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Meaning of the Humanities

The term ‘Humanities’ comes from a Latin word humanus, which means ‘human, cultured and refined’. Generally,
human beings possess and show quality like rationality, kindness and tenderness. Such basic qualities of humans gain
different connotations based on one’s environment, values, beliefs and experiences. They are the contributing factors to the
refinement of human’s basic qualities.

At present, we know of humanities as a loosely defined group of academic subjects united by a commitment to
studying aspects of the human condition and a qualitative approach that generally prevents a single paradigm from coming to
define any discipline. Unlike other subjects, it is not a group of scientific or technical subjects.

Humanities, however, should not be confused with the term humanism, which refers to a specific philosophical belief,
nor with humanitarianism, which is the concern for charitable works and social reform.

Academically, we refer to the humanities as the study of arts – the visual arts such as architecture, painting and
sculpture; music; dance; the theater or drama; and literature. They are the branches of learning concerned with the human
thought, feelings and relations.

The study of arts is the study of mankind. Humanities, being the study of arts, have always been concern with the
importance of human being, his feelings, and how he expresses those feelings. However, it should be stressed that the
humanities emphasize analysis and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative
explanation of the sciences.

Significance of the Humanities

Art is very important in our lives. It constitutes one of the oldest form and most important means of expression
developed by man. It is a language, which is charged with feelings and significance that has sprung up among men living

Art is concerned with the communication of certain ideas and feelings by means of a sensuous medium – color,
sound, bronze, marble, words and film. This medium is fashioned through a symbolic language marked by beauty of design
and coherence of form. It appeals to our minds, arouses our emotions, kindles our imagination, and enchants our senses.
(Machlis, 1963). Thus, each artwork reflects the ideals, hopes and fears of the times in which an individual live.

The humanities are the stories, the ideas, and the words that help us make sense of our lives and our world. The
humanities introduce us to people we have never met, places we have never visited, and ideas that may have never crossed
our minds. By showing how others have lived and thought about life, the humanities help us decide what is important in our
own lives and what we can do to make them better. By connecting us with other people, they point the way to answers about
what is right or wrong, or what is true to our heritage and our history. The humanities help us address the challenges we face
together in our families, our communities, and as a nation.

Why should we study the Humanities?

The different subject areas are studied not for their own sake but in the light of how they relate and speak to
contemporary man. More importantly, the course is expected to help the students grow up to be better human beings than
they were before they enrolled in the course.

The teaching of the humanities is intended to make the students realize that the mere possession of knowledge is
useless unless put to useful ends. Moreover, they would become aware that knowledge alone is meaningless unless it is
accompanied by values, sentiments, priorities, insights, inter-relationships and other transcendent realities not subject to
empirical proofs also form part of the person’s education. In the humanities, the students are exposed to these, thus, the
development of the whole person, which is the goal of present day education.


1. Give a definition of the ‘humanities’ which you think is the more appropriate and comprehensive.
2. Explain the meaning of the statement “the study of art is the study of mankind”.
3. Given the significance and rationale of teaching the arts in tertiary education, why do you think you, as a hotel
and restaurant management/office administration major, should study the humanities?

In the academe, the humanities is considered as part of the social sciences and the natural sciences, one of the
three major components of the liberal arts and sciences.

The humanities is a multi-faceted subject. While the precise definition of the humanities can be contentious, the
following disciplines are generally recognized to form their core:

Philosophy. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence,
knowledge, truth, beauty, law, justice, validity, mind, and language. It is described as the love of truth, wisdom and
intelligence by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument.

When man asks and seeks answers to questions such as: Who am I? Where have I come from? What is the
meaning of life? What can I do to remain an effective, responsible member of the society? , man is trying to see himself as
human. Thus, he is searching for truth and wisdom. This is the philosophical approach in achieving the ultimate goal of the
humanities, which is to make man more human.

Psychology. Psychology is the scientific study of the behavioral characteristics of an individual, including the
functions and processes of mind, in relation to the social and physical environment. As a science, it gathers knowledge by
carefully observing and measuring events and experimenting. It is also an art because it develops skills in applying scientific
knowledge to problem solving.

Being the field of science that studies the mental processes of man, psychology is always concerned with human
thoughts, feelings and emotion. Furthermore, it seeks to explain the factors that affects how man expresses certain emotions
and executes certain behavior.

Sociology. Sociology is the study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization,
institutions, and development of human society. It focal interest is on how humans deal with other human beings within his
communal sphere.

The Core Foundation of the Humanities

The human body has always been central to sociology because sociology is about the organization of collections of
human bodies into forms of social life. Sociologists have also always been concerned with the question of the boundary
between the biological and the social in the formation of human identity; the so-called nature/nurture controversy. But until the
late 1970s the body as the physical expression or embodiment of human identity, personal experience, and action was
largely ignored by sociologists, who concentrated on the structuring of groups and societies. It has been concerned with the
analysis of a social institution or societal segment as a self-contained entity or in relation to society as a whole.

History. History is the study of the past, with special attention to the written record of the activities of human beings
over time. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyze the sequence of events, and it often
attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events.

The study of history has sometimes been classified as part of the humanities and other times as part of the social
sciences. It can also be seen as a bridge between those two broad areas, incorporating methodologies from both.

Archeology. Archeology is the scientific study of past human culture and behavior, from the origins of humans to the
present. Archeology studies past human behavior through the examination of material remains of previous human societies.
These remains include the fossils (preserved bones) of humans, food remains, the ruins of buildings, and human artifacts—
items such as tools, pottery, and jewelry. From their studies, archaeologists attempt to reconstruct past ways of life.

