The Importance of the Humanities in Our Time

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

“Humanities,” often has differing meanings in differing contexts and times, but generally it contains fields that are grouped as “the Liberal Arts.” This would include the study of history, philosophy, literature, art, and sometimes economics. Other fields, such as the study of language and rhetoric are often included; sometimes, political science, sociology, anthropology, and others are attached or included, again depending.

Humanities are important so long as humans are important because the humanities are what makes humans human. Whether it is an intellectual of humanities who are shaping the world indirectly or a president shaping the world directly, humanities make a huge impact and give tangible benefits or vice whether it is in a long or short period of time. Thus, humanities are what makes humans and society.

The value of studying these areas is time-honored, especially the study of philosophy, including theology and metaphysics, and rhetoric. History is a more recent addition, although the Romans valued it highly; the study of literature is a very late comer, having displaced the reading of literary texts in Latin and Greek in the educational institutions of the western world. Some of the other fields, excepting economics, are very recent arrivals onto the scene, although economics may be one of the most important in today’s world.

The contributions such knowledge make to society are numerous, but few have practical applications if things are seen in purely monetary or vocational terms. The broadening of knowledge of human behavior and interaction over the progress of civilization is of high worth when any individual is assessing a present situation or contemplating a future development. Understanding where we’ve been, in other words, offers us wisdom in determining where we are and helps us prepare for who we may or possibly want to become. The mapping of human endeavor in areas that are not associated with technical or mechanical development help us to a deeper understanding of individual and collective motivations and priorities.

To be a humanist is to be a student of mankind, not in a scientific sense but in a deeper, more abstract sense. The flow of social, cultural, and political development, the give and take of human groups, be they defined nationalistically or by other criteria, provides us with a pattern of behavior that is often valuable in determining the meaning behind current events and actions.

Alexander Pope avers that “the proper study of man is man.” Humanists study man, but not as an animal that has risen in evolutionary terms so much as in socially significant interactions. The creation of art and literature as reflections of imagination and interpretations of life is an invaluable insight into both the past and into the emotional responses people have to events and happenings in their world. The study of these subjects can tell us much about ourselves. History has an obvious value much as it explains the state of the world. Philosophy provides us with a foundation for motivations and actions that often have far-reaching effects. The other fields offer valuable knowledge, as well. To know and understand these things makes an individual wiser, better able to understand and interpret our present world. Rather than merely reacting sporadically to unexpected events and happenings, be they natural or man-made, we are able to step away, take a longer and more considered view of any situation, to see it as part of a greater whole that comprises the progress of civilization and human endeavor.

This gives us very special knowledge of how to deal with something intelligently and effectively. In a specific sense, the humanities broaden our capacity for tolerance and understanding of others, particularly those who are very different from us or who hold opposite views on vital issues. Understanding them makes us more forgiving and more accepting, on the one hand, and also more cautious and careful on the other. We learn from our mistakes, at least in theory. The humanities expose us to mistakes as well as to victories and triumphs that are the hallmarks we point to as past accomplishments and achievements. But they come “warts and all.” The good and bad of human behavior is all part of the mix. And the constant shifting of values that determine that which is good and that which is bad, something that can sometimes be confounding and perplexing, can be more easily explained through such study.

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” The humane disciplines teach us that consistency for the sake of consistency is an impediment to human progress, development, improvement. They suggest that progressing means more than merely moving forward; it means advancing and improving and developing in positive ways, in avoiding the mistakes of the past and embracing the possibilities of the future.

So everyone needs this subject in their educational background. Being a humanist will not provide anyone with a real vocation, other, perhaps, than as a teacher of humanities. There are no job ads for philosophers generally posted on common employee-wanted sites, or for poets or really for artists, dancers, and actors. Outside of a university, economists aren’t in much demand, nor are historians and rhetoricians. But the deeper understanding that comes from the study of the humane disciplines informs the practical vocations in our society and makes for better rounded, better developed, wiser and stronger individuals. The importance the humanities not only for an American but people, to open their minds and the avoidance of narrow-mindedness, ignorance, and primitive superstition and maintenance of negative traditions and practices just for the sake of maintaining them is key to human advancement. The humanities provide a pathway that clearly steers one around these pitfalls.

Cite this paper

The Importance of the Humanities in Our Time. (2022, Jan 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-importance-of-the-humanities-in-our-time/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out