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Humanism:

Love Saves
The moral philosophy most closely associated with atheism is secular humanism, which is derived from the same basic principles. It is a popular philosophy with atheists, but by no means the only one. The main tenets of secular humanism are: *Need to test beliefs: A deeply held conviction that all beliefs, be they political, religious, or otherwise, should be challenged and tested on a regular basis, rather than simply being accepted on faith. By challenging and discarding flawed beliefs, people can replace them with newer, less flawed ones, and so grow as persons.
  • Reason, evidence, scientific method: The belief that the answers to questions and solutions to problems should be sought through reason, critical thinking, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith or mysticism.
  • Fulfillment, growth, creativity: A concern for fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humanity in general.
  • Search for truth: A constant search for a universal, objective truth, through the use of reason, evidence, and the scientific method, with the awareness that new discoveries can alter our perception and knowledge of truth.
  • This life: A concern for our life on Earth above a hypothetical afterlife, making the most of the time we have and making our lives meaningful through our understanding of each other.
  • Ethics: A search for a clear code of ethics, judged on their ability to improve life for humanity through individual responsibility.
  • Building a better world: A conviction that reason, understanding, and good will can lead to improvements in the world.
  • Morality determined by human need: The scientific concept of morality as an evolved strategy of human beings who needed to band together in groups in order to survive.

I feel fascinated by this sort of ideology. I wonder how many people share it? Its tenents seem pretty damn popular in these fora, I even suspect they might be taken fr granted. Which of these are demonstrably correct, which aren't, how would a person from an opposing philosophy sucessfully argue against it?

It saddens me that many humanist groups are a little bit agressive when it comes to religion... I wonder, do they really have to?
Das kann doch nicht sein!
I think I can mostly agree with it, but I'm certainly not concerned about building a better world.
People aren't as awful as the internet makes them out to be.
tilkau
Well, it's tenets are pretty popular. Dunno about it's tenants, though wink

  • Reason/science demonstrably > faith, when considering humanity as a whole (note that it may not hold true for individuals over a single lifetime, due to political factors. I've never figured out whether the fact that all churchgoers were intellectually weak arose from A- weak reasoning skills, B- involvement in organized religion, or C- both.)

  • If you agree with the above reasoning, then "search for truth" also follows.

  • "Ethics" — this is less obvious, but hopefully people would generally agree that taking responsibility is a more sound basis for how to act than ignoring or shoving it under the rug.

  • "Building a better world:" - self evident (see: science, particularly things like hearing aids, pacemakers)

less so:

  • "Morality determined by human need:" IMO the "in groups" part is much less self-evident (as something that evolved) than the idea of more generally "humans evolving to best survive".

Other:

  • "This life:" I argue that living well for it's own sake is strictly better — even if there IS a God/heaven/etc, if such an entity is remotely reasonable, it surely would approve of your efforts to live well within the constraints you seem to possess. It's possible that part of that is axiomatic, though.

  • "Fulfillment, growth, creativity:" This follows from any requirement for science and reasoning. But I can't really say it's self evident.

edited 28th Oct '11 5:07:50 AM by SavageOrange

Is that cake frosting?
I must say that the term "Humanism", used in this context, sounds a little strange to me. I am mostly used to associate it to Renaissance-style humanism, which, while admirable under a lot of points of view, was not really about skepticism, the scientific method, or atheism.

If anything, Renaissance humanists tended to be a bit more credulous than scholars of the previous age when it came to mysticism, magic and the like — astrology and alchemy were crazy popular during that period, for example, whereas medieval scholars tended to be quite suspicious of such claims...

As for Humanism/Religion combinations, I feel obligated to mention Maritain's Integral Humanism framework — it's pretty interesting, I think, and it nicely solves many of my concerns about secular forms of humanism.

edited 28th Oct '11 4:34:39 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
[up] Looked it up, must disagree with him... spiritual experience is an entirely physical event (this may sound confusing. What I mean is that there is good reason to believe that it is comprised of nothing more than physical reactions, and very little reason to believe the converse.).

