Humans and Humanities


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Describes the biological capacity for culture and the humanities.

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Humans and Humanities

  1. 1. Humans and Humanities The Biological Dimension
  2. 2. The Human in Humanities <ul><li>However we define humanities, the central figure is the human, Homo sapiens </li></ul><ul><li>According to the Greek philosopher Protagoras, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Man is the measure of all things” </li></ul><ul><li>What about, might we ask, about woman? Is she not the measure of all things, too? </li></ul><ul><li>There is much about humans that go into the field of humanities </li></ul><ul><li>Sex is one: but there is much else that we will elaborate on. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What Did Protagoras Mean? <ul><li>“ Man is the measure of all things” has been interpreted in various ways. </li></ul><ul><li>Most humanists see the quote that the only perceiver of reality are humans themselves </li></ul><ul><li>In this view, there are no gods or eternal truths. </li></ul><ul><li>What is true is relative to the perceiver: an example is “is it hot or cold in this room?” So tell me. Is it hot or cold? Or are you Goldilocks and the temperature is just right? </li></ul><ul><li>Protagoras also advocated agnosticism; he didn’t know whether there were gods or not. </li></ul><ul><li>A sophist whom Plato (and Socrates) despised, he was an easy target </li></ul><ul><li>Plato saw all phenomena as subject to an ideal that the gods had designed themselves, so he had no love for Protagoras, a relativist and an agnostic. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Meaning of Homo sapiens <ul><li>It means “Man who is wise” </li></ul><ul><li>Wise enough, I suppose, to make nukes—but I digress </li></ul><ul><li>It is worth noting that traditionally, androcentrism has dominated the humanities </li></ul><ul><li>Homo sapiens goes back to our ability to think, communicate, make tools </li></ul><ul><li>And our human form begins with bipedality—our ability to stand and walk on two feet </li></ul><ul><li>Defining who we are and how we got here is the first order of business. </li></ul>
  5. 5. So What Are We As Humans? <ul><li>We have language: no language, no culture, nothing for the humanities to study </li></ul><ul><li>We have symbols: we can represent ideas and events by something else, such as music, visual arts, literature—and language itself </li></ul><ul><li>We have tool making and using abilities: how else could we make or play an instrument, paint a picture, write a play or philosophical treatise? </li></ul><ul><li>We are bipedal , and whatever else we may portray humankind as, she and he always can stand and walk on two feet. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Trends in Human Anatomy: Cultural Capacities <ul><li>Language: </li></ul><ul><li>Brain : Lower Motor Cortex, Broca’s Area, Wernicke’s Area, Angular Gyrus </li></ul><ul><li>Speech Tract : Lungs, Oral and Nasal Cavity </li></ul><ul><li>Tool Making and Use: </li></ul><ul><li>Brain: Upper Motor Cortex </li></ul><ul><li>Other Areas: Hand, Fingers, and Arm </li></ul><ul><li>Bipedalism: </li></ul><ul><li>The entire skeleton </li></ul>
  7. 7. We Start with the Human Skull <ul><li>These bones protect the center of our behavior—our brain </li></ul><ul><li>And our culture, in both senses of the word: </li></ul><ul><li>Who we are as Americans, or Greeks, or Romans </li></ul><ul><li>And the arts and literature that make up the humanities. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Language and Related Centers in Brain <ul><ul><li>1. Broca’s Area: Center of Speech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Occipital Lobe: Center of Vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Wernicke’s Area : Center of speech reception </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4. Motor Cortex : Language and tool making and use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5. Frontal Lobe : Center of thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6. Auditory Cortex: Center of hearing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>7 . Angular Gyrus: Center of sensory coordination </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Brain Structure: Language <ul><li>Broca’s Area: Speech Processing </li></ul><ul><li>Wernicke’s Area: Speech Reception </li></ul><ul><li>Arcuate Fasciculus: Nerves Connecting Broca’s with Wernicke’s Area </li></ul><ul><li>Angular Gyrus: Interconnection among the five senses; so we can translate all senses into the sound we call language. </li></ul><ul><li>So language begins with the brain </li></ul>
  10. 10. Vocal Tract and Language: Repiratory System <ul><li>Lungs provide the airstream </li></ul><ul><li>Intercostal muscles expand and contract the lungs </li></ul><ul><li>Diaphragm does the same thing </li></ul><ul><li>Trachea: the windpipe </li></ul><ul><li>Pharynx: The space between the oral cavity and the larynx </li></ul><ul><li>Epiglottis: flap of muscle that prevents food from entering the trachea </li></ul><ul><li>Every singer knows this anatomy </li></ul>
