HUMANISM is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the
value and agency of human beings , individually and collectively, and
generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and
empiricism ) over acceptance of dogma or superstition . The meaning of
the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive
intellectual movements which have identified with it. The term was
coined by theologian Friedrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th
century . Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that
affirms some notion of human freedom and progress.
In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious
movements aligned with secularism , and today humanism typically
refers to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and
looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source
to understand the world.
* 1 Background
* 2 History
* 2.1 Predecessors
* 2.1.1 Ancient South Asia
* 2.1.2 Ancient China
* 2.1.3 Ancient Greece
* 2.1.4 Medieval Islam
* 2.2.1 Back to the sources
* 2.2.2 Consequences
* 2.3 From
Renaissance to modern humanism
* 2.4 19th and 20th centuries
* 3 Types
* 3.1 Scholarly tradition
* 3.2 Non-theistic worldviews
* 3.2.2 Religious humanists
* 4 Criticisms
* 6 See also
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 External links
The word "Humanism" is ultimately derived from the
humanitas , and, like most other words ending in -ism, entered English
in the nineteenth century. However, historians agree that the concept
predates the label invented to describe it, encompassing the various
meanings ascribed to humanitas, which included both benevolence toward
one's fellow humans and the values imparted by bonae litterae or
humane learning (literally "good letters").
In the second century AD, a
Aulus Gellius (c. 125
– c. 180), complained:
Those who have spoken
Latin and have used the language correctly do
not give to the word humanitas the meaning which it is commonly
thought to have, namely, what the Greeks call φιλανθρωπία
(philanthropy ), signifying a kind of friendly spirit and good-feeling
towards all men without distinction; but they gave to humanitas the
force of the Greek παιδεία (paideia ); that is, what we call
eruditionem institutionemque in bonas artes, or "education and
training in the liberal arts ". Those who earnestly desire and seek
after these are most highly humanized. For the desire to pursue of
that kind of knowledge, and the training given by it, has been granted
to humanity alone of all the animals, and for that reason it is termed
humanitas, or "humanity".
Gellius says that in his day humanitas is commonly used as a synonym
for philanthropy – or kindness and benevolence toward one's fellow
human beings. Gellius maintains that this common usage is wrong, and
that model writers of Latin, such as
Cicero and others, used the word
only to mean what we might call "humane" or "polite" learning, or the
Paideia . Yet in seeking to restrict the meaning of
humanitas to literary education this way, Gellius was not advocating a
retreat from political engagement into some ivory tower, though it
might look like that to us. He himself was involved in public affairs.
According to legal historian Richard Bauman, Gellius was a judge as
well as a grammarian and was an active participant the great
contemporary debate on harsh punishments that accompanied the legal
Antoninus Pius (one these reforms, for example, was that a
prisoner was not to be treated as guilty before being tried). "By
assigning pride of place to
Paideia in his comment on the etymology of
humanitas, Gellius implies that the trained mind is best equipped to
handle the problems troubling society."
Gellius's writings fell into obscurity during the middle ages, but
during the Italian Renaissance, Gellius became a favorite author.
Teachers and scholars of Greek and
Latin grammar, rhetoric,
philosophy, and poetry were called and called themselves "humanists".
Modern scholars, however, point out that
Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), who
was most responsible for defining and popularizing the term humanitas,
in fact frequently used the word in both senses, as did his near
contemporaries. For Cicero, a lawyer, what most distinguished humans
from brutes was speech, which, allied to reason, could (and should)
enable them to settle disputes and live together in concord and
harmony under the rule of law. Thus humanitas included two meanings
from the outset and these continue in the modern derivative, humanism,
which even today can refer to both humanitarian benevolence and to a
method of study and debate involving an accepted group of authors and
a careful and accurate use of language.
French Revolution , and soon after, in Germany (by the
Left Hegelians ), humanism began to refer to an ethical philosophy
centered on humankind, without attention to the transcendent or
supernatural . The designation
Religious Humanism refers to organized
groups that sprang up during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. It is similar to
Protestantism , although centered on human
needs, interests, and abilities rather than the supernatural. In the
Anglophone world, such modern, organized forms of humanism, which are
rooted in the 18th-century Enlightenment , have to a considerable
extent more or less detached themselves from the historic connection
of humanism with classical learning and the liberal arts .
Humanist Manifesto was issued by a conference held at the
University of Chicago
University of Chicago in 1933. Signatories included the philosopher
John Dewey , but the majority were ministers (chiefly Unitarian ) and
theologians . They identified humanism as an ideology that espouses
reason , ethics , and social and economic justice , and they called
for science to replace dogma and the supernatural as the basis of
morality and decision-making.
An ideal society as conceived by
Renaissance humanist Saint
Thomas More in his book Utopia
In 1808 Bavarian educational commissioner Friedrich Immanuel
Niethammer coined the term Humanismus to describe the new classical
curriculum he planned to offer in German secondary schools, and by
1836 the word "humanism" had been absorbed into the English language
in this sense. The coinage gained universal acceptance in 1856, when
German historian and philologist
Georg Voigt used humanism to describe
Renaissance humanism , the movement that flourished in the Italian
Renaissance to revive classical learning, a use which won wide
acceptance among historians in many nations, especially Italy.
But in the mid-18th century, during the French Enlightenment, a more
ideological use of the term had come into use. In 1765, the author of
an anonymous article in a French Enlightenment periodical spoke of
"The general love of humanity ... a virtue hitherto quite nameless
among us, and which we will venture to call 'humanism', for the time
has come to create a word for such a beautiful and necessary thing".
The latter part of the 18th and the early 19th centuries saw the
creation of numerous grass-roots "philanthropic" and benevolent
societies dedicated to human betterment and the spreading of knowledge
(some Christian, some not). After the
French Revolution , the idea
that human virtue could be created by human reason alone independently
from traditional religious institutions, attributed by opponents of
the Revolution to Enlightenment philosophes such as
Rousseau , was
violently attacked by influential religious and political
conservatives , such as
Edmund Burke and
Joseph de Maistre , as a
deification or idolatry of humanity.
Humanism began to acquire a
negative sense. The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of the
word "humanism" by an English clergyman in 1812 to indicate those who
believe in the "mere humanity" (as opposed to the divine nature) of
Christ, i.e., Unitarians and
Deists . In this polarised atmosphere,
in which established ecclesiastical bodies tended to circle the wagons
and reflexively oppose political and social reforms like extending the
franchise, universal schooling, and the like, liberal reformers and
radicals embraced the idea of
Humanism as an alternative religion of
humanity. The anarchist
Proudhon (best known for declaring that
"property is theft ") used the word "humanism" to describe a "culte,
déification de l’humanité" ("worship, deification of humanity")
Ernest Renan in L’avenir de la science: pensées de 1848 ("The
Future of Knowledge: Thoughts on 1848") (1848–49), states: "It is my
deep conviction that pure humanism will be the religion of the future,
that is, the cult of all that pertains to humanity—all of life,
sanctified and raised to the level of a moral value."
At about the same time, the word "humanism" as a philosophy centred
on humankind (as opposed to institutionalised religion) was also being
used in Germany by the so-called
Left Hegelians ,
Arnold Ruge , and
Karl Marx , who were critical of the close involvement of the church
in the German government. There has been a persistent confusion
between the several uses of the terms: philanthropic humanists look
to what they consider their antecedents in critical thinking and
human-centered philosophy among the Greek philosophers and the great
Renaissance history; and scholarly humanists stress the
linguistic and cultural disciplines needed to understand and interpret
these philosophers and artists.
