Humanism (life stance)
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Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. This article uses the words Humanism and Humanist (with a capital 'H' and no adjective such as "secular") to refer to the life stance and its adherents, and humanism (with a small 'h') to refer to other related movements or philosophies. While this convention is not universal among all Humanists, it is used by a significant number of them, and for purposes of this article, helps distinguish between Humanism as a life stance and other forms of humanism.
Points of consensus
There is no universal tenet for all Humanists. Still, declarations and statements have been issued to attempt to unify the Humanist identity.
IHEU's Minimum Statement on Humanism
|“||Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.||”|
Amsterdam Declaration 2002
In 2002 the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism for Humanists.
This declaration makes exclusive use of capitalized Humanist and Humanism, which is consistent with IHEU's general practice and recommendations for promoting a unified Humanist identity. To further promote Humanist identity, these words are also free of any adjectives, as recommended by prominent members of IHEU. Such usage is not universal among IHEU member organizations, though most of them do observe these conventions.
Apart from the need to ensure that member organisations are bona fide Humanist (or like-minded) organisations, Humanism rejects dogma, and imposes no creed upon its adherents except the IHEU's Minimum Statement on Humanism.
To promote and unify Humanist identity, prominent members of the IHEU have endorsed the following statements on Humanist identity:
- All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should always use the one word Humanism as the name of Humanism: no added adjective, and the initial letter capital (by life stance orthography);
- All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should use a clear, recognizable and uniform symbol on their publications and elsewhere: our Humanist symbol the "Happy Human";
- All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should seek to establish recognition of the fact that Humanism is a life stance.
Capitalization of Humanist is the normal usage within IHEU, and is recommended usage for member organizations, though some member organizations do not follow the IHEU recommendation. For example, the Council for Secular Humanism continues to use a lowercase h, and the adjective secular.
Other widely recognised documents
Official days of celebration
The IHEU endorses World Humanist Day (June 21), Darwin Day (February 12), Human Rights Day (December 10) and HumanLight (December 23) as official days of Humanist celebration, though none are yet a public holiday.
Many Humanists also celebrate the winter and summer solstice, the former of which (in the northern hemisphere) is the root of the celebration of Christmas, and the equinoxes, of which the vernal equinox is associated with Christianity's Easter and indeed with all other springtime festivals of renewal.
The endorsement by the IHEU of the capitalization of the word "Humanism" (and the dropping of any adjective such as "secular") is quite recent. The American Humanist Association began to adopt this view in 1973, and the IHEU formally endorsed this view in 1989. As an organized movement, Humanism itself is quite recent - born at the University of Chicago in the 1920s, made public in 1933 with the publication of the first Manifesto, and becoming incorporated as an Illinois non-profit organization in 1943. The International Humanist and Ethical Union was founded in 1952, when a gathering of world Humanists met under the leadership of Sir Julian Huxley.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world-wide umbrella organization for those adhering to the Humanist life stance. It represents the views of over three million Humanists organized in over 100 national organizations in 30 countries. Originally based in the Netherlands, the IHEU now operates from London.
While Humanist organizations are found in all parts of the world, one of the largest Humanist organisation in the world (relative to population) is Norway's Human-Etisk Forbund, which had over 69,000 members out of a population of around 4.6 million in 2004 (1.5% of the population). This popularity is partly attributable to a unique set of Church-State relations.
There are also some more regional groups not belonging to the IHEU, such as the European Humanist Federation and the humanist subgroup of the Unitarian Universalist Association which adhere to variants of the Humanist life stance.
In certain areas of the world, Humanism finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism, especially over the issue of the separation of church and state. Many Humanists see religions as superstitious, repressive and closed-minded, while religious fundamentalists may see Humanism as a threat to the values set out in their religious texts, such as the Bible and the Qur'an, which they hold to be authoritative and of divine authorship.
Atheists, agnostics, deists, and rationalists are those thought to be supporters of Humanism, although may not always be. However, these beliefs are occupied with metaphysical issues, addressing questions of existence, while Humanism ignores such metaphysical matters and has its focus on ethics.
There is uncertainty about the prevalence of Humanists in the world, because of the lack of universal definition throughout censuses. Nevertheless, regarding the category of religion, many national censuses contentiously define Humanism as a further sub-category of the sub-category "No Religion", which typically includes atheist, rationalist and agnostic thought. This is the case in the article world religion. However, this is not always the case; in its 2006 census Australia used Humanism as an example for the "other religions" line.
In England, Wales and Australia, around 15% of the population specifies "No Religion" in the national census. In the USA, the decennial census does not inquire about religious affiliation or its lack; surveys report the figure at roughly 13%. In the 2001 Canadian census, 16.5% of the populace reported having no religious affiliation. In Scotland, the figure is 28%.
