Ovi -
we cover every issue
newsletterNewsletter
subscribeSubscribe
contactContact
searchSearch
worldwide creative inspiration  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
Ovi Language
Ovi on Facebook
The Breast Cancer Site
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
 
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
GermanGreekEnglishSpanishFinnishFrenchItalianPortugueseSwedish
Humanism Humanism
by Jan Sand
2007-06-22 10:28:00
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
Humanism is the belief that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good.

This is the statement of the British Humanist Association and seems to be in close agreement with the American Humanist Association's manifesto so I will take it that I can assume it is a universal statement of humanism.

The rejection of religion or any superstitious belief as a foundation for an understanding and motivation of mankind's relations with each other and the universe seems to be the signal characteristic of the movement.

Considering the impassioned activities now in progress throughout the world, many of which involve inflicting frightful physical injury and death and which are sponsored by religious beliefs, the influence of humanists does not seem to be very great. Many people with weak or strong religious beliefs may ally themselves with humanist values without rejecting a belief in God but humanists themselves seem to find religion not necessary and perhaps, at times, an impediment to sensible actions.

What is very peculiar about the several major religious adherents in the world whose members vigorously participate in torture and homicide, such as the Moslems, the Christians, and the Jews, is that their basic religious documents seem, aside from the matter of superstitious beliefs in a god, to be in close agreement with the humanist declaration. So the question naturally arises as to whether it is this acceptance of superstition which instigates this deviation from humanist behavior. Since I have no statistics as to what percentage of declared humanists are torturers or murders in comparison to the number of anti-humans in religious orders, I cannot come to any definitive conclusions in the matter. The only relevant observation might be that there is a firm record of violent murderous action both in the past and in current events by all of the religious groups indulging in monstrous violence against other humans directly in response to their religious beliefs.

Although there have been extremely violent and anti-human actions by national organizations in China and The Soviet Union who do not claim any superstitious direction, these organizations have never claimed to be humanists and I have not heard of violence undertaken in the name of humanist values which openly and specifically reject any action against fellow humans and positively work towards a congenial world where humans cooperate to mutual benefit. It is this positive relationship amongst humans which distinguishes humanists from mere atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, rationalists that classify themselves merely by the rejection of superstition and a god. Any of these latter groups could theoretically indulge in torture, rape, theft, murder or any other anti-social behavior which many religious people regularly engage in without violating their self-label and it seems reasonable that at least a few do.

Even as a young child of six or seven I was puzzled by the things that religious people espoused since, at the young age, I had received no contact with religion and the curious illogical beliefs revealed by the Catholic kids in the neighborhood seemed strange. When I proposed that there is no God the kids, even then, replied that if there was no God people would openly do horrible things to each other with no recrimination. When they asked me if I would obey the law if there was no God I told them that society would not work if everybody did nasty things to each other. The reason for obeying the law, I told them, was to make life possible. As I grew up I found I was asking the same questions from adults and getting the same answers. Some things, it seems, do not improve with age.

I suppose I was a humanist then without knowing it. It just came naturally.

 
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Comments(34)
Get it off your chest
Name:
Comment:
 (comments policy)

Paparella2007-06-21 15:40:13
From Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia:

Heading for Humanism: …The humanist movement started in Italy in the 14th century where the late medieval Italian writers Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch [all Christian authors]contributed greatly to the discovery and preservation of classical works…The collection and translation of classical manuscripts became widespread especially among the higher clergy and nobility. (pp. 274-275)

Heading for Petrarch (1304-1374): Italian poet and humanist…Petrarch who had been studying law at Bologna, returned to Avignon, where he took minor orders in the Church about 1330…His wide knowledge of the classical authors and his restoration of the classical Latin language earned him the reputation as the first great humanist (pp. 469-470)

Steven Kreis, a Renaissance scholar, in his lecture “The Medieval Synthesis and the Discovery of Man: The Renaissance,” calls Humanism in the 14th century: “This near perfect blend of what was Christian and what was human -- an assimilation of each by each -- nearly accomplished a synthesis not unlike the one Aquinas had made.”

It would appear from the above that the above universal description of Humanism offered by today's "humanists"is far from being universal and all inclusive, it may in fact be partial or worse, a distortion deviating from the original historical cultural meaning of Humanism.


Sand2007-06-21 16:56:55
Baby, you're obsolete.