Ancient South Asia
Human-centered philosophy that rejected the supernatural may also be
found circa 1500
BCE in the Lokayata system of Indian philosophy.
Nasadiya Sukta , a passage in the Rig Veda , contains one of the first
recorded assertions of agnosticism. In the 6th-century BCE, Gautama
Buddha expressed, in
Pali literature a skeptical attitude toward the
Since neither soul, nor aught belonging to soul, can really and truly
exist, the view which holds that this I who am 'world', who am 'soul',
shall hereafter live permanent, persisting, unchanging, yea abide
eternally: is not this utterly and entirely a foolish doctrine?
Another instance of ancient humanism as an organised system of
thought is found in the
Zarathustra , composed between 1,000
BCE – 600
Greater Iran . Zarathustra's philosophy in the
Gathas lays out a conception of humankind as thinking beings,
dignified with choice and agency according to the intellect which each
Ahura Mazda (God in the form of supreme wisdom). The
Ahura Mazda as a non-intervening deistic god or Great
Architect of the Universe was combined with a unique eschatology and
ethical system which implied that each person is held morally
responsible in the afterlife, for their choices they freely made in
life. This importance placed upon thought, action and personal
responsibility, and the concept of a non-intervening creator, was a
source of inspiration to a number of Enlightenment humanist thinkers
in Europe such as
Yellow Emperor is regarded as the humanistic primogenitor.
Sage kings such as Yao and Shun are humanistic figures as recorded.
King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou has the famous saying: "Humanity is the Ling
(efficacious essence) of the world (among all)." Among them Duke of
Zhou , respected as a founder of Rujia (Confucianism), is especially
prominent and pioneering in humanistic thought. His words were
recorded in the
Book of History as follows (translation):
What the people desire, Heaven certainly complies?
Heaven (or "God") is not believable. Our
Tao (special term referring
to "the way of nature") includes morality (derived from the philosophy
of former sage kings and to be continued forward).
In the 6th century BCE, Taoist teacher
Lao Tzu espoused a series of
naturalistic concepts with some elements of humanistic philosophy. The
Silver Rule of
Analects XV.24, is an example of
ethical philosophy based on human values rather than the supernatural.
Humanistic thought is also contained in other Confucian classics,
e.g., as recorded in
Zuo Zhuan , Ji Liang says, "People is the zhu
(master, lord, dominance, owner or origin) of gods. So, to sage kings,
people first, gods second"; Neishi Guo says, "Gods, clever, righteous
and wholehearted, comply with human." Taoist and Confucian secularism
contain elements of moral thought devoid of religious authority or
deism however they only partly resembled our modern concept of
Ancient Greek philosophy
BCE pre-Socratic Greek philosophers
Thales of Miletus
Thales of Miletus and
Xenophanes of Colophon were the first in the region to attempt to
explain the world in terms of human reason rather than myth and
tradition, thus can be said to be the first Greek humanists. Thales
questioned the notion of anthropomorphic gods and Xenophanes refused
to recognise the gods of his time and reserved the divine for the
principle of unity in the universe. These Ionian Greeks were the first
thinkers to assert that nature is available to be studied separately
from the supernatural realm.
Anaxagoras brought philosophy and the
spirit of rational inquiry from Ionia to Athens.
Pericles , the leader
of Athens during the period of its greatest glory was an admirer of
Anaxagoras. Other influential pre-Socratics or rational philosophers
Anaxagoras a friend of Pericles), known for
his famous dictum "man is the measure of all things" and
who proposed that matter was composed of atoms. Little of the written
work of these early philosophers survives and they are known mainly
from fragments and quotations in other writers, principally
Aristotle . The historian
Thucydides , noted for his scientific and
rational approach to history, is also much admired by later humanists.
In the 3rd century BCE,
Epicurus became known for his concise
phrasing of the problem of evil , lack of belief in the afterlife, and
human-centred approaches to achieving eudaimonia . He was also the
first Greek philosopher to admit women to his school as a rule.
Early Islamic philosophy
Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and
scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and
values . A wide range of Islamic writings on love, poetry, history and
philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to
the humanistic ideas of individualism , occasional secularism ,
skepticism , and liberalism .
According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world
flourished during the
Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of
speech , as summarised by al-Hashimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma\'mun )
in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was
attempting to convert through reason :
Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please
and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say
whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge
between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery
of passion, and that arbitrator shall be
Reason , whereby God makes us
responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt
justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to
accept whatever decision
Reason may give for me or against me. For
"There is no compulsion in religion" (Qur\'an 2 :256) and I have only
invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and
have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with
you and the blessings of God!
According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of
has its roots in the medieval Islamic world , including the "art of
dictation , called in Latin, ars dictaminis ", and "the humanist
attitude toward classical language ".
Renaissance humanism Portrait of
Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement in Europe of the
Middle Ages and the
Early Modern period. The 19th-century German
Georg Voigt (1827–91) identified
Petrarch as the first
Renaissance humanist. Paul Johnson agrees that
Petrarch was "the first
to put into words the notion that the centuries between the fall of
Rome and the present had been the age of Darkness". According to
Petrarch, what was needed to remedy this situation was the careful
study and imitation of the great classical authors. For
Boccaccio , the greatest master was
Cicero , whose prose became the
model for both learned (Latin) and vernacular (Italian) prose.
Once the language was mastered grammatically it could be used to
attain the second stage, eloquence or rhetoric. This art of persuasion
was not art for its own sake, but the acquisition of the capacity to
persuade others – all men and women – to lead the good life. As
Petrarch put it, 'it is better to will the good than to know the
truth'. Rhetoric thus led to and embraced philosophy. Leonardo Bruni
(c. 1369–1444), the outstanding scholar of the new generation,
insisted that it was
Petrarch who "opened the way for us to show how
to acquire learning", but it was in Bruni's time that the word
umanista first came into use, and its subjects of study were listed as
five: grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy, and history".
Coluccio Salutati, Chancellor of
Florence and disciple of Petrarch
The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write
(typically, in the form of a letter). One of Petrarch's followers,
Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406) was made chancellor of
"whose interests he defended with his literary skill. The Visconti of
Milan claimed that Salutati’s pen had done more damage than 'thirty
squadrons of Florentine cavalry'". Poggio Bracciolini
(1380–1459), an early
Renaissance humanist, book collector, and
reformer of script, who served as papal secretary
Contrary to a still widely held interpretation that originated in
Voigt's celebrated contemporary,
Jacob Burckhardt , and which was
adopted wholeheartedly – especially by modern thinkers calling
themselves "humanists" – most specialists today do not
Renaissance humanism as a philosophical movement, nor in
any way as anti-Christian or even anti-clerical. A modern historian
has this to say:
Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary
knowledge and linguistic skill based on the "revival of good letters",
which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar, This is
how the word "humanist" was understood by contemporaries, and if
scholars would agree to accept the word in this sense rather than in
the sense in which it was used in the nineteenth century we might be
spared a good deal of useless argument. That humanism had profound
social and even political consequences of the life of Italian courts
is not to be doubted. But the idea that as a movement it was in some
way inimical to the Church, or to the conservative social order in
general is one that has been put forward for a century and more
without any substantial proof being offered. The nineteenth-century
historian Jacob Burckhardt, in his classic work, The Civilization of
Renaissance in Italy , noted as a "curious fact" that some men of
the new culture were "men of the strictest piety, or even ascetics".
