Humanism Defined

From The Philosophy of Humanism by Corliss Lamont

Presented by the Humanism Study Group, October 19, 1997

1. Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth, and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness. 2. Humanism, drawing especially upon the laws and facts of science, believes that homo sapiens is an evolutionary product of this great Nature of which we are a part; that our minds are indivisibly conjoined with the functioning of our brain; and that as an inseparable unity of body and personality, we can have no conscious survival after death.
3. Humanism, having its ultimate faith in humankind, believes that human beings possess the power or potentiality of solving their own problems, through reliance primarily upon reason and scientific method applied with courage and vision. 4. Humanism believes, in opposition to all theories of universal predestination, determinism, or fatalism, that human beings, while conditioned by the past, possess genuine freedom of creative choice and action, and are, within certain objective limits, the masters of their own destiny.
5. Humanism believes in an ethics or morality that grounds all human values in this-earthly experiences and relationships; one that holds as its highest goal the this-worldly happiness, freedom, and progress (economic, cultural, and ethical) of all humankind, irrespective of nation, race, or religion. 6. Humanism believes that the individual attains the good life by harmoniously combining personal satisfactions and continuous self-development with significant work and other activities that contribute to the welfare of the community.
7. Humanism believes in the widest possible development of art and the awareness of beauty including the appreciation of Nature's loveliness and splendor, so that the aesthetic experience may become a pervasive reality in people's lives. 8. Humanism believes in a far-reaching social program that stands for the establishment throughout the world of democracy, peace, and a high standard of living on the foundations of a flourishing economic order, both national and international.
9. Humanism believes in the complete social implementation of reason and scientific method; and thereby in the use of democratic procedures including full freedom of expression and civil liberties, throughout all areas of economic, political, and cultural life. 10. Humanism, in accordance with the scientific method, believes in the unending questioning of basic assumptions and conviction, including its own. Humanism is not a new dogma, but is a developing philosophy which remains ever open to experimental testing, newly discovered facts, and more rigorous reasoning.
These ten points embody Humanism in its most acceptable modern form. This philosophy can be more explicitly characterized as Scientific Humanism, Secular Humanism, Naturalistic Humanism, or Democratic Humanism, depending on the emphasis that one wishes to give. Whatever it be called, Humanism is the viewpoint that people have but one life to lead and should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness; that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that in any case the supernatural, usually conceived of in the form of heavenly gods or immortal heavens, does not exist; and that human beings, using their own intelligence and cooperating with one another, can build an enduring citadel of peace and beauty upon this earth.
Website Editor's note: Like all intelligent beings, Humanists reserve the right to choose their beliefs. Hence it is impossible to establish a creed to which all Humanists will subscribe. Most Humanists endorse all 10 points above, but many take exception to one or more.

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