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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 professional training, mathematics, and the natural and sometimes social sciences.[1]

The humanities 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] yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central discipline.[3] The humanities include the study of ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, archaeology, anthropology, human geography, law, politics, religion,[4] and art.

Scholars in the humanities are "humanity scholars" or humanists.[5] The term "humanist" also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some "antihumanist" scholars in the humanities reject. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes usually consisting of literature, global studies and art.

Human disciplines like history, folkloristics, and cultural anthropology study subject matters that the manipulative experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method[6] and comparative research.

In 1950, a little over 1 percent of 22-year-olds in the United States had earned a humanities degrees (defined as a degree in English, language, history, philosophy); in 2010, this had doubled to about 2 and a half percent.[63] In part, this is because there was an overall rise in the number of Americans who have any kind of college degree. (In 1940, 4.6 percent had a four-year degree; in 2016, 33.4 percent had one.)[64] As a percentage of the type of degrees awarded, however, the humanities seem to be declining. Harvard University provides one example. In 1954, 36 percent of Harvard undergraduates majored in the humanities, but in 2012, only 20 percent took that course of study.[65] Professor Benjamin Schmidt of Northeastern University has documented that between 1990 and 2008, degrees in English, history, foreign languages, and philosophy have decreased from 8 percent to just under 5 percent of all U.S. college degrees.[66]

In liberal arts education

Politicians in the United States curren

Politicians in the United States currently espouse a need for increased funding of the STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, mathematics.[71] Federal funding represents a much smaller fraction of funding for humanities than other fields such as STEM or medicine.[72] The result was a decline of quality in both college and pre-college education in the humanities field.[72]

Former four-term Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards (D), has recently acknowledged the importance of the humanities. In a video address[73] to the aca

Former four-term Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards (D), has recently acknowledged the importance of the humanities. In a video address[73] to the academic conference,[74] Revolutions in Eighteenth-Century Sociability, Edwards said

The contemporary debate in the field of critical university studies centers around the declining value of the humanities.[76][77] As in America, there is a perceived decline in interest within higher education policy in research that is qualitative and does not produce marketable products. This threat can be seen in a variety of forms across Europe, but much critical attention has been given to the field of research assessment in particular. For example, the UK [Research Excellence Framework] has been subject to criticism due to its assessment criteria from across the humanities, and indeed, the social sciences.[78] In particular, the notion of "impact" has generated significant debate.[79]

In Asia

In India, there are many institutions that offer undergraduate UG or bachelor's degree/diploma and postgraduate PG or master's degree/diploma as well as doctoral PhD and postdoctoral studies and research, in this academic discipline.

Philosophical history

Citizenship and self-reflection

Since the late 19th century, a central justification for the humaniti

In India, there are many institutions that offer undergraduate UG or bachelor's degree/diploma and postgraduate PG or master's degree/diploma as well as doctoral PhD and postdoctoral studies and research, in this academic discipline.

Philosophical history

The divide between humanistic study and natural sciences informs arguments of meaning in humanities as well. Wh

The divide between humanistic study and natural sciences informs arguments of meaning in humanities as well. What distinguishes the humanities from the natural sciences is not a certain subject matter, but rather the mode of approach to any question. Humanities focuses on understanding meaning, purpose, and goals and furthers the appreciation of singular historical and social phenomena—an interpretive method of finding "truth"—rather than explaining the causality of events or uncovering the truth of the natural world.[86] Apart from its societal application, narrative imagination is an important tool in the (re)production of understood meaning in history, culture and literature.

Imagination, as part of the tool kit of artists or scholars, helps create meaning that invokes a response from an audience. Since a humanities scholar is always within the nexus of lived experiences, no "absolute" knowledge is theoretically p

Imagination, as part of the tool kit of artists or scholars, helps create meaning that invokes a response from an audience. Since a humanities scholar is always within the nexus of lived experiences, no "absolute" knowledge is theoretically possible; knowledge is instead a ceaseless procedure of inventing and reinventing the context a text is read in. Poststructuralism has problematized an approach to the humanistic study based on questions of meaning, intentionality, and authorship.[dubious ] In the wake of the death of the author proclaimed by Roland Barthes, various theoretical currents such as deconstruction and discourse analysis seek to expose the ideologies and rhetoric operative in producing both the purportedly meaningful objects and the hermeneutic subjects of humanistic study. This exposure has opened up the interpretive structures of the humanities to criticism that humanities scholarship is "unscientific" and therefore unfit for inclusion in modern university curricula because of the very nature of its changing contextual meaning.[dubious ]

