Humans and Humanities

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Describes the biological capacity for culture and the humanities.

Text of Humans and Humanities

  • 1.Humans and Humanities The Biological Dimension

2. The Human in Humanities

  • However we define humanities, the central figure is the human,Homo sapiens
  • According to the Greek philosopher Protagoras,
  • Man is the measure of all things
  • What about, might we ask, about woman? Is she not the measure of all things, too?
  • There is much about humans that go into the field of humanities
  • Sex is one: but there is much else that we will elaborate on.

3. What Did Protagoras Mean?

  • Man is the measure of all things has been interpreted in various ways.
  • Most humanists see the quote that the only perceiver of reality are humans themselves
  • In this view, there are no gods or eternal truths.
  • What is true is relative to the perceiver: an example is is it hot or cold in this room? So tell me. Is it hot or cold? Or are you Goldilocks and the temperature is just right?
  • Protagoras also advocated agnosticism; he didnt know whether there were gods or not.
  • A sophist whom Plato (and Socrates) despised, he was an easy target
  • Plato saw all phenomena as subject to an ideal that the gods had designed themselves, so he had no love for Protagoras, a relativist and an agnostic.

4. Meaning ofHomo sapiens

  • It means Man who is wise
  • Wise enough, I suppose, to make nukesbut I digress
  • It is worth noting that traditionally,androcentrismhas dominated the humanities
  • Homo sapiensgoes back to our ability to think, communicate, make tools
  • And our human form begins with bipedalityour ability to stand and walk on two feet
  • Defining who we are and how we got here is the first order of business.

5. So What Are We As Humans?

  • We havelanguage:no language, no culture, nothing for the humanities to study
  • We havesymbols:we can represent ideas and events by something else, such as music, visual arts, literatureand language itself
  • We havetool making and usingabilities: how else could we make or play an instrument, paint a picture, write a play or philosophical treatise?
  • We arebipedal , and whatever else we may portray humankind as, she and he always can stand and walk on two feet.

6. Trends in Human Anatomy: Cultural Capacities

  • Language:
  • Brain : Lower Motor Cortex, Brocas Area, Wernickes Area, Angular Gyrus
  • Speech Tract : Lungs, Oral and Nasal Cavity
  • Tool Making and Use:
  • Brain: Upper Motor Cortex
  • Other Areas: Hand, Fingers, and Arm
  • Bipedalism:
  • The entire skeleton

7. We Start with the Human Skull

  • These bones protect the center of our behaviorour brain
  • And our culture, in both senses of the word:
  • Who we are as Americans, or Greeks, or Romans
  • And the arts and literature that make up the humanities.

8. Language and Related Centers in Brain

    • 1. Brocas Area:Center of Speech
    • 2. Occipital Lobe:Center of Vision
    • 3. Wernickes Area : Center of speech reception
    • 4. Motor Cortex : Language and tool making and use
    • 5. Frontal Lobe : Center of thinking
    • 6. Auditory Cortex:Center of hearing
    • 7 .Angular Gyrus:Center of sensory coordination

9. Brain Structure: Language

  • Brocas Area: Speech Processing
  • Wernickes Area: Speech Reception
  • Arcuate Fasciculus: Nerves Connecting Brocas with Wernickes Area
  • Angular Gyrus: Interconnection among the five senses; so we can translate all senses into the sound we call language.
  • So language begins with the brain

10. Vocal Tract and Language: Repiratory System

  • Lungs provide the airstream
  • Intercostal muscles expand and contract the lungs
  • Diaphragm does the same thing
  • Trachea: the windpipe
  • Pharynx: The space between the oral cavity and the larynx
  • Epiglottis: flap of muscle that prevents food from entering the trachea
  • Every singer knows this anatomy

11. Vocal Tract and Language: Oral Cavity

  • The oral cavity is where language is articulated
  • The tongue is the most important part of speech articulation
  • Language is derived from the Latin meaning tongue
  • Consonants: sounds that stop or constrict the airstream.
  • Vowels: the sounds that resonate.

12. Motor Cortex and Function

  • Notice how much space is taken up by the facial muscles (lower), reflecting the ability to speak
  • Notice how much space of the motor cortex is taken up by the hands and fingers, reflecting the importance of hand and finger manipulation

13. Hand Bone Structure

  • Note the following
  • Flexible fingers
  • Opposable thumb
  • That allows for making fine manipulations.
  • Below Left: The power grip for using hammer and axes
  • Below Right: the precision grip (using thumb and forefingers) for finer work like using a pen or screwdrivers

14. What Are the Products of Language and Tool Use?

  • Upper left: Writing requires a precision grip
  • It also requires the ability to translate speech into visual form
  • Lower Left: Music itself is a language of sorts
  • It involves combining pitch in an aesthetic pattern
  • And you need an ability to manipulate to play a violin
  • You need tool-making abilitiesto make a violin, and its bow

15. Bipedalism: The Human Skeleton

  • Notice the following:
  • Vertical backbone or vertebrae
  • Hands freed from locomotion
  • Short, bowl-shaped pelvis
  • Inward-angling thighbone (femur)
  • Arched foot

16. Compare This Fine Fellow to Zeus, Boss of the Greek Gods:

  • As you will see in the arts, gods are often made in the image of men (Oh, yes, and women too; I think we call them goddesses, but I could be wrong. )

17. Of Course, This Biped Gets Religion

  • Here we see a bare-bones version of a prayer position
  • This image actually comes from Hawaii
  • It could just as well come from Europeor North America
  • Seriously, folksreligion too is part of the humanities

18. What Comprises Bipedalism: What Congress Lacks

  • First, you have an S-shaped backbone orvertebrae
  • The top part is nearest the neck, thecervical vertebrae
  • The middle part is back of the ribs, thethoracic vertebrae
  • The lowest part bears most of the upper body weight, thelumbar vertebrae
  • Thesacrumand thecoccyxcomprise the lowest part
  • That keeps us upright when standing or walking

19. What Comprises Bipedalism: The Pelvis

  • Note the following
  • The overall pelvis is bowl shaped.
  • Theiliumsupports the body and is an important area of thigh muscle attachments
  • Thepubisforms the front part of the pelvis
  • TheIschiumform the back base and provides more attachments for thigh muscles.

20. What Comprises Bipedalism: The Femur

  • Notice how the femur angles inward from the pelvis
  • It provides more support for the body
  • It enables us to walk more comfortably

21. What Comprises Bipedalism: Oh Yes, The Feet

  • Notice the following
  • We have two arches
  • The longitudinal arch extends from the first metatarsal (Inmost foot bone)
  • And goes to the heelbone (calcaneus)
  • The transverse arch goes from the instep to the outer bone.
  • This gives us absolute stability when we stand and walk

22. Attributes We Share with Other Species

  • We come in two sexes.
  • Therefore, we come in two gendersthe cultural interpretations of the sexes.
  • Like other animals, we compete and fight.(Here are Aphrodite and Mars [not] getting along)
  • Like other animals, we bear offspring
  • Like other animals, we grow and develop
  • And like other animals, we die (below; a modern motif of an old symbol)
  • All these are addressed in literature, history, even religion

23. What Does All This Have to Do with the Humanities?

  • Glad you asked!
  • First, dance, Greek, medieval, or modern emphasizes the human form
  • Second, the brushes we use, the musical instruments we play, all involve the dexterity that comes with the ability to make and use tools.
  • Third, the literature we compose, the laws we pass (or endure), the religions we be