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What is Humanism?
Posted: 15 June 2010 04:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Question, what is Humanism and why do we need it?

I’ve tried to read a bit, but it all comes across as a bit hazy.

It seems there is a need felt to replace religion with something else?

Personally I am more an individualist. I don’t know that I like another ideology telling me how I am suppose to be like. Maybe I just don’t understand the idea well enough.

Wikipedia seems all over the place on Humanism. I saw in another post here the idea that many humanist are just the village atheist. At this point to me it seems a rather apt description.

I usually approach ideas critically however it’s a little difficult to do if you can’t quite put your finger on what you are trying to be critical about.

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Posted: 15 June 2010 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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If you check the American Humanist Association (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Manifestos) or the CFI website you should be able to see lists of the tenets of Humanism.  I tend more toward lower case humanism, and my basic tenet, as I’ve said many times here, is “Help others when you can, avoid hurting anyone if possible, and enjoy your life.”

However, there is a major difference between the principle or tenets of Humanism and religious Commandments.  The former are guides for each person to consider and accept or reject as s/he feels fits him/her.

You also have to be careful about your criticisms because in the drive to be succinct and dramatic, one usually loses precision.  If you do criticize, expect responses that identify qualifications of those principles.

Occam

[ Edited: 15 June 2010 05:10 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 15 June 2010 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Truth is I haven’t found much to be critical of.

Seems standard fare of most ideologies these days.

Not that I’m an avocate for any particular religion but Christianity, Judaism and Islam could be see as humanist religions by it’s members.

Makes sense as the manifesto was signed by religious Humanists.

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Posted: 15 June 2010 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t believe so.  The first Manifesto was signed, among others, by Unitarian ministers, in the early 1930s, however in those days many of the Unitarian ministers were atheists.  The second and third, which superseded the first, are not signed by any religious humanists as I recall.  Similarly, the Secular Humanist document of beliefs was written mainly by Kurtz who is an atheist. 

A major difference is that the Humanists reject a god as the focus, but rather believe we should focus on humanity.

Occam

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Posted: 16 June 2010 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam - 15 June 2010 11:20 PM

I don’t believe so.  The first Manifesto was signed, among others, by Unitarian ministers, in the early 1930s, however in those days many of the Unitarian ministers were atheists.  The second and third, which superseded the first, are not signed by any religious humanists as I recall.  Similarly, the Secular Humanist document of beliefs was written mainly by Kurtz who is an atheist. 

A major difference is that the Humanists reject a god as the focus, but rather believe we should focus on humanity.

Occam

I don’t know why they wouldn’t, personally I don’t see a conflict.

Well I guess certainly you can always find individual sub-sects of any belief that is going to object to something. Perhaps because of the attention given to secularist influence on it they saw it as a competing ideology.

The only quote I’ve found from Kurtz, which I found so far, which I disagree with btw is:

“[An] explanation for the persistence of the paranormal, I submit, is due to the transcendental temptation. In my book by that name, I present the thesis that paranormal and religious phenomena have similar functions in human experience; they are expressions of a tendency to accept magical thinking. This temptation has such profound roots within human experience and culture that it constantly reasserts itself.” - from Wikipedia

This seems a sub-sect of Humanism like with religious belief, individual groups have their own take on ideas. People have a right to hold their own opinion. In general however I don’t have an issue with Humanism.

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Posted: 19 June 2010 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Gnostikosis - 15 June 2010 04:56 PM

Question, what is Humanism and why do we need it?

We need Humanism because humans create so much of our world that there is no room for the gods on Earth.

I found the Humanist Manifesto I to be quite religious compared to other sources I’ve read about Humanism.  Then for the Humanist Manifesto II, and III they just watered-down the religious aspects and since the documents had so few non-religious ideas, they just became more and more hollow.

I found Corliss Lamont’s “Philosophy of Humanism” to be a thorough and compelling book on Humanism, if you really want to read in-depth about the philosophy.  You see, the problem with explaining Humanism is that it is a large idea containing many smaller philosophies such as: monism, naturalism, positivism, empiricism, altruism, and more.  It is human centered and centered in the natural world, rather than the supernatural.

