How Would You Define Humanism?
June 2, 2013
Join us as we discuss and compare several definitions of Humanism taken from Humanist Community and AHA publications. The goal is to help you decide what is important to you about Humanism and give you some insight into what is important to others.
Definitions of Humanism
- Humanists value freedom, compassion, fairness, and knowledge derived from science and reason. We seek ethical and personally-fulfilling lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity. HCSV web site
- Humanism is a philosophy of life valuing freedom, compassion, fairness, and knowledge derived from science and reason. It affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment aspiring to the greater good of humanity. HCSV web site.
- Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. AHA web site
- Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests. ISAAC ASIMOV – scientist, author, and past president of the American Humanist Association. From the AHA web site.
- Humanism is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity, of application of new ideas of scientific progress for the benefit of all. LINUS PAULING – scientist, Humanist of the Year in 1961, Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954, Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. From the AHA web site.
Comments from Discussion
The discussion began in small groups; then we all reconvened to continue the discussion. The following is a summary of points made during the large group discussion.
- The definition of Humanism on the AHA’s Web site begins “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life ….” The word “progressive” should be replaced by “reality-based.”
- The definition of Humanism should include some reference to community.
- Some definitions refer to “the greater good of humanity” as a goal. It is wrong to elevate humanity above all else, e.g., above the other life forms or the environment.
- Some definitions refer to “science and reason.” Those two words are equivalent to “reality.”
- When working for the greater good of humanity, we need to think as one global human family, not as nationalists.
- Humanists are free thinkers.
- There was a difference of opinion about whether one could be both a theist and a Humanist.
- The Humanist Community should have no political attachment. Some visitors have stopped coming because we appear to be anti-Republican, which we are not.
- A Humanist group should be accepting of all people and not turn others away.
- The definition of Humanism boils down to “love.”