Jack2007-06-21 22:23:21
To assume that American, British, and even the earliest forms of Humanism are relatively the same is to make a blanket statement. By using world history's as bloody evidence, that is effect what you are saying. It is not that Humanist's fault. How intriguing that, with humans, Humanism is absolutely not a universal. You might expect it to be since it just came naturally...The most interesting thing....what you call superstion...religion IS a universal.


Sand2007-06-21 22:27:59
The first paragraph is a direct quote from the association. It directly disassociates the modern organizations from religion. You, of course, are perfectly within your rights to have your own opinions. It seems the association openly disagrees.


Paparella2007-06-21 22:59:47
I suggest that the issue Jack is this: do we know how Humanism began and developed? For if we don't, then we will not know either whether it has been abused and distorted from its original meaning. Obviously a Petrarch or a Dante (widely considered the fathers of Humanism) had a wholly different notion of what Humanism was all about. Da Vinci drew Vitruvian man symbolizing the union of art and science, yes. What the modern secular atheistic rationalistic "humanists" find convenient to ignore, however, is that he also painted The Last Supper on similiar geometrical principles. So originally the synthesis was between religion, art and science. The modern secular humanist has to ignore that aspect of Humanism so that he can continue to grind his ax against religion. Dante and Petrarch must be turning in their grave.


Sand2007-06-21 23:14:42
Improvement to some is distortion to others. Distortion is just another word for change. The world moves on.


Jack2007-06-21 23:52:57
How can we really know where Humanism's genesis was? Petrarch or Dante must have had earlier influences by some...Who where they who might have planted the seeds of Humanism thought? Perhaps from those who came before those who influenced Dante and Petrarch...how far back was it's origin? From our age-biased view, far removed from being their, it is impossible to say. Today's Humanism then,is by necessity, different. We are in differnt ages, thoughts, world-views, etc. It is almost like Humanism has become a religion...worshipping the creature.


Seth2007-06-21 23:59:44
Better yet, it is like worshipping the Humanists and despising the "others".


Paparella2007-06-22 02:48:47
One positive aspect of the designation humanist is that it implies Man's humanity with some kind of beginning in time and space.

Those who claim that they are merely well developed Apes as well as those who say that the human mind is just a computer made of meat called the brain, cannot ipso facto also claim to be humanists. Rationalists would be a more appropriate designation.


Paparella2007-06-22 03:25:50
Moreover, Jack and Seth, change is indeed inevitable to being human, but not all change is progress. Some of it can be regression. A genuine humanist is able to grasp that much. Not so the clever by half enlightened rationalist: he conceives of progress as inevitable and therefore anything that arrives at the end must be better. The cultural disaster in dishumanization that happened in Nazi Germany and Sovite Russia only sixty years ago ought to give him pause but his illusions of cultural superiority usually blind him to those realities.


Sand2007-06-22 06:54:43
Damn it, I tell myself, let Paparella alone. A raving maniac in academic clothing is a pitiful object. Leave the poor creature alone to his protestations against all modernity.
But he serves up such a marvelous feast of foolishness. I must thrust a testing finger in to lick and savor and like an addictive drug, it forces me to speak

We are not, he claims, apes and our brains are not mere meat. Admittedly, I do not have hands on my feet, much to my personal loss, and a prehensile tail, a most useful implement, is also denied me. So, some primates are obviously better endowed, but DNA insists that the difference between me and a chimp, DNAwise, is vanishingly small. A hard fact. Obviously, not all change is progress.

The brain, of course, is something else. I am confident my brain is meat. To prove this, I have made provision in my will that upon my decease (assuming I am not badly diseased) my brain shall quickly be removed and sliced and fried with scrambled eggs, served hot with chopped green peppers and onions and a few sprigs of parsley. A soup·çon of soy sauce would enhance the dish. I am sure my survivors would find the meal to enhance the pleasure of my absence and, of course, Paparella is invited for his delight. He will surely then be convinced my brain is not only meat, but rather tasty.

Paparella’s brain, of course, is probably not meat. His thinking processes betray obvious vegetative characteristics. I have noticed that cauliflowers greatly resemble the appearance of the brain. Therefore it seems likely that Paparella has a cauliflower inside his skull. His logical capabilities clearly confirm this. That cauliflowers have a poetic component is an interesting conjecture. Personally, I favor broccoli over cauliflower, but it must not be overcooked as this destroys much of its anti-carcinogous capability. It would be wise for Paparella to supplant his cauliflower brain for a large sprig of broccoli as, aside from helping him to suppress cancer, it might introduce a few ideas more relevant to the 21st century.