If he had meditated more deeply on the meaning of the careers of such
humanists as Abrogio Traversari (1386–1439), the General of the
Camaldolese Order, perhaps he would not have gone on to describe
humanism in unqualified terms as "pagan", and thus helped precipitate
a century of infertile debate about the possible existence of
something called "Christian humanism" which ought to be opposed to
"pagan humanism". — Peter Partner,
Renaissance Rome, Portrait of a
Society 1500–1559 (
University of California Press 1979) pp. 14–15.
The umanisti criticised what they considered the barbarous
the universities, but the revival of the humanities largely did not
conflict with the teaching of traditional university subjects, which
went on as before.
Nor did the humanists view themselves as in conflict with
Christianity. Some, like Salutati, were the Chancellors of Italian
cities, but the majority (including Petrarch) were ordained as
priests, and many worked as senior officials of the Papal court.
Renaissance popes Nicholas V , Pius II , Sixtus IV , and Leo
X wrote books and amassed huge libraries.
In the high Renaissance, in fact, there was a hope that more direct
knowledge of the wisdom of antiquity, including the writings of the
Church fathers, the earliest known Greek texts of the Christian
Gospels, and in some cases even the Jewish
Kabbalah , would initiate a
harmonious new era of universal agreement. With this end in view,
Renaissance Church authorities afforded humanists what in retrospect
appears a remarkable degree of freedom of thought. One humanist, the
Greek Orthodox Platonist
Gemistus Pletho (1355–1452), based in
Mystras , Greece (but in contact with humanists in Florence, Venice,
and Rome) taught a Christianised version of pagan polytheism .
Back To The Sources
Erasmus of Rotterdam
Erasmus of Rotterdam
The humanists' close study of
Latin literary texts soon enabled them
to discern historical differences in the writing styles of different
periods. By analogy with what they saw as decline of Latin, they
applied the principle of ad fontes , or back to the sources, across
broad areas of learning, seeking out manuscripts of Patristic
literature as well as pagan authors. In 1439, while employed in Naples
at the court of
Alfonso V of Aragon (at the time engaged in a dispute
with the Papal States) the humanist
Lorenzo Valla used stylistic
textual analysis, now called philology , to prove that the Donation of
Constantine , which purported to confer temporal powers on the Pope of
Rome, was an 8th-century forgery. For the next 70 years, however,
neither Valla nor any of his contemporaries thought to apply the
techniques of philology to other controversial manuscripts in this
way. Instead, after the fall of the
Byzantine Empire to the Turks in
1453, which brought a flood of
Greek Orthodox refugees to Italy,
humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of
Hermeticism , hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and
Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the
non-Christian world. The refugees brought with them Greek
manuscripts, not only of
Plato and Aristotle, but also of the
Christian Gospels, previously unavailable in the
After 1517, when the new invention of printing made these texts
widely available, the Dutch humanist
Erasmus , who had studied Greek
at the Venetian printing house of
Aldus Manutius , began a
philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Valla, comparing
the Greek originals with their
Latin translations with a view to
correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter. Erasmus, along with
the French humanist Jacques Lefèvre d\'Étaples , began issuing new
translations, laying the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation.
Renaissance humanism, particularly in the German North,
became concerned with religion, while Italian and French humanism
concentrated increasingly on scholarship and philology addressed to a
narrow audience of specialists, studiously avoiding topics that might
offend despotic rulers or which might be seen as corrosive of faith.
After the Reformation, critical examination of the Bible did not
resume until the advent of the so-called
Higher criticism of the
Tübingen school .
The ad fontes principle also had many applications. The re-discovery
of ancient manuscripts brought a more profound and accurate knowledge
of ancient philosophical schools such as
Epicureanism , and
Neoplatonism , whose Pagan wisdom the humanists, like the Church
fathers of old, tended, at least initially, to consider as deriving
from divine revelation and thus adaptable to a life of Christian
virtue. The line from a drama of
Terence , Homo sum, humani nihil a
me alienum puto (or with nil for nihil), meaning "I am a human being,
I think nothing human alien to me", known since antiquity through the
endorsement of Saint Augustine, gained renewed currency as epitomising
the humanist attitude. The statement, in a play modeled or borrowed
from a (now lost) Greek comedy by Menander, may have originated in a
lighthearted vein – as a comic rationale for an old man's meddling
– but it quickly became a proverb and throughout the ages was quoted
with a deeper meaning, by
Cicero and Saint Augustine, to name a few,
and most notably by Seneca . Richard Bauman writes:
Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto., I am a human being: and I
deem nothing pertaining to humanity is foreign to me.
The words of the comic playwright P. Terentius Afer reverberated
across the Roman world of the mid-2nd century
BCE and beyond. Terence,
an African and a former slave, was well placed to preach the message
of universalism, of the essential unity of the human race, that had
come down in philosophical form from the Greeks, but needed the
pragmatic muscles of
Rome in order to become a practical reality. The
influence of Terence's felicitous phrase on Roman thinking about human
rights can hardly be overestimated. Two hundred years later Seneca
ended his seminal exposition of the unity of humankind with a
There is one short rule that should regulate human relationships. All
that you see, both divine and human, is one. We are parts of the same
Nature created us from the same source and to the same
end. She imbued us with mutual affection and sociability, she taught
us to be fair and just, to suffer injury rather than to inflict it.
She bid us extend our hands to all in need of help. Let that
well-known line be in our heart and on our lips: Homo sum, humani
nihil a me alienum puto."
Better acquaintance with Greek and Roman technical writings also
influenced the development of European science (see the history of
science in the
Renaissance ). This was despite what A. C. Crombie
Renaissance in the 19th-century manner as a chapter in
the heroic March of Progress) calls "a backwards-looking admiration
for antiquity", in which
Platonism stood in opposition to the
Aristotelian concentration on the observable properties of the
physical world. But
Renaissance humanists, who considered themselves
as restoring the glory and nobility of antiquity, had no interest in
scientific innovation. However, by the mid-to-late 16th century, even
the universities, though still dominated by Scholasticism, began to
Aristotle be read in accurate texts edited according to
the principles of
Renaissance philology, thus setting the stage for
Galileo's quarrels with the outmoded habits of Scholasticism.
Just as artist and inventor
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci – partaking of the
zeitgeist though not himself a humanist – advocated study of human
anatomy , nature, and weather to enrich
Renaissance works of art, so
Juan Luis Vives (c. 1493–1540) advocated
observation, craft, and practical techniques to improve the formal
teaching of Aristotelian philosophy at the universities, helping to
free them from the grip of Medieval Scholasticism. Thus, the stage
was set for the adoption of an approach to natural philosophy , based
on empirical observations and experimentation of the physical
universe, making possible the advent of the age of scientific inquiry
that followed the Renaissance.
It was in education that the humanists' program had the most lasting
results, their curriculum and methods:
were followed everywhere, serving as models for the Protestant
Reformers as well as the Jesuits. The humanistic school, animated by
the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided
valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral
standards and a civilised taste for future rulers, leaders, and
professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through
many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many
religious, political and social revolutions. It has but recently been
replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less
demanding forms of education.
