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Humanities and Expressions of People Via Art

The term humanity has different meanings. The definitions have changed over time. During middle age, the term distinguished between areas of study that concerned human beings from those that concerned God. The areas that pertained to human beings such as philosophy, mathematics and science were considered to be humanities. Today, humanities differentiate between “hard” or objective, sciences such as mathematics and chemistry) and the more “soft” or subjective, areas of study (such as art and philosophy) ( Kroll, 2006, commentary, para. 1).

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Humanities can be said to be the study of the way human beings express themselves via art throughout history. Expression is a basic human need and human beings have used art to express themselves in the course of history. Through expressions, human beings are able to reveal their priorities, values and insights. Some authors argue that, when we study arts, we are able to expose the ideals therein and hence deepen our understanding of human values as well as the human experience. It is however important to note that art is not perfect or beautiful all the time. This means that, if we are to understand human values, we will sometimes have to look into the unpleasant images and subjects as well. We do this by looking at the results of human existence, that is, language, writings, beliefs, paintings, organizations and social institutions.

Humanities are distinguished from other disciplines such as science by the fact that they are concerned with the understanding of human beings and expression. The other disciplines view human beings as mere chemicals, physical or biological entities (Edgar, para. 9). The modes of human inquiry in other disciplines are different from those of humanities in that they are empirical. They rely on evidence from observation through the senses. On the other hand, in humanities the modes are analytical. The humanistic disciplines study the human condition by the use of methods that are critical and speculative.

In humanities, the modes respond to what is understood to be human. The understanding could be explicit or implicit and only exhibited through the actions of human beings and their creativity. The humanities look into the inhabited meaning world that is the present as well as the past. Thus questions about what it means to be physically human can be studied in this area as this is the core matter in medicine. The question can also be looked into in terms of what is to be human as a political being, economical, musical, or spiritual being.

There are a number of expressions in humanities. These are music, art, architecture, philosophy and literature. Music is a discipline that focuses on two areas, music education and music performance. Today, music has been used to advance political ideologies.

Art is a discipline in humanities that uses creative skill as its means of expression through a visual medium. For instance, the expressions could be in the form of a painting, picture or sculptor. This artistic expression has been used by human beings for many years since time immemorial. There are some works of art that are very famous such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo De Vinci. Other artistic expressions have been done throughout history and this can be seen on buildings, temples or even shrines across the world.

In recent days art expressions such as paintings have become very popular. Many art galleries have been opened and various artists have had a chance to showcase their work. The artists are able to depend on their work for their livelihood. This is because; most people have come to appreciate art more and are willing to pay a price for a piece done well.

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In addition, art has led to the development of politics. This is because art has become a vital tool through which politicians express their political interests. This can be done using color or even by composing political ideologies or songs. The artists can also draw politicians’ portraits and the public stands in a better position to relate with their leaders. This is seen especially during electioneering periods. Pictures of candidates are printed and widely distributed along various streets in an attempt to persuade citizens to vote for the candidates vying for various posts.

Furthermore, art has contributed to socioeconomics development for the reason that people from different cultures are able to sell their products to the rest of the world. Through this kind of trade, cultures are transmitted from one country to another and also across continents.

Architecture is the art of designing as well as constructing buildings and other structures that are used by human beings as shelter. On the other hand, buildings are designed according to context and largely depend on culture. Different cultures across the world have different structural designs and buildings can be identified as belonging to a certain culture on the basis of the design. Some of the architectural work may be a political or cultural symbol. Today’s architecture is complex due to technology. Buildings are designed in various designs to serve the needs of the people. Architects use technology to come up with very complex designs which are also very appealing to the eye. Therefore, architecture has been used to make statements about a country’s artistic ability. For example, in the cases of the Olympic stadiums that were witnessed by the world in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese people were able to showcase their social-economic power to the rest of the world.

Philosophy deals with the study of issues that pertains to matters of knowledge, truth, justice, beauty, morality, language, mind and justification. Philosophy uses a critical approach instead of experiments. For some time, the term was regarded to be a comprehensive expression that included many disciplines. Nowadays, the term has been broken down into distinct fields like physics. Physics is nowadays applied in technology and has led to major developments in this area.

Literature is a product of the culture and history of a people. Through literature, we are able to explore the various realms that humanities entail and we are also able to understand human being’s behavior since we can get the meaning of their actions from analyzing their actions critically.

There are various genres of literature such as novels, poetry, drama or theatre and short stories. Through these genres, writers and artists are able to express themselves as well as pass on a message to the wider society. Today, there is a big literature industry that provides to the world’s economy, such as Hollywood. This industry produces films that are a genre in literature and has in return managed to create employment for so many people. Through films, people get a chance to pass across a message. This message could either be political or informative. Most importantly, through literature people have become more enlightened and thus are able to make sound decisions. In addition, we have poets who have written and sold their poems all over the world. Other artists have written novels that have been read across nations. They contribute to the economy of their country as well as influence politics.


Edgar, S.P. (2006). Need Humanities to be So Useless? Justifying The Place and Role of Humanities as a Critical Resource for Performance and Practice. 2009. Web.

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Kroll, M. (2006). The Humanities—An Introduction. 2009. Web.

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