Notes on Introduction to the Humanities -- Hum A212

William Jamison - Instructor

Lecture 2

This lecture concerns a review of the dawn of culture and a first look at theory.

Regarding the color wheel: it reminds me for some reason of the I Am the President/Radio Free Nixon by David Frye (Audio CD) album (Disc 1 track 8) "Colors! I want to learn colors!" (Sorry. I reminisce.) I used this to launch on an issue concerning facts and interpretation. I ask: are there any colors we haven't discovered yet? That is, are the colors identified in the color wheel all of the colors? Certainly in one sense, hypothetically at least, there is an infinity of colors between, say yellow and blue. Can we imagine all possible colors if there is an infinity of them? Beyond those colors we perceive, we are also aware of colors outside the normal range of human perception -- those in the infrared and ultraviolet. I might mention that parakeets can see UV colors. Only thanks to technologies that expand our abilities have we become aware of our limitations and recognition that are animals have capabilities we do not. So even when we focus on what we might call a fact,  should realize there is already a limitation in the way we make note of the fact. Our perception is specific to the means of perception and there are other aspects of things beyond the capacity of that means of perception.

Next issue: facts versus values (or interpretation, or theory).

See: The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays by Hilary Putnam (Paperback - Mar 30, 2004) for a contemporary look at this issue.

How do we recognize the difference between a fact and non-fact? Further, what is the role of the non-factual? Earlier (or in other courses) I discuss the importance of narrative for our memory. We remember narratives very well. In this sense we may be better described as homo narrans instead of homo sapiens sapiens.  (See Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature by John D. Niles (Hardcover - Nov 1999)) (Or see: )

We will do a close reading of the text LC 1.

Consider the word "text" to refer to more than literature.

"World view" read as "Meta narrative". Reconcile relativism and an absolute interpretation of a text.

King Tutankhamen at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo:

Interpretation? A Good Man is Hard to Find


For those who would like to look at Dr Gabrielle Barnett's web page for the class it is posted here:,9449,1514830-,00.html is the Prentice Hall page for "Arts and Culture"

Next lecture 

This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated August 14, 2012. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.