In education, humanities is a collective term referring to the subjects of: economics, sociology, history, philosophy, psychology, government, anthropology, politics, literature, business, law, finance, architecture, etc., among other cross-over interdisciplinary subjects such as political economy or ecological economics.

In the 14th century, in Italy, a “humanism” or humanities movement—or quest to find, study, and assimilate the great humanities works of the classics, e.g. Cicero, Virgil, Homer, etc.—began to gain traction, generally through the lead of Italian scholar Petrarch (1304-1374), and his close friends and disciples, preeminently: Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1374) and Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406), who were under a conviction that a concentrated force existed in the classical works of buried past.

In the late 1390s, Italian notary and book copier Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459), student of Giovanni Malpaghino—former amanuensis to Petrarch—entered the scene, and adopted the general outlook of the humanism movement, which by that time had shifted to the goal of finding and collecting of the lost humanities books of antiquity, so to form a type of public library. The most-famous of these ancient book discoveries, made by Bracciolini, was the 1417 discovery of Lucretius’ 55BC atomic theory based On the Nature of Things, which would go on to greatly influence a number of humanities scholars, one of the earliest being French realism writer Montaigne. [3]

Physical humanities
The teaching of humanities, based on physical science is termed "physical humanities", physicochemical humanities (e.g. physicochemical sociology), or physical science based humanities. On early example of "physical humanities", so to say, is French scholar Michel Montaigne's self-education of the atomic theory in Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, with which he used as the basis of his 1580 Essays on existence—a work that would become one of William Shakespeare's favorite books.

The following are related quotes:

“I can calculate the movements of stars, but not the madness of men.”
Isaac Newton (c.1690), after losing his hat in a market collapse [4]

“What is man the wiser or the happier for knowing how the air-plants feed, or how my centuries the flint-stone was in forming, unless the knowledge of them can be linked on to humanity, and elucidate for us some of our hard moral mysteries?”
James Froude (1849), The Nemesis of Faith, first English translator (1854) of Elective Affinities [1]

“If the humanities are dying, I am not convinced that it is a case of murder or that the administrators are the most likely suspects. It seems to me that in a good many departments, in a good many universities, it is a case, rather of attempted and as yet not entirely successful suicide. Now, it seems to me that one of the troubles with the humanities is that they are trying very hard to be something that they cannot be. They are trying to be scientific. And they turn with a vengeance to history and develop all sorts of unimportant facts about unimportant poets, or they develop pseudo-scientific criticism, and I have wondered whether this wasn’t an effort to get the prestige that goes along with science and also the protection that goes along with developing an independent discipline, which nobody else understands, and thus nobody else can criticize. The humanities no longer teach the classics as they once did. They are no longer willing to go through the routine problems of improving style; even the language professors are not willing to teach language, but reserve their best efforts for minute points of textual criticism, and the like. So it seems to be, the humanities shouldn’t be what they can’t be. They don’t have to be exact, they just have to be interesting and colorful and delightful. They can be speculative, concerned with values, and thus they can really be useful and of service to everybody … the sin of the humanities is that they are now trying to become women of virtue, correct and proper and highly isolated, and they would make a greater contribution if they would return to their earlier and more alluring ways.”
— Clark Kerr (1955) [5]

See also
Social science
Humanities citation ranking
Humanities thermodynamics

1. (a) Froude, James. (1848). The Nemesis of Faith (pg. 86). London: John Chapman.
(b) Knight, David. (2009). The Making of Modern Science: Science, Technology, Medicine and Modernity: 1789-1914 (Elective Affinities, pgs. 29, 184, 255). Polity Press.
2. Staff. (2009). "Most Cited Authors of Books in the Humanities, 2007" (Ѻ) , date provided by Thomson Reuters ISI Web of Science, Times Higher Education, Mar 29.
3. (a) Greenblatt, Stephen. (2011). The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (pgs. 120-). Random House.
(b) Petrarch – Wikipedia.
4. (a) Bouchard, Jean-Philippe. (2008). “Economics Needs a Scientific Revolution” (EP) (ArXiv), Nature, 455:1181, Oct 30.
(b) Weatherall, James O. (2013). The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable (thermodynamics, pgs. 18, 65; Newton quote, pg. 5). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
5. (a) Kerr, Clark. (1955). “Article”, The Educational Record (pgs. 69-70), Jan.
(b) Lundberg, George. (1947). Can Science Save Us? (pg. 73-74). Longmans, Green and Co.

External links
Humanities – Wikipedia.

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