Sample Essay on “Human Inquiry and Expression in the Humanities”

Ever since the 1800s, the humanities have characteristically been identified as bodies of knowledge which examine or evaluate expressions revolving around man’s intricate mind. It has been widely referred to as a branch of knowledge which involves educational fields that study the condition of man through the utilization of logical or exploratory approaches, contrary to experimental methods mainly used within fields under the natural and social sciences  (Aldama, 2008). As a result, music, literature, linguistics and language, and various forms of visual arts, have all been included in the dominion of the humanities, contrast to the learning of the natural world which fits in the sphere of the natural sciences and the study of man in his societal environment which belongs to the sphere of the social sciences.   Humanities therefore elicits a certain mode of teaching and learning that requires a constant application of reasoning assessed within several parameters, contrary to other modes of human inquiry and expression that usually entail sets of procedures that procure pertinent data in order to explain a certain phenomenon under study (Bod, Maat and Weststeijn, 2010).  Though definite and specific to a certain extent, these definitions are quite insufficient. Mathematics, for instance, is to an extensive degree, a result of the man’s rational thinking, and yet it is not regarded as a discipline under the umbrella of humanities. As such, a pragmatic standpoint may be more feasible: the humanities refer to disciplines that are instructed and learned at diverse humanities faculties. Specifically, this definition notes that the humanities usually entail studies such as the: “linguistics, musicology, philology, literary theory, historical disciplines (including art history) as well as more recent disciplines such as film studies and media studies” thereby creating a more rounded and definite parameter through which humanities, as a mode of human inquiry and expression, may be understood (Boot, 2009).
Through the creation and expansion of several fields under the humanities, understanding the human condition and the ways in which the human mind functions, has been central to the development of not only the field of humanity itself but as well as of our world. Throughout the centuries, the humanities have contributed a number of breakthroughs that have led to the progressions in politics, socioeconomics, and technology. To fully understand humanities, explicating such developments within fields developed under the umbrella of the humanities, would certainly offer a range of insights that could help assess the weight of the contributions of the humanities to our advancing world, especially contributions to the parameters noted.  The following discussions offer two disciplines under the humanities, art and literature, and how they have influenced developments in politics and technology, respectively.


Along the line of politics, art has been a subtle contributor to the influences that politics had over our world. In Edelman’s “From art to politics”, Edelman (1996) has specifically noted how artistic expressions raised all throughout our history have shaped political conceptions, stating:
The models, scenarios, narratives, and images into which audiences for political news translate that news are social capital, not individual intentions. They come from works of art in all genres: novels, paintings, stories, films, dramas, television sitcoms, striking rumors, even memorable jokes. For each type of news report, there is likely to be a small set of striking images that are influential with large numbers of people, both spectators of the political scene and policymakers themselves (p. 1).
For instance, Juan Luna’s Spolarium, a painting of brutal tortures suffered under Spanish cavalry, in the efforts of a revolution, has sparked efforts against colonialism and contributed to the world’s development of the concept of liberty through democracy. Thus, in a critical sense, art is therefore the origin of political ideas and dialogues from which further actions result from. It must be considered, as such, as a chief and essential fraction of the transaction that stimulates political conduct. The behavior, qualities, and vices linked with politics are directly achieved from art, then, and merely obliquely from instantaneous experience. Artworks produce ideologies revolving around headship, valor, weakness, self-sacrifice, hazards, power, and visions projected towards the future that nations naturally presume to be indications of their personal observations and interpretations. Art, with reference to the world of politics, could therefore be established not only as one of its contributing factors to development, but more so as one of its building blocks or foundations.


Literature, as that of art, has also been a primary contributor to several constructs within our world including politics, socioeconomics, and technology. Technology for one has been revolutionized through extreme imaginings resulting from works developed through writing. A certain niche of literature, referred to as science fiction, has greatly influenced how technology has expanded and developed within our current era. In fact, Seed (2011) noted that technology is a central indicator of change in science fiction and in turn, science fiction has become an overseeing influence over the advances made in the technology of our current era. For instance, Karel Caperk, a Czech writer, has coined the term “robot” in 1920, giving birth to the idea of a manmade machine able to function on its own and perform a series of tasks programmed through data. Similarly, William Gibson, an American writer, has developed the concept of “cyberspace” which he described as a “virtual space of cumulative computer networks” (Seed, 2011). Later, cyberspace has been fully developed into the real world, becoming a very phenomenal advancement in our world today.


  1. Aldama, F. L. (2008). Why the humanities matter: A commonsense approach. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
  2. Bod, R., Maat, J., and Weststeijn, T. (2010). Making of the humanities, volume 1: Early modern Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  3. Boot, P. Mesotext: Digitised embles, modeled annotations and humanities scholarship. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  4. Edelman, M. J. (1995). From art to politics: How artistic creations shape political conceptions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  5. Seed, D. (2011). Science fiction: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
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