Humanism

Humanism and its Aspirations, also known as the Humanist Manifesto III, comes from the American Humanist Association, and represents the central tenets of most self-identifying humanists and humanist institutions.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

For a similar but streamlined take on humanism, there is also Paul Kurtz’s Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles.

We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

We believe that scientific discovery and technology can attribute to the betterment of human life.

We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieve mutual understanding.

We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation , or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

We want to protect and enhance the earth to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspiration, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist
ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principals are tested by their consequences.

We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

We are engaged by the arts no less than by sciences.

We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our
thinking.

We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and a source
of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human being

These two documents pretty much sums up my philosophy and motivation in life, and I think most decent people – including theists, who’d likely take issue with only some nuances concerning faith – more or less lives according to these guidelines. I find that humanism isn’t well-known among most people, at least as far as my own personal experience has taught me. I consider one of my objectives in life is to change that: I want to proliferate and teach humanist values to others in my generation, and perhaps some day even to future generations (I’ve mulled over being a teacher or advocate for sometime).

But I don’t want to limit myself to blog posts and academic writings on the subject – I want to embody it. I want to live up to the ideals outlined in this manifesto; through my actions, conduct, and interactions with others, I hope to show the importance and viability of a humanist outlook on life. As a secular person (I am agnostic, albeit one who tries his best to get along well with religious folks), I’m often at a pains to prove that I have as much moral and ethical fortitude as any one else. I’m tired of hearing this dated canard about non-religious people being amoral, or of regularly confronting stereotypes about “Godless” people being amoral, nihilistic, and cynical.

I want to prove that you don’t need religion to be a good person, let alone a happy one. I’m not any less of a person because I’m faithless. I’m not secular because I’m trying to be counter-cultural, spiteful to the divine, or bitter about life. I’ve tried my best to find faith, and simply cannot sincerely bring myself to do so. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about others, or that I’m some miserable wreck that cannot enjoy life to the fullest. I’m every bit as committed to serving my community, improving this world, and contributing to the well-being of all living things as my religious counterparts – and I’m going to prove it, not only to make a point on behalf of humanism, but simply because I want to, as any upstanding human being would.

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