In the Renaissance , the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics , the main area of secular study in universities at the time.
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Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social sciences , as well as professional training. The humanities use methods that are primarily critical , or speculative , and have a significant historical element  —as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences ,  yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central discipline. Scholars in the humanities are "humanity scholars" or humanists. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes usually consisting of literature , global studies and art.
Human disciplines like history and cultural anthropology study subject matters that the manipulative experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method  and comparative research. Anthropology is the holistic "science of humans", a science of the totality of human existence.
The discipline deals with the integration of different aspects of the social sciences , humanities and human biology. In the twentieth century, academic disciplines have often been institutionally divided into three broad domains. The natural sciences seek to derive general laws through reproducible and verifiable experiments.
The humanities generally study local traditions, through their history , literature , music , and arts , with an emphasis on understanding particular individuals, events, or eras. The social sciences have generally attempted to develop scientific methods to understand social phenomena in a generalizable way, though usually with methods distinct from those of the natural sciences. The anthropological social sciences often develop nuanced descriptions rather than the general laws derived in physics or chemistry, or they may explain individual cases through more general principles, as in many fields of psychology.
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Anthropology like some fields of history does not easily fit into one of these categories, and different branches of anthropology draw on one or more of these domains. It is an area that is offered at most undergraduate institutions. Eric Wolf described sociocultural anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences". The goal of anthropology is to provide a holistic account of humans and human nature. This means that, though anthropologists generally specialize in only one sub-field, they always keep in mind the biological, linguistic, historic and cultural aspects of any problem.
Since anthropology arose as a science in Western societies that were complex and industrial, a major trend within anthropology has been a methodological drive to study peoples in societies with more simple social organization, sometimes called "primitive" in anthropological literature, but without any connotation of "inferior". The quest for holism leads most anthropologists to study a people in detail, using biogenetic, archaeological, and linguistic data alongside direct observation of contemporary customs.
It is possible to view all human cultures as part of one large, evolving global culture. These dynamic relationships, between what can be observed on the ground, as opposed to what can be observed by compiling many local observations remain fundamental in any kind of anthropology, whether cultural, biological, linguistic or archaeological.
Archaeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts , architecture , biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. Archaeology is thought of as a branch of anthropology in the United States,  while in Europe, it is viewed as a discipline in its own right, or grouped under other related disciplines such as history.
Classics , in the Western academic tradition, refers to the studies of the cultures of classical antiquity , namely Ancient Greek and Latin and the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Classical studies is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its popularity declined during the 20th century.
Nevertheless, the influence of classical ideas on many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong. History is systematically collected information about the past.
When used as the name of a field of study , history refers to the study and interpretation of the record of humans , societies , institutions, and any topic that has changed over time. Traditionally, the study of history has been considered a part of the humanities. In modern academia , history is occasionally classified as a social science. While the scientific study of language is known as linguistics and is generally considered a social science ,  a natural science  or a cognitive science ,  the study of languages is still central to the humanities.
A good deal of twentieth-century and twenty-first-century philosophy has been devoted to the analysis of language and to the question of whether, as Wittgenstein claimed, many of our philosophical confusions derive from the vocabulary we use; literary theory has explored the rhetorical, associative, and ordering features of language; and historical linguists have studied the development of languages across time. Literature, covering a variety of uses of language including prose forms such as the novel , poetry and drama , also lies at the heart of the modern humanities curriculum.
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College-level programs in a foreign language usually include study of important works of the literature in that language, as well as the language itself. In common parlance, law means a rule that unlike a rule of ethics is enforceable through institutions. Law is not always enforceable, especially in the international relations context. It has been defined as a "system of rules",  as an "interpretive concept"  to achieve justice, as an "authority"  to mediate people's interests, and even as "the command of a sovereign, backed by the threat of a sanction".
Legal policy incorporates the practical manifestation of thinking from almost every social science and discipline of the humanities. Laws are politics , because politicians create them. Law is philosophy , because moral and ethical persuasions shape their ideas. Law tells many of history 's stories, because statutes, case law and codifications build up over time. And law is economics, because any rule about contract , tort , property law , labour law , company law and many more can have long-lasting effects on how productivity is organised and the distribution of wealth.
The noun law derives from the late Old English lagu , meaning something laid down or fixed,  and the adjective legal comes from the Latin word LEX. Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language.
Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction , and whether it is poetry or prose ; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel , short story or drama ; and works are often categorised according to historical periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations genre.
Philosophy—etymologically, the "love of wisdom"—is generally the study of problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, justification, truth, justice, right and wrong, beauty, validity, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these issues by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument, rather than experiments experimental philosophy being an exception.
Philosophy used to be a very comprehensive term, including what have subsequently become separate disciplines, such as physics. As Immanuel Kant noted, "Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three sciences: physics, ethics, and logic. Still, it continues to overlap with other disciplines. The field of semantics , for example, brings philosophy into contact with linguistics.
Since the early twentieth century, philosophy in English-speaking universities has moved away from the humanities and closer to the formal sciences, becoming much more analytic. Moore , and Ludwig Wittgenstein. New philosophies and religions arose in both east and west, particularly around the 6th century BC. Over time, a great variety of religions developed around the world, with Hinduism , Jainism , and Buddhism in India , and Zoroastrianism in Persia being some of the earliest major faiths. In the east, three schools of thought were to dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day.
These were Taoism , Legalism , and Confucianism. The Confucian tradition, which would attain predominance, looked not to the force of law, but to the power and example of tradition for political morality. In the west, the Greek philosophical tradition, represented by the works of Plato and Aristotle , was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East by the conquests of Alexander of Macedon in the 4th century BC.
This forms a large group of related largely monotheistic religions, generally held to include Judaism , Christianity , and Islam , and comprises over half of the world's religious adherents. The performing arts differ from the visual arts in so far as the former uses the artist's own body, face, and presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal, or paint, which can be molded or transformed to create some art object. Performing arts include acrobatics , busking , comedy , dance , film , magic , music , opera , juggling , marching arts , such as brass bands , and theatre.
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Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are called performers, including actors , comedians , dancers , musicians , and singers. Performing arts are also supported by workers in related fields, such as songwriting and stagecraft. Performers often adapt their appearance , such as with costumes and stage makeup , etc. There is also a specialized form of fine art in which the artists perform their work live to an audience. This is called Performance art. Most performance art also involves some form of plastic art, perhaps in the creation of props.
Dance was often referred to as a plastic art during the Modern dance era. Musicology as an academic discipline can take a number of different paths, including historical musicology , ethnomusicology and music theory. Undergraduate music majors generally take courses in all of these areas, while graduate students focus on a particular path.