If however, he meant that there was a lack of spiritual aspect — things to aspire to, things to specifically guide your life by — in Humanism, then I must agree; I personally think GROW's Blue Book — which is mostly agnostic, and becoming more so — is an appropriate supplement to use for this purpose.
Is that cake frosting?
Well, Maritain's position* is heavily based on Thomistic Philosophy, which can be seen as a variant of Aristotelian Dualism.

From that point of view, the question whether spiritual experiences are "physical" or not is fundamentally misguided. Souls are the substantial forms of living bodies — if you want, sort of like "blueprints" of the essential aspects of a living being.

If I understand him correctly, the main point of Maritain is that a true Humanism cannot have humankind itself at its main purpose.

It is in the very nature of humankind to aspire to something more than the merely human: to renounce that would be nothing but a mutilation.

I actually think that there are some interesting parallels between integral humanism and the philosophical foundations of transhumanism, by the way. The main difference, perhaps, is that integral humanism is far more ambitious than transhumanism, as its aim is not mere improvement but transcendence.

edited 28th Oct '11 5:39:01 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
Oh.

That's covered by science. Especially cognitive science.
Is that cake frosting?
That's covered by science. Especially cognitive science.
I hope that I am not derailing the thread, but... how? Cognitive science is a fascinating discipline, but it has very little to do with the philosophical issues that we are discussing. It cannot tell you anything about the purpose of humankind — it's just not a concept that is amenable to scientific investigation — and it certainly is not incompatible with the form of dualism that I mentioned.

edited 28th Oct '11 5:55:10 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
Why do we want to comment on "the purpose of humankind"? Is it a concept that's coherent?

That's my main comment.

An aside, I just realized this:
It is in the very nature of humankind to aspire to something more than the merely human: to renounce that would be nothing but a mutilation.
looks like a circular argument.. There's nothing other for humans other than the "merely" human... if there were, then the beings doing the transcending could never ever have been human (but rather something more to start with); everything that a human can possibly do or experience falls under the merely human by definition.

edited 28th Oct '11 6:28:01 AM by SavageOrange

Is that cake frosting?
You think of humankind as having a purpose?
Um, yes. But perhaps not in the sense you intend.

I am not anthropomorphizing humankind here, I am not saying that humankind has something like a global mind that has certain desires or wishes or so on. I am using "purpose" in the sense of, well, final cause. Humankind's "purpose" is what humankind should achieve, and what gives its existence value.

Isn't that the point of humanism? Finding out what gives value to human existence and then attempting to achieve it?

From Wikipedia:
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns.
If that's not the case, I am not sure of what we are talking about when we mention humanism.

edited 28th Oct '11 6:10:51 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Is that cake frosting?
Why do we want to comment on "the purpose of humankind"? Is it a concept that's coherent?
Well, opinions may differ on this, of course. But what is the main aim of humanism, if not "identifying and achieving the purpose of humankind?"

There's nothing other for humans other than the "merely" human... if there were, then the beings doing the transcending could never ever have been human (but rather something more to start with); everything that a human can possibly do or experience falls under the merely human by definition.
And this is the main point in which integral humanism and, I think, transhumanism disagree with secular forms of humanism. Being fully human entails aspiring to become more than merely human. Remove this aspiration, and what you get is something, well, less than human.

The difference between transhumanism and integral humanism, then, lies in the different opinion as to whether, in order to achieve something that truly surpasses the "merely human", merely human abilities suffice — many transhumanists apparently think that this is the case, while integral humanists believe that really doing this would require some sort of supernatural intervention.

edited 28th Oct '11 6:42:12 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
I think my brain is getting stuck on the language you're using. Let's see..

Isn't that the point of humanism? Finding out what gives value to human existence and then attempting to achieve it?
  • linguistic gears grinding*

Oh, you mean "Discovering what aspects or parts people assign [lasting] value to in their experiences, then attempting to achieve it"? If not, I must ask — value to whom?

Humanism is an app
^ amusing C+P error preserved for posterity.

Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns.
This makes sense to me, in that sense. Although it seems to me that the telos of humankind must, per example, necessarily be 'more and fitter(but not necessarily better) humans'. Whereas the aim of humanism seems to be "better humans, with better everything".

Is that cake frosting?
Oh, you mean "Discovering what aspects or parts people assign [lasting] value to in their experiences, then attempting to achieve it"? If not, I must ask — value to whom?
Well, my personal opinion is that value must be objective and independent on human beliefs. I cannot just state that something has value if I, or whatever person, of some sort of weighed average of all human beings' personal preferences, consider(s) it desirable; if I did that, then one could immediately raise the question as to why these opinions about what is and isn't valuable should even matter.

This makes sense to me, in that sense. Although it seems to me that the telos of humankind must, per example, necessarily be 'more and fitter(but not necessarily better) humans'. Whereas the aim of humanism seems to be "better humans, with better everything".
That's certainly a part of it. I don't think that it is all of it, however — I am just not convinced that the best that humankind can achieve is a bunch of ludicrously long-lived people with genius-level (or better) I Qs.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
You're certainly thorough. grin

But what is the main aim of humanism, if not "identifying and achieving the purpose of humankind?"
"Improving individual humans lives, in such a way that they are likely to also improve other humans lives". That, at least, seems reasonably clear.

Well, my personal opinion is that value must be objective and independent on human beliefs.

I'd call this a disagreement on axioms. As far as I'm concerned, moral realism is false (that is, values don't exist in the world, only in minds) IOW I believe value can't be objective (although it could be independent of human beliefs, if considered by non-human minds).

which leads to my reply just below..
I cannot just state that something has value if I, or whatever person, of some sort of weighed average of all human beings' personal preferences, consider(s) it desirable; if I did that, then one could immediately raise the question as to why these opinions about what is and isn't valuable should even matter.
To which I would reply "if you can assign yourself a purpose, then they matter. If you can't or won't, then they don't matter."

.. I feel tempted to say "See also: Existentialism" at this point.

as to the other comment you made
And this is the main point in which integral humanism and, I think, transhumanism disagree with secular forms of humanism. Being fully human entails aspiring to become more than merely human. Remove this aspiration, and what you get is something, well, less than human.

The difference between transhumanism and integral humanism, then, lies in the different opinion as to whether, in order to achieve something that truly surpasses the "merely human", merely human abilities suffice — many transhumanists apparently think that this is the case, while integral humanists believe that really doing this would require some sort of supernatural intervention.
.. I'll have to get back to it later. My brain is parsefailing repeatedly on it right now.

edited 28th Oct '11 7:17:40 AM by SavageOrange

Is that cake frosting?
Sorry, did I mess up the syntax or use a bad style? I am not an English native speaker, and sometimes I make mistakes. smile
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

tilkau
No, it's probably just the late hour here causing my brain to perform sub-optimally. You write very good English, actually.

edited 28th Oct '11 7:16:54 AM by SavageOrange

 17 Rottweiler, Fri, 28th Oct '11 9:14:32 AM from Portland, Oregon
Dog and Pony Show
I think any form of humanism that attacks religion is a misuse of the name. If "man is the measure of all things", you must embrace man. You must embrace the human universals. Loathing some, like religion, is to reject humans as they really are rather than what you personally wish they were.

So Renaissance humanism was the real deal, integral humanism may be, and I'm skeptical that secular humanism is.
“Love is the eternal law whereby the universe was created and is ruled.” — St. Bernard
 18 MRDA 1981, Fri, 28th Oct '11 9:22:04 AM from Hell (London), UK.
Tyrannicidal Maniac
I prefer egoism. Sidesteps this whole "universal" mess.

edited 28th Oct '11 9:24:10 AM by MRDA1981

Never Ask Me the Odds
[up][up] Secular Humanism doesn't have to attack religion or believers or religion's importance to many people, secular humanists just might think that they're... misguided. The reasoning, experiences and logic that lead us to atheism and/or agnosticism and the ways we find meaning in our own lives is no less a part of the human experience than what makes believers have their faith.

