Recently, I had cause to stop and think about what the humanities actually was to me. I realised that my ideas about The Humanities primarily (and perhaps understandably) revolved around what I thought the place of classics and ancient history were in a wider humanities context. But, that’s not actually where my humanities journey began, so over the years my ideas about the humanities have been honed down as my specialisation honed down. But actually, I am a huge believer in Liberal Arts education and allowing students to roam around the humanities as they wish. I think it’s probably a good thing for students to take subjects outside their major, but I say this as a person who has a pass degree with three majors and a minor: classics, archaeology and philosophy, and a modern history minor.
It wasn’t until I started thinking about The Humanities that I realised that this multidisciplinary foundation actually encouraged me to think in different ways that if I had done the kind of degree programme that I teach on. The quantity of metaphysics (which I loved) and epistemology (which I decidedly did not love) that I took in during my degree has changed the way I think, even though now I cannot remember the brilliant* mathematical formula I created to explain David Lewis’s Truth in Fiction theory [paywall].
As I am pretty keen on doing, when I began to think I also began to write, and I produced this brain map of what The Humanities is, to me:
The HUMANities: It’s about thinking through what it means to be HUMAN, now. And at every other point in time: past and future.
So, all in all. The Humanities gives us a chance to look at the world and to be better and do better. And that’s everything.
*I think there is a direct correlation between how much of this I remember and how brilliant I think it was, so keep that in mind!