Outline Of Humanism

The Outline Of Humanism 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.

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Nature of humanism

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

  • Religious humanism – philosophy that integrates secular ethics with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities.
    • Humanistic Buddhism – philosophical perspective based on the teaching of inherent dignity of all human beings, their potential for attaining highest wisdom about their condition and their essential nature of altruism exemplified by the Bodhisattva spirit of compassion. In practical terms, humanism is expressed on the individual level through action: to “relieve sufferings and impart joy”, to contribute to the welfare of society, abiding by the attitude of nonviolence supporting human rights, and acting for world peace, effectively advocating the concept of global citizenship.
    • 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. 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. It amounts to a branch of secular humanism with an emphasis on certain rights-criteria.
    • Posthumanism – “after humanism” or “beyond humanism”. It has at least 5 contexts, and may refer to:
      • Ideas concerning the Posthuman condition – the deconstruction of the human condition by critical theorists.
      • Cultural posthumanism –
      • Philosophical posthumanism –
      • Transhumanism – (see below)
      • Antihumanism – the view that concepts of “human nature”, “man”, or “humanity”, should be rejected as historically relative or metaphysical.
    • Renaissance humanism –  was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.
    • 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.”

Humanist positions

Religious humanist positions



Secular humanist positions



Manifestos and statements setting out humanist viewpoints

History of humanism

Main article: Humanism § History

Humanist beliefs

Religious humanist beliefs

Secular humanist beliefs

Humanist ethics

Humanist virtues and values

Humanist culture

The "Happy Human" symbol representing Secular Humanism.

The “Happy Human” symbol representing Secular Humanism.

  • 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

Other humanist terms include:


For more organizations see Category:Humanist associations


List of humanists

Leaders in humanism

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

Other notable humanists

Related philosophies

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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