FROM RENAISSANCE TO MODERN HUMANISM
Early humanists saw no conflict between reason and their Christian
Christian Humanism ). They inveighed against the abuses of
the Church, but not against the Church itself, much less against
religion. For them, the word "secular" carried no connotations of
disbelief – that would come later, in the nineteenth century. In the
Renaissance to be secular meant simply to be in the world rather than
in a monastery.
Petrarch frequently admitted that his brother
Gherardo's life as a Carthusian monk was superior to his own (although
Petrarch himself was in
Minor Orders and was employed by the Church
all his life). He hoped that he could do some good by winning earthly
glory and praising virtue, inferior though that might be to a life
devoted solely to prayer. By embracing a non-theistic philosophic
base, however, the methods of the humanists, combined with their
eloquence, would ultimately have a corrosive effect on established
Yet it was from the
Renaissance that modern
with the development of an important split between reason and
religion. This occurred as the church's complacent authority was
exposed in two vital areas. In science, Galileo's support of the
Copernican revolution upset the church's adherence to the theories of
Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar
Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic
adherence to Jerome's Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge
was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were
For some, this meant turning back to the Bible as the source of
authority instead of the Catholic Church, for others it was a split
from theism altogether. This was the main divisive line between the
Reformation and the Renaissance, which dealt with the same basic
problems, supported the same science based on reason and empirical
research, but had a different set of presuppositions (theistic versus
19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES
The phrase the "religion of humanity" is sometimes attributed to
Thomas Paine , though as yet unattested in
his surviving writings. According to Tony Davies:
Paine called himself a theophilanthropist, a word combining the Greek
for "God", "love", and "humanity", and indicating that while he
believed in the existence of a creating intelligence in the universe,
he entirely rejected the claims made by and for all existing religious
doctrines, especially their miraculous, transcendental and
salvationist pretensions. The Parisian "Society of Theophilanthropy"
which he sponsored, is described by his biographer as "a forerunner of
the ethical and humanist societies that proliferated later" ... the
trenchantly witty Age of
Reason (1793) ... pours scorn on the
supernatural pretensions of scripture, combining Voltairean mockery
with Paine's own style of taproom ridicule to expose the absurdity of
a theology built on a collection of incoherent Levantine folktales.
Davies identifies Paine's The Age of
Reason as "the link between the
two major narratives of what
Jean-François Lyotard calls the
narrative of legitimation": the rationalism of the 18th-century
Philosophes and the radical, historically based German 19th-century
Biblical criticism of the Hegelians
David Friedrich Strauss and Ludwig
Feuerbach . "The first is political, largely French in inspiration,
and projects 'humanity as the hero of liberty'. The second is
philosophical, German, seeks the totality and autonomy of knowledge,
and stresses understanding rather than freedom as the key to human
fulfilment and emancipation. The two themes converged and competed in
complex ways in the
19th century and beyond, and between them set the
boundaries of its various humanisms. Homo homini deus est ("The human
being is a god to humanity" or "god is nothing the human being to
himself"), Feuerbach had written.
Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, known to the world as George Eliot
, translated Strauss's Das Leben Jesu ("The Life of Jesus", 1846) and
Ludwig Feuerbach's Das Wesen Christianismus ("The Essence of
Christianity"). She wrote to a friend:
the fellowship between man and man which has been the principle of
development, social and moral, is not dependent on conceptions of what
is not man ... the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual
influence, is the ideal of goodness entirely human (i.e., an
exaltation of the human).
Eliot and her circle, who included her companion George Henry Lewes
(the biographer of
Goethe ) and the abolitionist and social theorist
Harriet Martineau , were much influenced by the positivism of Auguste
Comte , whom Martineau had translated. Comte had proposed an atheistic
culte founded on human principles – a secular Religion of Humanity
(which worshiped the dead, since most humans who have ever lived are
dead), complete with holidays and liturgy, modeled on the rituals of
what was seen as a discredited and dilapidated Catholicism. Although
Comte's English followers, like Eliot and Martineau, for the most part
rejected the full gloomy panoply of his system, they liked the idea of
a religion of humanity. Comte's austere vision of the universe, his
injunction to "vivre pour altrui" ("live for others", from which comes
the word "altruism "), and his idealisation of women inform the works
of Victorian novelists and poets from
George Eliot and Matthew Arnold
Thomas Hardy .
The British Humanistic Religious Association was formed as one of the
earliest forerunners of contemporary chartered Humanist organisations
in 1853 in London. This early group was democratically organised, with
male and female members participating in the election of the
leadership, and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and
In February 1877, the word was used pejoratively, apparently for the
first time in America, to describe Felix Adler . Adler, however, did
not embrace the term, and instead coined the name "
Ethical Culture "
for his new movement – a movement which still exists in the now
Humanist-affiliated New York Society for Ethical Culture. In 2008,
Ethical Culture Leaders wrote: "Today, the historic identification,
Ethical Culture, and the modern description, Ethical Humanism, are
Active in the early 1920s,
F.C.S. Schiller labelled his work
"humanism" but for Schiller the term referred to the pragmatist
philosophy he shared with
William James . In 1929, Charles Francis
Potter founded the First Humanist Society of New York whose advisory
Julian Huxley ,
John Dewey ,
Albert Einstein and Thomas
Mann . Potter was a minister from the Unitarian tradition and in 1930
he and his wife, Clara Cook Potter, published Humanism: A New
Religion. Throughout the 1930s, Potter was an advocate of such liberal
causes as, women’s rights , access to birth control , "civil divorce
laws", and an end to capital punishment.
Raymond B. Bragg , the associate editor of The New Humanist, sought
to consolidate the input of
Leon Milton Birkhead , Charles Francis
Potter , and several members of the Western Unitarian Conference.
Roy Wood Sellars to draft a document based on this
information which resulted in the publication of the Humanist
Manifesto in 1933. Potter's book and the Manifesto became the
cornerstones of modern humanism, the latter declaring a new religion
by saying, "any religion that can hope to be a synthesising and
dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To
establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present." It
then presented 15 theses of humanism as foundational principles for
this new religion.
In 1941, the
American Humanist Association was organised. Noted
members of The AHA included
Isaac Asimov , who was the president from
1985 until his death in 1992, and writer
Kurt Vonnegut , who followed
as honorary president until his death in 2007.
Gore Vidal became
honorary president in 2009.
Robert Buckman was the head of the
association in Canada, and is now an honorary president.
After World War II, three prominent Humanists became the first
directors of major divisions of the United Nations:
Julian Huxley of
Brock Chisholm of the
World Health Organisation , and John
Boyd-Orr of the
Food and Agricultural Organisation .
American Humanist Association , along with other groups
representing agnostics, atheists, and other freethinkers, joined to
Secular Coalition for America which advocates in
Washington, D.C., for separation of church and state and nationally
for the greater acceptance of nontheistic Americans. The Executive
Secular Coalition for America is
Sean Faircloth , a
long-time state legislator from
Renaissance humanism" is the name later given to a tradition of
cultural and educational reform engaged in by civic and ecclesiastical
chancellors, book collectors, educators, and writers, who by the late
fifteenth century began to be referred to as umanisti – "humanists".
It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth
centuries, and was a response to the challenge of scholastic
university education, which was then dominated by Aristotelian
philosophy and logic.
Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be
doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from
approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and
theology. There were important centres of humanism at
Ferrara , and
Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach and the narrow
pedantry associated with it. They sought to create a citizenry
(frequently including women) able to speak and write with eloquence
and clarity and thus capable of engaging the civic life of their
communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions.
This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia
humanitatis , today known as the humanities : grammar, rhetoric,
history, poetry and moral philosophy. As a program to revive the
cultural – and particularly the literary – legacy and moral
philosophy of classical antiquity,
Humanism was a pervasive cultural
mode and not the program of a few isolated geniuses like Rabelais or
Erasmus as is still sometimes popularly believed.
Secular humanism The Humanist "happy human" logo
Secular humanism is a comprehensive life stance or world view which
embraces human reason , metaphysical naturalism , altruistic morality
and distributive justice , and consciously rejects supernatural
claims, theistic faith and religiosity , pseudoscience , and
superstition . It is sometimes referred to as
Humanism (with a
capital H and no qualifying adjective).
International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union (
IHEU ) is the world
union of 117 Humanist, rationalist, irreligious , atheistic , Bright ,
Ethical Culture , and freethought organisations in 38
countries. The "
Happy Human " is the official symbol of the
well as being regarded as a universally recognised symbol for secular
According to the IHEU's bylaw 5.1:
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
"Religious humanists" are non-superstitious people who nevertheless
see ethical humanism as their religion, and who seek to integrate
(secular) humanist ethical philosophy with congregational rituals
centred on human needs, interests, and abilities. Though practitioners
of religious humanism did not officially organise under the name of
"humanism" until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, non-theistic
religions paired with human-centred ethical philosophy have a long
history. A unified
Ethical Culture movement was first founded in 1876;
its founder, Felix Adler was a former member of the Free Religious
Association , and conceived of
Ethical Culture as a new religion that
would retain the ethical message at the heart of all religions.
Ethical Culture was religious in the sense of playing a defining role
in people's lives and addressing issues of ultimate concern. Nowadays
religious humanists in the United States are represented by
organisations such as the
American Ethical Union
American Ethical Union , and will simply
describe themselves as "ethical humanists" or "humanists". Secular
humanists and religious humanists organise together as part of larger
national and international groupings, and differentiate themselves
primarily in their attitude to the promotion of humanist thinking.
Earlier attempts at inventing a secular religious tradition informed
Ethical Culture movement. The Cult of
Reason (French : Culte de la
Raison) was a religion based on deism devised during the French
Jacques Hébert ,
Pierre Gaspard Chaumette and their
supporters. In 1793 during the
French Revolution , the cathedral
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris was turned into a "Temple of
Reason " and for a
time Lady Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars. In the
Auguste Comte , the Father of Sociology, founded
Positivism , a
"religion of humanity". One of the earliest forerunners of
contemporary chartered humanist organisations was the Humanistic
Religious Association formed in 1853 in London. This early group was
democratically organised, with male and female members participating
in the election of the leadership and promoted knowledge of the
sciences, philosophy, and the arts.
Polemics about humanism have sometimes assumed paradoxical twists and
turns. Early 20th century critics such as
Ezra Pound ,
T. E. Hulme ,
T. S. Eliot considered humanism to be sentimental "slop" (Hulme)
or "an old bitch gone in the teeth" (Pound) and wanted to go back to
a more manly, authoritarian society such as existed in the Middle
Ages. Postmodern critics who are self-described anti-humanists , such
Jean-François Lyotard and
Michel Foucault , have asserted that
humanism posits an overarching and excessively abstract notion of
humanity or universal human nature , which can then be used as a
pretext for imperialism and domination of those deemed somehow less
than human. "
Humanism fabricates the human as much as it fabricates
the nonhuman animal", suggests Timothy Laurie, turning the human into
what he calls "a placeholder for a range of attributes that have been
considered most virtuous among humans (e.g. rationality, altruism),
rather than most commonplace (e.g. hunger, anger)". Nevertheless,
Kate Soper notes that by faulting humanism for falling
short of its own benevolent ideals, anti-humanism thus frequently
"secretes a humanist rhetoric".
In his book,
Humanism (1997), Tony Davies calls these critics
"humanist anti-humanists". Critics of antihumanism, most notably
Jürgen Habermas , counter that while antihumanists may highlight
humanism's failure to fulfil its emancipatory ideal, they do not offer
an alternative emancipatory project of their own. Others, like the
Heidegger considered themselves humanists on the
model of the ancient Greeks, but thought humanism applied only to the
German "race" and specifically to the Nazis and thus, in Davies'
words, were anti-humanist humanists. Such a reading of Heidegger's
thought is itself deeply controversial;
Heidegger includes his own
views and critique of
Humanism in Letter On Humanism. Davies
acknowledges that after the horrific experiences of the wars of the
20th century "it should no longer be possible to formulate phrases
like 'the destiny of man' or the 'triumph of human reason' without an
instant consciousness of the folly and brutality they drag behind
them". For "it is almost impossible to think of a crime that has not
been committed in the name of human reason". Yet, he continues, "it
would be unwise to simply abandon the ground occupied by the
historical humanisms. For one thing humanism remains on many occasions
the only available alternative to bigotry and persecution. The freedom
to speak and write, to organise and campaign in defence of individual
or collective interests, to protest and disobey: all these can only be
articulated in humanist terms."
Modern humanists, such as
Corliss Lamont or
Carl Sagan , hold that
humanity must seek for truth through reason and the best observable
evidence and endorse scientific skepticism and the scientific method .
However, they stipulate that decisions about right and wrong must be
based on the individual and common good, with no consideration given
to metaphysical or supernatural beings. The idea is to engage with
what is human. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life
better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also
promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the
planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the
here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come
after. In 1925, the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North
Whitehead cautioned: "The prophecy of
Francis Bacon has now been
fulfilled; and man, who at times dreamt of himself as a little lower
than the angels, has submitted to become the servant and the minister
of nature. It still remains to be seen whether the same actor can play
Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective which rose to
prominence in the mid-20th century in response to
Sigmund Freud 's
psychoanalytic theory and
B. F. Skinner 's
Behaviorism . The approach
emphasizes an individual's inherent drive towards self-actualization
and creativity. Psychologists
Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow
introduced a positive, humanistic psychology in response to what they
viewed as the overly pessimistic view of psychoanalysis in the early
1960s. Other sources include the philosophies of existentialism and
Alternatives to the Ten Commandments –
Secular and humanist
John N. Gray
List of humanists
Human rights portal
* Psychology portal
* Religion portal
* ^ A B
Nicolas Walter 's
Humanism – What's in the Word (London:
Rationalist Press Association , 1997 ISBN 0-301-97001-7 ) gives an
account of the evolution of the meaning of the word humanism from the
point of view of a modern secular humanist . A similar perspective,
but somewhat less polemical, appears in
Richard Norman 's On Humanism
(Thinking in Action) (London: Routledge: 2004). For a historical and
philologically oriented view, see Vito Giustiniani's "Homo, Humanus,
and the Meanings of Humanism", Journal of the History of Ideas 46: 2
(April–June 1985): 167–95.
* ^ See for example the 2002
Amsterdam Declaration issued by the
International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union
* ^ The
British Humanist Association 's definition of Humanism
* ^ Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, XIII: 17.
* ^ Richard Bauman,
Human Rights in Ancient
Classical Monographs ), pp. 74–75.
