Some may say that studying humanities, namely degrees like Philology or History, is not as useful as studying more pragmatic degrees like Economics or Engineering. Humanities are thought to be good for general knowledge, but unpractical and more often than not leading to poorly paid jobs the hundreds of students who enrol in these degrees year after year believe that humanities are not only useful and enriching on a personal level, but also essential to society as a whole.
The contribution of humanities is subtle and often goes unnoticed. For instance, successful communication, both written and oral, depends on the shared knowledge of certain rules and words. It is a philologist’s job to put together dictionaries and grammar books which are used in schools for the study of language. People would not be able to understand each other, were it not for the laborious work of the philologist.
Moreover, humanities give us a sense of identity. We would not be able to know who we are today without studying History. Historians are the ones who keep track of all the events that have shaped a nation’s past. Not only do we need them to understand where we come from, but also to make sense of where we are going.
Finally, in spite of often being seen as disconnected from the real world, humanities ensure that society remains humane. We tend to forget that Ethics, which is a branch of Philosophy, provides us with the principles that strictly regulate the use of atomic bombs, massive destruction weapons or genetic technology.
To conclude, claiming that studying humanities is a waste of time is simplistic. It is true that studying philosophy or literature might not make you financially rich, but it will certainly give you a better understanding of who you are as a human being. And this is worth millions!
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