About Humanist Perspectives
A Canadian Journal of Humanism
Humanist Perspectives seeks to promote the idea that human problems can best be solved by human beings, by relying on our intellectual, moral and social capabilities, free from notions of supernatural purpose or design, and affirming that human life has meaning in its own terms. We publish articles, poems, artworks and stories that reflect the ideas of modern humanism: the belief that the only world we have is the natural world. We examine social issues from a rational, ethical perspective, and we celebrate human freedom and achievement.
Humanist Perspectives features in-depth, well-reasoned discussions of important human issues. Our articles are designed for thoughtful readers, and are meant not as fleeting news stories but as reflective analysis. We hope our magazines will be kept and treasured as lively and interesting commentary of lasting value. Though the journal is Canadian, the primary content is not regional, and of equal interest internationally.
Amsterdam Declaration 2002 from the 50th Anniversary Congress, International Humanist & Ethical Union
The 1952 Amsterdam Declaration was written by the founding members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), with Julian Huxley as first president. It was updated for the 50th Anniversary Congress, held in July 2002, and this revised statement of principles was passed unanimously by the General Assembly. It is reprinted here from International Humanist News, November 2002. There are about 90 member organizations in IHEU from around the world.
Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself. The fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:
- Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.
- Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.
- Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.
- Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognizes our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
- Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognizes that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.
- Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognizes the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfillment.
- Humanism is a life stance aiming at the maximum possible fulfillment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.
Our primary task is to make human beings aware in the simplest terms of what Humanism can mean to them and what it commits them to. By utilizing free inquiry, the power of science and creative imagination for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion, we have confidence that we have the means to solve the problems that confront us all. We call upon all who share this conviction to associate themselves with us in this endeavour.
We thank the Government of Canada for financial support through the Canada Periodical Fund for the rebuilding of this website, and for the many free online articles we’ve had funding to post.