Thursday, 9 August 2012


The term "humanism" can be ambiguous, and there has been a persistent confusion between the several, related uses of the term because different intellectual movements have identified with it over time.
In philosophy and social science, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a "human nature" (contrasted with anti-humanism). The word "humanist" derives from the 15th-century Italian term umanista describing a teacher or scholar of classical Greek and Latin literature and the ethical philosophy behind it (including the approach to the humanities).

In 1856, still before the word was associated with secularism, German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism to describe Renaissance humanism, the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning (this definition won wide acceptance among historians in many nations). During the French Revolution, and soon after in Germany (by the Left Hegelians), humanism began to refer to philosophies and morality centred on human kind, without attention to any notions of the divine. Around when the Ethical movement began using the word in the 1930s, the term "humanism" became increasingly identified with secularism and finally became "Humanism", or secular humanism (a relatively recent movement – born at the University of Chicago).

When the first letter is capitalized, "Humanism" describes the secular ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, while specifically rejecting supernatural and religious ideas as a basis of morality and decision-making. Religious humanism developed out of secular humanism. Religious humanism is a unique integration of secular humanist ethical philosophy with the rituals and beliefs of some religion, although religious humanism still centers on human needs, interests, and abilities.

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