Talk:Humanism/Archive 5

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Reverted major changes

I reverted huge edits to the introduction of this article because the new edits gave prominence to several aspects of historical uses of "humanism" that are very rarely used today. I know the editor intended good faith, but unfortunately approached the subject in a way that reflected his/her very narrow academic studies on the topic, without consideration for how it is used in the real world. This is akin to making the article on Christianity be primarily about the Gnostics, if that were one's chosen area of study, or like making the article on the Bible be primarily be about the apocryphal books.

This talk page has many, many attempts to show the most common primary topic associated with "humanism." I think it's fair to say that, whatever our opinions about the fine details, we are largely agreed that secular, "life stance," and religious humanism of the kind discussed in the Humanist Manifestos are the primary uses in books, magazines, news, and web sites. Let's try to refine and build up to an A grade article from there, rather than reverting to disagreements that take us farther backwards from there. OldMan (talk) 13:05, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

"I know the editor intended good faith, but unfortunately approached the subject in a way that reflected his/her very narrow academic studies on the topic, without consideration for how it is used in the real world. This is akin to making the article on Christianity be primarily about the Gnostics, if that were one's chosen area of study, or like making the article on the Bible be primarily be about the apocryphal books." You are not the only editor who frequents the "real world" - decrying everyone else as "world ignorant eggheads" is really not a very good argument. secondly your analogy fails - we are not trying to make theistic humanism to the main topic - we are merely trying to allow for its inclusion under the general definition of humanism. Just like Gnosticism should be includable under a general definition of christianity and the article about the Bible should also treat certain apochrypha.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:25, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Do not misrepresent me as having said that everyone else is a "world ignorant egghead." Making such false accusations will be regarded as a personal attack. The point has always been that any one person's individual opinion or bias is not relevant to this article; anyone whose personal experience with a term cannot be verified by the methods suggested in WP:NAMECON (see section "A number of objective criteria can be used to determine common or self-identifying usage") must provide even greater evidence; that personal experience alone (academic or otherwise) is not sufficient for achieving verifiability. OldMan (talk) 00:01, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't agree at all with the anti-intellectual stance that academic studies should be automatically smeared and disparaged as "very narrow" per se. This is like saying the theory of relativity is "very narrow." There are an academic use and a philosophic use of the term. Both are valid and attested by scholars. And each word has a different etymology. (The fact that compact dictionaries sometimes omit one of the definitions is neither here nor there.) I advise you to read my revision again. You will see that I agree that the popular usage, philosophic humanism, is the more common one. My opening also makes clear that the philosophic humanists have (mostly unsuccessfully) tried to conflate the two usages. This is what all the arguing about. This is not my opinion, but the considered conclusion of Vito Giustiniani writing in the periodical Journal of the History of Ideas. I advise OldMan to make a new entry under "Humanist Manifesto" and to stop acting like a fanatical and obscurantist guardian of religious dogmatism such as his creed pretends to deplore. The fact that the talk page is so contentious ought to be telling you something. (It is really too ironic).Mballen (talk) 13:56, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Do not misrepresent me as having said "that academic studies should be automatically smeared and disparaged." Making such false accusations will be regarded as a personal attack.
Do not make presumptions about "my creed." I have made no statements about my creed, and such future presumptuousness, as well as describing me as "fanatical and obscurantist guardian of religious dogmatism," will be regarded as a personal attack.
"Humanist Manifesto" is not an appropriate title for an article about the multiple strains of human-centered philosophy and ethics, as it is but a small part of that history. WP:NC enumerates the rules you must follow when choosing a name for an article about a given topic, and WP:DISAMBIG tells what to do when there is a primary use and multiple other possible uses. This article follows those guidelines, so to contribute meaningfully, you must read and understand these policy documents first.
Furthermore, your use of "philosophic humanism" is not a name agreed upon by the publications and organizations that have taken on the name "humanism," so attempting to impose your preferences without precedence, discussion, or citation, based on your opinion alone, will always be reverted. Please acquaint yourself with popular usage so that you can be descriptive, rather than prescriptive, about usage. OldMan (talk) 00:12, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, Wilson Delgado. I am adding my censored paragraph here so that people can read it, unfortunately the footnotes and formatting appear to be lost. It incorporates the definition preferred by OldMan while clearing up the misconceptions about the etymology of the word:

Broadly speaking, the word humanism has had two meanings with two separate etymologies.[1] Traditionally, the Latin word humanitates meant the study of literature and rhetoric (as opposed to divine or theological studies) and umanista ("a humanist") was the Italian word for teachers of such subjects. Around 1808 humanismus was used to describe the classical curriculum offered by German schools. In 1836, the great German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism to describe the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning, a use which won wide acceptance among historians in many nations.[2] The other and arguably more popularly recognized meaning of the word humanism, denoting a philosophy centered around man, is coined from the word human, in the same way that socialism is based on the word social and communism on the word common. This use of the word also dates from the nineteenth century and refers to a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity of humankind, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to rationality, while tending to reject the supernatural or the divine authority of religious texts.[3][4] Many modern philosophers, as diverse as the young Hegelians Arnold Ruge and Karl Marx; the anarchist Proudhon, the pragmatist philosophers, F.C.S. Schiller, and John Dewey; the literary critic Irving Babbitt; religious historian Ernest Renan; the existentialists Martin Heidegger and Sartre; and the pragmatist philosopher and civil libertarian Corliss Lamont have aligned themselves under the banner of philosophical humanism, although profoundly disagreeing with each other. There have also been human-centered religious movements, such as Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical humanism and the Catholic humanism of Jacques Maritain.