  11. 11. Vocal Tract and Language: Oral Cavity <ul><li>The oral cavity is where language is articulated </li></ul><ul><li>The tongue is the most important part of speech articulation </li></ul><ul><li>Language is derived from the Latin meaning “tongue” </li></ul><ul><li>Consonants: sounds that stop or constrict the airstream. </li></ul><ul><li>Vowels: the sounds that resonate. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Motor Cortex and Function <ul><li>Notice how much space is taken up by the facial muscles (lower), reflecting the ability to speak </li></ul><ul><li>Notice how much space of the motor cortex is taken up by the hands and fingers, reflecting the importance of hand and finger manipulation </li></ul>
  13. 13. Hand Bone Structure <ul><li>Note the following </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible fingers </li></ul><ul><li>Opposable thumb </li></ul><ul><li>That allows for making fine manipulations. </li></ul><ul><li>Below Left: The power grip for using hammer and axes </li></ul><ul><li>Below Right: the precision grip (using thumb and forefingers) for finer work like using a pen or screwdrivers </li></ul>
  14. 14. What Are the Products of Language and Tool Use? <ul><li>Upper left: Writing requires a precision grip </li></ul><ul><li>It also requires the ability to translate speech into visual form </li></ul><ul><li>Lower Left: Music itself is a language of sorts </li></ul><ul><li>It involves combining pitch in an aesthetic pattern </li></ul><ul><li>And you need an ability to manipulate to play a violin </li></ul><ul><li>You need tool-making abilities to make a violin, and its bow </li></ul>
  15. 15. Bipedalism: The Human Skeleton <ul><li>Notice the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Vertical backbone or vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>Hands freed from locomotion </li></ul><ul><li>Short, bowl-shaped pelvis </li></ul><ul><li>Inward-angling thighbone (femur) </li></ul><ul><li>Arched foot </li></ul>
  16. 16. Compare This Fine Fellow to Zeus, Boss of the Greek Gods: <ul><li>As you will see in the arts, gods are often made in the image of men (Oh, yes, and women too; I think we call them goddesses, but I could be wrong. ) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Of Course, This Biped Gets Religion <ul><li>Here we see a bare-bones version of a prayer position </li></ul><ul><li>This image actually comes from Hawaii </li></ul><ul><li>It could just as well come from Europe—or North America </li></ul><ul><li>Seriously, folks—religion too is part of the humanities </li></ul>
  18. 18. What Comprises Bipedalism: What Congress Lacks <ul><li>First, you have an S-shaped backbone or vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>The top part is nearest the neck, the cervical vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>The middle part is back of the ribs, the thoracic vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>The lowest part bears most of the upper body weight, the lumbar vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>The sacrum and the coccyx comprise the lowest part </li></ul><ul><li>That keeps us upright when standing or walking </li></ul>
  19. 19. What Comprises Bipedalism: The Pelvis <ul><li>Note the following </li></ul><ul><li>The overall pelvis is bowl shaped. </li></ul><ul><li>The ilium supports the body and is an important area of thigh muscle attachments </li></ul><ul><li>The pubis forms the front part of the pelvis </li></ul><ul><li>The Ischium form the back base and provides more attachments for thigh muscles. </li></ul>
  20. 20. What Comprises Bipedalism: The Femur <ul><li>Notice how the femur angles inward from the pelvis </li></ul><ul><li>It provides more support for the body </li></ul><ul><li>It enables us to walk more comfortably </li></ul>
  21. 21. What Comprises Bipedalism: Oh Yes, The Feet <ul><li>Notice the following </li></ul><ul><li>We have two arches </li></ul><ul><li>The longitudinal arch extends from the first metatarsal (Inmost foot bone) </li></ul><ul><li>And goes to the heelbone (calcaneus) </li></ul><ul><li>The transverse arch goes from the instep to the outer bone. </li></ul><ul><li>This gives us absolute stability when we stand and walk </li></ul>
  22. 22. Attributes We Share with Other Species <ul><li>We come in two sexes. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, we come in two genders—the cultural interpretations of the sexes. </li></ul><ul><li>Like other animals, we compete and fight. (Here are Aphrodite and Mars [not] getting along) </li></ul><ul><li>Like other animals, we bear offspring </li></ul><ul><li>Like other animals, we grow and develop </li></ul><ul><li>And like other animals, we die (below; a modern motif of an old symbol) </li></ul><ul><li>All these are addressed in literature, history, even religion </li></ul>
  23. 23. What Does All This Have to Do with the Humanities? <ul><li>Glad you asked! </li></ul><ul><li>First, dance, Greek, medieval, or modern emphasizes the human form </li></ul><ul><li>Second, the brushes we use, the musical instruments we play, all involve the dexterity that comes with the ability to make and use tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Third, the literature we compose, the laws we pass (or endure), the religions we believe in, are all symbolic, and ultimately lead to language. </li></ul><ul><li>Even the gods (and goddesses—below, of Aphrodite) are created in our image. </li></ul>