* ^ A B Mann, Nicholas (1996). The Origins of Humanism. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 1–2. The term umanista was used, in fifteenth
century Italian academic jargon to describe a teacher or student of
classical literature including that of grammar and rhetoric. The
English equivalent 'humanist' makes its appearance in the late
sixteenth century with a similar meaning. Only in the nineteenth
century, however, and probably for the first time in Germany in 1809,
is the attribute transformed into a substantive: humanism, standing
for devotion to the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, and the
humane values that may be derived from them.
* ^ Humanissime vir, "most humane man", was the usual
Latin way to
address scholars. (Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of
Humanism" : 168.)
* ^ There was a time when men wandered about in the manner of wild
beasts. They conducted their affairs without the least guidance of
reason but instead relied on bodily strength. There was no divine
religion and the understanding of social duty was in no way
cultivated. No one recognized the value inherent in an equitable code
of law.(Cicero, De Inventione, I. I: 2, quoted in Quentin Skinner,
Visions of Politics, Volume 2:
Renaissance Virtues , p. 54.)
* ^ A noted authority on the subject,
Paul Oskar Kristeller ,
Renaissance humanism as a cultural and literary movement,
which in its substance was not philosophical but which had important
philosophical implications and consequences." "I have been unable to
discover in the humanist literature any common philosophical
doctrine," he wrote, "except a belief in the value of man and the
humanities and in the revival of ancient learning." (Paul Oskar
Renaissance Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanist
Strains , p. 9). As the late Jacques Barzun has written:
The path between the onset of the good letters and the modern
humanist as freethinker or simply as scholar is circuitous but
unbroken. If we look for what is common to the Humanists over the
centuries we find two things: a body of accepted authors and a method
of carrying on study and debate. The two go together with the belief
that the best guides to the good life are
Nature . (Jacques
Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence :500 years of Western Cultural Life ,
p. 45) * ^ "Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto". Retrieved 14 May
* ^ "Text of
Humanist Manifesto I". Americanhumanist.org. Retrieved
13 November 2011.
* ^ Although a distinction has often been drawn between secular and
religious humanism, the
International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union and
similar organizations prefer to describe their life stance without
qualification as 'Humanism'. See Nicolas Walter, Humanism: What's in
the Word? (London: RPA/BHA/
Secular Society Ltd, 1937), p. 43.
* ^ Harold Blackham, Levi Fragell, Corliss Lamont, Harry
Stopes-Roe, Rob Tielman. "
Humanism is Eight Letters, No More". CS1
maint: Uses authors parameter (link )
* ^ Niethammer's book was entitled Der Streit des
Philanthropinismus und des Humanismus in der Theorie des
Erziehungs-Unterrichts unsrer Zeit (The Dispute between
Humanism in the Educational Theory of our Time),
which directly echoes Aulus Gellius's distinction between
"philanthropy" and humane learning. Neithammer and other distinguished
members of the movement they called "Neo-Humanism" (who included Georg
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte ), felt that the curriculum imposed under
Napoleon's occupation of Germany had been excessively oriented toward
the practical and vocational. They wished to encourage individuals to
practice life-long self cultivation and reflection, based on a study
of the artistic, philosophical, and cultural masterpieces of
(primarily) Greek civilization.
* ^ As J. A. Symonds remarked, "the word humanism has a German
sound and is in fact modern" (See The
Renaissance in Italy Vol. 2:71
n, 1877). Vito Giustiniani writes that in the German-speaking world
"Humanist" while keeping its specific meaning (as scholar of Classical
literature) "gave birth to further derivatives, such as humanistisch
for those schools which later were to be called humanistische
Latin and Greek as the main subjects of teaching
(1784). Finally, Humanismus was introduced to denote 'classical
education in general' (1808) and still later for the epoch and the
achievements of the Italian humanists of the fifteenth century (1841).
This is to say that 'humanism' for 'classical learning' appeared first
in Germany, where it was once and for all sanctioned in this meaning
Georg Voigt (1859)". (Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings
of Humanism" : 172.)
* ^ "L'amour général de l'humanité ... vertu qui n'a point de
nom parmi nous et que nous oserions appeler 'humanisme', puisqu'enfin
il est temps de créer un mot pour une chose si belle et nécessaire";
from the review Ephémérides du citoyen ou Bibliothèque raisonée
des sciences morales et politiques, Chapter 16 (Dec, 17, 1765): 247,
quoted in Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism" :
175, note 38.
* ^ Although
Rousseau himself devoutly believed in a personal God,
his book, Emile: or, On Education , does attempt to demonstrate that
atheists can be virtuous. It was publicly burned. During the
Revolution, Jacobins instituted a cult of the Supreme Being along
lines suggested by Rousseau. In the 19th-century French positivist
Auguste Comte (1798–1857) founded a "religion of
humanity", whose calendar and catechism echoed the former
Revolutionary cult. See
* ^ The Oxford English Dictionary. VII (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon
Press. 1989. pp. 474–75.
* ^ "Ma conviction intime est que la religion de l'avenir sera le
pur humanisme, c’est-à-dire le culte de tout ce qui est de l'homme,
la vie entière santifiée et éléve a une valeur moral". quoted in
Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism" : 175.
* ^ "Lesson 1: A brief history of humanist thought". Introduction
to Humanism: A Primer on the History, Philosophy, and Goals of
Humanism. The Continuum of Humanist Education. Retrieved 21 August
* ^ "Principles of Integral
Science of Religion", By Georg Schmid,
p. 109, 'As an Example: Yasna 32:8', p. 109
* ^ "
Human Behavior and Good Thinking".
* ^ Potter, Charles (1930).
Humanism A new Religion. Simon and
Schuster. pp. 64–69.
* ^ Lenn Evan Goodman (2003), Islamic Humanism, p. 155, Oxford
University Press, ISBN 0-19-513580-6 .
* ^ Ahmad, I. A. (3 June 2002). The Rise and Fall of Islamic
Science: The Calendar as a Case Study (PDF).
Faith and Reason:
Convergence and Complementarity.
Ifrane , Morocco: Al-Akhawayn
University . Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 November 2014.
Retrieved 31 December 2014.
* ^ Makdisi, George (April–June 1989). "
Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West". Journal of the
American Oriental Society. Journal of the American Oriental Society,
Vol. 109, No. 2. 109 (2): 175–82.
JSTOR 604423 . doi :10.2307/604423
* ^ Johnson, Paul (2000). The Renaissance. New York: The Modern
Library. pp. 32–34 and 37. ISBN 0-679-64086-X .
* ^ Johnson, Paul (2000). The Renaissance. New York: The Modern
Library. p. 37.
* ^ Following an old engraving; from Alfred Gudeman, Imagines
philologorum: 160 bildnisse... ("Portraits of Philologists, 160
prints"), (Leipzig/Berlin) 1911.
* ^ The influence of Jacob Burckhardt's classic masterpiece of
cultural history, The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy (1860)
Renaissance historiography is traced in Wallace K.
Renaissance in Historical Thought: Five Centuries of
Historical Interpretation (1948).
