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HAT Forum - "Humanism & Humane-ism"

  • The 519, Rm 303 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

There is no definition of humaneism available. But the adjective humane abounds. The Oxford Dictionary defines humane as “Having or showing compassion or benevolence.”

In an article, Compassion, Empathy and Being a Humanist by Armineh Noravian on February 22, 2008 found at https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2008/commentary/compassion-empathy-and-being-a-humanist the author says,

By viewing the world through the eyes of those who need help, it allows me to better see the structures that make them dependent on my compassion and empathy…As humanists, we must first learn about the barriers that the less fortunate face, then work along side them to eliminate these barriers.

Recently, Steven Pinker in https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2018/features/enlightenment-wow-humanist-interview-steven-pinker said,

… the overall morality of humanism [is what’s essential], namely that human wellbeing is the ultimate good—and also the wellbeing of other sentient creatures. “Humanism” is a bit of a misnomer in singling out Homo sapiens; it’s a larger commitment to sentient beings.

But the effect of humanistic institutions very much depends on how they organize, how they conduct themselves, how they manage their own affairs. Although they’ve been a force for good, I’m not calling for a blind trust in a particular organization that happens to have “humanist” in their title.

The American Humanist Association in “Good without a god” found at https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice.

Questions for Discussion

1.       Is humanism defined solely by not adhering to any religious or superstitious belief?

2.      What is the source of knowledge?  Is all knowledge only to be achieved through science and “objective” thinking?

3.      Can humanism be separated from progressivism, and if so, is that desirable?

4.      What is the role of compassion in any humanist group or individual?

5.      What are the benefits and limits of compassion?

Later Event: May 14
Beyond Believing