Archaeologists concentrate their studies on past societies and changes in those societies over extremely long
periods of time. The chronological data that the archaeologists gather can provide information such as how the use of a new
style of pottery or type of weapon spread from one region to another over time. By analyzing this information for several
related archaeological sites, archaeologists assemble long sequences of past human cultures.

Being the study of arts, humanities consist of the visual arts, literature, drama and theater, music and dance.

1. Which of the discussed core discipline of the humanities has the most valuable contribution to its formation?
2. The humanities was formed from different disciplines of social science yet it is composed of different subject
areas of art. Do you think the Humanities is an art or a science? Justify.


An Artist

An artist is a person who exhibits exceptional skills in either various or specific areas and/or sub-areas of arts. Unlike
other people, he is more sensitive and more creative. He possesses to an unusual degree the talent for interpreting ideas in
artistic form through the use of words, pigments, stone, notes, or nay other materials used by artists. When he sees or learns
something that impresses him, he expresses himself in one medium or another so that others may understand it, too. He,
thus, learns to project his creative impulse through the symbols of his art – a picture, a poem or a piece of music according to
his present inspiration and his training. However, the process of creation differs in degree from that of an amateur or a

There are two kinds of artists in the field of the performing arts, the creators and performers. As such, a composer
writes a song to be sung by talented singers; a dramatist or playwright writes a play to be staged by a company of actors; a
choreographer composes a dance sequence which will be performed by a troupe of dancers. Music, theater and dance are
performing arts. Besides the creator, they require other artist who recreate what has been composed. In the real sense, a
song cannot be considered complete until it has been sung or a choreography until it has been danced. Therefore,
performers are equally important.

Although the artistry of performers is based on the creation of others, they bring individual interpretations to their
performances. Two great performers may render the same masterpiece quite differently. Thus, in the performing arts, the
ideas and interpretations of the performer are added to the original ideas of the creator. This dual contribution gives added
richness and meaning to this field of the arts. It makes performing arts different from the visual arts in the way by which
creative artists communicate directly with the observer.

The process of Creativity

The process of creativity is three-fold – the artist as the prime mover, communicating his ideas through the performer,
as his interpreter to the audience. Each participates actively in the creative process; although in the case of the audience
(observer, reader, listener), the intensity of the activity may be less than that of the artist who produces the work.

Creativity is an artist’s trait developed in the course of his life to solve problems or express his feelings. His continuing
reaction to the emerging conditions of the nature and social life gives birth to new ideas and methods. These in turn, he uses
to overcome difficulties which in the process of confrontation with reality give the solution to a vision, create art, or activate
social transformation.

The Process of Creation

Art experts are one on their view that there are three major phases of creation. First, the artist must have an idea;
second, he must have a material to work on; and third, he must give form to his idea.

The Idea. Artists are highly sensitive persons especially aware of the things that surround them. They notice
the sounds, colors and movements of people and things. Art expression is based on the so-called higher senses of
light and sound, with other senses playing more or less indirect roles. A particular experience may impress an artist
so much that he decides to use it as basis for a picture, a poem, a song, a play or a dance.

A painter, depending on his cultural background, my be attracted by anything. He paints a picture from a
scene where most people do not think beauty existed.

A composer may write a song on the developing romance of a man to a woman, or on the pains of a broken-
hearted. A dancer may do a dance on the pleasures and discomforts of growing up. As a basis for his dance
movements, he might use the idealism of adolescence, the developing charm of boys and girls, their sensitivity, their
awkwardness, and occasional loneliness. In all these expressions, the artists clarify, identify, and give new meaning
to the experiences which are nearly common to everyone. Through dance, the events of life are given symbolic and
ceremonial form.
Playwrights and novelists may right about life and the frailties of man, his hopes and fears, his courage and
cowardice, his charity and greed or a fantasy in which a world of mystery and imagination is explored. The great
novelist would show us that the great social and economic problems of our times are essentially human problems
and he would make us aware of the effects of the advances of science and technology on human beings.
Poets, with their artistry of statement, have given nobility and intensity to man’s experiences.

The Material and Process. The second phase of creation in art concerns the material which the artist uses
to give form to his idea. A painter uses pigments; a sculptor uses stone, metal or wood; an architect, various building
materials. An author uses words; a composer, musical sounds which he sets down as notes. A choreographer uses
people and their movements as materials for his creations. The artist’s materials have a profound effect on his

Organization and Form. The third phase is organizing the idea and giving it form in the selected material.
Artists have developed a host of different forms to express the ideas they work on. In this phase, the artist must
decide whether the form grows out of the idea or the problem which prompted it; whether it has been given is
individualized and unique; whether the work has unity; and whether the organization in itself calls forth an aesthetic
response from us.

In any field of art, it is the idea which is the important factor. The parts and their organization into a final art product
grow out of that idea. On the other hand, the arts are remarkable in their diversity, not only in the subject matter but also in
material and forms. No rules can govern either creation or appreciation. The artist is influenced by the world around him, so
that his work reflects the time and place in which he lives. If artists or critics do jot set up rules to follow, other critics will prove
the rules false.

Arts change as life changes. Authorities in arts state that the work of an artist must be judged against the background
of the time in which he lived.


1. Based on the given definition of an artist, can you consider yourself an artist? Why and How?
2. Are you a participant in the three-fold process of creativity? In which particular phase are you taking part?
3. How do you determine whether a certain artwork is a creative work of an artist?