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Chapter 5: culture: Leisure

What Is the Point of the Humanities?



We have a general sense that the humanities are filled with things that are deeply important. But what exactly are they for?

The humanities are a repository of useful and consoling ideas that can help us face pressing personal and professional issues. We can turn to novels and historical narratives to impart moral instruction, paintings to reawaken our empathetic powers, and philosophy to probe our anxieties and offer consolation.

Here we look at four great strands of the humanities and ask how they can help us live:

1. What is Art For? 

2. What is Literature For? 

3. What is Philosophy For?

 4. What is History For?