Philosophical humanism can be considered as a process by which truth and morality is sought through human investigation; as such, views on morals can change when new knowledge and information is discovered. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, humanism rejects transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or texts of allegedly divine origin. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.[5]

Mballen (talk) 15:05, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
for what it is worth, I would consider this paragraph an improvement to the current version - It gives much more context and actually mentions how different philosophers have aligned them selves with humanism - which seems to be pretty fundamental information for a page that claims to have "Philosophical humanism" as its central topic.·Maunus·ƛ· 15:20, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
It is a false equation to suggest that a scholarly or historical use of a word represents a "minority" view, much less to suggest that it ought to be suppressed or minimized. This implies that there is a conflict between the minority and majority views with the "minority" view being wrong and the "majority" view being right. In fact, both uses are equally correct and legitimate and there is even a connection, though contested and hard to trace, between the two uses of the term that ought to be acknowledged and clarified. I believe Vito Giustiniani's article does this quite well and is very even handed (although "narrowly" academic). I also object to the implication that the history of education is an obscure topic of interest only to specialists. On the contrary it is highly relevant to our times and ought to be of interest to everyone. Again, I highly recommend that there be another Wikipedia article about the Humanist Manifesto and its doctrines and followers, where people could rant as much as they wish. Humanism itself is a more complex topic and deserves serious treatment. (By the way it was the historian Georg Voigt who identified Petrarch as the first Renaissance humanist, an identification that is now virtually universally accepted. Also in the nineteenth century and ever afterward specialists have objected to Burckhardt and Symonds's portrayals of Renaissance humanism as "pagan" or secular in any modern sense. Erasmus and his model Valla are now termed "Evangelical", meaning, roughly, that they were moderate Catholic reformers).Mballen (talk) 15:37, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Do not misrepresent me as suggesting that any definition of humanism "ought to be suppressed or minimized." This is easily disproved by the fact that I created the disambiguation link to Renaissance humanism in a compromise agreed to by all parties last year, and I replaced that disambiguation link with a more comprehensive link to a disambiguation of all meanings after I created the humanism (disambiguation) page. Making such false accusations will be regarded as a personal attack.
Do not misrepresent me as "suggesting that a scholarly or historical use of the word represents a minority view;" in fact all definitions of humanism have been addressed in scholarly and historical contexts, both the majority use and all minority uses alike. The fact that your education has not made you aware of the scholarly and historical uses of humanism by its other definitions does not make such use any less popular. Making such false accusations will be regarded as a personal attack.
Do not misrepresent me as implying "that the history of education is an obscure topic of interest only to specialists." This accusation is not even remotely based on anything I typed; it is a blatant fabrication. Making such false accusations will be regarded as a personal attack.
Again, you appear to be lacking in knowledge about the Humanist Manifesto, and incarnations of humanism before and after its publication, that render you unaware that this article is the one in which you think "people could rant as much as they wish" on a subject you don't care about. You are the misplaced editor: your contributions will probably be more valuable at Renaissance humanism; as long as you misunderstand the topic of humanism and its most common uses, you will be the one seen as "ranting as much as you wish." In fact too much "ranting as much as you wish" is what renders this a simple B-grade article. Your piling etymology and lists of names into the opening paragraph, lack of regard for Wikipedia policy pages, lack of clear thesis statement, and other poor writing skills are what we seek to eliminate in order to achieve an A-grade by the projects that have claimed this article. Please make sure that all future comments and edits are focused on content and how to improve it, not on misrepresenting what I type or on trying to obscure the topic of an article. OldMan (talk) 00:30, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
You are very quick to regarding statements by others as personal attacks - you are not as quick to adopt a civil and friendly tone of argumentation yourself OldMan. If I were to regard every one of your misrepresentations or misconstruals of one of my arguments as a personal attack I would probably have filed a civility report long ago. ·Maunus·ƛ· 02:35, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
The difference, of course, is that when I put your words in quotation marks, I make those quotation marks delineate something you've actually said, whereas when you complain, it's about something I haven't said. Is English your second language? If so, please accept this as friendly advice: when you quote someone, please make sure the words you put in quotation marks actually originated with the person you're accusing. OldMan (talk) 17:20, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Civil argumentation does not consist of a series of imperative sentences accompanied by threats. (talk) 14:37, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

The definition of humanism as one of the study of literature and rhetoric, vs. philosophical humanism.

Let us be honest on this one - when Googling "Humanism" 2 out of the first 20 results defined it as the study of literature and retoric, one of those being from a religious websites dictionary. Going on a few pages this ratio seems to hold fairly constant. It seems that the common usage of humanism IS philosophical humanism, something that has been reflected in the books I have wandered into during my own studies.

There are books about Renaissance humanism: However, they are all marked "Renaissance Humanism" or "Classical Humanism" somewhere in the title - not once have I opened an "about humanism" book and found a dry, scholarly, essay on the study of literature and rhetoric, though EVERY book I have read on the subject makes at least a reference to modern humanism evolving from this study. Philosophic humanism has been referred to simply as "humanism" since at least the early 70s, and Renaissance or Classical Humanism was long ago taken up as the accepted term for its older usage.

A reference should be made to classical humanism and a link provided to it - for those not interested in learning about philosophical humanism - but the claim that people reading "Humanism" aren't primarily interested in philosophical humanism is a bit silly (To be honest). - (Unsigned contribution [1], not by me Johnbod (talk) 18:03, 5 July 2009 (UTC))

