The Humanities: An Introduction
After studying this chapter, students should be able to
Explain the role of the humanities in establishing values.
Explain the fundamental differences between the humanities and the sciences.
Have a beginning understanding of how to respond to a work of art.
Understand the concepts of abstract ideas and concrete images.
Understand structure and artistic form.
Outline of Chapter
The Humanities: A Study of Values
In medieval times, humanities identified that which did not pertain to God:
mathematics, science, art, and philosophy. Theology was excepted.
Today, humanities refers to human creativity and study (not math or science).
Today, humanities and science approach values differently.
Science makes deadly discoveries and passes along responsibility to other powers;
humanities questions the grounds on which their judgment should be based.
Humanities helps develop our sensitivity to values; i.e., what’s important to
A study of the arts will allow us to deepen our understanding of values.
Art is the illuminator of values and can enrich the quality of our lives. B.
Taste is an exercise in choice of values.
Taste of mass public shifts constantly.
Study of humanities posits that public success does not indicate
excellence in the arts.
Success of a work of art occurs when it examines human experience.
Immediacy of commercial art can dull us to a deeply satisfying art form.
Our defense of personal taste in “art” often inhibits our interest in discovering a
higher awareness of our humanity through a study of the arts.
For the authors, a study of the arts penetrates beyond facts to values that evoke
Responses to Art
The Process is so complex that it can never be fully analyzed.
Responses to Siqueiros: perception alone evokes emotions because of the baby.
Blume: fascism as a background force evokes an emotional response.
Knowledge about a work can lead to knowledge of a work—a richer experience.
Can be educated about what is in a work of art: shapes, objects, and structure, as
well as what is external to a work (e.g., political reference). D.
Structure and Artistic Form
Mondrian’s is different from other paintings in its subject matter.
Responses differ widely in looking at such a composition.
Mondrian’s is pure form, entirely sensuous surface.
Pure form is the interrelationships of lines, colors, textures, light, and shapes.
Any painting has to be organized, parts interrelated.
Artistic form is a composition or structure that makes subject matter more
Involves knowledge of background, formal qualities, and relationships between
To perceive any work of art, we must perceive its structure. F.
Abstract Ideas and Concrete Images
Described objects or events are used as a means of bringing abstract ideas to life.
Form of a work of art is an artistic form that clarifies or reveals values, and our
response is intensified by our awareness of those revealed values.
Terms Used in Chapter 1
Possible Discussion/Lecture Topics
The effects of the humanities on the sciences. Explore the idea of the scientists who
questioned the making of the atom bomb at Los Alamos. History suggests that some of
the “traitors” were attempting to gain a balance of power to nullify the deadliness of their
discovery. What does this reveal about values? Ask students to give their opinion about
the responsibility of the scientists in this bomb’s creation.
The impact of the arts on our sense of values. Explore the Perception Keys on pp. 9, 11,
and 12. Does the historical background affect...
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