Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily Why Study Humanities? Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein It is said that those who do not understand history will be doomed to repeat it; hence, it is important for us to know about the past, how events in history are similar to events in the present, and what lessons we can learn from our ancestors. We are citizens of the portion of the planet (the Western half) and of the culture, political and economic network, and religio-spiritual system that currently dominates what goes on in the world. How did we get here, and where are we going as a nation among other nations? It is also important to discover who we are in the context of those from whom we descend, for we have our ancestors in us. Culturally, politically, and spiritually, our belief structures in the West are based on the belief structures of all those from whom we have come. To be awake to our culture means to know the literary and historical allusions and symbols of our culture to events, ideas, places, and people from the past. As members of the human family on a planet that is right now in crisis (especially environmentally), it is important for us to be able to understand the lifestyles and beliefs of others so that we can communicate. Psychology and communication are two of the most important aspects of our being able to connect as a world family and solve the global problems that are impinging on all of us. As residents, and it is to be hoped active political voices, in a world that has need for connections, it is important for us all to see our connections with others. If we can acknowledge our inherent similarities, while at the same time respecting our cultural differences, we can achieve enough peace to work out our problems. And by studying the cultures of our ancestors and how they influenced our own culture, we can practice using the basics of psychological understanding. And finally, studying the literature, history, culture, and belief systems of our own past and of our own ancestors, we begin to see the similarities between our lives and the lives of those from whom we have come. There are elements of human existence that are the same from culture to culture and age to age; we refer to them as eternal verities, or eternal truths. An understanding of these eternal truths helps us understand ourselves both collectively and, perhaps more important, individually, so that we can answer for ourselves such questions as the following: Who am I?  Why do I exist? What is my purpose for being here on this planet at this point in time? Where am I going, and who will go with me?  Is there a God, and if so, what is my personal connection to that Supreme Force? Where will I go when I die? And how do I fit into the bigger picture that is the purpose of the human family? All these things are reasons for studying humanities. (For an additional view available on the net, you may want to read “Why Study Ancient World Cultures?” by Bill Hemminger,  http://eawc.evansville.edu)