humanism

A very wide-ranging set of philosophies that have at their core the belief that human interests and dignity should be of primary importance. Its roots are usually traced to ancient Greece, but seeds are also observed elsewhere: in the Renaissance concern with directing attention away from God and spirituality towards the study of ‘men’ and their work in art, literature, and history; in the progressive Enlightenment concerns with rationality ; and in the Modernist movement with its belief in the death of God.
With variations, the humanist philosophies stress with Protagoras that ‘man is the measure of all things’, or with Pope that ‘the proper study of mankind is man’. Most commonly, humanism involves a rejection of religions which place a God at the centre of their thought. Humanist Associations throughout the world (as embodied, for example, in the journal the Humanist) affirm that ‘the nature of the world is such that human intention and activity may play the determining role in human enterprise, subject only to the conditioning factors of the environing situation’ (, The Meaning of Humanism, 1945).
Humanism appears in many forms in contemporary social science. For example, there is a Marxist humanism usually associated with the early writings of Karl Marx, and particularly his concern with alienation . Humanistic psychology, sometimes called the Third Force, stands in contrast to both behaviourism and psychoanalysis , and focuses upon the self and its potential, as for example in the work of Gordon Allport , William James , and A. H. Maslow . There is also a humanistic sociology , identified with the works of C. Wright Mills , Alfred McClung Lee, and others.
From the 1970s onwards a strong critique of humanism emerged in the writings of structuralists and deconstructionists . The work of Michel Foucault , for example, provided an ‘archaeology’ of the growth of the knowledges which centred themselves upon a human subject; the semiological work of Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes proclaimed the death of the author, and the ‘decentred’ nature of things, thus removing the human subject from the centre-point of creativity; and Louis Althusser claimed that a belief in the human being was an epistemological disaster, an ‘idealism of the essence’, and a ‘myth of bourgeois ideology’. However, despite such attacks, humanism has remained a pervasive influence on Western thought.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Humanism — is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality. [ cite book title=Compact Oxford… …   Wikipedia

  • Humanism — • The name given to the intellectual, literary, and scientific movement of the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, which aimed at basing every branch of learning on the literature and culture of classical antiquity Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Humanism —    Humanism was the principal intellectual movement of the European Renaissance; a humanist was a teacher or follower of humanism. In the simplest sense, the term humanism implies that a certain group of school subjects known since ancient times… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • humanism —    Humanism is the view that human beings are of unique or supreme value. While the Renaissance s fascination with the human form and the glories of Greek and Roman civilisation reveals a humanistic impulse, modern humanism arose in the… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Humanism — Hu man*ism, n. 1. Human nature or disposition; humanity. [1913 Webster] [She] looked almost like a being who had rejected with indifference the attitude of sex for the loftier quality of abstract humanism. T. Hardy. [1913 Webster] 2. The study of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • humanism — index benevolence (disposition to do good) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • humanism — along with HUMANIST (Cf. humanist) used in a variety of philosophical and theological senses 16c. 18c., especially ones imitating L. humanitas education befitting a cultivated man. See HUMAN (Cf. human) + ISM (Cf. ism). Main modern sense in… …   Etymology dictionary

  • humanism — ► NOUN 1) a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. 2) a Renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and …   English terms dictionary

  • humanism — [hyo͞o′mə niz΄əm, yo͞o′mə niz΄əm] n. 1. the quality of being human; human nature 2. any system of thought or action based on the nature, interests, and ideals of humanity; specif., a modern, nontheistic, rationalist movement that holds that… …   English World dictionary

  • humanism — /hyooh meuh niz euhm/ or, often, /yooh /, n. 1. any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate. 2. devotion to or study of the humanities. 3. (sometimes cap.) the studies, principles, or culture… …   Universalium

  • humanism — Synonyms and related words: Christian humanism, Religious Humanism, anthroposophy, bibliolatry, bibliomania, bluestockingism, book learning, book madness, bookiness, bookishness, booklore, classical scholarship, classicism, culture, donnishness,… …   Moby Thesaurus

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.