Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Humanism belongs to everyone!

(This is part 4 in my series exploring “humanism.” Please read my intentions and precautions if you have not already.)

So far in this series I have focused on humanism as secularism, and done some work to highlight the secularist ethics that come hand-in-hand with many liberals’ religious faith. In this post, I will present a much more vague, open-ended argument, in order to begin building some aspects of my own philosophy of humanism.

In philosophical jargon, I will say: Humanism must be universally particular.

And in awesome quotable language, I will say: Humanism belongs to everyone.

Let’s back all the way up to the word “Humanism.” On the face of it, it is some kind of “ism” of the “human.” It could be a philosophy about humans, a philosophy for humans, a philosophy that places humans at the center of some domain. Who really knows, it’s just a word.

But how about this: Whatever “humanism” is, every human has a say in its meaning. I believe that the meaning of “being human” emerges from an individual’s sense and experience of being human, and so (at this early point in my inchoate philosophy) there might be as many humanisms as there are people. As a human, I think I have a unique, individual, and authentic perspective on what it means to be a human. But if your experience differs, am I ‘more human’ so that I could tell you you’re wrong? Of course not. I am just one person, as are you. We each bring overlapping and divergent notions of what it means to be a human, and “humanism” must be big enough for both of us.

What I am attempting here is a move for radical inclusivity (although at some point I will have to deal with those humans who understand humanity through a supernaturalist lens) and critical analysis of any concept of humanism that fails to take into account the ridiculous large range of human experiences.

“Whatever humanism is, it needs to be true to my experience, or else it is not as human as I am.” This is a challenge we are bound to give and to answer.

1 comment:

  1. If humanism needs to be big enough for everyone's perspective, is there any way to use it to draw support for the progressive values that you articulated at the beginning of this series? In fact, isn't even the notion that humanism needs to be radically inclusive, exclusive of some human perspectives already?