* ^ For example the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, adhering to
the tenacious 19th-century narrative of the
Renaissance as a complete
break with the past established in 1860 by
Jacob Burckhardt ,
describes the liberating effects of the re-discovery of classical
writings this way:
Here, one felt no weight of the supernatural pressing on the human
mind, demanding homage and allegiance. Humanity—with all its
distinct capabilities, talents, worries, problems, possibilities—was
the centre of interest. It has been said that medieval thinkers
philosophised on their knees, but, bolstered by the new studies, they
dared to stand up and to rise to full stature."Humanism". "The
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Second Edition. Cambridge
University Press. 1999. * ^ "The term umanista was associated
with the revival of the studia humanitatis "which included grammatica,
rhetorica, poetics, historia, and philosophia moralis, as these terms
were understood. Unlike the liberal arts of the eighteenth century,
they did not include the visual arts, music, dancing or gardening. The
humanities also failed to include the disciplines that were the chief
subjects of instruction at the universities during the Later Middle
Ages and throughout the Renaissance, such as theology, jurisprudence,
and medicine, and the philosophical disciplines other than ethics,
such as logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics. In other words,
humanism does not represent, as often believed, the sum total of
Renaissance thought and learning, but only a well-defined sector of
Humanism has its proper domain or home territory in the
humanities, whereas all other areas of learning, including philosophy
(apart from ethics), followed their own course, largely determined by
their medieval tradition and by their steady transformation through
new observations, problems, or theories. These disciplines were
affected by humanism mainly from the outside and in an indirect way,
though often quite strongly". (
Paul Oskar Kristeller , Humanism, pp.
113–14, in Charles B. Schmitt,
Quentin Skinner (editors), The
Cambridge History of
* ^ See their respective entries in Sir John Hale's Concise
Encyclopaedia of the Italian
Renaissance (Oxford University Press,
* ^ To later generations, the Dutch humanist, Desiderius
epitomised this reconciling tendency). According to the Stanford
Philosophy , "Enlightenment thinkers remembered
Erasmus (not quite accurately) as a precursor of modern intellectual
freedom and a foe of both Protestant and Catholic dogmatism". Erasmus
himself was not much interested in the Kabbalah, but several other
humanists were, notably Pico della Mirandola. See Christian Kabbalah
* ^ Bergin, Thomas; Speake, Jennifer (1987). The Encyclopedia of
the Renaissance. Oxford: Facts On
File Publications. pp. 216–17.
* ^ "Only thirteen of Pico della Mirandola's nine hundred theses
were thought theologically objectionable by the papal commission that
examined them.... suggests that, in spite of his publicly expressed
contempt in his Apologia for their intellectual inadequacies, the
Curial authorities hardly saw these theses as the work of a dangerous
theological modernist like Luther or Calvin. Unorthodox though they
were, most of the issues raised in them had been the subject of
theological dispute for centuries and the commission ... condemned him
not for innovations but for 'reviving several of the errors of gentile
philosophers which are already disproved and obsolete'". Davies
(1997), p 103.
Richard H. Popkin (editor), The Columbia History of Western
Philosophy (1998), pp. 293, 301.
* ^ More than 100 years earlier, Dante in the
Divine Comedy (c.
1308–1321) had pinpointed the
Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine (which he
accepted as genuine) as a great mistake and the cause of all the
political and religious problems of Italy, including the corruption of
the Church. Although Dante had thunderously attacked the idea that the
Church could have temporal as well as spiritual powers, it remained to
Valla to conclusively prove that the legal justification for such
powers was spurious.
* ^ Ironically, it was a humanist scholar,
Isaac Casaubon , in the
17th century, who would use philology to show that the Corpus
Hermeticum was not of great antiquity, as had been asserted in the 4th
Saint Augustine and
Lactantius , but dated from the
Christian era. See Anthony Grafton, Defenders of the Text: The
Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450–1800 (Harvard
University Press, 1991).
* ^ "Humanism". Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion. F–N. Corpus
Publications. 1979. p. 1733. ISBN 0-9602572-1-7 . "Renaissance
humanists rejoiced in the mutual compatibility of much ancient
philosophy and Christian truths", M. A. Screech, Laughter at the Foot
of the Cross (1997), p. 13.
* ^ Homo in
Latin specifically means "human being", in contrast to
vir, "man", and mulier, "woman": Annabel Robinson, The Life and Work
of Jane Ellen Harrison (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 206; Tore
Janson, A Natural History of
Latin (Oxford University Press, 2004), p.
281; Timothy J. Moore, Roman Theatre (Cambridge University Press,
2012), p. 62 (note to the line in Terence); as a "watchword" for
Humanism and the
Humanities in the Twenty-First Century,
edited by William S. Haney and Peter Malekin (Associated University
Presses, 2001), p. 171; similar homo sum declaration by Seneca, James
Ker, The Deaths of Seneca (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 193.
* ^ Bauman,
Human Rights in Ancient Rome, p. 1.
A. C. Crombie , Historians and the Scientific Revolution, p.
456 in Science, Art and
Nature in Medieval and Modern Thought (1996).
* ^ Gottlieb, Anthony (2000). The Dream of Reason: a history of
western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. New York: W. W.
Norton & Company. pp. 410–11.
* ^ Alleby, Brad (2003). "Humanism". Encyclopedia of
Religion. 1 (2nd ed.). Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 426–28. ISBN
* ^ Kristeller, "Humanism" in The Cambridge History of Renaissance
Philosophy, p. 114.
* ^ A B Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live?. Crossway.
pp. 146–47. ISBN 978-1581345360 .
Os Guinness , The Dust of Death: A Critique of the
Establishment and the Counter Culture and the Proposal for a Third Way
(Intervarsity Press, 1973) p. 5.
* ^ Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live?. Crossway. pp.
79–80. ISBN 978-1581345360 .
* ^ Tony Davies,
Humanism (Routledge, 1997) pp. 26–27.
* ^ In La Condition postmoderne
* ^ Davies, Humanism, p. 27.
* ^ Davies, Humanism, p. 28.
* ^ quoted in Davies (1997), p. 27.
* ^ "Comte's secular religion is no vague effusion of humanistic
piety, but a complete system of belief and ritual, with liturgy and
sacraments, priesthood and pontiff, all organised around the public
veneration of Humanity, the Nouveau Grand-Être Suprême (New Supreme
Great Being), later to be supplemented in a positivist trinity by the
Grand Fétish (the Earth) and the Grand Milieu (Destiny)". According
to Davies (pp. 28–29), Comte's austere and "slightly dispiriting"
philosophy of humanity viewed as alone in an indifferent universe
(which can only be explained by "positive" science) and with nowhere
to turn but to each other, was even more influential in Victorian
England than the theories of Charles Darwin or Karl Marx.
* ^ Davies, p. 29.
* ^ Morain, Lloyd; Morain, Mary (2007).
Humanism as the Next Step
(PDF). Washington, D.C.: Humanist Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0931779091 .
LCCN 97-74611 .
* ^ "History: New York Society for Ethical Culture". New York
Society for Ethical Culture. 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
* ^ "Ethical Culture" (PDF). American Ethical Union. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
* ^ Stringer-Hye, Richard. "Charles Francis Potter". Dictionary of
Unitarian and Universalist Biography. Unitarian Universalist
Historical Society. Retrieved 1 May 2008.
American Humanist Association Archived 12 August 2002 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Craig W. Kallendorf, introduction to Humanist Educational
Treatises, edited and translated by Craig W. Kallendorf (Cambridge,
Massachusetts and London England: The I Tatti
2002) p. vii.
