Saturday, April 25, 2009

What is Humanism?

Humanist is one of those words that come up frequently enough in my studies that it was on my list of things to study for years. I probably saw it the way most people see communitarianism. But now, just reading through their manifesto, I can see how I (like many Americans) was heavily influenced in my pre-ACL days by this belief.

I've since learned of its use and purpose through my study of the UN's definition of Human Rights, and it's an identifiable flag word to me already.

I've never read the Humanist Manifesto before today, but I was heavily exposed to this ideology in AA and within the recovery community back in the 1990s. Interesting to see exactly how revived Lakota Ceremonial Pipes were brought into the Humanistic synthesis. Humanism looks like a synthesis created by expert communitarian balancing, even though there are papers out there claiming communitarianism exists in conflict with humanitarian principles. Not sure I want to spend any time studying this conflict, but if I choose to get to the heart of this whole global humanitarian peace and justice aspect I will have to.

Many of the original signers of the 1933 Manifesto were Unitarians, another theory/religion I've heard referred to most of my life but really know nothing about. Closely associated with civil rights activism, the ACLU (formed to protect Emma Goldman's Fabian activism) and the Quakers,
"Many congregations are heavily involved in projects and efforts aimed at supporting environmental causes and sustainability. These are often termed "seventh principle" activities because of the seventh principle quoted above." also explains how sustainability ties to the Earth Charter:
"The Earth Charter sets out to establish values and direction in this way: "We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations."
The Society of Humanistic Judaism includes community service as one of its core principles:
"We believe that it is human beings who have the responsibility for solving human problems. We are committed, in the enduring Jewish tradition of support for social action and social progress, to community service and actions for social justice. We each take responsibility for our own behavior, and all of us take collective responsibility for the state of our world."
Here's a slant called "Humanistic Communitarian Socialism" at the Cooperative Community: who explain they took the title from The Sane Society, by Erich Fromm.


Bobby Garner said...

What is Humanism? Don't rely on the Humanist Manifesto for an accurate definition. Humanism is the ultimate denial of God. The crowning achievement of man's rebellion and claim of independence. Its the final escape from an awesome responsibility to the Almighty God. Its a lie and a contradict for as much as it opposes the idea of God, it is ultimately against Man, the crowning creation of God.

"We are offered escape from responsibility at the cost of our humanity. The subjective sentimentalities of the various forms of humanism are the deceptive resemblances of a decadent nobility; their superficial interest in man has the appearance of nobility, but without nobility's mind and heart. For communal groupings of men and their aspirations which leave the individual out of consideration, losing him in a fog or crushing him in a crowd, have no solid claim to the respect of men; the individual must not, cannot, be lost, not even a hair of his head is unimportant enough not to be numbered. To attack the truth of God in the name of man on this basis may be sentimentally attractive in some strange way; but the attraction is a soft, decadent, effeminate thing, repulsive to the touch." - Walter Farrell, author of "Companion To the Summa, The Vision of God, Chapter IV

mudlurk said...

Humanism is one of those words, or memes, that has been drip fed into our collective consciousness over the years, that few really question. In meaning, I came to hear the word as being synonymous with progressive and enlightened.

I began to question it all when I realised that the working model for humanism, the ubiquitous, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, was not my experience of life of sprituality. In short, the only way is not up. There are opposing forces at work. We are not on an elevator to self-actualisation, that's for sure.

I'm intrigued about your exerience in AA Niki. What is the Humanism connection there? My own undestanding is that it was mostly influenced by the Oxford Group, a Christian movement, though the program was eventually adapted to encompass a much broader, flexible understanding of God.