If this is true, then label the article "Humanism (Philosophy)" and have it focus on that. What could the objection possibly be? See the archives, particularly under "Current Usage" to see my fuller take on the question.
The usage issue involves more than the word humanism alone and more than an either/or between philosophy and literary studies. If you use the word humanist or humanistic (searches for which are, I repeat, directed to this page) then you are implicitly engaging the noun form humanism as part of the semantic field. If C.S. Lewis can be called a Christian humanist and the pope can talk about "authentic humanism" then the content of that word has to open upon something other than what was described as antipathetic to biblically-based religious belief. There is a larger usage of the word that doesn't contradict the idea of "human-centeredness" but that does not conflict with that kind of Biblically-based belief either. And we can still obviously talk about an "old-fashioned humanism" to mean the reading of great books, i.e., the usage of great literature for education (see my citation of the article on the Jefferson lecture of May 2009).
And once again: search on "humanistic studies" or on (scientists and humanists). These phrases are part of the meaning of the correlative noun form humanism. Uninformed readers need help to realize that, if they look up "humanistic" or "humanist" when they read them in these contexts, the humanism implicitly referred to is not the philosphical rationalistic version. I don't see how that is not obvious to people. Honestly. Wilson Delgado (talk) 17:39, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. In fact uses of "humanism" and "humanistic to just mean Renaissance humanism are very common, though mostly in historical contexts. I have disamed dozens of such links myself, & no doubt there are plenty more. Authors of books on historical subjects obviously don't bother to add the "Renaissance" at every, or even any, mention. Clued-up readers may not need this, but many do. Look up What links here, which I have gone through in the past weeding out the more obvious ones, but there are clearly dozens more left - just looking at the first page & trying to guess the context, I'd imagine at least 50% can't mean modern secular humanism. Johnbod (talk) 18:08, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
I just want to reiterate that compact and abridged dictionaries are designed for quick reference for people in a hurry or for school children, and thus they are not reliable sources for agreeing on how to describe the meaning of so complicated and nuanced an idea as philosophical humanism. For that a specialized philosophical dictionary is more appropriate. Also, the Oxford English Dictionary is not so concerned with meanings (except in the minds of literalists and fundamentalists, meanings are not fixed but shift and must be deduced from historical and other contexts). The OED is a historical dictionary, designed as a record the first appearances of words in the English language and tracing subsequent uses in chronological order. The OED is not a record of who coined or invented a word, contrary to what some people mistakenly assume. Scholars, can and often do come up with earlier uses, that is why supplements are always being issued to the Oxford Dictionary. Ariosto certainly did not coin the word umanista, for example. P.O. Kristeller, one of the great modern discoverers of forgotten and neglected manuscripts, found umanista in a text fifty years older than Ariosto's poem cited in the OED, and others may find earlier uses still. Kristeller thinks umanista must have originated as student slang in the fifteenth century.
Verifiable sources simply means that they can be looked up and checked. Reliable sources means appropriate to the subject at hand, according to Wikipedia: "Reliable sources are credible published materials with a reliable publication process; their authors are generally regarded as trustworthy or authoritative ... in relation to the subject at hand."[2]. Serpent/151/Old Man persistently confuses the two. The books, pamphlets, manifestos and declarations the various modern humanist societies do indeed constitute primary sources. They are not at all reliable for historical information about antiquity or the Renaissance, however, as a cross check on Wikipedia will quickly reveal. In most cases, the authors of these pamphlets and manifestos are not historians.Mballen (talk) 17:46, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

New page for Humanism (philosophy)

Shall we go ahead and create a new page entitled "Humanism (philosophy)"? This will allow for a trimmer page and a more fruitful discussion here while giving ample room to the advocates of the philosophical meaning to compose to their hearts' content. Wilson Delgado (talk) 15:37, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

We already have Secular Humanism and Humanism (life stance); I don't think a 3rd page can be justified. The disam option remains open. Johnbod (talk) 15:48, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
You already asked that once, you put it up for a vote, it was voted down by a consensus. Please see WP:IDHT: "In some cases, editors have perpetuated disputes by sticking to an allegation or viewpoint long after the consensus of the community has rejected it, repeating it almost without end, and refusing to acknowledge others' input or their own error. Often such editors are continuing to base future attacks and edits upon the rejected statement. Such an action is disruptive to Wikipedia. Thinking one has a valid point does not confer the right to act as though it is accepted when it is not." OldMan (talk) 17:15, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Consensus may change over time. And your accusations of stubborness might equally apply to yourself as to any other editor here. ·Maunus·ƛ· 17:24, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
The most common usage may change over time, too. Since I acknowledge this may be the case, I look forward to seeing your evidence that the IHEU and Council for Secular Humanism usage of "humanism" is no longer the most prominent. Please choose objectively verifiable sources, and present them here. Thank you! OldMan (talk) 18:18, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
You are shifting the goalposts. I am not (nor are Mballen and most other editors) trying to prove that secular humanism isn't the most prominent meaning. We agree it is (at least in the US). But we do not agree that this means that the description of "humanism" should not also include the changing historical usage of the term and the contemproary minority usages. It is a question of weighing - obviously the common secular humanism usage should be given it's due weight - but not all of the weight. This is what I have been arguing up to now and what you have been contradicting with red herrings like "articles should be about a single topic" (when the issue is that the topic humanism includes both the historical meaning of the concept and its contemporary minority and majority meanings).·Maunus·ƛ· 18:40, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Please quote the applicable policies from Wikipedia here that apply when there are multiple definitions of words that must be addressed, and what to do when different viewpoints carry different weight in frequency of use. Please note that I am not interested in your opinion, but in what Wikipedia policies say. Please quote the applicable sentences here. OldMan (talk) 17:41, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
You are mistaken, OldMan. On that earlier occasion, I proposed that this article's title be changed, NOT that another page be opened with the title "Humanism (philosophy)". (Of course it is completely within my rights as a Wikipedian to open up a new page, even without consensus, and others can propose it for deletion should they want.) Even so, few people were involved in the argument at that time and the turnout was too low to be a true and long-standing indication of consensus. I truly wish that you would stop trying to present me in a bad light. You should know better. Wilson Delgado (talk) 17:21, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
If Oldman wishes to see evidence that the most common meaning of humanism is no longer "secular humanism" I invite him to look at the Merriam Webster online dictionary cited above. (talk) 16:24, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
As above, though, you are mistaken in two ways: 1. No one thinks that prominence within a dictionary gives prominence of real-world usage. Wilson Delgado agreed with me on this months ago, so that can't possibly be the issue of contention. Wikipedia gives us ways to tell which usage has the greater prominence, and quoting from a dictionary isn't one of them. If you don't intend to perform any of the other suggested methods, then your contribution isn't very useful, now, is it? 2. I don't think OldMan is arguing that secular humanism is the most common form of humanism (and I KNOW I am not). Don't forget, humanism started as a movement to create a new RELIGION based on reason and human-centeredness, so secular humanism is somewhat new to the scene. If you don't know what the differences and similarities are between secular and religious humanism, well again... your contributions can't be very useful, can they? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:45, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I think that there's no need of a new page, and that Humanism (life stance) may cover what most of the editors here quarrels about. Humanism is much more than Humanism (life stance), and partially something else than Humanism (life stance), since by nature Humanism, as an academical study, studies myths. Humanism (life stance) should instead have been named called Anti-religious human-centered ethics, but people like to grab words and flagwave with them. Those adherents of Humanism (life stance) should concentrate on proving that Humanism (life stance) is a natural consequence of Humanism, instead of trying to deny the existence of a former existence of the word Humanism as connected to human studies. Both topics have the place in an encyclopedia. ... said: Rursus (bork²) 09:14, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Catching up on backlog of top uses of "humanism" in the news

