Author Topic: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?  (Read 893 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« on: February 21, 2017, 05:00:14 PM »
Quote
Why I Am Not A Humanist

The talk at Skeptics in the Pub last night was Objections to Humanism. Here are some of mine:

Andrew Copson of the BHA spoke at length about evolution, science, morality without religion and the value of optimism. While there was nothing much to disagree with, nor was there anything specific or unique to humanism. I asked in the Q&A what is added by claiming as humanist the acceptance of evolution, the value of scientific enquiry and so on. The reply (eventually) was that 'It's just a word thing' and that humanism is a useful label. But labels are useful only if they make it clear what something is.

There are plenty of people who accept evolution and subscribe to a non-religious moral code but who do not call themselves humanist. It is however a useful bit of soft soap if you're a politician who can't bring themselves to admit publicly that you're an atheist.

...

To identify as humanist is to identify as either atheist or agnostic along with some or all of a rather vague set of ethical and pro-science statements. But for me, it's such an inchoate, nebulous concept that I can't engage with it at all.

This is a blogpost based in the UK made by an atheist and skeptic. From waht I understand, Andrew Copson, the head of the British Humanist Association, held a talk about humanism at a Skeptics in the Pub in the UK (which he seems to do from time to time). The author then criticizes humanism based on how Copson presented it.

Do you think it made a good case against humanism, or not?
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 11:57:51 PM »
I'm always confustigated when people define themselves by what they are not. Sure, I can understand it intellectually and I know I do this for my self on occasion, but it is still a slippery idea for me.
There are non-Humanist Atheists

Translating, this is saying there are non-humanist non-deists. Deities are irrelevant to my life. I'm not a-theist any more than I'm a-blorockist, whatever that is.

Can I still be called a person who  believes in people? Is that a humanist? I think humans are intelligent, cyborgs, and social animals. We have many millions of years of predictable irrationality baked into our beings.

I trust people to be people, not things.

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Offline lubbarin

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 12:28:38 AM »
Quote
Why I Am Not A Humanist

The talk at Skeptics in the Pub last night was Objections to Humanism. Here are some of mine:

Andrew Copson of the BHA spoke at length about evolution, science, morality without religion and the value of optimism. While there was nothing much to disagree with, nor was there anything specific or unique to humanism. I asked in the Q&A what is added by claiming as humanist the acceptance of evolution, the value of scientific enquiry and so on. The reply (eventually) was that 'It's just a word thing' and that humanism is a useful label. But labels are useful only if they make it clear what something is.

There are plenty of people who accept evolution and subscribe to a non-religious moral code but who do not call themselves humanist. It is however a useful bit of soft soap if you're a politician who can't bring themselves to admit publicly that you're an atheist.

...

To identify as humanist is to identify as either atheist or agnostic along with some or all of a rather vague set of ethical and pro-science statements. But for me, it's such an inchoate, nebulous concept that I can't engage with it at all.

This is a blogpost based in the UK made by an atheist and skeptic. From waht I understand, Andrew Copson, the head of the British Humanist Association, held a talk about humanism at a Skeptics in the Pub in the UK (which he seems to do from time to time). The author then criticizes humanism based on how Copson presented it.

Do you think it made a good case against humanism, or not?
"But for me, it's such an inchoate, nebulous concept that I can't engage with it at all."

Yeah, I pretty much agree with that, it sums up pretty well why I don't bother with self-labeling as a humanist.
The rest of the critique was pretty unmoving. I mean, it's a social movement label, not an academic classification. I don't see why the onus should really be their's to carve out a unique space to justify their position, or to clearly articulate the boundaries they have with neighboring ideological communities.

Let that stuff sort itself out.
Of course critiques like his is part of that process, so it's not like I think he's out of bounds for making that critique either.

I dunno.. if your ideas roughly align with people who call themselves humanist, and that's who you want to roll with; then presto! You're a humanist.
It's not like you're sworn to uphold a doctrine; you can contribute to and help define the values of the movement as you will-- or at least that's how it should be, which is why I tend to be quite wary of credos and manifestos.


(4 edits in, I'm moderately confident I've stamped out all the stupid grammatical errors)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 12:40:42 AM by lubbarin »
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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 01:14:52 AM »
My undergrad study of philosophy has thus far taught my that philosophy is entirely dependent on how good the proponent is. You can make a utilitarian argument for literally anything if you define happiness with the right parameters.

I'm happy to define humanism as a faith and belief in the human ability to be greater than the sum of our history as rape-prone murder-apes without the need for a higher power. We can argue the details, but that's really all that matters.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 01:54:09 AM »
Hey, whatever floats your boat man. Don't get too hung up on labels.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 06:18:25 AM »
I prefer human speciesist, just to drive home the anti-PETA stance.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 10:12:28 AM »
There are Humanist Christians. Atheism is not a condition of humanism. To assert atheism as a condition of humanism is the No-True-Scotsman fallacy. When you get right down to it, boil it down to its fundamentals, humanism is the philosophy that we should be nice to each other, and that was one of the bedrock teachings of Jesus, along with belief in the Judaic God and the end of the world. Jesus's first edict was "Love God and your neighbor as yourself." So Jesus was a humanist but definitely not an atheist. And there are Christians who revere Jesus and reject the anti-humanist beliefs that have found their way into Christianity since Jesus died. There are also humanist Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and probably every other religious tradition.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 01:05:37 AM »
Atheism is not a condition of humanism.

Yeah, it kind of is.

Quote
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
(bold added by me)

Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III, a Successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933

If you accept this document as a valid description of humanism, then you absolutely have to come to the conclusion that humanism is atheistic in nature.

Offline Caffiene

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 05:18:40 AM »
Atheism is not a condition of humanism.

Yeah, it kind of is.

Quote
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
(bold added by me)

Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III, a Successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933

If you accept this document as a valid description of humanism, then you absolutely have to come to the conclusion that humanism is atheistic in nature.

I disagree with your interpretation of the quote. My reading is that it is saying the philosophy holds that ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives can be affirmed without supernaturalism. It doesnt comment on supernaturalism in general outside of that particular focus.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 09:06:08 AM »
Atheism is not a condition of humanism.

Yeah, it kind of is.

Quote
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
(bold added by me)

Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III, a Successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933

If you accept this document as a valid description of humanism, then you absolutely have to come to the conclusion that humanism is atheistic in nature.

Based on the link, the American Humanist Association is an atheist organization. But as I said above, I know Christians and Jews who regard themselves as humanists, and I believe there are Muslims who do so as well (I don't know any Muslims at present, and have known only a few in the past, so my personal experience is limited).

Humanism is a widespread philosophy, and one organization cannot define it for all.
Daniel
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Offline Billzbub

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2017, 03:54:08 PM »
Huh.  I never considered that humanism could be anything but atheistic.  Thanks for broadening my horizons.

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2017, 04:04:52 PM »
I agree with Daniel on the existence of non-atheist humanists.  They generally amount to religious folks who believe humanist priniciples are either integral to the teachings of their religion or at least compatible with them.

edit to add:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_humanism
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 04:07:06 PM by Ah.hell »

Offline amysrevenge

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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2017, 04:13:33 PM »
Didn't we have a months-long argument about whether any particular group's definition of the word "humanism" had any universal meaning?  I swear it kept popping up to the top for ages.
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Re: Do you think this is a good case against humanism or not?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2017, 04:25:50 PM »
Didn't we have a months-long argument about whether any particular group's definition of the word "humanism" had any universal meaning?  I swear it kept popping up to the top for ages.
Probably, Quetz seems oddly fascinated by such questions. 

 

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