The humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, orspeculative, and having a significant historical element, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts such as music and theatre. The humanities that are also regarded as social sciences include history, anthropology, area studies,communication studies, cultural studies, law, economics and linguistics. Scholars working in the humanities are sometimes described as “humanists”. However, that term also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some “antihumanist” scholars in the humanities reject. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes, usually consisting of English literature, global studies, and art.
Human disciplines like history, cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis study subject matters to which the experimental method does not apply, and they have access instead to the comparative method and comparative research.
The 1980 United States Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities described the humanities in its report, The Humanities in American Life:
Through the humanities we reflect on the fundamental question: What does it mean to be human? The humanities offer clues but never a complete answer. They reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world in which irrationality, despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope, and reason.