Humanism has had links to religion in its history, that is why Paul Kurtz uses the term Secular Humanism and coined “eupraxophy”, to clearly separate Humanism from the religious practices.

I am not very well read on philosophy, but some other humanist sources that I’ve read mention Spinoza as an important philosopher.  And I’ve heard a quote from Alfred North Whitehead saying, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” so maybe it would be good to read Plato.

The Council for Secular Humanism has a nice five page article explaining Humanism.

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Posted: 21 June 2010 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 19 June 2010 04:52 PM
Gnostikosis - 15 June 2010 04:56 PM

Question, what is Humanism and why do we need it?

We need Humanism because humans create so much of our world that there is no room for the gods on Earth.

I found the Humanist Manifesto I to be quite religious compared to other sources I’ve read about Humanism.  Then for the Humanist Manifesto II, and III they just watered-down the religious aspects and since the documents had so few non-religious ideas, they just became more and more hollow.

I found Corliss Lamont’s “Philosophy of Humanism” to be a thorough and compelling book on Humanism, if you really want to read in-depth about the philosophy.  You see, the problem with explaining Humanism is that it is a large idea containing many smaller philosophies such as: monism, naturalism, positivism, empiricism, altruism, and more.  It is human centered and centered in the natural world, rather than the supernatural.

Humanism has had links to religion in its history, that is why Paul Kurtz uses the term Secular Humanism and coined “eupraxophy”, to clearly separate Humanism from the religious practices.

I am not very well read on philosophy, but some other humanist sources that I’ve read mention Spinoza as an important philosopher.  And I’ve heard a quote from Alfred North Whitehead saying, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” so maybe it would be good to read Plato.

The Council for Secular Humanism has a nice five page article explaining Humanism.

Yeah, a Jewish friend of my told me once, “Ask 10 Jews what is a Jew and you’ll get 13 completely different responses.”

A person can call themselves a Christian or Humanist or whatever, there is always going be somebody out there that’s going to have some expectation of you.

I kind of prefer not to label myself as this or that ideology. People can label themselves as they wish but it doesn’t matter to me what anybody thinks, only how they act.

[ Edited: 21 June 2010 04:18 PM by Gnostikosis ]
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Posted: 22 June 2010 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I wasn’t talking about some arbitrarily label, some opinion, and calling that Humanism. 

There are some people in society who make a serious study of the broad suite of ideas that we call philosophy, these are the philosophers. Philosophy is (if this sentence isn’t redundant) a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) degree.  For example that book by Corliss Lamont, he really has some old and modern research in it about what is really happening with Humanism.  He (although now deceased) is a professional philosopher.  Paul Kurtz is also a professional philosopher.

These aren’t arbitrary opinions, and opinions may vary, these are facts that I referring you to, Gnostikosis.  If you are honestly curious and want to learn, then those are some good authors to look at.  I have read these sources and know what is in them.

[ Edited: 22 June 2010 09:39 AM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 22 June 2010 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 22 June 2010 09:35 AM

I wasn’t talking about some arbitrarily label, some opinion, and calling that Humanism. 

There are some people in society who make a serious study of the broad suite of ideas that we call philosophy, these are the philosophers. Philosophy is (if this sentence isn’t redundant) a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) degree.  For example that book by Corliss Lamont, he really has some old and modern research in it about what is really happening with Humanism.  He (although now deceased) is a professional philosopher.  Paul Kurtz is also a professional philosopher.

These aren’t arbitrary opinions, and opinions may vary, these are facts that I referring you to, Gnostikosis.  If you are honestly curious and want to learn, then those are some good authors to look at.  I have read these sources and know what is in them.

Facts meaning what? Something anyone can determine for themselves? Most Philosophers I find are usually quite honest about their limtations. They will usually set forth their assumptions and definitions from which the rest of their arguement follows. If you accept the assumptions and terms then their is nothing to argue against. If you don’t then the arguement has no place to go.

