is belief or philosophy that highlights value of humans over allaspects of nature. put humans as individuals or a collectionof individuals at the central of everything, relative tosuperstitions and dogmas about life. However, it is important to notethat the understanding of humanism varies significantly depending onthe context or the intellectual movement. In philosophy, humanism ismore concerned with the interest and needs of human beings. Althoughreligious humanism exists, modern humanism tends to disagree with thebasic religious views and therefore is considered to be atheist.Nonetheless, both religion and secular humanism have similar basicprinciples. This is because they both provide the foundations ofmoral values in the society1.
Thesource and history of humanism is very complex. Modern humanismconcepts were introduced by German scholars in the 19thcentury. However, there is evidence that humanism has it origin inancient civilizations. In the Indian ancient philosophy, the Lokayatasystem had thoughts similar to humanism theory. The system was humancentered, rejecting the idea of supernatural beings. In the ancientChina, several leaders such as Yellow Emperor and Yao are consideredto have had humanistic stances. Ancient Taoist teachers such as LaoTzu used naturalistic concepts that are based on humanisticphilosophy. The Confucianism, especially TheSilver Ruleemphasizes on ethical philosophy that is based on humanism stance. In the ancient Greek philosophy, philosophers before Socratic eraexplain the world based on human reasons instead of myths andsuperstitions. Thus, Thales of Miletus among other pre Socratic Greekthinkers is considered to be the first Greek humanism philosophers. These philosophers objected the notion of gods of their times andemphasized that nature should be studies separately from supernaturalbeings2.
Insearch of meaning and human values, medieval Muslim scholars andphilosophers were very concern about humanistic discourses inaddition to rational discourses. As a result, many medieval Islamicliteratures were influenced by individualism and liberalism, whichare important aspects of humanistic philosophy. For example, due tothe humanistic stances in the middle ages Islamic writings, whichpromoted individualism and freedom of speech, Islam was able tospread rapidly. However, the most documented humanism in history isthe renaissance humanism which emerged in Italy in the 15thcentury and spread to other parts of Europe3.The term humanism was later coined in the early 19thcentury by German education philosophers. This led to the emergenceof a philosophical movement in Europe, which was influenced by Greekand Roman literatures. The renaissance movement focused on humandignity as well as the potentials of humans in nature. It emphasizedthe importance of reason and evidence of senses in comprehendingnature. Some historians have argued that the renaissance humanismwhich was propagated by literature teachers and bureaucrats in thegovernment, based on Roman and Greek literature was a response toCatholic philosophy that had dominated European scholasticism. Thiscontributed to Latin translation is ancient Greek texts and therebirth of Greek philosophy4.
has a huge influence in the modern society. This is evident from thedifferent humanism movement that exists in the modern society.However, modern humanism presents a paradox of course, mainly due tothe existence of religion humanism and secular humanism. Nonetheless,their significance and influence on the modern society is base on thefact that humanism emphasizes on the importance of reason over faith.The emphasis on reason is a basic concept through which humanism isfelt in the modern society. Another way in which the impact ofhumanism is felt in the modern society is the universally acceptedhuman rights and freedoms. Based on the humanistic understanding ofhuman nature, modern societies have universally accepted human rightsthat are applicable to all humans. These rights originate from thebasic laws of nature, meaning that they are fundamental and cannotchange. Religions and cultural values do not have an impact on thesenatural rights5.
Thebasic concept in humanism is the role of human reason in creatingknowledge and understanding the world. Thus, modern humanism rejectsthe perceived role of authorities and dogmas as well as divinerevelations about the truth. Although this is based on secularhumanism, it recognized humans as moral actors and thus not moralsubjects. The moral choice, which is based on reason, is thefoundation of social systems in the modern society. Since human aresocial beings, they affiliate themselves to social groups to achievesocial needs. The individual is part of the society, but does notbecome a subject of the society. For example, in a political orreligion society, the rights of an individual are more important thatthe rights of the society. Thus, in the modern social system, thestate or political systems have no control over the religious life ofan individual. Additionally, justice, an important aspect of themodern society, is based on humanism. This means that the positionsand functions of individuals in the society can differ, but due tohuman nature and dignity, they are all equal6.
Nauert,C. (2006). and the culture of Renaissance Europe.Cambridge: Cambridge Cambridge Univ. Press
Norman,R. (2013). On Thinking in Action.New York, NY: Routledge.
Pinn,A. (2013). Whatis humanism, and why does it matter? Bristol, CT: Equinox Pub.
1 R. Norman (2013). On Thinking in Action. New York, NY: Routledge.
2 C. Nauert (2006). and the culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge Cambridge Univ. Press
3 C. Nauert (2006). and the culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge Cambridge Univ. Press
4 C. Nauert (2006). and the culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press
5 A. Pinn (2013). What is humanism, and why does it matter? Bristol, CT: Equinox Pub.
6 A. Pinn (2013). What is humanism, and why does it matter? Bristol, CT: Equinox Pub.