Origin of the term humanist

The paragraph titled "History" is a a howler, as Ariosto began writing in the sixteenth century. How could he have "coined" a term that was purportedly "coined" before he started writing? It makes one's head spin. Humanism as a philosophical term and as a historical term both date from the 1750s (according to Vito Giustiniani's article from the Journal of the History of Ideas) and were not "coined" in 1808 but (in the historical sense) adopted into English from German. The article now reads:


The term humanism was coined in 1808, based on the 15th century Italian term umanista, meaning "student of human affairs or human nature," as coined by Ludovico Ariosto.[8]

In fact, Ariosto (a sixteenth century comic poet) used the word in the usual way to mean a teacher of Classical subjects (in his satire on the prevalence of sodomy among poets and teachers of literature). Ariosto's is one of the first attested uses of the term, but P.O. Kristeller, who thinks the term originated in student slang, has found other examples from the late fifteenth century. This error is an example of the confusion between the two meanings of the term that writers on the subject agree is very prevalent (and which I believe should be mentioned in the opening paragraph).

This paragraph is more or less correct:

Origin of the term humanist: The term umanista comes from the latter part of the 15th century, and was associated with the studia humanitatis, the novel curriculum that was then competing with the quadrivium and scholastic logic.[14] Renaissance humanism revived the close study of the Latin and Greek classical texts, and was antagonistic to the values of scholasticism with its emphasis on the accumulated commentaries; and humanists were involved in the revival of the science, philosophy, art and poetry of classical antiquity. They self-consciously imitated classical Latin and deprecated the use of medieval Latin. By analogy with the perceived decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes, or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning.


On the other hand, humanism as a movement to revive classical learning originated in the fourteenth century (or earlier), although the contemporary sources never used the term. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mballen (talkcontribs) 20:50, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Also, if we can refer to Ariosto's Italian word, why shouldn't we be able to refer to the eighteenth century French and German uses of the word (which were adopted into English in 1808)?Mballen (talk) 21:15, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

I have just looked up "humanist" in the OED and I see that even lexicographers can be misleading (or misled). The OED says that Ariosto used the term in his seventh satire and defines it as a "student of human affairs or human nature", but the English example it gives (from 1617) is: "Him that affects a knowledge of State affairs, Histories, etc.", -- "State affairs" means "politics", and "affects" means "pretends", so the writer means "him that affects a knowledge of politics and history" -- in other words, not a "student of human nature" but rather a pedant and fake. This would be consistent with what scholars observe about the disrepute that humanists had fallen into in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Dennis Looney (in The Encylopedia of Italian Literary Studies [CRC Press, 2007], p. 94), says, "“any positive value associated with this relatively new word in the Italian language is undermined by its context . . . . By impugning humanists as potential sodomites, Ariosto suggests that the typical humanistic education is deficient and sterile, much as Dante implied in his portrayal of Brunetto Latini in Inferno 15B." According to Wikipedia, Dante places poet and philosopher Brunetto Latini within the third ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell with "clerks and great and famous scholars defiled in the world by one and the same sin, presumably the unspeakable one of sodomy." Ariosto, himself a humanist, believed in learning from experience, as well as, or even in preference to, books.

In 2001, The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Art & Architecture defined Humanism this way: "An ambiguous term covering both a 19th-century moral movement and Renaissance classical learning. Later humanism might be described as a secular version of Christian ethics, redirected to ‘human’ and social goals; Renaissance humanism had no such ethical ..." (my emphasis. By the way, these opinions about homosexuality are not mine but those of the sources quoted).Mballen (talk) 22:43, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, your're right, and I also noticed that the current intro is flawed. There has been edit wars here before, deeming from the previous discussion but hopefully there will soon be a consensus that Humanism does not only refer to Humanism (life stance) and that Humanism (life stance) is not the sole definitition that have the right to a place on wikipedia. ... said: Rursus (bork²)

Why is there nothing on this page about the criticisms of humanism?