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Posted: 25 June 2010 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The continuing uncertainty on this point frustrates me. I think it’s simple. Humanism is a commitment, world view, life stance, feeling, philosophy, set of ethical rules and probably a few other “things” that puts living beings front and center in a values system. In Ethical Culture, it is expressed as a commitment to the worth and dignity of every person. The universe of living beings is open for debate (should we also include other species, and if so which ones and on what grounds?) but surely a Humanist has no place in his values system for denigrating others based on race, gender, ethnic background, etc.

“But all the religions say that,” one might protest. Yes, in their better moments they do all say that, but many of them say that we honor others to honor an imagined god. We Humanists say that we are justification enough: in Ethical Culture, the idea is that each sentient life is of intrinsic and inestimable worth. Before anyone asks me what that’s based on: it’s a choice that one makes to live that way. You can make another choice if you want to but this one is grounded in human experience and simultaneously is lifted up by our hopes and aspirations. It has the feet firmly on the ground of reality and reason (soul) and the arms and hands reaching out to create a present and a future (spirit). A Humanist need not use the words “soul” and “spirit” to describe this. I do because I think that’s where these ideas really come from. That’s my conception; other Humanists need not share it.

The world needs Humanism because it honestly says that our religions and all our endeavors are attempts to build lives and shape the world. Too many religions pass the buck to a fantasy.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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PLaClair - 25 June 2010 05:48 AM

The continuing uncertainty on this point frustrates me. I think it’s simple. Humanism is a commitment, world view, life stance, feeling, philosophy, set of ethical rules and probably a few other “things” that puts living beings front and center in a values system. .....

Is “humanism” human-centered or “living-being/living-world” centered?

Or is the point that it is not god-derived or god-centered without splitting hairs too much.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jackson - 26 June 2010 03:57 PM
PLaClair - 25 June 2010 05:48 AM

The continuing uncertainty on this point frustrates me. I think it’s simple. Humanism is a commitment, world view, life stance, feeling, philosophy, set of ethical rules and probably a few other “things” that puts living beings front and center in a values system. .....

Is “humanism” human-centered or “living-being/living-world” centered?

Or is the point that it is not god-derived or god-centered without splitting hairs too much.

We live in an imperfect world in which ethics are developing. Other species are protected by laws against cruelty to animals but they are not treated as humans are.

If we wait until we have perfect agreement on everything, we will never have an operational set of ethics, or laws for that matter. Our species would advance by light years if we truly followed the idea that all humans are entitled to equal treatment. Yet I do not wish to foreclose extending protections to other species. That’s why I phrased it as I did.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 27 June 2010 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Occam - 15 June 2010 11:20 PM

I don’t believe so.  The first Manifesto was signed, among others, by Unitarian ministers, in the early 1930s, however in those days many of the Unitarian ministers were atheists.  The second and third, which superseded the first, are not signed by any religious humanists as I recall.  Similarly, the Secular Humanist document of beliefs was written mainly by Kurtz who is an atheist. 

A major difference is that the Humanists reject a god as the focus, but rather believe we should focus on humanity.

Occam

From what I saw, there were some U. U. ministers who signed the second and third Manifesto, Occam.

Anyway, I define Humanism (I use a “H” more often than not, personal preference) as a non-theistic philosophy based on reason and compassion without reliance on the supernatural.  Of course, this definition has gotten me the obvious question, “You don’t believe in God?”  For some reason I want to say, “Isn’t that what I just said?”

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Posted: 27 June 2010 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Right, Mriana, however you’d be surprised how many Unitarian ministers until the 60s and even into the 70s were atheists.  Unfortunately, most of them have retired or died off leaving a much more theistic denomination.

Occam

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Posted: 27 June 2010 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Oh and don’t forget Pagans.  At the U. U. here, there are even Pagans, but some humanists attend too. It’s a bizarre mix of people that I just don’t get how it works anymore.

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Mriana
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Posted: 27 June 2010 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Jackson - 26 June 2010 03:57 PM

Is “humanism” human-centered or “living-being/living-world” centered?

Or is the point that it is not god-derived or god-centered without splitting hairs too much.

Well what I have read was always focus on humans, instead of the gods.  If you are worried about the other life in the universe, what is a human worth without a universe to live inside of?  How can we eat without lives like lettuce, potatoes, fish, apples, wheat grains, and much more.

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