Humes and Humanities

Our Humes course differs from the traditional Humanities in several ways. Primarily, humes intentionally interacts with non-humanistic ways of knowing. The humanities course involves social sciences like history as well as hard sciences like neuroscience and astronomy into its syllabus. Our Humes course focuses on epistemology which is just one aspect of the Humanities. We tackle epistemology – the questioning how and if we Know – through interdisciplinary means. Rather than reading various philosophers, our course grounds discussions in literal scenarios whether they be about conceptual schemes in astronomy, neuroscience’s intersection with abstract art, or the language of Paul Celan. This enabled me as a newcomer to participate in these dialogue with tangible material. Merriam Webster defines humanities as “the branches of learning (such as philosophy, arts, or languages) that investigate human constructs and concerns as opposed to natural processes (as in physics or chemistry) and social relations (as in anthropology or economics).” This definition of the Humanities does not fit our course. Merriam Webster impressively creates a qualitative definition of humanities that focuses on why the humanities are humanistic fields of inquiry rather than just which fields are. However, the definition ends by juxtaposing the humanities from other ways of knowing. After Hum 103/104, it is clear to me that there are not two cultures, to use C.P. Snow’s term, on two opposite ends of the spectrum; instead, the boundary is porous and blurred. Our Humes program fleshes out the traditional Humanities by broadening its view with varied viewpoints. Our Humes challenges established concepts in a way the Humanities as a discipline does not.

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