know their classical history
    • Systematic study of the families, societies and the great men (sometimes women)
    • Today, history is more of a social science with a dimension of time
    • Santayana: “Who ignores the past is doomed to repeat it.”
    • Faulkner: “The past is never dead: it isn’t even past.”
  • 6. What Goes Into Humanities: Classics
    • Western Societies: The Greeks and the Romans
    • The philosophers: Plato (the ideal form) and Aristotle (empirical observation)
    • The Playwrights: Sophocles, Virgil, Horace the satirist.
    • Homer, the epic poet
    • Mesopotamia: the epic of Gilgamesh, Hammurabi the lawgiver
    • Egypt: The Book of the Dead (Last Judgment)
    • China: Confucius; Lao Tzu on the Tao
    • Tibet: Its own Book of the Dead (karma)
  • 7. What Goes Into Humanities: Law
    • Law comprise rules the govern human behavior
    • Found where there are states:
    • The power holders make them;
    • The police and army enforce them
    • Law is also based on philosophy;
    • Values generate law.
  • 8. What Goes into Humanities: Religion I
    • Concerns the supernatural:
    • Things and events beyond the five senses
    • Goes back to the Neolithic and beyond to animism
    • Half the world’s religions began with the patriarch Abraham
    • Who formed the root of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • 9. What Goes into Humanities: Religion II
    • Many are derived from the East with the doctrine of samsara (illusion), karma (consequences of past acts), and nirvana (liberation from samsara): Hinduism and Buddhism
    • Includes the question: where do we go after we die—the fundamental question of mortality
  • 10. What Goes into Humanities: Philosophy
    • Philosophy means “Love of Knowledge.”
    • It asks who we are, what and how we know
    • The Greeks, especially Plato and Aristotle, founded and developed philosophy
    • Above: Scene at the Lyceum, school begun by Aristotle
  • 11. What goes into Humanities: The Visual Arts
    • Sculpture
    • Greek and Roman sculpture of the human form
    • Drawings, from sketches to hatching to use of pastels (upper left, Escher’s Drawing Hands )
    • Paintings, involving the application of
    • a pigment within a medium and binder (glue)
    • on a surface:
    • (lower left Mona Lisa by Da Vinci)
  • 12.
    • Music is the interpretation of sound combined into melody and harmony
    • (Such as the nine symphonies of Beethoven, above)
    • Drama: the imitation of life on stage
    • (Below: Shakespeare included many historical re-enactments on stage—
    • Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello)
    What Goes into Humanities: Performing Arts I
  • 13. What Goes into Humanities
    • Dance: An expression of human movement on stage performance
    • Such as this ballet scene from Swan Lake
    • Or sometimes in a spiritual setting
    • Such as the Whirling Dervishes of the Sufis founded by Rumi
    • In a reaction against Muslim worldliness
  • 14. The Territory Ahead: Historical Context I
    • First we look at the biology of humankind (upper):
    • Our anatomical foundations.
    • Then we look at the prehistoric phases of humankind:
    • The Upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic (lower)
    • Finally we look at the formative civilizations prior to the Greeks:
    • The Egyptians of the Nile
    • The Mesopotamians of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
  • 15. The Territory Ahead: Historical Context II
    • This leads us to the Greeks
    • Then we look at the Romans
    • Then we look at the transitions from the Classic to the Medieval Periods
    • We look at Islam and How they preserved Western Culture
    • Then we conclude with the Medieval Period and the precursors of the Renaissance (lit. Rebirth)
  • 16. The Territory Ahead: Topical Areas I
    • We will examine the philosophies of each era: they are the motor force of all humanities
    • We look at the societies that spawned the philosophies:
    • All were state level societies;
    • That includes codified law.
    • We then look at the religions and the supernatural beliefs
  • 17. The Territory Ahead: Topical Areas II
    • We will then look at literature, the visual arts, and the performing arts.
    • We’ll see if they express the way society was in their time
    • Or whether they were the inspiration of individuals
    • Or perhaps some combination of both.
  • 18. Coda: What Are the Humanities?
    • We may define humanities as
    • The integrated study of the visual and performing arts
    • Architecture and public spaces
    • Literature from narrative to poetry
    • Within the historical context
    • Of the societies and philosophies
    • With which they are associated