Humanism is foremost a theory of life, or philosophy. It is also a philosophy of action.

Humanism is foremost a theory of life, or philosophy. It is also a philosophy of action.

Humanism is foremost a theory of life, or philosophy. It is also a philosophy of action. These excerpts from The Philosophy of Humanism by Corliss Lamont provide a concise and inspirational definition.

“Humanism is the viewpoint that we have but one life to lead and should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness; that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that in any case the supernatural, usually conceived in the form of heavenly gods or immortal heavens, does not exist; and that human beings, using their own intelligence and co-operating liberally with one another, can build an enduring citadel of peace and beauty upon this earth.”

Lamont adds, “Humanism recognizes the importance of addressing the perennial need of human beings to find significance in their lives, to integrate their personalities around some clear, compelling view of existence, and to seek definite and reliable methods in the solution of their problems. As well as dissecting and exposing traditionally accepted truths, the philosophy of humanism also provides answers to age-old existential questions. It represents a specific and forthright view of the universe and the nature of humanity

Accordingly, humanism makes room for the various aspects of human nature. Though it looks upon reason as the final arbiter of what is true and good and beautiful, it insists that reason should fully recognize the emotions. One of humanism’s main functions is to set free the emotions from cramping and irrational restrictions.

A philosophy of life must be a philosophy of living, a philosophy to live by, and a philosophy of action, which brings us closer to standards of truth and methods of truth-seeking that are most reliable. The role of philosophy is not only to attain the truth, but also to show how that truth can be applied to our lives; to bridge the gap between thinkers
and doers, theory and practice. This is why humanism is not a way of thinking merely for professional philosophers but is also a credo for average men and women seeking to lead happy and useful lives.”

Many feel that the most important aspect of humanist philosophy of life is freedom. Humanism helps us become aware that we are naturally free. We are not free from our biological impulses, genetically programmed tendencies, societal memes, etc., but we can be free from fear of divine retribution for displeasing a supernatural divinity. Freedom from fear allows people to be more authentic and live their values

Humanists usually put their values into action long before they learn they are humanists. They do not work to make the world a better place because they are humanists. They are humanists because they take action to make the world a better place.

This issue of Humanist Perspectives Magazine includes several articles that address putting our humanism into action.

The article by Janet Brazill emphasizes the importance of working to reduce the influence of religious dogma in society. An article by Monique Montgomery encourages us to care for animals because they are sentient beings much like us. Glen Martin describes how a world government is needed in order to maximize peace, harmony, freedom and justice.

This issue of HP has other action-oriented articles as well as two revealing interviews of well-known Canadian humanists.

Humanism is a philosophy of life, a philosophy of living and a philosophy of action.