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 to refer to a system of education based on the study of
classical literature ("classical humanism"). 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.
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
Renaissance to modern humanism
2.4 19th and 20th centuries
3.1 Scholarly tradition
3.2 Non-theistic worldviews
3.2.2 Religious humanists
5 Humanistic psychology
6 See also
9 External links
The word "humanism" is ultimately derived from the
humanitas. It 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
In the second century AD, a
Latin grammarian, 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 Greek equivalent 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 reforms of
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
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
During the 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.
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") and
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
Gathas of Zarathustra, composed between
1,000 BCE – 600 BCE in 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 receives from
Ahura Mazda (God
in the form of supreme wisdom). The idea of
Ahura Mazda as a
non-intervening deistic god or
Great Architect of the Universe
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
Main article: Chinese philosophy
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
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
Main article: Ancient Greek philosophy
BCE pre-Socratic Greek philosophers
Thales of Miletus
Thales of Miletus and
Xenophanes of Colophon
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 Democritus,
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
See also: 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".
Petrarch painted in 1376
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
Cicero had held] 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
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 Florence,
"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 the
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
University of California Press
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
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
Back to the sources
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
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. Henceforth
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
19th-century German 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 demand that
Aristotle be read in accurate
texts edited according to the principles of
thus setting the stage for Galileo's quarrels with the outmoded habits
Just as artist and inventor 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 Spanish-born humanist
Juan Luis Vives
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.
Renaissance to modern humanism
Early humanists saw no conflict between reason and their Christian
faith (see 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
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
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
Founding Father 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" ...
[Paine's book] 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
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
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 [other than] 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
George Eliot and
Matthew Arnold to 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.
Ethical Culture Leaders wrote: "Today, the historic
identification, Ethical Culture, and the modern description, Ethical
Humanism, are used interchangeably."
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
board included 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. Bragg asked
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
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.[citation
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.
In 2004, 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 Maine.
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 Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice, Mantua,
Ferrara, and Urbino.
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
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.
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 (IHEU) is the world union
of 117 Humanist, rationalist, irreligious, atheistic, Bright, secular,
Ethical Culture, and freethought organisations in 38 countries.
The "Happy Human" is the official symbol of the
IHEU as well as being
regarded as a universally recognised symbol for secular humanism.
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 reality.
Main article: Religious humanism
"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, 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
Revolution by Jacques Hébert,
Pierre Gaspard Chaumette
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 1850s, 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.
The distinction between so-called "ethical" humanists and "secular"
humanists is most pronounced in the United States, although it is
becoming less so over time. The philosophical distinction is not
reflected at all in Canada,
Latin America, Africa, or Asia, or most of
Europe. In the UK, where the humanist movement was strongly influenced
by Americans in the 19th century, the leading "ethical societies" and
"ethical churches" evolved into secular humanist charities (e.g. the
British Ethical Union became the
British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association and
later Humanists UK). In Scandinavian countries, "Human-etik" or
"humanetikk" (roughly synonymous with ethical humanism) is a popular
strand within humanism, originating from the works of Danish
philosopher Harald Høffding. The Norwegian Humanist Association
belongs to this tendency, known as
Human-Etisk Forbund (literally
"Human-Ethical League"). Over time, the emphasis on human-etisk has
become less pronounced, and today HEF promotes both "humanisme" and
"human-etisk". In Sweden, the main Swedish humanist group Humanisterna
("Humanists") began as a "human-ethical association", like the
Norwegian humanists, before adopting the more prevalent secular
humanist model popular in most of Europe. Today the distinction in
Europe is mostly superficial.
Polemics about humanism have sometimes assumed paradoxical twists and
turns. Early 20th century critics such as Ezra Pound, T. E.
Hulme, and 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 as
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, philosopher Kate Soper
notes that by faulting humanism for falling short of its own
benevolent ideals, anti-humanism thus frequently "secretes a humanist
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
Main article: Humanistic psychology
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 –
John N. Gray
Index of humanism articles
List of humanists
Human rights 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
<http://iheu.org/humanism/the-amsterdam-declaration/> issued by
the 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
Rome (Routledge 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 [Cambridge
University Press, 2002], p. 54.)
^ A noted authority on the subject, Paul Oskar Kristeller, identified
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 Kristeller, Renaissance
Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanist Strains [New York,
Harper and Row, 1961], 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
Reason and Nature. (Jacques Barzun, From
Dawn to Decadence :500 years of Western Cultural Life [New York:
HarperCollins, 2000], p. 45)
^ "Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto". Retrieved 14 May 2006.
^ "Text of
Humanist Manifesto I". Americanhumanist.org. Archived from
the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
^ Although a distinction has often been drawn between secular and
religious humanism, the
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
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 Philanthropinism and
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
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph
Schelling and 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.
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 Comtism
^ 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 2009.
^ "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.
^ 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
^ Makdisi, George (April–June 1989). "
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. doi:10.2307/604423. JSTOR 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.
^ 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) on
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
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 it.
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 Renaissance
^ 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 Erasmus,
epitomised this reconciling tendency). According to the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Enlightenment thinkers remembered Erasmus
(not quite accurately) as a precursor of modern intellectual freedom
and a foe of both Protestant and Catholic dogmatism".
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
^ "Only thirteen of Pico della Mirandola's nine hundred theses were
thought theologically objectionable by the papal commission that
examined them.... [This] 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 century by
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.
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.
^ 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
American Humanist Association Archived 12 August 2002 at the Wayback
^ Craig W. Kallendorf, introduction to Humanist Educational Treatises,
edited and translated by Craig W. Kallendorf (Cambridge, Massachusetts
and London England: The I Tatti
Renaissance Library, 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 [New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965], p. 178.)
See also Kristeller's
Renaissance Thought I, "
Scholasticism In the Italian Renaissance", Byzantion 17 (1944–45):
346–74. Reprinted in
Renaissance Thought (New York: Harper
^ Vito Giustiniani gives as an example of an out-dated, but still
pervasive view, that of Corliss Lamont, who described Renaissance
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
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
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, typified this
ideal." (Giustiniani, "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism":
^ Edwords, Fred (1989). "What Is Humanism?". American Humanist
Association. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. 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 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.
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
^ "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
Philosophy of 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.
Science and the Modern World (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1997) p. 96.
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.
Burckhardt, Jacob, Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy' 1860.
Christopher S. Celenza and Kenneth Gouvens, Editors.
Creativity in the Renaissance. Leiden 2006, pp. 295–326
Humanism The New Critical Idiom. Drakakis, John, series
editor. University of Stirling, UK. Routledge, 1997
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. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n140.
ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151.
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.
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton (1971). OCLC 11672592
Giustiniani, Vito. "Homo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism",
Journal of the History of Ideas 46 (vol. 2, April – June 1985):
167 – 95.   
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 G. Witt.
Guinness, Os. The Dust of Death Intervarsity Press 1973
Hale, John. A Concise Encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance. 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
Renaissance Rome, Portrait of a Society 1500–1559
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
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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