Some, like Stanley Fish, have claimed that the humanities can defend themselves best by refusing to make any claims of utility.[87] (Fish may well be thinking primarily of literary study, rather than history and philosophy.) Any attempt to justify the humanities in terms of outside benefits such as social usefulness (say increased productivity) or in terms of ennobling effects on the individual (such as greater wisdom or diminished prejudice) is ungrounded, according to Fish, and simply places impossible demands on the relevant academic departments. Furthermore, critical thinking, while arguably a result of humanistic training, can be acquired in other contexts.[88] And the humanities do not even provide any more the kind of social cachet (what sociologists sometimes call "cultural capital") that was helpful to succeed in Western society before the age of mass education following World War II.

Instead, scholars like Fish suggest that the humanities offer a unique kind of pleasure, a pleasure based on the common pursuit of knowledge (even if it is only disciplinary knowledge). Such pleasure contrasts with the increasing privatization of leisure and instant gratification characteristic of Western culture; it thus meets Jürgen Habermas' requirements for the disregard of social status and rational problematization of p

Instead, scholars like Fish suggest that the humanities offer a unique kind of pleasure, a pleasure based on the common pursuit of knowledge (even if it is only disciplinary knowledge). Such pleasure contrasts with the increasing privatization of leisure and instant gratification characteristic of Western culture; it thus meets Jürgen Habermas' requirements for the disregard of social status and rational problematization of previously unquestioned areas necessary for an endeavor which takes place in the bourgeois public sphere. In this argument, then, only the academic pursuit of pleasure can provide a link between the private and the public realm in modern Western consumer society and strengthen that public sphere that, according to many theorists,[who?] is the foundation for modern democracy.[citation needed]

Others, like Mark Bauerlein, argue that professors in the humanities have increasingly abandoned proven methods of epistemology (I care only about the quality of your arguments, not your conclusions.) in favor of indoctrination (I care only about your conclusions, not the quality of your arguments.). The result is that professors and their students adhere rigidly to a limited set of viewpoints, and have little interest in, or understanding of, opposing viewpoints. Once they obtain this intellectual self-satisfaction, persistent lapses in learning, research, and evaluation are common.[89]

Implicit in many of these arguments supporting the humanities are the makings of arguments against public support of the humanities. Joseph Carroll asserts that we live in a changing world, a world where "cultural capital" is replaced with scientific literacy, and in which the romantic notion of a Renaissance humanities scholar is obsolete. Such arguments appeal to judgments and anxieties about the essential uselessness of the humanities, especially in an age when it is seemingly vitally important for scholars of literature, history and the arts to engage in "collaborative work with experimental scientists or even simply to make "intelligent use of the findings from empirical science."[90]

Despite many humanities based arguments against the humanities some within the exact sciences have called for their return. In 2017, Science popularizer Bill Nye retracted previous claims about the supposed 'uselessness' of philosophy. As Bill Nye states, “People allude to Socrates and Plato and Aristotle all the

Despite many humanities based arguments against the humanities some within the exact sciences have called for their return. In 2017, Science popularizer Bill Nye retracted previous claims about the supposed 'uselessness' of philosophy. As Bill Nye states, “People allude to Socrates and Plato and Aristotle all the time, and I think many of us who make those references don’t have a solid grounding,” he said. “It’s good to know the history of philosophy.”[91] Scholars, such as biologist Scott F. Gilbert, make the claim that it is in fact the increasing predominance, leading to exclusivity, of scientific ways of thinking that need to be tempered by historical and social context. Gilbert worries that the commercialization that may be inherent in some ways of conceiving science (pursuit of funding, academic prestige etc.) need to be examined externally. Gilbert argues "First of all, there is a very successful alternative to science as a commercialized march to “progress.” This is the approach taken by the liberal arts college, a model that takes pride in seeing science in context and in integrating science with the humanities and social sciences."[92]