Well, why? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

  • I would guess for the same reasons that there is no criticism of Christianity on its page, no criticism of atheism on its page, etc. It would break NPOV. ES2 (talk) 15:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
The history paragraph does mention criticism of humanism as deification of man. Other sections also stress that nineteenth century humanists and historians, confusing the different meanings and etymologies of the term, mistakenly portrayed Renaissance humanism as a version of their own, erroneously attributing modern secularist attitudes to the figures of the time. Did you have other sorts of criticism in mind?Mballen (talk) 17:35, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
A short Google search shows pages like in which the criticisms of humanism are identical to what humanists claim about themselves. Humanists say, "we center our thoughts on humans rather than God, and that's good." Critics of humanism say, "they center their thoughts on humans rather than God, and that's bad." So it seems an article that just presents the facts about humanism is sufficient to explain both sides of any controversy. All we have to do is say "they center their thoughts on humans rather than God," and whether that's good or bad is for discussion outside of Wikipedia. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 14:48, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Wow, I didn't even realize that that link was anti-humanist until I went to the front page of the site. I even thought that the quote at the top of the page ("See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.") was being used in an ironic sense. I am truly at a loss for words. (talk) 06:23, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
All of Western civilization is based on humanism, that is, reason, as initiated and elaborated by the Greek pre-Socratics, as noted on this page.
Most world religions incorporate reason (usually by making it identical with God). The various fundamentalisms are an exception to this (usually because their adherents are very uneducated?) Religious humanists also believe in reason, but they oppose the idea that people's welfare must be subordinated to impersonal forces such as "the market", or "the march of progress", providence, or even "destiny", manifest or otherwise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mballen (talkcontribs) 16:16, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Please be careful not to let this POV creep into your edits of this article, as you make several statements of opinion that are not supported by any verifiable evidence. For example, you appear not to have a clear understanding of what "religious humanists" believe (see the Humanist Manifesto for a clear statement), and you attribute opinions about poorly-defined concepts such as "the market," "progress," "providence," and "destiny" to humanists when they are not really supported by common philosophy among them. For that matter, this page is not really appropriate for this editorializing either; this page is for discussion of improving the article instead. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 20:10, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
The humanist manifesto may not be a reliable source for what religious people believe. Some might even say that the humanist manifesto is itself a "statement of opinion".
It happens, as a matter of fact, that I do have a verifiable source, namely the Cambridge Companion to Philosophy's entry on "Humanism", which you might want to take a look at, since I think it is pertinent to the discussions about improving this page. Merely copying the literature of the various humanist societies is inadequate, as the long and contentious history of this wikipedia entry indicates. I should have said, however, that the positions of religious and secular humanisms contrast with those of science (or what purports to be science) as well as with religion when they appear to conflict with human values. Also, in future, you may want to avoid making what appear to be imperative statements to other posters, as they are contrary to the spirit of civilized discussion. It is not that difficult to find ways of modulating one's tone, when one is motivated to. One way to do it is to focus on what you yourself think, rather than on what you think other people ought to say or think.Mballen (talk) 20:59, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
The humanist manifesto is what's considered by scholars to be a "primary source" in historical study. As a statement of a philosophy, it is of course a statement of opinion, purposefully at odds with those who held more traditional philosophies like those of Christianity and Islam. To say that it isn't a reliable source for what religious humanists believed when it was published is a bit disingenuous, seeing as that was its sole purpose, and that it was authored by the most prominent leaders and prolific authors of that group. One might compare it to saying the "communist manifesto" is not a reliable source for what communists thought, or that the Bible is not a reliable source for what Christians believe. You might be interested in reading the articles on primary source and historiography to better acquaint yourself with how historical research is conducted. Also, in the future, you may want to avoid making statements of contempt towards imperative statements to other posters, because Wikipedia is not a platform for editorializing and discussing opinions: it is a project with specific goals and specific methods for accomplishing those goals, which are themselves imperatives. If you are not comfortable with working within a framework with such specific goals and guidelines, might I suggest looking for a forum website aimed at providing an open platform for all opinions and free speech instead? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 22:13, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, Pope Benedict is a religious humanist and I don't think the Humanist Manifesto is a reliable authority about what he believes, since it was written quite a while ago (I will add, just as a point of disclosure, that I agree with the humanist part of his belief and not with the theological part). I think you can expect that people will make edits as they see fit. Mballen (talk) 04:10, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

NOTE: The following comment contains a false accusation of which the original commenter has been notified, but which remains, at present, uncorrected. Please beware of provably false statements in the following comment, and note my correction in the followup comment. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:28, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Um, Serpent, I think people should know that the first humanist manifesto of 1933 presents what it calls "religious humanism" as a new and alternative socialist and materialistic (though reformist, not revolutionary) religion. The second (1973) declaration makes no mention at all of "religious humanism" and it repudiates the optimism of the first manifesto (while offering a vision of hope, hmm). It also acknowledges that: "Many within religious groups, believing in the future of humanism, now claim humanist credentials. Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation." Therefore, it would seem to acknowledge what you deny and what other on this board have been affirming over a period of many years, namely, that theists can have humanistic beliefs as well as non-theists.Mballen (talk) 17:57, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
The Amsterdam Declaration of 2002 is the only one of these documents (so far as I can tell) to affirm the centrality of music, art, and literature (but not scholarship) as values in human life if only on the level of promoting individual fulfilment, thus connecting somewhat to older Classical (Ciceronian) and Renaissance humanism. It rejects dogmatic religion, but not religion as such.Mballen (talk) 05:34, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
It's unfortunate that new contributors are so hesitant to read the archives of this talk page, and also that some editors have seen fit to delete several comments from the talk page too, because pretty much all the points you've made above have already been proven incorrect, proven a tiny-minority viewpoint, or otherwise gone challenged but undefended. For example, you write, "what you deny." I have never denied that theists can be humanists, and if you intend to accuse me of such, you must link to a comment in which I've said so or you will be reported for making personal attacks. What I HAVE said is that that is a tiny-minority viewpoint, and in fact, all three humanist manifestos and the Amsterdam Declaration you quoted agree with me on this:
  • Humanist Manifesto I, tenet 6: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought".
  • Humanist Manifesto II, tenet 1, second paragraph: As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.
  • Humanist Manifesto III, first sentence of introduction, ninth and tenth words: Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism...
I'm sure, to prove that you are indeed commenting in good faith, you will not only apologize to me for making a false accusation about my opinion, but you will also quote the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002, tenet 2, sentence 3 to demonstrate that you are not attempting to hide, mask, or lie about the obvious commonality in most attempts to define and frame humanism.
Wilson Delgado has brought up Pope Ben XVI already, and was challenged to show some evidence that he speaks for all catholics in this or that his viewpoint is the majority, using sources selected for being representative of a majority rather than hand-selected for their POV bias. He has, to date, always opted to refrain from doing so. Since you didn't notice that from reading this talk page's archives, I will now extend the same invitation to you: I am open to evidence. Please demonstrate with verifiable, objective evidence. Otherwise, please enjoy this light reading and be assured, you will be welcome back to Wikipedia once you are willing to share our goals and submit to our guidelines for verifiable content. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 01:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I haven't noticed anything much being "proved" on this page, though we have assertions aplenty. As for "tiny minority", that'll be the number of people identifying as humanists who have even heard of "all three humanist manifestos and the Amsterdam Declaration". Johnbod (talk) 01:28, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
That's too bad, your not having noticed the top-ranked book sales from Amazon, the top-ranked websites from Alexa, the top-ranked Google search results, and news results from the BBC, CNN, Google, and others, several of which were suggested by Wikipedia policy as the way to determine primary usage of a term, in multiple places down this page. One might almost be afraid that you were very selectively ignoring any facts that are inconvenient to your POV. I know this isn't true of you, of course, because you would only edit in good faith and you would never be that intellectually cowardly, so instead, I shall just have to resume posting top results from news article searches. This is so you can't say you "haven't noticed anything being proved," and will continue making it really obvious, through the contrast, that those who disagree with the most common use of the term have no verifiable evidence of frequency of use in their favor. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 02:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Because those criticism should be on Humanism (life stance). The current page should treat all definitions of "humanism". ... said: Rursus (bork²) 09:20, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Top News Article Search Results for Humanism

