What Is humanism?


Humanism is the philosophy that promotes human interests and welfare over those of deities or ideologies. It holds that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It asserts that people are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or gods. They should take responsibility for their actions without waiting for divine judgment. Humanism seeks to realize human potential, especially through reason. It emphasizes common human needs, as well as respecting human rights and individual freedom. However, opposes intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, political belief, religion, or national origin.

Defining humanism

Humanism is a way of life that regards humans as of central importance in any discussion of meaning and morality. Often refer to Renaissance thinker Erasmus. Humanists believe that it was Socrates who first argued for placing man at the center of inquiry, though some place him at its birth with his questions about what makes life worth living and how one should live. The point here, however, is not when exactly humans became central. But rather how they came to occupy such a privileged position. Humanists argue we should value humans simply. Because they are humans (their characteristics being unique to their species) and possess mental capacities that give them special moral standing above other animals.

Example of humanism

There are many ways in which Humanism has grown and evolved over time. In ancient Rome, there was a philosophy, humanitas (lat. humanitatem). It attempted to attain moral perfection by perfecting our own humanity. It centers around mens sana in corpore sano (lat. a sound mind in a sound body). Today, we see similar concepts from an evolutionary perspective: biological fitness through natural selection and survival of the fittest. In addition, there has been a strong emphasis on rationality and logic. As key aspects of what it means to be human.

History of humanism

Humanism as a concept has its roots in ancient Greece. The word itself comes from homaisia, meaning friend of man. However, many scholars date modern-day humanism to Renaissance thinkers. Renaissance thinkers like Pico della Mirandola and Erasmus helped define our modern conception of what it means to be a humanist. He focuses on empiricism and reason. Humanists place great value on individual freedom and self-actualization. They believe that one must make meaning in their life through their own agency. All too often we look for reasons outside ourselves, religion, or society—to make decisions for us. Rather than making them for ourselves. We see our choices as right or wrong depending on whether they fit into pre-existing belief systems.

Varieties of humanism

Humanism has different meanings for different people. and it may be helpful to start by explaining how some of those differences emerged. The word humanist comes from Renaissance Italy, where it referred to a variety of writers. Some were Christian in outlook; others were atheistic or otherwise secular. Since then, it has taken on several different meanings. Depending largely on historical context and perspective (an especially important consideration in philosophy). Here are a few examples: Aristotelian-Thomistic humanism: In recent years, there has been renewed interest in Thomistic ethics.


We are at a moment in history where technology has enabled us to finally capture our dreams of eternal life and physical perfection. The movement known as transhumanism has taken hold around the world and its momentum cannot be stopped. Many things can be credited with fueling its rise, but above all, it comes down to one simple factor: aging.

Humanism vs Religion

Humanists think that religion and faith can only go so far in meeting our existential needs. For example, you may turn to a religious text or spiritual leader for guidance. But ultimately you should be able to rely on your own mind and apply your own critical thinking skills to navigate life’s biggest questions. Humanists believe people can find meaning and purpose in life without religion. Instead of relying on divine intervention, they look inward for self-awareness and creative problem-solving. They approach life as an adventure where anything is possible. And aspire to follow their passions without having to answer to anyone else. The core values of humanism are tolerance, respect for others, personal autonomy, freedom of thought and expression, authenticity, and reason over faith or tradition.

Humanism and Ethics

Humanists are concerned with building a better world, one that we can be proud to pass on to future generations. Humanist beliefs and ethical principles are derived from an application of reason to various areas of concern. These include beliefs about how people should treat each other, how we can make progress in solving social problems like economic disparities and education reform, and how we can build communities that make us feel a sense of belonging. All of these goals depend on upholding ethics based on rational thought and evidence rather than religious belief or dogma.

Freethought Movement

The freethought movement promotes viewpoints and perspectives of atheists, agnostics, and other religious skeptics. It includes a range of views from complete rejection of religion to religious indifference. The intellectual underpinnings of freethought are various forms of philosophical skepticism (especially regarding religion), combined with a simple rejection of superstition. Freethinkers hold a wide variety of views on politics and social issues but are unified in their rejection of supernatural claims. In particular, free thinkers often view religious belief as irrational; most would rather rely on reason than faith alone to come to conclusions about nature and how best to live one’s life.

International Humanist and Ethical Union

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) works worldwide to promote Humanism, a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for reason, ethics, freedom of inquiry, democracy, justice, solidarity with people in all nations, and respect for their rights.

All over the world many thousands of organizations are working to bring about a better world where human rights are respected by public authorities; where governments exist to serve their people rather than exploit them, and economic systems serve humanity rather than concentrating power in irresponsible hands; where science is valued not just for its benefits but because it brings us closer to understanding reality as it really is.

Humanist Manifesto

In 1933, a group of American writers and intellectuals came together to publish a pamphlet called The Humanist Manifesto (later known as The Humanist Manifesto I). This statement was drafted by celebrated philosopher and educator John Dewey and first published by The New York Times Magazine. It has since been re-written twice; in 1973 it became Humanist Manifesto II, with additional changes made in 2003 for Humanist Manifesto III. This three-part manifesto lays out a framework for what it means to be a humanist.

Final verdict:

Humanism is a way of thinking about and living in a world without deities. Humanists believe that reason, empathy, and compassion are important parts of life—that what we say and do should be guided by our best understanding of how people think, feel, and work. That those qualities can bring us together to create positive change. And that it’s up to all of us to make a positive difference in other people’s lives, our communities, and our shared world. We don’t need a god or gods to tell us how we should live; we just need to take responsibility for ourselves and each other.

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