Humanities An Introduction A Brief look at the Humanities The Humanities An Introduction The Quest For Self The Humanities: A Study of Values What is humanities? The humanities are those studies that are directly concerned with human values. Unlike the sciences, which are expressed through numbers and symbols, human values can be perceived, felt, and expressed in subtle and enduring ways. In the medieval period the word “Humanities” distinguished that which pertained to humans from that which pertained to God. Humanities covers a broad area of human creativity but are distinct from mathematics and the “hard” sciences. The separation between the humanities and the sciences is illustrated in the way values work differently in the two areas. Humanities and Science The separation between the humanities and the sciences is illustrated in the way values work differently in the two areas. Both the scientist and the humanist must make value judgments. The development of powerful weapons is seen as a positive development for the scientist - because of the many possibilities the development of the weapon might bring. On the other hand the humanist might see the development of powerful weapons as a bad thing that will eventually affect or even destroy a culture, people and or an entire life style. The humanists say, “what we need is a study that will get us closer to ourselves. Of the many ways to study an approach to the humanities is through art and the subtle & enduring ways values are expressed in the arts. A Matter of Taste Taste: is an exercise in the choice of values! People are often quick to say they like or dislike a piece of work because of taste. An there is no accounting for taste. The taste of the mass public shifts constantly. It does not matter if it is in; fashion, programs, slang words or terms, etc., it will one day go out of style. Examples: the cabbage patch doll, the pet rock, the eight ball, gold teeth, mini skirts, the thong, etc. Regardless of your field Everyone can and should be educated about the arts and should learn to respond to as wide a variety of the arts as possible Because when we do there is a change within us - something has been added to you. Many facts are involved in the study of the arts. We can verify the dates of Beethoven’s birth and death and the dates of his important compositions, as well as their key signature and numbers. We can investigate the history of jazz and the claims of Jelly Roll Morton for having been its “inventor.” We can make lists of the Impressionist painters and those they influenced. It is more than just facts There are oceans of facts attach to every art form. But our interest is not in fact alone. What we mean by a study of the arts penetrates beyond facts to the values that evoke our feelings -- the way a succession of Eric Clapton’s guitar chords when he plays the blues can be electrifying or the way song lyrics can give us a chill. In other words we go beyond the facts about a work of art and get to the values implied in the work. “Knowledge about” a work of art can lead to your “knowledge of” the work of art, which implies a richer experience. This is important “Knowledge about” a work of art can lead to your “knowledge of” the work of art, which implies a richer experience. THIS IS IMPORTANT as a basic principle since it means that we can be educated about what is in a work of art, such as its form, shapes, and objects, as well as what is external to a work, SUCH AS its political references. Artistic Form: “Form is the interrelationships of lines, color, light, textures and shapes. Some basic terms Form -- of any painting can be analyzed because any painting has to be organized Perception -- Frequently, we need to know something about the background of a work of art that would aid our perception. Composition is basic to all the arts. To perceive any work of art adequately, we must perceive its structure. Examine the following poem--- by e. e. Cummings. Abstract Ideas and Concrete Images: Cummings’ poem presents an abstract idea fused with a concrete image or word picture. What makes it art? It is concrete because what is described is a physical event; a falling leaf. Abstract idea on the other hand deal with words or terms such as; love, hate, indecision, arrogance, jealousy, ambition, justice, civil rights, etc. What is a work of art? A work of art is often said to be something made by a person. Not natural beauties. Instead it is of human creation! Identifying Art Conceptually: Criteria for determining whether or not something is a work of art: 1. That the object or event is made by an artist, 2. That the object or event is intended to be a work of art by its maker 3. that important or recognized experts agree that it is a work of art. Mass produced works do not qualify as works of art. Identifying Art Perceptually: Perception, is what we can observe and conception, is what we know or think we know, they are closely related. Does it possess artistically perceivable qualities? 1. Artistic form: All objects and events have form. Form is the interrelationships of part to part and part to whole. Perceptible unity! Artistic form distinguishes art from objects or events that are not works of art. 2. Content: Content is the meaning of artistic form. The meaning! 3. Subject Matter: is the content or meaning of the work of art; is never directly presented in a work of art; 4. Participation: We must not only give but also sustain our undivided attention. Only by participation can we come close to a full awareness of what the painting is all about.
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