Please note, among these news articles, that some of these stories and editorials use the word in praise of the concept, and some in opposition. But, love it or hate it, they seem to be fairly consistent in understanding WHAT the term means in the first place. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 02:28, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Please also note that references to "secular humanism" are indeed references to secular humanism and not very relevant in discussing the meaning of humanism by itself. The same goes for other qualifiers. Johnbod (talk) 04:09, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
The following sources give definitions for "humanism" that are not mutually exclusive of "secular humanism," but can encompass "secular humanism" as a subset:
  • This very Wikipedia article, which in its "religion" section clarifies the difference between religious and secular humanism without contradicting American Heritage Dictionary definition 1.
  • American Heritage Dictionary definition 1
  • Compact Oxford English Dictionary definition 1
  • Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  • Collins Essential English Dictionary
  • Webster's Concise Dictionary
  • Collins Concise Dictionary
  • All dictionaries, encyclopedias, and philosophy companions listed at
  • Examples of use cited in my news article searches of July 2, July 4, and July 6 above
Since you cited no sources to show that "humanism" without an adjective and "secular humanism," in their most common usages, are mutually exclusive, I'll add a fact template to ensure no one mistakes your opinion as demonstrably true. In addition, the final sentence of your comment is contradicted by American Humanist Association executive director Frederick Edwords who, in his essay "What is Humanism?" gives several examples of adjectives placed before the noun that are synonymous, rather than mutually exclusive: "modern humanism," "naturalistic humanism," "scientific humanism," "ethical humanism," and "democratic humanism" among them. Since the AHA executive director disagrees that putting ANY adjective in front of the noun always changes what the noun refers to, I'll also put the fact template next to that statement so readers can avoid being confused by your opinion. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:31, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Speaking of "religious humanism, Johnbod, I think that the article should clarify that "religious humanism", as used in the various humanist manifestos and declaration, has a specific and more restrictive meaning s than is immediately apparent to the casual reader. The manifestos use it to identify divisions within their own community, not what ordinary people would necessarily think of when they hear the word "religious" combined with "humanism". More historical information about the development of the concept of humanism could help to make this clearer, since there have been ongoing changes even in the last 100 years in its use. As it is. the article relies far too much on the 1933 Manifesto -- written during a time of economic crisis and polarization of opinion. This manifesto is the very one that enemies of humanism like to cite as definitive, curiously enough. For example, it is not mentioned that 1973 Humanist Manifesto specifically repudiates the optimism it embraced in 1933; the more recent humanist declarations also repudiate the dogmatic rejection of religion, but the article does not give this impression. The article as it stands is unclear at best and at worst misleading.Mballen (talk) 17:47, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Maybe so, though it is a mistake to give too much importance to these tiny self-appointed American groups. Johnbod (talk) 18:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
What in the world can you possibly mean by saying, "the more recent humanist declarations also repudiate the dogmatic rejection of religion?" You yourself wrote above that the Humanist Manifesto I specifically named humanism as a RELIGION. That's not "a dogmatic rejection of religion;" that's embracing it. You also wrote that Humanist Manifesto II stepped away from using that term. That's not "repudiating dogmatic rejection;" that's repudiating ADHERENCE to religion. Your assertion not only contradicts what you wrote in a comment above, but contradicts what actually happened in history! Perhaps you find "the article as it stands [to be] unclear at best and at worst misleading" because you are misunderstanding the very primary sources used in its creation. I'd love to help you out, but since your own statements contradict each other, you'll have to let me know which you think are confusing. Then I'll be happy to point you to sources that can explain better. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 19:09, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
What does "or their mere negation" mean to you?

Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation."

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Mballen (talkcontribs) 20:31, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
What does "past religions" mean to you?

Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation."

Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:25, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Serpent, this is not the Humanist Manifesto I, this is II (already 37 years old), which very noticeably avoids calling humanism a religion and nowhere mentions the "religious humanism" so prominent in Manifesto I. This indicates to me that the Humanist Association has altered its definition of humanism in the last 80 years, and, indeed, they do mention (as I recall, I don't have it in front of me), that ideas can change and develop, and so presumably can the concept of humanism. They also say that they don't expect every signatory to agree with every particular in the declaration. Anyway, you haven't answered my question. I interpret the quoted statement as meaning: we should move beyond divisive criticism, dogmatic creeds and rituals of past religions and also move beyond the mere negation of such past creeds and their rituals, i.e., it is not enough to criticize past dogmatic creeds or merely to negate them. Do you have a different interpretation? And what about the repudiation of optimism? Do you agree with that? If you ask me, the Humanist Association appears to have sensibly decided that the wording and tone of its past Manifesto was overly dogmatic for today's times (or even yesterday' times). Indeed, the most recent declarations (the word Manifesto has also been abandoned) call humanism as they define it (more accurately, I also think) a life stance, rather than use the terms philosophy or religion.Mballen (talk) 21:58, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, you're right, and I'm sorry: on rereading, it looks to me like it's not the term "PAST religions" that you're having difficulty with. I know this is Humanist Manifesto II, so I thought you were trying to insinuate that humanism must "move above and beyond" the religious form of humanism explicated in Humanist Manifesto I. Instead, it looks like you don't know what the word "merely" means. American Heritage Dictionary says "mere" means "Being nothing more than what is specified." In other words, according to that quote, "humanism must move above and beyond BEING NOTHING MORE than the negation of past religions." Thus to say, "I do not share the faith of ancient Greek polytheists" may be NECESSARY to be a humanist, but is not SUFFICIENT to be a humanist. In the same way, you could say "a car must be more than merely four tires," which means four tires are NECESSARY to build a car, but are not SUFFICIENT to make up a car. If the distinction in logic between "necessity" and "sufficiency" is new to you, please see this Wikipedia article for a great overview: Necessary and sufficient condition. Again, I do apologize for misunderstanding your point: I know what both "past religions" AND "merely" mean, so I couldn't tell which point you DIDN'T understand. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 22:07, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Say, what? You mean you can't be a polytheist and be a humanist, too?Mballen (talk) 22:40, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
If you're asking for my opinion, Wikipedia is not the appropriate forum. Please take this discussion to any of a number of philosophy forum websites. If you're asking what is VERIFIABLE, on the other hand, I have already documented the stance of Humanist Manifesto I, Humanist Manifesto II, and Humanist Manifesto III on this subject in my comment of 01:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC). In that same comment, I challenged you to quote the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002, tenet 2, sentence 3 to demonstrate that you are not attempting to hide, mask, or lie about the obvious commonality in most attempts to define and frame humanism. You haven't done so, but I remain convinced that you are an editor in good faith, with all intelligence and with full willingness to comply with Wikipedia's policy of verifiability. To demonstrate that good faith, intelligence, and dedication to verifiability over opinion, won't you please make that requested quotation here? Again, that's Amsterdam Declaration of 2002, tenet 2, sentence 3. Thank you! Serpent More Crafty (talk) 23:05, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Here is a criticism from within. The following statement was published in the magazine, The Humanist in July of 2003:

[from] Dick Reichart

I am impressed with the general comprehensiveness of Humanist Manifesto III, though its writing bears some of the marks of all such documents written "by committee."

However, it reminds me of a criticism of Humanist Manifesto II The second manifesto was written in 1973 by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson, and was intended to update the previous one. It begins with a statement that the excesses of Nazism and world war had made the first seem "far too optimistic", and indicated a more hardheaded and realistic expressed by the late Ethical Culture Leader George Beauchamp, which I feel applies as well to Humanist Manifesto III. I once told a group with whom George was visiting at my home that he was the only person I knew who had never lost his temper. He responded that I was wrong--there was in fact one such occasion, when he had been so angered by the totally secular, even anti-religious, tone of Humanist Manifesto II that he tore up his American Humanist Association membership card and resigned. I won't do that, but I do feel the issue remains a shortcoming in Humanist Manifesto III. It is the failure to clearly acknowledge the validity of other worldviews which accept "right living in this world" as part of their responsibility to some being or force beyond themselves (or even of all humanity).

A large number--even the great bulk--of philosophical humanism's core concepts and values originated with people holding such "religious" views. In turn, the document fails to acknowledge the desirability of secular humanists working in harmony with people who hold those views today

--Dick Reichart, a semi-retired survey research professional, is a graduate of the Humanist Institute and has been an active member of the American Ethical Union for over twenty-five years and the Princeton Ethical Humanist Fellowship since its founding

Mballen (talk) 23:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, you could easily demonstrate your own good faith by citing the quotation yourself!

[Unindenting for legibility, but this is in reply to your Reichart quote.] This quote demonstrates exactly what American Humanist Association executive director Frederick Edwords was talking about when he wrote, in his essay "What is Humanism?" the following:

The most critical irony in dealing with Modern Humanism is the inability of its advocates to agree on whether or not this worldview is religious. Those who see it as philosophy are the Secular Humanists while those who see it as religion are Religious Humanists. This dispute has been going on since the early years of this century when the secular and religious traditions converged and brought Modern Humanism into existence. Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles. This is made evident by the fact that both Secular and Religious Humanists were among the signers of Humanist Manifesto I in 1933 and Humanist Manifesto II in 1973. From the standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree.

So yes, we all already know that there are both RELIGIOUS and SECULAR forms of humanism, and we know that not all humanists agree on which label one should take. We also know, further, that the AHA has sought to solve this conflict by introducing the term "life stance" to describe humanism.