Early Italian humanism, which in many respects continued the
grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the
Middle Ages , not merely
provided the old
Trivium with a new and more ambitious name (Studia
humanitatis), but also increased its actual scope, content and
significance in the curriculum of the schools and universities and in
its own extensive literary production. The studia humanitatis excluded
logic, but they added to the traditional grammar and rhetoric not only
history, Greek, and moral philosophy, but also made poetry, once a
sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole
group. (Paul Oskar Kristeller,
Renaissance Thought II: Papers on
Humanism and the Arts , p. 178.) See also Kristeller's Renaissance
Thought I, "
Scholasticism In the Italian Renaissance",
Byzantion 17 (1944–45): 346–74. Reprinted in
(New York: Harper Torchbooks), 1961. * ^ Vito Giustiniani gives as
an example of an out-dated, but still pervasive view, that of Corliss
Lamont, who described
Humanism as, "first and foremost a
revolt against the otherworldliness of mediaeval Christianity, a
turning away from preoccupation with personal immortality to make the
best of life in this world.
Renaissance writers like Rabelais and
Erasmus gave eloquent voice to this new joy of living and to the sheer
exuberance of existence. For the
Renaissance the ideal human being was
no longer the ascetic monk, but a new type – the universal man the
many-sided personality delighting in every kind of this-earthly
achievements. The great Italian artists,
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci and
Michelangelo, typified this ideal." (Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and
the Meanings of Humanism": 192.)
* ^ Edwords, Fred (1989). "What Is Humanism?". American Humanist
Association. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
Humanism is an
outgrowth of eighteenth century enlightenment rationalism and
nineteenth century freethought...
Secular and Religious Humanists both
share the same worldview and the same basic principles... From the
standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the
two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of
the philosophy that Religious and
Secular Humanists effectively
disagree. A decidedly anti-theistic version of secular humanism,
however, is developed by Adolf Grünbaum, 'In Defense of Secular
Humanism' (1995), in his Collected Works (edited by Thomas Kupka),
vol. I, New York:
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press 2013, ch. 6 (pp. 115–48)
* ^ "Definitions of humanism (subsection)". Institute for Humanist
Studies. Archived from the original on 18 January 2007. Retrieved 16
* ^ "Humanist movement hits new high in membership.". iheu.org.
Retrieved 11 April 2013.
* ^ "IHEU\'s Bylaws". International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Retrieved 5 July 2008.
* ^ "War, Terror, and Resistance". Retrieved 31 October 2006.
* ^ James A. Herrick, "The Making of the New Spirituality",
InterVarsity Press, 2004 ISBN 0-8308-3279-3 , p. 75-76
* ^ A B "
Humanism as the Next Step". Archived from the original on
14 June 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2006.
* ^ Tony Davies,
Humanism (Routledge, 1997) p. 48.
* ^ Laurie, Timothy (2015), "Becoming-Animal Is A Trap For Humans",
Deleuze and the Non-
Human eds. Hannah Stark and Jon Roffe.
* ^ in
Humanism and Anti-humanism (Problems of Modern European
Thought) (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Press, 1986, p. 128.
* ^ quoted in Davies (1997) p. 49.
* ^ Habermas accepts some criticisms leveled at traditional
humanism but believes that humanism must be rethought and revised
rather than simply abandoned.
* ^ "The antihhumanist
Heidegger and the humanist
antihumanism of Foucault and Althusser" (Davies ), p. 131.
* ^ Davies (1997), pp. 131–32
* ^ "Conscience, the sense of right and wrong and the insistent
call of one's better, more idealistic, more social-minded self, is a
social product. Feelings of right and wrong that at first have their
locus within the family gradually develop into a pattern for the tribe
or city, then spread to the larger unit of the nation, and finally
from the nation to humanity as a whole.
Humanism sees no need for
resorting to supernatural explanations, or sanctions at any point in
the ethical process" (Lamont, Corliss (1997). The
Humanism, Eighth Edition. Humanist Press: Amherst, New York. pp.
252–53. ISBN 0-931779-07-3 . )
* ^ See for example Kurtz, Paul (2000). Humanist manifesto 2000 : a
call for a new planetary humanism. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN
Science and the Modern World (New York: Simon and Schuster,
1997) p. 96.
* Bauman, Richard.
Human Rights in Ancient Rome. Routledge Classical
Monographs, 1999 ISBN 0-415-17320-5
* Berry, Philippa and Andrew Wernick. The Shadow of Spirit:
Modernism and Religion. Routledge, (1992) 2006. ISBN
* Burckhardt, Jacob , Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy\'
* Christopher S. Celenza and Kenneth Gouvens, Editors.
Creativity in the Renaissance. Leiden 2006, pp. 295–326 ISBN
* Davies, Tony.
Humanism The New Critical Idiom. Drakakis, John,
University of Stirling , UK. Routledge, 1997 ISBN
* Ferguson, Wallace K. The
Renaissance in Historical Thought. Five
Centuries of Interpretation. New York: Nachdruck: AMS, 1981 (Boston:
* Flew, Antony (2008). "Humanism". In Hamowy, Ronald . The
Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE ; Cato
Institute . pp. 228–29. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4 . LCCN 2008009151 .
OCLC 750831024 . doi :10.4135/9781412965811.n140 .
* Gay, Peter. Enlightenment: The
Science of Freedom. New York: W. W.
Norton & Co, 1996 ISBN 0-393-31366-2
* Gay, Peter . The Party of Humanity: Essays in the French
enlightenment. New York:
W. W. Norton (1971).
* Giustiniani, Vito. "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism",
Journal of the History of Ideas 46 (vol. 2, April – June 1985): 167
* Grafton, Anthony. Bring Out Your Dead: The Past as Revelation.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004 ISBN 978-0-674-00468-9
* Grafton, Anthony . Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of
Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450–1800. Harvard University
Press , 1991
* Grendler, Paul F. '"Georg Voigt: Historian of Humanism", in:
Humanism and Creativity in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Ronald
* Guinness, Os. The Dust of Death Intervarsity Press 1973 ISBN
* Hale, John . A Concise Encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance.
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press , 1981 ISBN 0-500-23333-0 .
* Johnson, Paul. The Renaissance. Modern Library Chronicles. New
York: Modern Library, 2002 ISBN 978-0-8129-6619-0
* Kristeller, Paul Oskar.
Renaissance Thought and its Sources.
Columbia University Press , 1979 ISBN 0-231-04513-1
* Kristeller, Paul Oskar . The
Philosophy of Man. The
University of Chicago
University of Chicago Press , 1950.
* Laurie, Timothy. Becoming-Animal Is A Trap For Humans: Deleuze and
Guattari in Madagascar In Deleuze and the Non-Human, edited by Hannah
Stark and Jonathan Roffe, pp. 142–62. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave
Macmillan . 2015
* Partner, Peter.
Renaissance Rome, Portrait of a Society
University of California Press , 1979
* Proctor, Robert. Defining the Humanities. Indiana University Press
, 1998 ISBN 0-253-21219-7
* Schmitt, Charles B. and
Quentin Skinner , Editors. The Cambridge
Renaissance Philosophy. Cambridge, 1990.
* Vernant, Jean-Pierre . Origins of Greek Thought. Cornell
University Press , (1962) 1984 ISBN 0-8014-9293-9
* Wernick, Andrew.
Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity: The
Post-theistic Program of French Social Theory. Cambridge University
Press , 2001 ISBN 0-521-66272-9
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