However, many Humanists may state "no religion" with no further definition, or simply not respond to the census question at all.
Strictly speaking, Humanism is a non-theistic belief. As such, it could be sub-categories of religion only if the main category of "Religion" means "Religion and (any) belief system". This is the case in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of religion and beliefs.
Humanist and related organizations
- American Humanist Association
- British Humanist Association
- Camp Quest
- Campus Freethought Alliance
- Center for Inquiry
- Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
- Council for Secular Humanism (formerly CODESH)
- Council of Australian Humanist Societies
- Ethical Culture
- Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
- Fellowship of Reason
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Godless Americans PAC (political action committee)
- Humanist Association of Canada
- Institute for Humanist Studies
- Internet Infidels
- National Center for Science Education
- New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists
- Skeptics Society
- Secular Student Alliance
- Secular Web
- World Transhumanist Association
- Comparative religion
- Empiricism, that knowledge arises from experience
- Epicureanism, a form of atomic materialist
- Extropianism, aiming of improving the human condition
- Secular humanism
- Humanism (life stance)
- Philosophical naturalism
- Religious humanism
- Human Nationalism
- Marxist humanism
- List of official religions - meaning, official state religions
- ↑ Humanism Unmodified By Edd Doerr. Published in the Humanist (November/December 2002)
- ↑ American humanist association - Publications - Chapter eight: The Development of Organization
- ↑ India humanist
- ↑ "IHEU's Bylaws". International Humanist and Ethical Union. http://www.iheu.org/bylaws. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ↑ International Humanist and Ethical Union
- ↑ American Humanist Association - HUMANISM AND ITS ASPIRATIONS- Humanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*
- ↑ Council for secular humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration
- ↑ "A humanist discussion of... RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS AND CEREMONIES"
- ↑ American humanist association
- ↑ Human-Etisk Forbund - The Norwegian Humanist Association
- ↑ Statistics Norway - Members of religious1 and philosophical2 communities outside the Church of Norway. 1990-2004. Numbers and per cent
- ↑ Census 2001 - Ethnicity and religion in England and Wales
- ↑ RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION Australian Bureau of Statistics
- ↑ RELP Religious Affiliation - 1st Release Australian Bureau of Statistics
- ↑ Top Twenty Religions in the United States, 2001 (self-identification, ARIS)
- ↑ Statistics Canada - Population by religion, by province and territory (2001 Census)
- ↑ [http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/press/news2005/analysis-of-religion-in-the-2001-census.html General Register Office for Scotland - Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census]
- Humanism With A Capital H by Harvey Lebrun of the American Humanist Association
- Humanism is Eight Letters, No More Endorsed by Harold Blackham, Levi Fragell, Corliss Lamont, Harry Stopes-Roe and Rob Tielman of the IHEU
- Human Rights Brief No. 3 Assessment of international law pertaining to freedom of religion and belief from Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996 Census Dictionary - Religion category and Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census Dictionary - religion category
- Religion, 2001 census, Canada
- ^ in Harvard Magazine December 2005 p 33.
Humanist manifestos and declarations
- Humanist Manifesto I (1933)
- Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
- Humanist Manifesto III ("Humanism And Its Aspirations") (2003)
- A Secular Humanist Declaration (1980)
- A Declaration of Interdependence (1988)
- IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism (1996)
- Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism (2000) condensed version
- The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles
- Amsterdam Declaration 2002 (July 2002) - the official defining statement of World Humanism, as endorsed by the IHEU
- Thinking And Moral Problems
- Religions And Their Source
- Developing A Universal Religion, four parts of a Wikibook
- International Humanist and Ethical Union
- International Humanist News is also available at www.iheu.org.
- British Humanist Association
- Council for Secular Humanism (formerly CODESH)
- "What is secular humanism?" Introduction from the publishers of Free Inquiry magazine
- The American Humanist Association
- The Humanist (magazine)
- The Humanist Association of Canada
- Humanist Perspectives (magazine)
- Council of Australian Humanist Societies
- The Australian Humanist (magazine)
- International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation
- The Institute for Humanist Studies
- Site of the Romanian association Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience - Romanian/ English
- HUMANISM: Why, What, and What For, In 882 Words (1996)
- 10 Points of Humanism: A Definition from The Philosophy of Humanism by Corliss Lamont
- The History and Philosophy of Humanism - Speech given by Steven D. Schafersman in Oxford, Ohio (September 24, 1995)
- Religious Movements Page on Secular Humanism
- Nanovirus: a humanist perspective on technology, politics and culture
- Is Secular Humanism a Religion?:Many Say It Is, but Secularists Say It Isn't
- Secular Humanism: A Survey by Stephen P. Weldon