The (capital H) Humanities is the study of the human experience and the interaction between literature and language. It is the academic discipline that studies the way we are all connected through culture, tradition, and simply, because we are all human. The Humanities allows us to examine human interaction on an interpersonal and intrapersonal level. Not only do we learn about the function of the world, but how that function relates to our own individual experiences. In Unit 2 we studied scientific change, including Thomas Kuhn’s model for it. It shows the progression and process of creating a new science and is one way that the Humanities shapes our academic experience. Similarly, Unit 1 discussed Locke’s theory of inalienable rights: life, liberty, and property. He references reason, equality, natural law, and our state of nature which both differentiates us from animals and gives us a greater understanding of how we thrive together.
The (lowercase h) humanities describes the personal human experience. How we relate to each other and empathize with hardship or happiness. It describes the seamless connection we have with each other, one that is not studied, rather comes naturally. It is the discovery of ourselves, our identity, and an introspective outlook on life. Through the humanities, we discover things about ourselves, things we would not otherwise have known. It is the ability to stand up for one another, to understand each other’s stories, and make deep, meaningful connections with those different than us. Units 3 and 4 focused on humanities as a personal experience. In Unit 3, we discussed our worth. What are we worth medically, to each other, or as people? The greatest lesson from that lecture and unit was that empathy is the greatest sensation, felt simply by touch, sight or feel. We connect with people based on the reflection of our humanity in them. Likewise, unit 4 spoke about the Civil Rights Movement and how Black activists used that interpersonal bond between people to bring out empathy in those in positions of power and privilege. In the last lecture of the unit, we thoroughly dissected images from March II, and how many of the greatest moments in the book were ones of understanding and empathy.
A significant part of our human experience can be encapsulated through self-expression. Physical movement and dance allow us to take back control of our own bodies, to choose each movement, each thought, each emotion, and display stories and beauty through dance. In the same way, art is a different form of self-expression. Abstraction in art views art with a closer lens than traditional art. It breaks down the essence of the piece, to its smallest shapes and colors. Units 7 and 8 covered a broader definition of the word humanities. The Russian revolutions caused humanity a great deal of pain. People lived in fear for their lives, never knowing when they would be ripped from their families, ripped from any security they had. In this case, “humanities” describes the survival and strength of a nation under an oppressive regime. Despite all the terror, the people managed to hold strong and survive long enough to tell their stories.