The humanities are the areas of study which allow us to understand what makes us human, with all of our assets and our flaws. The humanities are, therefore, essential to the way in which we learn to empathize, as empathy is the process of recognizing the humanity in those around us, and attempting to understand and assist them as we would want to be. We discussed this idea in the first unit, when we discussed identity and human rights. If one does not see the humanity in another or choose to accept their entire identity rather than just a facet of it, it is impossible to create a just society in which everyone is equal.
Humanities is also, however, the study of how we have often used those physical, social, cultural, religious, etc. differences to dehumanize others. In the third and fourth units, for example, we discussed how trivial things such as the color of one’s skin or a desire for power can turn regular people into murderers.
Lastly, because the attempt to achieve an empathetic connection from someone can prove to be difficult, no situation is ever completely corrected in one simple revolution. Rather, as Nathaniel Hawthorne posits in The House of the Seven Gables, the path to complete revolution is an “ascending spiral curve.” Each time we connect ourselves to others in new ways, our sense of reality shifts, and we edge closer and closer to a Utopia.