The humanist label that the current organizations have taken to themselves has raised Paparella’s ire. Their declaration to promote good feeling and prosperity amongst humans indicates to him that they are somehow in accord with the way Nazis and Soviet Communists have behaved. So obviously they are misusing the label. Instead of protesting so violently in this venue I suggest that he contact the British and American Humanist Associations and point out to them how wide of the mark their aims are. Surely that will put them in their place.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is obviously more congruent with the humanist proposals that Paparella approves. Their protection of the pederasts within their hierarchy and their supplying of travel documents to many Nazis after WWII so that they could escape to South America, an activity that has been clearly documented, seems much more in line with what Paparella’s humanist ideals require.
There is no doubt, once the current humanist organizations are properly informed of Paparella’s definitions, that they will change their names.


Paparella2007-06-22 10:49:10
The inability to distinguish the brain from the mind is a sure sign of regression. The authentic humanist is aware ot it, the "enlightened" rationalist does not and consequently he ends up confusing being a rationalist (with a big ax to grind against religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular),for being a humanist. Indeed, egregious slander does precious little honor to one's humanity and vitiates the very word Humanism. Mock on, mock on. The more the pity.


Sand2007-06-22 11:00:32
Pseudo nobility amalgamated with a predisposition to ignore documented fact adds up to a stuffed shirt and an empty head. Without a brain there is no mind and a brain muddled with archaic nonsense smugly sits in its bone shell playing with itself because it has no capability for viable fertility. If this useless mechanism is permitted indulge in dry uninteresting nonsense I feel I should not be denied amusing myself with fantasy concepts and hopefully someone else may also enjoy a bit of playful nonsense.


Paparella2007-06-23 01:28:56
As hominem arguments certainly do not advance your case much with men of reason; reason properly understood.


Sand2007-06-23 05:38:58
I concur but there comes a point when frustration takes over. One of Murphy's laws is if something doesn't work, kick it. Amazingly it frequently is valid. We two are much alike in our passion to do something in a world where much is wrong but as has been famously said, solutions can be worse than problems. Your boy Vico and his concern with poetry (something that remains basically mysterious and undefined) as the overwhelming problem in the world seems to me to be the wackiest solution to the frightful problems in humanity that I have ever heard. But I am desperate to discover what should be done and your writing style is the murkiest way of conveying information that I have ever encountered. Hence the anger.


Paparella2007-06-23 07:48:14
Here is a thought: the problems of humanity will never be resolved, no matter how advnced our technology is, once man has dehumanized himself. Then technology becomes an instrument to do greater damage. If this simple thought remains obscure to you, try some 101 Humanities courses where the unity of all knowledge is emphasized.


Sand2007-06-23 08:27:14
Once again you speak in undefined generalities and defend your inability to explain yourself clearly by shunting me off to an indeterminate college course. What does it mean "to dehumanize"? Do you mean that it is inhuman to reject the frank bullshit characteristic of religious scams? This continuous shell game you play by not saying clearly what you mean indicates to me you are basically a phony dressing meaningless empty proposals in archaic esoteric packages.


Paparella2007-06-23 10:07:13
To consider Man nothing but a machine of sort worth the sum of its part and therefore ok to make lampshade out of his skin, is to have dehumanized oneself. If your mind has difficulty wrapping itself around that simple concept, I am afraid no amount of lucid prose will suffice to convince you that "know thyself as a human being" is a more important proposal than knowing how to go to the moon and back. As Kierkegaard put it, some sicknesses are unto death.


Sand2007-06-23 10:46:49
I see that the mechanics of existence sticks in your craw. A commercial lampshade manufacturer would surely find human skin a rather impractical material for lampshades. To smear all rational thought with Nazi excrement is not a sensible reaction. Apparently sheepskin is also an inappropriate material for certifying the intellectual capability of academics.


Sand2007-06-23 11:01:10
Incidentally, characterizing anything as worth merely the sum of its parts is a logical mistake of monstrous proportions since the simple word "sum" has infinite variations in assembling anything. The most penetrating examinations of human physiology and the way the human machine interacts with itself and the external world reveals subtleties and mysteries that go far beyond any simpleton's view of some sort of supernatural magic involved.


Paparella2007-06-23 14:08:15
An of course for the rationalist those subtleties (the machine) revealing a purpose created themselves by chance. Fat chance!


