the concept of “humanism”

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so i heard of the philosophy of “humanism” before but i dont entirely know what it means. I tried googling it and i’ll admit it was a bit too complex for me to wrap my head around.

in simple terms, what is the belief of humanism?

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It’s a concept saying that what is right or wrong is a human concept. Basically, you shouldn’t do something because it will hurt someone else or because society thinks it’s wrong.

A lot of people think good and evil come from God but humanism says “Hey no way. Humans make their own values independent of religion”.

An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

Renaissance Humanism was a theory of what it is to be an ideal human being. A person ought to be educated in history and philosophy, in the fine arts, like painting, music and poetry and be practiced in rhetoric.

In studying history and rhetoric, they came to practice a form of rhetoric common to ancient Rome called the panegyric.

The panegyric is a piece of writing or speech in praise of someone or something, but usually the emperor or Rome. So humanists would write these long poetic speeches praising their country or their ruler or patron. The panegyric cannot be critical, only full of praise which meant that they were often full of shit.

Once you are prepared to make stuff up in a panegyric, you inevitably start to get philosophical about it. You want to say that your nation is the best nation possible and the truth doesn’t matter. So really what you say becomes a theory about what the best possible nation would look like.

General themes start to appear, like freedom from war, and poverty; fair laws that protect us but also give us opportunity and things like that.

So then some of the humanists, start to ask why don’t we have all these things and what would it take for things to be like this. Now at that time the prevailing theory about why the world is as it is was the one that boils down to God likes it that way. But being learned in philosophy, these humanists were aware of alternative theories on such things and some of them rejected that view saying instead that it is entirely possible for humanity to create the best possible kind of world.

That last idea, that humans can, through their choices, create an ideal society or world without needing God or aliens or anyone else became the core belief of modern Humanism.

God is fake, humanity is great (as a collective, not as individuals), and through the ingenuity and brotherhood of mankind good things will come

Humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or belief in a deity. It doesn’t, however, assume that humans are either inherently good or evil, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature.

The first reference to humanism I ever got was from Kurt Vonnegut Jr, which I’ll paraphrase as “being decent to each other with no expectation of reward.”

I like that a lot, and I just remembered it when I saw this post. It’s not a complete answer to your question, but I wanted to add that in here.

There is also the psychological Humanist perspective, which is one of the big three foundations that psychology is built on. The basic beliefs are that all humans have value simply for being human, and that free will is one of the most important things about humans. It lead to psychology focus more on what we think and choose rather than just how the people & situations around us influence us (which is what behaviorism focuses on) and on our basic, unconscious drives lead us to (which is what psychoanalysis focused on). It lead to something called unconditional positive regard (valuing/love for others just because they exist, also called agapé), which is the basis for all helping relationships, and influenced the field’s code of ethics. If you’ve ever heard of needs theory, Abraham Maslow or Carl Rogers, that’s Humanist psychology. I’ve even argued that Fred Rogers fit in pretty well here, too.