Academic disciplines that study society and culture / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently defined as any fields of study outside of natural sciences, social sciences, formal sciences (like mathematics) and applied sciences (or professional training).[1] They use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element[2]—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences;[2]

The philosopher Plato – Roman copy of a work by Silanion for the Academia in Athens (c. 370 BC)

The humanities include the studies of foreign languages, history, philosophy, language arts (literature, writing, oratory, rhetoric, poetry, etc.), performing arts (theater, music, dance, etc.), and visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, etc.)

Some definitions of the humanities include law and religion due to its shared similarities,[3] but these are not universally accepted because they are more so defined as being part of professional development education along side some social sciences which can be split between the liberal arts and professional development, while all humanities fields are solely confined to traditional liberal arts education. Although anthropology, archaeology, geography, linguistics, logic, and sociology share some similarities with the humanities, these are widely considered social sciences in a similar way economics, finance, business administration, global studies, and political science are categorized as social sciences rather than humanities.

Scholars in the humanities are called humanities scholars or sometimes humanists.[4] (The term humanist also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which antihumanist scholars in the humanities reject. Renaissance scholars and artists are also known as humanists.) Some secondary schools offer humanities classes usually consisting of literature, history, foreign language, and art.

Human disciplines like history and language mainly use the comparative method[5] and comparative research. Other methods used in the humanities include hermeneutics, source criticism, esthetic interpretation, and speculative reason.