Humanities Today

Essay by lilstacks23 February 2008

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The academic discipline known as humanities is the study of how man interprets the world around him. The study of humanities has been around since mankind began investigating and questioning the world they lived in. According to the article "What are the Humanities?"(2000), when the National Endowment for the Humanities was established in 1964, Congress created the following definition of humanities which included the study of:history; literature; philosophy and ethics; foreign languages and cultures; linguistics; jurisprudence or philosophy of law; archeology; comparative religion; the history, theory, and criticism of the arts; and those aspects of the social sciences.

In this definition the key point for distinguishing humanities from other modes of human inquiry is the fact that humanities are based on historical and expressive interpretation rather than theory and logic. Humanities inquire about the human's interpretation of his or her surroundings. The inquiries come from the general population or an individual's own expression of human reaction to historical events and the way that it is expressed through art, science, politics, literature, music, architecture, and religion.

Other modes of human inquiry are based off of proven facts and scientific theories. A person's interpretation has little to do with science (What are the Humanities, 2000).

ArtOne of the more controversial ways that the arts have been affected by modern humanities is the showcasing of human bodies as art. An exhibition called Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies is now touring the United States. This exhibition displays human bodies that have been plasticized, doing various normal human activities. Some displays have cadavers in the middle of making a shot in basketball, while others displays a family sitting around a kitchen table. In this day of rapid technological advances, it is sometimes hard to distinguish pure art from...