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Humanism and Existentialism
Posted: 30 May 2014 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Alright, so I have been reading up on Humanism lately and have really found I am in agreement with it. Every once and a while I come across it being compared with Existentialism. I dont know a great deal about the latter, just the wiki intro to it. So I am going to pose a broad question. What are the similarities between the two, and where do they end? I am not sure if they are totally or partially inclusive, or if they are exclusive beause of one major point. This stems from my inexperience with Humanism other than how i have interpreted it, and an ignorance of what Existentialism really is. I am hoping someone may shed some light on this. Thanks in advance.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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AFAIK, they don’t have much in common at all.

From my understanding of it, Existentialism seems to be a philosophy based in “confusion”, ultimately. Whereas secular humanism is a mix of Christian, liberal morality with the supernatural elements taken out, and rationalism made easy.

[ Edited: 31 May 2014 12:37 AM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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From what I have read of Humanism, it seemed to be much more inclusive than just taking liberal and Christian ideas and packaging them with atheism. While it can do that, I didn’t see where it had to or overwhelmingly did so. Was I wrong in this?

And as for Existentialism, why do you say it is grounded in confusion? I am certainly confused by it, but I don’t really have enough experience with it to understand why you say that. Does it literally hold confusion in general as a feature?

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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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In many of these different philosophical schools one of the principles in each of the schools(or just ideas or philosophies) is the reference point.
The reference point is like what the philosophy will be bounced off of in order to see if it sticks or not.
The reference point could be “Time”, it could be “the ego”, it could be “the mind”, it could be “perceptions vs. realities” etc etc…
It could be physics, math, religion, humanity, etc..

The reference point in existentialism is basically “we are here. For whatever reason, we are existing in this perceived space and time”.
It may also include the fact that “we” is perceived as “humans” or a group of relatively similar beings that share some basic behaviors.

Where you take it from there is where the fun begins. I personally, can see some very definite over-lapping with Humanism.

Existentialism in my view would carry on to say that there really is no apparent goal or endpoint to our “existence”.
We are merely existing, therefore with what powers we have, we should definitely try to make everyone’s stay here as peaceful and harmonious as possible. This is of course where the over lap comes into Humanism.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So I can see where they overlap, I think , and what of the rest of it? Where do they begin to really diverge?

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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Achrelos - 31 May 2014 06:37 AM

So I can see where they overlap, I think , and what of the rest of it? Where do they begin to really diverge?

That’s what I meant by the fun beginning. People’s ideas of existentialism really differ.
Violent anarchy could stem from existentialist interpretations. Obviously that would be contrary to humanist values.
Some existentialists could interpret life as totally meaningless and therefore they could feel free to act out all kinds of carnal behaviors in an unfettered way.

Other’s might disagree with me that these anarchists would fall under “existentialism”. Because of the massive latitudes in philosophical debate anything goes. Interpretations can vary. The worst hang-up though is in definitions and interpretations of specific words or concepts.
This is where philosophical debate can really bog down.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Remember, existentialism doesn’t by default mean…“nothing matters.”
That’s not what existentialism means.
Things that we can experience in the here and now, as we see them matter. Obviously.
We are existing with them. And we know we are existing with them. And we know that we can affect things.( to a degree)

[ Edited: 31 May 2014 07:15 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 31 May 2014 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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So insofar as Existentialism is concerned, its about how it is applied that separates existentialists from other schools of thought and from each other?

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Posted: 31 May 2014 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Achrelos - 31 May 2014 07:02 AM

So insofar as Existentialism is concerned, its about how it is applied that separates existentialists from other schools of thought and from each other?

I don’t know. I can’t really tell you one way or the other.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Humanism is not a philosophy about how the universe works or how humans understand or respond to it. It is a philosophy about how to conduct one’s life morally and ethically without belief in the supernatural. Existentialism does not speak to how humans conduct their lives. So there is no comparison.

Lois

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Posted: 31 May 2014 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Lois put it very well and succinctly. 

While I like and often agree with Vyazma, I can’t do it here.  In my opinion extentialism is a philosophy designed by nut jobs, albeit brilliant, but still nut jobs.  While my wife was taking philosophy courses at the local Cal. State university, I followed along with her.  She took one on extentialism, and I found I could understand it for about six weeks, then the irrationality of it just dissolved that understanding. 

I like thought games, but extentialism took the ideas beyond games to mental mastur__tion. 

Sorry, Vy.  LOL

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Posted: 31 May 2014 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Maybe you read too much into it.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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VYAZMA - 31 May 2014 12:12 PM

Maybe you read too much into it.

I think you’re right.  I tried to make sense of it.  LOL  LOL

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Posted: 31 May 2014 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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LOL Yeah.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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There are many theists and religious people who are Humanists.  In fact a lot of Humanism was started out by theists.
The vast majority of secular Humanists are very tolerant of religious people. How could they not be?

My seventh grade history teacher was a Humanist Catholic Nun.  She taught us many values of Humanism.
Unfortunately I was too much of a trouble maker and class clown to have absorbed much of it back then. It slowly crept back though.

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Posted: 31 May 2014 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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VYAZMA - 31 May 2014 03:15 PM

There are many theists and religious people who are Humanists.  In fact a lot of Humanism was started out by theists.
The vast majority of secular Humanists are very tolerant of religious people. How could they not be?

My seventh grade history teacher was a Humanist Catholic Nun.  She taught us many values of Humanism.
Unfortunately I was too much of a trouble maker and class clown to have absorbed much of it back then. It slowly crept back though.

The christian definition of humanism is quite different than the secular one. It is completely different, and at odds with, secular Humanism.


“Christian humanism emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, his social teachings and his propensity to synthesize human spirituality and materialism. It regards humanist principles like universal human dignity and individual freedom and the primacy of human happiness as essential and principal components of, or at least compatible with, the teachings of Jesus. Christian humanism can be perceived as a philosophical union of Judeo-Christian ethics and humanist principles.”

Lois

[ Edited: 13 June 2014 11:03 PM by Lois ]
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