ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Historical Development of the Humanities from the Pre-Historic Era to the Present

Updated on December 28, 2018
Erudite Scholar profile image

Jeff Zod is an avid reader, writer and researcher. He enjoys exploring new and old concepts.

Art | Source

The Historical Development of the Humanities from the Pre-Historic Era to the Present

Humanities can be defined as a group of extensive disciplines including philosophy, arts, history, art criticism, film studies, music, and photography. Generally, humanities can be considered to involve the study of literature, classics, and art history. The first definition of humanities appeared in 1702 and was referred to as the activity of the humanist.

Today, humanities can be defined as an institutional tool used to acquire knowledge. Notably, this knowledge is rather a forceful ideology consisting of varying connotations in various historical eras shaped by different forces although they have a similar attempt to humanize man.

The first phase of the development of humanities is known as medieval. The medieval stage took place in the 12th and 13th century. During this period, the humanities mainly meant theology and philosophy. Notably, theology was the most prestigious study area.

Statue | Source

The second phase is the Late Middle Ages (LMA). This is the period when Heresies aroused. Basically, this was the period when skepticism began and people began getting dissatisfied with the church as an institution. Moreover, this period dated the starting point of humanism. Protagoras defined man as the measure of all the things.

The next stage was the renaissance. During this period, the humanities involved disciplines that would trigger man into getting richer and more meaningful. The languages of Rome and Greece, philosophy, music, and fine arts arose during this time. Renaissance man acquired knowledge and skills in diverse arts. However, these arts were not recognized by the church. The universal man also improved in diverse fields including arts and sciences.

Art | Source

In the 16th century (by 1535), the study of literae humaniores, the greats, became the head of all the artwork. In addition, humanities became the key to the history, mind, and thoughts of the civilized man in the 19th century.

In recent years, there has been a wave of neglect of humanities. This is as a result of an industrial revolution which has led to nations competing on technology. However, new academic disciplines have continued to rise due to new social realities put in place. The field of humanities has also become increasingly interdisciplinary and highly theoretically pluralist.

Art | Source

There are four major cultural developments of humanities in the historical eras. They include Classical, Renaissance, medieval, and modern cultures. Each of these cultures has been extensively discussed below:

Classical Era culture

The ancient Greek civilization created classics in the creative aspects including visual arts, architecture, philosophy, literature, and music. The classical aspects emphasized the principles and attitudes of balance, harmony, moderation, clarity, and regularity. The foundation for Classicism was first laid during the Bronze Age by the maritime civilizations. The Greek civilization was then brought into the Golden Age by the Athens. Over time, Alexander the Great spread the Greek's Classical creativity to most of the civilization and acquired the name Hellenistic.

Statue | Source

The classical style was preserved by the Romans as they added emergent aesthetic principles which later became the Neoclassical Age. During this period, the Greek drama comprised of theatrical performances that took place twice each year in form of a play. Dramatizing sacred ceremonies was believed to result in favorable outcomes during the times of farming, community survival, and war. The Hellenistic civilization ended while the Classical Age prevailed in the form of poetry, music, visual arts, drama, and philosophy. This has continued to inspire humanities in the present life.

Medieval Era Culture

This culture was considered a classical understanding of renaissance since it was challenged by the influence of Islamic, Judaism, and Christianity. The three religions had their faith-based in a belief in the revelation which was basically the sacred knowledge disclosure. They held on to the idea that a Supreme Being passed to humankind a set of holy injunctions through a prophet. The Roman Empire also fell apart becoming the present day Europe. Most of the Christians' practices and laws were established during this age.

A significant number of individuals believed in the teachings and life of Jesus that encouraged them to become the followers of Christ. There arose a tension between Christianity and the Roman state where they fought over attaining authority. These conflicts continued until the 16th century after which Europe realized there was the need to separate the church and the state as well as their governing roles. This has brought impact to the daily life because up to date both the state and the church are governed by different rules.


Renaissance Era Culture

During the 15th and 16th century, there was a close connection between the Reformation and the Renaissance in Northern Europe. Contrary to the Greco-Roman culture, during the Renaissance period, the Reformation was motivated by religious beliefs that inspired music, art, and literature. Literature celebrity in England under the rule of Queen Elizabeth 1 in the 16th century was William Shakespeare.


Shakespeare's work was of a significant influence on the evolution of the language of English as well as the development of the Western literary tradition. One of the most quoted plays globally was Hamlet that was based on a story of tragedy and revenge. One of the most popular lines in this play was, " To be, or not to be, that is the question." This line has always influenced and continued to influence the thoughts of many individuals in the present and future generations.

Desiderius Erasmus, who was a Dutch scholar, with his vital works of translating the New Testament to Greek has led to religious revolution. As a result, this has led to disposing of radical components in present-day life.

Modern Era Culture

Modern Era culture was necessitated by the progress of reformation from the ancient civilization. As a result, enlightenment to further push the idea of analytics and intellect was introduced. The most influential in this era were Montesquieu and Immanuel Kant. According to Kant, the human mind is in a position to reason depending on the human experience as the source of such reasoning is moral values.

Charles Louis, Montesquieu, condemned slavery and defended liberty. He politically proposed the separation of powers between judicial, executive and legislative agencies. Up to date, each of these agencies plays different duties hence an impact that the modern era culture as on the today's daily life.

© 2018 Jeff Zod


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      17 months ago from UK

      There are some quite complex sentence structures here. You might want to consider offering a little more explanation so that your article will appeal to a broader readership.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)