About the Humanities
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Humanities -- See Also the narrower term Arts
Definitions of the Humanities from the CREDO Reference Database
"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."
"The humanities, or litterae humaniores (Latin, ‘humane studies’), in medieval education, were the classics, philosophy and contemporary literature. ‘Humane’ in this context means ‘relevant to the study of human beings’. The classics were studied because it was thought that they demonstrated most human secular knowledge at its best; philosophy was studied because it showed how human beings think, and what their thought has been at its most elevated; contemporary literature was studied to show what the ‘best’ minds of the time were thinking. These studies, it was thought, would prepare people for life, or if they had to enter a profession, would fit the mind for the army, diplomacy or government (none of which needed further study), or for professions which needed postgraduate, specific work, such as the Church or the Law. The concept may seem either naive or breath-takingly arrogant, but the humanities were the most highly regarded course of study in most European universities from their foundation in the late Middle Ages right through to the middle of the 20th century." KMcL
Charles W. Chesnutt Library, Fayetteville State University,
Fayetteville, N.C. 28301