What is Humanism?


The Declaration of Canadian Humanist Principles

  1. Humanism aims at the full development of every human being.
  2. Humanists uphold the broadest application of democratic principles in all human relationships.
  3. Humanists advocate the use of the scientific method, both as a guide to distinguish fact from fiction and to help develop beneficial and creative uses of science and technology.
  4. Humanists affirm the dignity of every person and the right of the individual to maximum possible freedom compatible with the rights of others.
  5. Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity.
  6. Humanists call for the continued improvement of society so that no one may be deprived of the basic necessities of life, and for institutions and conditions to provide every person with opportunities for developing their full potential.
  7. Humanists support the development and extension of fundamental human freedoms, as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supplemented by UN International Covenants comprising the United Nations Bill of Human Rights.
  8. Humanists advocate peaceful resolution of conflicts between individuals, groups, and nations.
  9. The humanist ethic encourages development of the positive humanism04potentialities in human nature, and approves conduct based on a sense of responsibility to oneself and to all other persons.
  10. A fundamental principle of humanism is the rejection of beliefs held in absence of verifiable evidence, such as beliefs based solely on dogma, revelation, mysticism or appeals to the supernatural.
  11. Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings.
  12. Humanists affirm that human beings are completely a part of nature, and that our survival is dependent upon a healthy planet which provides us and all other forms of life with a life-supporting environment.


Humanism: An Overview

Outlook: Humanism is a view of life based on the belief that human problems can be solved only by human beings themselves and not by reliance on any god or gods, the existence of which is unsupported by any scientific evidence. humanism00We must face our problems with our own moral and intellectual resources, using the accumulated knowledge and experience of humankind. Unlike religions, Humanism makes no claim to special knowledge or final answers and regards the search for understanding as a continuing process.

Morality: Humanist morality is based on concern for human dignity and welfare, the ultimate aim being happiness and fulfilment. Humanists see moral values not as edicts from a god, but as the principles, discovered during evolution, upon which good human relationships depend. Such values include telling the truth, being honest, accepting responsibility, co-operation for the common good and caring for others. These basic human values lie at the heart of societies, however much they may be ignored in practice. Such principles are the conditions for social evolution.

Law: Humanists believe in the concept of universal human rights, which should be recognised in both international and national law in all countries and subject to the jurisdiction of an independent judiciary. They are opposed to racial and sex discrimination in any form and support legislation and social action to prevent such discrimination. Personal morality is not a proper subject for legislation unless actions in fringe the basic rights of others. The law must achieve a balance between individual freedom and protection of the vulnerable.

Reform: Humanists have a long record of working for social reforms and have been active campaigners for the reform of laws on abortion, birth control, censorship, divorce, homosexuality, and voluntary euthanasia often in the teeth of opposition from religionists. We have consistently backed calls for further reforms, including anti-discrimination and same-gender marriage legisation.

Education: Humanists believe that education should be given a high priority in the allocation of national resources. Schools and colleges should humanism01model themselves as far as possible on the Open Society, placing the minimum of reliance on authoritarian methods. Education should not avoid questions of social controversy since this divorces education from real life and perpetuates the social divisions which it should be prepared to tackle. They should be taught about different systems of belief and attitudes to morality in an objective, fair and balanced way, and allowed to make a personal choice between them. The legal requirement for an act of worship in schools each day should be ended and the school assembly used in a way which will involve all children.

Religion: Humanists acknowledge that for many people religion provides substantial emotional support, but they consider that belief in the supernatural is irrelevant to the development of moral and social values. They object to the attempts by religionists to impose their values on everyone in the conviction that moral behaviour can be based only on the teachings in some ancient “holy” book.


Humanism & Its Aspirations

The Humanist Manifesto III

The 2003 Declaration of The American Humanist Association

✥ Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

✥ The lifestance of Humanism – guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience – encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

✥ This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:humanism02

✥ Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience – each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

✥ Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

✥ Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

✥ Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

✥ Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

✥ Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimizethe inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.humanism03

✥ Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain that it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

✥ Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.