Humanism encourages us all to make the most of the one life we know we have – to be good to ourselves and to care for others.
Humans depend on the natural world and are responsible for conserving it for generations to come. As humanists, we do best to live an ethical life, to respect science and base our actions on reason, evidence and compassion.
We value all human beings equally.
What is Humanism?
(Adapted from the 2003 Humanist Manifesto III of the American Humanist Association.)
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives that combine personal fulfillment with the greater good of humanity.
The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages followers to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals are subject to change as knowledge and understanding advances.
The principles below are shared in common by Humanists but they should not be read a set of rules that are fixed for all time. As the world changes Humanists are prepared to adapt their thinking.
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. Humanists are inquisitive and excited by new thinking and developments in all fields of human endeavour; in the arts, science, technology and understanding our innermost selves.
Humans are an integral part of nature. We have evolved alongside other plants and animals over many millions of years. Humanists recognise that change is ever present in an evolving world eco-system and the need to adapt our thinking and actions to meet whatever future challenges emerge.
Ethical values are derived from thoughtful evaluation of the consequences of our actions. Humanists ground values in human welfare, shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns. These values extend to the global ecosystem and beyond. Humanists are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consistent with responsibility.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. Humanists aim for fullest possible personal and social development and animate their lives with a deep sense of purpose. They find wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches lives, encourages individuals to enrich the lives of others, and inspires the hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. Seeking to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, Humanists support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well-being of all, committed to diversity and respecting those with differing yet humane views. Humanists work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society. They maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process, and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
Thus, engaged in the flow of life, Humanists aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. A Humanist believes, “The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.”
For more on humanism, visit the American Humanist Association website and the AHA Center for Education website, where you can access self-guided online courses like the Introduction to Humanism (registration is required but most courses are free).
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“A humanist is someone who does the right thing even though he/she knows that no one is watching.”
– Dick McMahan, New York humanist, 2004