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Humanism

Post  Achrelus on Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:04 pm

Hey there everybody. I have been around hiding as a guest, too much going on lately to post, but I will see if I can make it work.

Anyway, here's my question to our local philosophers. I have recently taken a vested interest in Secular Humanism. I have heard it claimed that humanist ideologies have their roots in Greek and Roman philosophy. I may be out of the loop, but one thing I remember is that alot of groups love that claim and use it when they shouldnt. So is it legitimate? Does it have its roots in Greco-Roman philosophy, or is this another case of cultural hijacking for the sake of prestige?
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Re: Humanism

Post  Erodius on Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:42 pm

Achrelus wrote:Hey there everybody. I have been around hiding as a guest, too much going on lately to post, but I will see if I can make it work.

Anyway, here's my question to our local philosophers. I have recently taken a vested interest in Secular Humanism. I have heard it claimed that humanist ideologies have their roots in Greek and Roman philosophy.  I may be out of the loop, but one thing I remember is that alot of groups love that claim and use it when they shouldnt.  So is it legitimate? Does it have its roots in Greco-Roman philosophy,  or is this another case of cultural hijacking for the sake of prestige?


Humanism, in the general sense of any movement with its ideological focus on human beings, rather than on the whole of nature or the whole cosmos, has some arguable origin in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, at least in a Western sense (Confucius, for instance, lived before Socrates was even born, and taught a philosophy that is, arguably, primarily a humanist one).

However, the particular movement Secular Humanism, which is a particular movement in and of itself, rather than just being a category, as with 'humanism', was born in the later end of the 18th century, and although it has some inspiration from Classical roots, any actual link between the two is sort of tenuous.

Secular Humanism is primarily a child of the European 'Enlightenment Era', which liked to think/imagine itself to be very Classical, as a way of rebelling against and distancing from the Medieval past. However, understandably, Classical scholarship at the time was not largely of the quality it is today (although there were a few really good Classicists from the Enlightenment Era), and, consequently, popular conceptions of what was Classical were probably often a little skewed and romanticized.

The Enlightenment thinkers liked to uphold the Classical Era as a kind of golden age of liberty and reason – though certainly this is a little bit of a romantic fantasy.

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Re: Humanism

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Fri Nov 28, 2014 1:00 am

Humanism is a sign of a decaying spiritual world.  When one reduces the cosmos to the measure of man (which can never be an accurate measure to describe reality in its totality), the Gods diminish in our view of reality.  All the rhetoric of Humanism serves this fundamental purpose in the historical development of modern Western civilization.  It helped those architects of Humanism in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to imagine that they were uncovering some Classical alternative to medieval theocracy.  Whence individualism, liberalism, multiculturalism, atheism, egalitarianism, and every other idol of Progress.  

It is no coincidence that the scientific revolution followed the dispersal of Humanism into all fields of knowledge.  With the idea that our measurements can accurately describe the full nature of reality-- with a de-spiritualized mathematics said to be the "language of the universe"-- it was only logical that all metaphysical realities be whittled down to caricatures of themselves afterwards.  Thus, with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and the gradual unveiling of mercantilism and eventually global capitalism, you get a worldview obsessed with quantity, with the scientific method as the basis for the new reality.  It goes without saying that the new reality still reigns.  You can encounter everyday people that believe in government-alien conspiracies, hollow earths, et al, who have never read a book in their life or had a truly original thought confessing to find the idea of theistic belief absurd simply because they cannot see an angel flying through the sky as evidence and so on (as if the divine is a simplified straw-man for our empirical lab endeavors).  If this civilization of "free-thinking individuals" wanted to truly challenge the status quo, they would stop thinking of human beings as the only adequate source of knowledge in the cosmos...
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Re: Humanism

Post  DavidMcCann on Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:40 pm

Even the term "humanist" is an appropriation. In Renascence Latin and Italian, a "humanista" was simply someone in a university who studied the humanities, as opposed to law or medicine. The term only got its irreligious interpretation in the USA in the early 20th century, presumably because it was safer there to call yourself a humanist than an atheist.

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