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  The humanities, or litterae humaniores (Latin, ‘humane studies’), in medieval education, were the classics, philosophy and contemporary literature. ‘Humane’ in this context means ‘relevant to the study of human beings’. The classics were studied because it was thought that they demonstrated most human secular knowledge at its best; philosophy was studied because it showed how human beings think, and what their thought has been at its most elevated; contemporary literature was studied to show what the ‘best’ minds of the time were thinking. These studies, it was thought, would prepare people for life, or if they had to enter a profession, would fit the mind for the army, diplomacy or government (none of which needed further study), or for professions which needed postgraduate, specific work, such as the Church or the Law. The concept may seem either naive or breath-takingly arrogant, but the humanities were the most highly regarded course of study in most European universities from their foundation in the late Middle Ages right through to the middle of the 20th century. KMcL  



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