Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Are the Arts and Humanities Relevant?

The Humanities are defined on as: "studies about human culture, such as literature, philosophy, and history". Debates on whether the Humanities are important are as old as time, but always heat up in times of economic instability since they are often among the first to be cut from a curriculum.

However, it is worth noting that the phenomena of cultures and all manifestations of art and philosophy are what separate humans from any other inhabitants of this planet. There is no other known earthly species that is in any way concerned with such matters. This unique set of interests is intrinsic to what it means to be human. We, as a species, seem to have an instinctual need for the arts and humanities. So why bother to debate their relevance at all? Are they, indeed, important?

The answer is as easy as asking yourself "How do I define myself? Who am I?" Believe it or not, your answer, whatever it is, is an example of the Humanities and the Arts in practical application. Are you a soccer mom, a steel worker, a punk rock/goth/emo type? Do you identify with where you were born, where you live, who raised you? Are you a fan of your local sports team? Do you pride yourself based on the music you listen to? Are you brand-oriented or bargain-oriented? Do you like to hike or to write? Do you believe in God (if so, which one?) or are you more of an Agnostic or Atheist? What do you want most out of life? What constitutes "power" to you and who are you willing or not willing to give it to? Are you an early-riser or a night owl? Are you heart-broken or the heart-breaker, or both?

When we study art and the humanities, we are studying ourselves. And the truly wise among us also study each other. finishes its definition of the humanities with a statement that undervalues them as "not practical". But what is knowing a skill without being able to answer, or at least ask and explore, these most fundamental questions about the human experience? That is what the Humanities and the Arts facilitate.

These are the very things that make us human. What could be more relevant than that?

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