Sand2007-06-23 14:24:15
Some of us, of course, have the mental capacity to understand the potentials of life evolving from simple chemical compounds that have become capable of self reproduction. And a few unfortunate individuals are simply without the personal vision to understand the capabilities if the raw materials and forces in the universe. So it goes,


Paparella2007-06-23 23:54:42
Once again the real issue has been missed: the issue is not the potentials of life which are indeed fabulous and ever evolving since creation never was a one shot deal done and finished with in six days, a poetical symbolical description, but to understand the barbarism of reducing Man's humnanity to nothing else but original chemichal components, the sum of its part: approximately two dollars and therefore justifying making lampshade with his skin or soap. Yes the Holocaust was planned in two hours by rationalists, not mad men, taking advantage of the latest technology which allowed the extermination of 11 million people in three years. That in itself says much about Man's current dehumanization reducing life to efficient ordering and procedures. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel has much more to say on evolution if one knows how to read its semiotics and simbols, and that 300 years ahead of Darwin.


Sand2007-06-24 05:41:31
The insistence that the frightful evil of the Holocaust was planned in two hours which makes it intolerable seems not only strange to me but undocumentable. Would it have been more acceptable if planned in 35 minutes or two weeks? Actually the actions of the Nazis were made thoroughly acceptable by the many centuries of labeling of Jews as Christ as Christ killers over several centuries by the Catholics and other Christian sects and there is no question as to the accuracy of that. You probably will run into some opposition as to the importance of Michelangelo versus Darwin by the overwhelming majority of evolutionary biologists and other scientists in the field. I prefer to stand by their opinion rather than yours.


Paparella2007-06-24 06:24:14
On the contrary, the event was thoroughly documented. It took place on January 20 in a villa on lake Wannsee hence it is dubbed "The Wannsee Conference." It lasted under two hours. There is even a movie by the same name. You may wish to view it thus unburdening yourself of some obvious ignorance in the matter.


Sand2007-06-24 06:39:54
It is comforting to know that the centuries of hatred against Jews by Christians had no part in the generation of the Holocaust. I fully expect now that the disgust that Evangelical Christians exert against Darwin will be now diverted to Michelangelo.


Paparella2007-06-24 13:44:39
I see that you have prepared a new ax: the anti-evangelism. I suppose that any and all expressions of Man's religious nature, including that of the pagan gods is anathema to you because you are a rational, humanistic enlighten man contemptuous of lower forms of knowledge. Superficially it looks like a respectful intellectual stance, till one begins to ponder on this paradox: the sheer intolerance, hatred and bias (a sort of fanatical cult of hatred of religion which even dares to call itself Humanism)that such a misguided position ultimately reveals. Indeed, Narcissus always thinks that his image is beautiful simply because it is his image. The ancient called it hubris. It always led to disasters.


Sand2007-06-24 13:59:58
Paparella, you are one step this side of being a Holocaust denyer. Be careful, there are legal consequences if you step over the line.


Paparella2007-06-24 18:51:25
The ultimate strategy of intellectual intimidators amd bullies parading as free speech advocates is that of egregiously turning the table around and putting words and ideas into the mouth of those who disagree with their misguided views, and then follow-up with veiled threats regarding the legal consenquences of holding on to those misplaced ideas. O tempora o mores.Thanks for brilliantly exemplifying the strategy to Ovi's readership.


Sand2007-06-24 19:07:56
Evidently you feel threatened. I'm merely looking to your welfare.


Paparella2007-06-24 20:44:43
To be saved by those who disrespect truth is like Socrates being told by those who condemned him that they were sentencing him to death for his own good. Socrates had an answer for them, still valid today: Gentlemen the issue is not whether I die or not, for we all die, the issue rather is whether villany, which runs faster thn death, will catch up with us before we die, for she runs faster than death and is leary to let go once she has caught up with you. That was not an intimidatory threat but a statement of fact for their own good.


Sand2007-06-24 23:51:36
Feel free to hang yourself, Paparella. Your defense of the well documented long history of the Vatican in persecuting the Jewish people certainly provides sufficient rope.


Paparella2007-06-25 07:37:09
To the contrary, your silence on Cardinal Roncalli's actions and Pius XI encyclical or 1937 vis a vis Nazism provides enough rope to hang all the smearing raving rationalists of our brave new world.


Paparella2007-06-25 07:40:41
And as usual, the point made by Socrates in the Apology was utterly missed. Stupidity or cleverness by half-assed statements?


© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi