The Stanford Website defines Humanities as “the study of how people process and document the human experience.” The humanities encompass a range of ways in which humans live in and perceive the world around them and express that through literature, philosophy, music, language, and art. The study of these artifacts that document the human experience encompasses the discipline of the Humanities.
While trying to define the Humanities, the idea of a conceptual scheme comes to mind. We studied about conceptual schemes in our second unit of the semester where we studied about the Copernican Revolution. The way that we see the world and try to make sense of our place in it is our conceptual scheme of reality. Thomas Kuhn defines conceptual schemes as providing us with a worldview which permeates and gives meaning to our every action, both physical and spiritual. Our conceptual schemes define the limits of we we know and understand to be true. I believe that artifacts in the Humanities represent these conceptual schemes.
The Humanities may not be understood to be the study of the human experience as a whole, but the study of the experiences of the few people whose ways of knowing and intellectual and cultural production dominates that of others. Nothing in the Humanities can ever be taken as the fact or ultimate truth, everything is open to interpretation, and can change based on new information or by looking at the same information from a new perspective.
This course has changed the traditional way in which the Humanities discipline usually operates. Instead of studying the Western literary canon, we are instead studying texts from different authors in different parts of the world. This broadens our understanding of the humanities and is more inclusive of the human experience as a whole. For example, we studied the Rwandan genocide as well as the activism practiced by an Ainu Dub Band. Our course reflects the changing nature of the discipline and reminds us how far we still have to go to include voices which have historically been unheard.
I like making word association maps when thinking through my ideas about a particular topic. Pictured below is the one I made for “Humanites.”