edited 28th Oct '11 9:47:51 AM by TheGirlWithPointyEars

She of Short Stature & Impeccable Logic

My Skating Liveblog
 20 pagad, Fri, 28th Oct '11 9:51:54 AM from perfidious Albion Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Sneering Imperialist
As someone who normally identifies as a secular humanist, Rott, needless to say I disagree with you. I like to treat humanity as striving for its own ideal which may not necessarily be achieved but as something to aim for as a species, similar to the way a religious individual may strive to achieve the ideals of their religion whilst acknowledging that they will never quite reach them.
Is that cake frosting?
Secular Humanism doesn't have to attack religion or believers or religion's importance to many people, secular humanists just might think that they're... misguided.
And by the same token, religious humanism just implies that secular humanism is... misguided.

If I may quote Maritain, from his "Integral Humanism and the Crisis of Modern Times" (Review of Politics, Jan 1939):

...the misfortune of [secular] humanism was not to have been humanism but to have been anthropocentric; not to have hoped in reason, but to have isolated reason and to have left it to dry out; not to have sought liberty, but to have orientated itself towards the myth of the democracy of the individual, instead of toward the historical ideal of democracy of the person.

In short, in this view the modern world has sought good things by bad ways; it has thus compromised the search for authentic human values, which men must save now by an intellectual grasp of a profounder truth, by a substantial recasting of humanism.

edited 28th Oct '11 9:59:40 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Secular Humanism doesn't have to attack religion or believers or religion's importance to many people, secular humanists just might think that they're... misguided. The reasoning, experiences and logic that lead us to atheism and/or agnosticism and the ways we find meaning in our own lives is no less a part of the human experience than what makes believers have their faith.
Pretty much this
If we disagree, that much, at least, we have in common
 23 Rottweiler, Fri, 28th Oct '11 10:26:48 AM from Portland, Oregon
Dog and Pony Show
@pagad: "I like to treat humanity as striving for its own ideal which may not necessarily be achieved but as something to aim for as a species, "

"Its" means a singular ideal rather than a plurality. So which human(s) gets to decide what the human race's singular ideal will be?

If it's one Superman or the consensus of an aristocracy of same, why not just call the worldview "Nietzschean"? If it's decided by the consensus of nations and of ages, it must include all the human universals.
“Love is the eternal law whereby the universe was created and is ruled.” — St. Bernard
Love Saves
[up][up][up]That excerpt made no sense to me whatsoever. What's with all the jargon? Do you have the definitions of the terms that person's using at hand? I mean, "democracy of the person"? Like "the ruling of the many of the one"? What?

edited 28th Oct '11 12:35:52 PM by PacificState

tilkau
[up][up] .. Of which something that has many points in common with religion is one, but it being actually religion (rather than religion being a kind of thing that happens to fulfill it) is rather more of an open question.

@Carciofus

...the misfortune of [secular] humanism was not to have been humanism but to have been anthropocentric; not to have hoped in reason, but to have isolated reason and to have left it to dry out; not to have sought liberty, but to have orientated itself towards the myth of the democracy of the individual, instead of toward the historical ideal of democracy of the person.

In short, in this view the modern world has sought good things by bad ways; it has thus compromised the search for authentic human values, which men must save now by an intellectual grasp of a profounder truth, by a substantial recasting of humanism.
Wait, is 'the modern world' (modern meaning 1930's) being characterized as humanistic really accurate? It's sort of.. Sort of.. getting towards that just now, IMO.

That point aside, it sounds like the accusation is simply that humanism treats an individual as atomic and ignores the aspects which are interpersonal (of which values is a part). I think I would have to agree with that accusation. Although I have to say "interpersonal elements being necessary and missing" seems a much different thing than "religious elements being necessary and missing". As I mentioned earlier, AFAICS the GROW Blue Book covers this need while being mostly agnostic.

edited 28th Oct '11 1:00:59 PM by SavageOrange

Total posts: 60
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