On a broad scale the term humanism refers to the basic idea that as creatures who co-exist and share resources on this (or any) planet, it's a good idea to show respect for one another.

Beyond this basic tenet which is not uncoincidentally similar to the Golden rule, there are more specific ideas and types of humanism and humanistic behavior.

A formal definition of humanism looks like this:

Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality. It is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is incorporated into several religious schools of thought. Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or allegedly divinely revealed texts. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.

Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality. It is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is incorporated into several religious schools of thought. Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or allegedly divinely revealed texts. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality. It is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is incorporated into several religious schools of thought. Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or allegedly divinely revealed texts. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.


How can humanism both accept and reject "religious schools of thought?" Because the reality is, any philosophy that expects to propagate itself throughout time has to adhere to many of the basic principals of humanism, or else it is self-defeating.

For example, a religion which requires its followers to sacrifice themselves at a rate higher than their population growth is a world view that won't be around for very long. It's a humanistic idea to examine the rationality of such a belief, and determine if such an action is in the best interests of people and their ability prosper and be comfortable. If not, then it's not likely a humanist construct.

Therefore it's logical for virtually all religious philosophies to embrace basic humanistic concepts.

Ironically, many theists think it's the other way around. That religion is the force responsible for educating mankind on the best way to behave so as to prosper. This is an ignorant, ridiculous assumption when you consider that mankind has prospered for thousands of years with and without religion, and with a wide variety of religious belief systems. And whenever there was conflict and suffering throughout history, a pattern of abandonment of humanistic ideals is always present, but not always an abandonment of religious ideals.

Last updated by Nelson Mar 3, 2009.

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