Outline of humanism

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to humanism:

Humanism group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism, empiricism), over established doctrine or faith (fideism). Two common forms of humanism are religious humanism and secular humanism.

Humanism, term freely applied to a variety of beliefs, methods, and philosophies that place central emphasis on the human realm. Most frequently, however, the term is used with reference to a system of education and mode of inquiry that developed in northern Italy during the 13th and 14th centuries and later spread through continental Europe and England. Alternately known as Renaissance humanism, this program was so broadly and profoundly influential that it is one of the chief reasons why the Renaissance is viewed as a distinct historical period. Indeed, though the word Renaissance is of more recent coinage, the fundamental idea of that period as one of renewal and reawakening is humanistic in origin. But humanism sought its own philosophical bases in far earlier times and, moreover, continued to exert some of its power long after the end of the Renaissance.[1]

Nature of humanism[edit]

Humanism can be described as all of the following:

  • Approach – manner in which a problem is solved or policy is made.
  • Branch of philosophy – study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.
  • Social movement – type of group action. A large informal grouping of individuals or organization which focuses on specific political or social issues. In other words, it carries out, resists or undoes a social change.
    • Ethical movement –
    • Philosophical movement – either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject.

Branches of humanism[edit]

  • Religious humanism – philosophy that integrates secular ethics with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities.
    • Buddhist humanism – philosophical perspective based on the teaching of inherent dignity of all human beings, their potential for attaining highest wisdom about their condition [2] and their essential nature of altruism exemplified by the Bodhisattva spirit of compassion.[3] In practical terms, humanism is expressed on the individual level through action: to “relieve sufferings and impart joy”,[4] to contribute to the welfare of society,[5] abiding by the attitude of nonviolence [6] supporting human rights,[7] and acting for world peace,[8][9] effectively advocating the concept of global citizenship.[10]
    • Christian humanism – emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, his social teachings and his propensity to synthesize human spirituality and materialism. It regards humanist principles like universal human dignity and individual freedom and the primacy of human happiness as essential and principal components of, or at least compatible with, the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    • Humanistic Judaism – movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish holidays and life cycle events (such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvah) with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional literature.
  • Secular humanism – philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, social justice and philosophical naturalism, whilst specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.[11][12][13] Alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism
    • Personism – ethical philosophy of personhood as typified by the thought of the preference utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer.[14][15][16] It amounts to a branch of secular humanism with an emphasis on certain rights-criteria.[17]
    • Posthumanism – "after humanism" or "beyond humanism". It has at least 5 contexts, and may refer to:
    • Renaissance humanism
    • Transhumanism – international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. That is, striving to become posthuman. According to transhumanist thinkers, a posthuman is a hypothetical future being "whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards."[19]

Humanist positions[edit]

Religious humanist positions[edit]



Secular humanist positions[edit]



Manifestos and statements setting out humanist viewpoints[edit]

History of humanism[edit]

Humanist beliefs[edit]

Religious humanist beliefs[edit]

Secular humanist beliefs[edit]

Humanist ethics[edit]

Humanist virtues and values[edit]

Humanist culture[edit]

  • Ceremonies and services
    • Celebrancy – movement to provide agents to officiate at ceremonies often reserved in law to clergy or officers of the courts. These agents, generally referred to as "celebrants", perform weddings, funerals, and other life ceremonies for those who do not want a traditional religious ceremony.
      • Humanist officiant – person who performs secular humanist celebrancy services for weddings, funerals, child namings, coming of age ceremonies, and other rituals.
    • Humanist baby naming – some humanists perform a naming ceremony as a non-religious alternative to ceremonies such as christening. The principle is conceptually similar to a civil wedding ceremony as an alternative to a religious wedding ceremony.
  • Symbols
    • Happy Human (pictured) – icon and the official symbol of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a world body of Humanist organizations, and has been adopted by many Humanist organisations and individuals worldwide.

General concepts pertaining to and embraced by humanism[edit]

Other humanist terms include:


For more organizations see Category:Humanist associations


List of humanists

Leaders in humanism[edit]

People who have made a major impact on the development or advancement of humanism:

Other notable humanists[edit]

Related philosophies[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Humanistic psychology – branch of psychology that emphasizes an individual's inherent drive towards self-actualization and creativity. It holds that people are inherently good, and adopts a holistic approach to human existence which pays special attention to such phenomena as creativity, free will, and human potential. While humanistic psychology is a specific division within the American Psychological Association, humanistic psychology is not so much a discipline within psychology as a perspective on the human condition that informs psychological research and practice.
  • Social psychology
  • Marxist humanism – branch of Marxism that primarily focuses on Marx's earlier writings, especially the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 in which Marx espoused his theory of alienation, as opposed to his later works, which are considered to be concerned more with his structural conception of capitalist society.
  • Unitarian Universalism
  • Existential humanism
  • Integral humanism


  1. ^ "humanism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  2. ^ http://www.daisakuikeda.org/main/philos/buddhist/buddh-05.html
  3. ^ http://zenbuddhisttemple.org/about.html
  4. ^ http://www.iop.or.jp/0515/ikeda_unger.pdf, page 4
  5. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/jones/wheel285.html
  6. ^ http://www.wabashcenter.wabash.edu/syllabi/g/gier/306/gbnd.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.buddhanetz.org/texte/rights.htm
  8. ^ http://www.uthumanist.com/2011/02/secular-ethics-necessary-for-world.html
  9. ^ http://www.iop.or.jp/1121/Journal21_Y.Kawada1.pdf
  10. ^ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/buddhism/document/tc1996.pdf
  11. ^ Edwords, Fred (1989). "What Is Humanism?". American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2009. Secular 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.
  12. ^ Compact Oxford English dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2007. humanism n. 1 a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.
  13. ^ "Definitions of humanism (subsection)". Institute for Humanist Studies. Archived from the original on 18 January 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2007.
  14. ^ Rethinking Peter Singer: a Christian Critique, by Gordon R. Preece
  15. ^ Applied ethics: a non-consequentialist approach, by David S. Oderberg
  16. ^ Humanism and Personism: The false philosophy of Peter Singer, by Jenny Teichman
  17. ^ Singer, Peter (October–November 2004). "Taking Humanism Beyond Speciesism". Free Inquiry. 24 (6): 19–21. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  18. ^ Hayles, N. Katherine (1999). How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-32146-0.
  19. ^ World Transhumanist Association (2002–2005). "The transhumanist FAQ" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 December 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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