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Humanities: What are the more important things to know?

  1. Nov 15, 2011 #1
    I know very little about history and other social sciences/humanities and I intend on learning more about these. Initially, I was going to approach this by reading into anything that interests me. This is proving to be a little hard because I know next to nothing about what's happened! :$

    What topics, in your opinion, would provide a solid foundation to further my knowledge of social sciences?

    Here's what I have so far:

    An introductory economics text - Samuelson (I can borrow it off someone I know)
    What On Earth Happened...in brief - Christopher Lloyd
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2011 #2
    You seem to say that your problem is that your completely unfamiliar with subjects in a formal way. I would suggest starting with something slightly less contemporary then you find at the bookstore. Will Durant wrote extensively and in a large scope on the Humanities, though I disagree with some of his conclusions his style is very appreciable if and even though the language is a bit dated an holds up among some of the best. The books linked below are usually available at libraries and probably legal free online sources by now, not sure though.

    I will point out that I fundamentally believe that his assertion that the greatest art comes from the greatest societies is flawed, I believe the greatest art comes from the greatest aspirations, which are often found in the worst societies.

    Also sometimes there is no real good starting place, you might just have to jump in the deep end and start swimming until you have fins. Poor metaphor aside, it's true.



    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  4. Nov 29, 2011 #3

    I'd read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon. Pretty much all European history, government, and economy up until maybe 1945 was followon to the Roman Empire.

    Then there are Keynes, Ricardo, and Adam Smith in economics.

    Reading about recently discovered Stone Age societies is very helpful. There were two discovered in New Guinea in 1930 and again in 1950 or so. So there are photographs and some of the people involved are still living. The basic conflicts of humanity are there to see. Things haven't changed that much.

    For prehistory (pre-5000BC or so) then DNA research and linguistics are the way to go. Linguists have determined the families of languages so it is possible to see who is related to whom in prehistory.
  5. Nov 29, 2011 #4
    As to the modern era I'd read a marketing text. Modern marketing is so effective that dominates society these days. Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Opinion" is about this. Propaganda is a no-holds-barred form of marketing, as in the political sphere lying is fair game.
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