R. Howard Bloch once stated, “The humanities are an incredible source of practical information about the world around us”. The study of humanities has affected the life of every individual to walk the earth at some point in time; It seems sort of outrageous but it’s true. From art and literature to architecture and music, the humanities is present in our everyday lives. Its importance is often underestimated but in reality, it is extremely important to our existence. In fact, before entering my first humanities class I didn’t realize how important or interesting humanities was. After learning about how art, specifically, has changed over time, I find myself eager to learn more. The benefits of studying humanities includes: aiding individuals in better understanding other cultures or philosophies while sharpening communication skills, helping to blossom democracy and encouraging us to be moral and righteous human beings.
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To begin with, Richard J. Franke, author of, The Power of Humanities and a Challenge to Humanists, backs up how the study of humanities benefits us with the comprehension of cultures and philosophies. Franke states, “The humanities are fundamentally about representation: the representation of ideas, emotions, and cultures. By studying the most powerful and imaginative forms of representation, we refine our communication skills, sharpen our critical faculties, and consider new ways of thinking. More- over, as new markets emerge, knowledge of different cultures, histories, and values becomes essential for success,” (Franke, 19). Franke is completely right when stating this. Without the study of humanities we would be completely lost about other places, regions and people. Ideas and facts have been passed down over time which helps humanity advance as a whole. Humanities is responsible for the passing of not just stories but history, music, literature and so many other important aspects in life. On top of this, included in humanities is theater which as Franke stated, sharpens our communication skills. This affects many people daily because communication is part of everyday continuation. All in all, this is just one way humanities benefits us.
Another advantage of studying humanities is how it has made democracy grow. Though this may not seem important because most of us are used to a righteous government, it hasn’t always been this easy. Though we may not realize it, as a class we can relate to this because we are American citizens. Our country is one of the few where we have the ability to say and do as we please as long as it is moral and follows our laws. Once again Franke argues, “Moreover, scientific policy decisions made by democratically elected governments require an informed citizenry to understand the terms of those decisions and subsequently elect the most qualified public officials to legislate them,” (Franke, 18). Franke’s argument is valid because elected officials need to have an idea of past incidents in order to refrain from making the same mistakes. The Humanities is responsible for a change in democracy in a positive manner. It made people step up and speak their minds- it made people question the government so they wouldn’t have completely control. In many forms of 19th and 20th century artwork, artists painted pictures that refrained from religion and leaned more toward science and real evidence. On top of this, art was once only for those with money but over time, expanded so the poor could also participate in its magnificence.
As stated previously, the study of Humanities influenced not just artists but individuals all around the world. The Humanities gave people a reason to have morals and be a better version of themselves. Howard Block, author of, Good Uses of the Humanities in Bad Times, supports this statement when he gives an example from Greek mythology. “Philosophy, political philosophy, and moral philosophy deal with ethical judgment, right action, and, finally, how to strike a balance between our own needs and desires and our obligation to others. Thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to the makers of our modernity—Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Mill—have addressed the place of money in fundamental human relations, the unlimited accumulation of property versus a more socialized distribution of wealth and the question whether man is born morally good and is corrupted by society or is born to a state of natural competition and disorder,” (Block, 420). When stating this Block is trying to imply that humanities persuaded people to do the right thing. Another huge factor in the 19th and 20th century was money, which many know can change people for the worse even today. Prevailing over life’s negative temptations played a huge role in society. In a discussion post this semester the class was again asked some benefits of humanities. Morally, the study of art, literature and music (for instance) all have one thing in common- they are all positive and meant to hurt not help. Humanities is a form of expression and affects people in only a favorable manner.
There are tons of ways humanities influences little details of one’s everyday life. Whether it’s walking past a building with a certain type of architecture or reading an interesting book, humanities crosses our path usually without notice. For me, humanities impacts me almost daily when I explore with friends. Since moving to Tallahassee, adventuring to find art and cool abandoned buildings has been a hobby of mine. A lot of the time I can relate to the art work whether it’s graffiti or actual paint because of pictures seen in our textbooks or online discussion posts. Not only this but a lot of architecture discussed in our books can be found in Tallahassee with cool paintings drawn all over abandoned walls. For instance, recently we discussed Optical art which is a form of creativity in which many patterns are used to make an image appear to be moving. While watching the sunset on an deserted building like I do most days, I noticed a black and white pattern of swirls on the concrete below me. This was a perfect example of how humanities not only affects me but genuinely makes me happy. Another way humanities affects my everyday life is in the musical lyrics I listen to. Specifically one website, Soundcloud, has a whole section dedicated to music of the world. In this section you can find lyrics and music from all different countries. These songs give an idea of the culture and life of people other than Americans which helps us accept diversity.
Regarding a form of humanities that interests, neoclassical architecture takes the cake. La Madeleine, located in Paris, France is a beautiful form of architecture that people travel near and far to see. Not only have I personally visited this beautiful Roman Catholic church but I am also aware that it is incredibly historic. Founded in 1182 by Napoleon and Maurice de Sully, La Madeleine relates to our humanities class because we recently discussed the neoclassical era and all of its architecture. At 66 feet tall, this Roman temple is Neo-Classical and has 52 columns and a wide arch which is an important factor in this type of architecture.
Furthermore, life without humanities would be flat out boring. The best way to put it is earth without art is just, “eh”. Although some people enjoy it more than others, the study of humanities and its importance on earth is undeniably essential.
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