Humanism


Kevin Clark
Philosophy p.2

The word “humanism” has a number of meanings, and because there are so many
different meanings it can be quite confusing if you don\'t know what kind of
humanism someone is talking about.

Literary Humanism is a devotion to the humanities or literary culture.

Renaissance Humanism is the spirit of learning that developed at the end of the
middle ages with the revival of classical letters and a renewed confidence in
the ability of human beings to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.

Cultural Humanism is the rational and empirical tradition that originated
largely in ancient Greece and Rome, evolved through out European history, and
now constitutes a basic part of the Western approach to science, political
theory, ethics, and law.

Philosophical Humanism is any outlook or way of life centered on human need and
interest. Sub categories of this type include the two following.

Christian Humanism is defined by Webster\'s Third New International Dictionary as
“a philosophy advocating the self fulfillment of man within the framework of
Christian principles.” This more human oriented faith is largely a product of
the Renaissance and is a part of what made up Renaissance humanism.

Modern Humanism, also called Naturalistic Humanism, Scien- tific Humanism,
Ethical Humanism and Democratic Humanism is defined by one of its leading
proponents, Corollas Lamont, as “a naturalistic philosophy that rejects all
supernaturalism and relies primarily upon reason and science, democracy and
human compassion.” Modern Humanism has a dual origin, both secular and
religious, and these constitute its sub categories.

Secular Humanism is an outgrowth of 18th century enlightenment rationalism and
19th century freethought. Many secular groups, such as the Council for
Democratic and Secular Humanism and the American Rationalist Federation, and
many otherwise unaffiliated academic philosophers and scientists advocate this
philosophy.

Religious Humanism emerged out of Ethical Culture, Unitarianism, and
Universalism. Today, many Unitarian- Universalist congregations and all Ethical
Culture societies describe themselves as humanist in the modern sense.
The most critical irony in dealing with Modern Humanism is the
inability of its supporters to agree on whether or not this world veiw is
religious. The Secular Humanists believe it is a philosophy, where the
Religious Humanists obviously believe it is a religion. This has been going on
since the early years of the century where the Secular and Religious traditions
combined and made Modern Humanism.

Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same world views as shown by the
signing of the Humanist Manifestos I and II. The signers of the Manifestos were
both Secular and Religious Humanists.

To serve personal needs, Religious Humanism offers a basis for moral values, an
inspiring set of ideals , methods for dealing with life\'s harsher realities, a
rational for living life joyously, and an overall sense of purpose.

To serve social needs, Humanist religious communities offer a sense of belonging,
an institutional setting for the moral education of children, special holidays
shared with like minded people, a unique ceremonial life, the performance of
ideologically consistent rites of passage (weddings, child welcomings, coming of
age celebrations, funerals, etc.), an opportunity for affirmation of one\'s
philosophy of life, and a historical context for one\'s ideas.

Religious Humanists maintain that most human beings have personal a social needs
that can only be met by humanism. They do not feel that one should have to make
a choice between meeting these needs in a traditional faith context versus not
meeting them at all. Individuals who cannot feel at home in traditional
religion should be able to find a home in non traditional religion.

A popular example of Secular Humanists views of the world was said by author
Salman Rushdie on ABC\'s “Nightline” on February 13, 1989.

[My book says] that there is an old, old conflict between the secular view of
the world and the religious view of the world, and particularly between texts
which claim to be divinely inspired and texts which are imaginatively
inspired.....I distrust people who claim to know the whole truth and who seek to
orchestrate the world in line with that one truth. I think that\'s a very
dangerous position in the world. It needs to be challenged. It needs to be
challenged constantly in all sorts of ways, and that\'s what I tried to do.

The Secular Humanist have been known for defiance, a defiance that dates back to
ancient Greece. Humanist themes that are shown in Greek mythology are rarely
ever shown in the mythologies of other cultures. And they are certainly not
shown in modern religion. The best example from Greek mythology is the
character of Prometheus.

Prometheus stands out because he was idolized by ancient Greeks as