What is humanism?

I am conscious that many exchanges have taken place, about humanism, implying a definition.

But being rather new on the forum, i would like to know what this notion covers for you ?

The word has several meanings. I will use one of the definition of the French Academy.

“Doctrine, philosophical attitude, movement of thought which takes man for end and supreme value, which aims at the development of the human person and the respect of his dignity. "

In fact, for me humanism is a necessary evil.

It supports the idea that every man is conforming to the model of an eternal man, endowed with unchanging characteristics, endowed with rights, by the very fact that he is man.

It is an evil in the sense that the postulate of an eternal unchanging man does not take in account the multitude of societies which have existed since the dawn of humankind.

It is an evil in the sense that it is very theoretical. In human societies as they have existed and exist, people differ and let’s that some are more equal than others.

It is evil in the sense that it has been used in very hypocritical ways by dominating people claiming to be humanist and being very inhuman.

But is is necessary.

In fact, if you distinguish between men, and say that some have some basic qualities other have not, you classify and you prioritize and rank them.

It leads to racism, fascism and so. In fact, for me, it is impossible to justify the idea of human rights, the idea that any human should have the same rights, if you reject humanism.

Nazism was a good exemple. Nowadays China could be seen as another one.

A very modern criticism of humanism is that is is a western idea, a tool of western imperialism.

Yes the idea was born in West, and yes it can be used as an imperialist tool. But, out of occident, people who say that are people who fight for dictatorship, or mistreatment of men and women.

Yes, for instance, humanism is contrary to the values of many traditional religions, and so. But to reject humanism and to claim a right to contrary values is to endorse torture, mistreatment of women and so !

for me, in Occident, those who claim that West must let other societies choose other values and reject humanist ones are the useful fools of oppression.

Nevertheless, I agree that one does not impose democracy and democratic values with weapons,

[Humanism - Wikipedia]

What does that mean?

Eternal Man??? Unchanging characteristics???
Where did you get that from? Please some references, or links.

Again, what?, how? Who are these dominating people?
Please some references, or links.

Well I can agree there’s something faintly hypocritical about “all humans are created equal” because the pragmatic day to day reality we live is quite different - what else are you proposing?

That seems like a non sequitur - humanism believes in humans being a product of evolution. Humanism rejects God out right as a human created delusion (created for excellent reasons, but non the less a creation of our human mind and not some supernatural puppet player pulling on ‘his’ strings.

Well, that was all rather confusing.

Thanks for sharing.


"Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. It considers human beings as the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry.

The meaning of the term “humanism” has changed according to the successive intellectual movements that have identified with it. Generally, the term refers to a focus on human well-being and advocates for human freedom, autonomy, and progress. It views humanity as responsible for the promotion and development of individuals, espouses the equal and inherent dignity of all human beings, and emphasizes a concern for humans in relation to the world. …"

That makes sense to me, but I can’t figure out how you drew what you wrote from that WIKI description.

Your critique stems from this poor definition. There is are associations of humanists, why not go with one of their definitions?

Instead of going to Wikidpedia, why not go to humanist?



Those sources are far better than Wickedpedia.

The AHA definition is the one I always reference.

On a personal level Humanism just feels like a vaguely celebratory acknowledgment of our material reality.


Celebratory, that’s a great word for it. It doesn’t put us above anything else. Humanism says we need each other, we need the earth, we need clean water, and we can work together to have those things


I agree with you two. What morgankane01 is describing is NOT humanism, thus why I gave the links I gave. I don’t know where he got that definition, but it’s definitely not humanism. Humanism does not lead to racism or fascism or Nazism or anything else he mentioned. All humans having the same rights is not necessarily fascism and definitely not racism. He has not only the wrong idea of humanism, he doesn’t even have a good definition of it, if he really believes what he’s saying.

Sorry if i was not precise enough.

In fact, i tried to explain that to reject humanism leads to racism and fascism and Nazism.

I tried to explain that humanism has flaws but is necessary !

I can accept your definitions, with some reserves, as it seems to me that they are lacking and i explain why.

Behind them, there are ideas.

For me there are two ideas.

  • the first one is that humankind is an end not a tool

  • the second one is that all men share the same intrinsic qualities and characteristics.

If you don’t accept these ideas, it leads you to hierarchize men with all the consequences.

For instance, if you don’t accept that all the men share same qualities, you cannot accept that they have the same rights.

These ideas are at the roots of the Universal declaration of human rights of 1948, and justly:

[Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations]

That is a good example of humanism, IMO.

I thought there was sort of shift around the middle of your post, but I couldn’t quite get what it was.

It seems morgan is not making this case, but I have seen it a lot lately. It comes from the anti-woke crowd, the latest variation on being against “political correctness”. That’s a different topic, and there are problems with too much “do-gooder” mentality, where you start rooting out every bad thought and assuming someone’s intentions, but, it’s just as bad, or worse to use those extreme cases to justify the extreme position of maintaining outdated attitudes.

It goes something like; inclusiveness and compassion are on the rise, which means changing norms and checking privileges and reviewing past advantages. Some see this inclusion of others as an exclusion of themselves. Rather than examine their complicity in current inequality, or review how racism starts with microaggressions, they claim the changes are just as bad as any racism that occurred in the past, that restricting speech of any kind is a fascist move. That’s never been true.