Humanities covers everything

  1. As all professors do, they try to show their subject is the best. I am studing Introduction to Humanities and the professor says that humanities covers everything. Everything as in science, history, geography, philosophy, literature, music etc.

    Now I'm not comfortable with this. Surely it can't cover everything. I usually like to know what exactly the subject is going to teach me but in this case, humanities seem too vague a term. Wikipedia says it is the study of human culture. Well every academic discipline is part of human culture therefore it is the study of everything?

    I want to know exactly what humanities aims to study.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. When they say it covers everything, they mean that it is the study of humans. They don't mean that you will study everything under every one of those fields.

    For example, with the study of globalisation, you can understand how the computer monitor you are looking into has developed.

    The sociology of the evolution of your computer monitor borrows from many fields. Someone didn't just wake up one day and invent your computer monitor... many decades have gone into refining not only the product itself, but everything inside the product. Thus, the original glass made by humans was no where near as clear as the glass in your computer monitor. Through decades of evolution, refining and humans learning from one another, the glass has got to a purity to the extent that it can be used in your computer monitor.

    A physical science deals only with "what is the glass made out of?" and "what technique has been used to make the glass?"

    A social science looks at the social processes behind it.

    Social science coveres human interactions and how humans make sense of the world around them. It wasn't too long ago that humans relied on primitive cave man type explanations as to how the world was created.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2014
  4. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    The humanities cover everything in the same way that science covers everything but it's a question of what field is most appropriate to utilise when studying something. And obviously you're not going to study everything.
     
  5. Actually I know what I'm going to study in humanities. It's the study of human culture and basically whatever we do comes under human culture.
    But I like to define precisely what each subject is going to teach hence the question. So how would you define humanities and science?
    How both cover everything?

    OMG, I'm asking silly questions but anyways, can't help it.
     
  6. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,440
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    See, this is where people here can learn how to "think" and to "inquire", something that I'm missing in a lot of news reports and from a lot of reporters.

    When someone says "covers everything", what exactly does that mean? It is extremely vague, and it is a "catch all" for saying something with the hope that one doesn't have to explain it. So if your professor says that Humanities ".. covers everything", raise your hand, and ask him/her "Professor, what exactly do you mean by that?"

    After all, you don't learn from a Humanities class and gain enough knowledge to, say, analyze the collision data from the ATLAS detector at the LHC, do you? So already one can falsify the notion of "everything" here.

    The problem that we have with the general public nowadays is the inability to analyze and inquire critically. When politicians make broad claims ("This tax bill WILL reduce our deficit", "This law will preserve the sanctity of marriage"), many do not think beyond those tag lines and analyze the meaning of those statements and, more importantly, the validity of those statements. The ability to make rational and systematic analysis seem to be severely missing a lot in many instances.

    Zz.
     
  7. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,298
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Maybe "everything" is a shorthand for "everything that nobody else wants to include in their own field of study" :devil:

    I'm not sure a "humanities" class will teach you how to think right, but it will probably show you lots of examples of how to think wrong.
     
  8. In the two humanities classes I took, they were basically learning about art and a bit of history.
     
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