However, none of this has anything to do with the question you asked above, nor where I pointed you to the answer. I've quoted the Humanist Manifesto I, Humanist Manifesto II, and Humanist Manifesto III as a demonstration of MY good faith and devotion to verifiability in Wikipedia. Though I quote three primary sources and you refuse to quote even the ONE I've left for you, I remain convinced that you might actually still be an editor in good faith, mindful of verifiability, rather than a peddler of a slanted POV. I'm sure you MEAN to quote only verifiable sources, and so you probably MEAN to go ahead and quote the Amsterdam Declaration, tenet 2, sentence 3, just as I will once again quote all three Humanist Manifestos to answer your question above:

  • Humanist Manifesto I, tenet 6: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought".
  • Humanist Manifesto II, tenet 1, second paragraph: As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.
  • Humanist Manifesto III, first sentence of introduction, ninth and tenth words: Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism...

Okay, there are three verifiable primary sources, pasted as a demonstration of my commitment to verifiability! I'm sure you MEAN to go ahead and cite the fourth at this time, right? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 23:42, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Dick Reichert did not say anything about religious humanists vs. secular humanists. He spoke of the need to work with people with "other world views" who had contributed to humanism. I agree that Edwords' quote is a good one and thought when I read it some time ago that it could be incorporated into the article at some point. As far as your "challenge", when I make edits I supply the requisite citations to the best of my ability. I don't see why superfluous assurances of anyone's good faith should be required.Mballen (talk) 00:36, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Actually, as the editor of the Princeton Ethical Humanist Fellowship Newsletter, Dick Reichert did indeed write on more than one occasion about religious vs. secular humanists and religious vs. secular Ethical Union members. He doesn't appear to have picked a side, as he acknowledged that it's only a disagreement on the semantics of the word "religion," but he DID very explicitly identify both sides of the debate as non-theistic, by that very term, in his May 1998 essay for the Newsletter.
As for the challenge, of course I agree with you: SUPERFLUOUS assurances of good faith shouldn't be required. Only non-superfluous ones. I repeatedly ask for a simple demonstration (and I set the example by offering quotes myself from THREE different sources), and as you wonder why I repeatedly ask, you continue to refuse, over and over, prompting me to wonder why you won't quote the Amsterdam Declaration, tenet 2, sentence 3. Outside of Wikipedia, one might be prompted to suspect such a refusal indicates NOT acting in good faith, or NOT being honest, or NOT sticking to facts that can be objectively verified. Here on Wikipedia, though, I know that you are bound to act in good faith, with honesty, and with verifiability as the highest ideal just as I am bound to acknowledge your good faith and your holding of verifiability as the highest ideal. So your continued refusal to quote the Amsterdam Declaration, tenet 2, sentence 3 must surely be attributed to some other cause: perhaps we shall assume that your web browser is broken or buggy and cannot perform the "copy" and "paste" functions. Yyyyyyeah, that's what we shall assume. I'm sorry about whatever circumstances prevent you from demonstrating good faith with a simple quotation, but I am quite sure you are NOT trying to mask facts that are inconvenient to your POV, you are NOT attempting to hide anything, you are NOT deliberately misrepresenting any sources. I'm glad to know we can all be on the same team here, working toward the same goals, and only offering those facts that can be objectively verified! Serpent More Crafty (talk) 04:58, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

How does something said in 1998 ( ), namely that it is hard for a religion like Ethical Culture to attract adherents when theistic religions profess the same humanistic goals (which they do) -- explain a statement made in 2003, which appears to say that all those with humanistic goals (not just non-theistic humanists) ought to work together? Perhaps we should ask him directly. (Also, see nontheism in wikipedia). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mballen (talkcontribs) 17:06, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Ohhh, now I understand why you think a minority POV of humanism is so relevant: you also hold a tiny-minority viewpoint of theistic religions! Let's just take Christianity, for example. You write that "theistic religions profess the same humanistic goals" as humanism, and perhaps they do IN YOUR OPINION, but Wikipedia is not an appropriate forum for your opinion. It is based on what can be easily VERIFIED, with the most common view being given the greatest prominence. Therefore you must consider Christianity not according to YOUR opinion, but according to such founding creeds and modern descriptions as these:
Now, we've talked about a number of sources that reflect what the most commonly-held beliefs of humanism are, among them the Humanist Manifestos I, II, and III, and the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002 (and I must note here that you STILL refuse to quote the tenet that addresses theism), but we can also add to those the introductions to humanism from the AHA and the BHA, the IHEU minimum statement on humanism, and the definition given by the Council for Secular Humanism. If you compare the most common views of humanism with the most common views of Christianity, you will see that VERIFIABLE SOURCES show very little overlap between the two viewpoints, and in fact very much straightforward contradiction. If you look up at the top news article search results I've been pasting over the past months, you'll see that many uses of "humanism" in modern media are to CRITICIZE it FOR being contrary to theistic faith. Popular Christian author Tim LaHaye wrote a book called "The Battle for the Family" that painted humanism as a tool of Satan directly aimed at destroying the Christian faith. The same attitude can be found on websites like these: and ...this latter of which says outright, "It is important to understand that a Christian cannot be a humanist. There are those who claim to be "Christian humanists" or "religious humanists." But humanism and Christianity are not compatible... Humanism and Christianity are mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed systems."
I acknowledge that YOU might think there's some overlap, and you might be able to find websites or wistful editorials that wish there could be greater reconciliation between the viewpoints. However, this website is not the appropriate forum for such editorializing: Wikipedia's purpose is for creating articles based on what IS ALREADY objectively verifiable, not a forum for persuasion. Please try to constrain yourself to what is appropriate for Wikipedia. Thanks! Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:49, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
You are representing something Dick Reichert said as something I said. Maybe Dick Reichert is "hoping for a reconciliation", more likely he is just worrying about increasing his congregation. As for me, I never said a word about the Christian religion. But I will say that Tim LaHaye is not a very credible source. Neither do the "abounding joy" and "apologetics press" websites constitute the "modern media". Mballen (talk) 05:16, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
  • In your 00:36, 30 July 2009 (UTC) comment, you wrote "Dick Reichert did not say anything about religious humanists vs. secular humanists."
  • In my 04:58, 30 July 2009 (UTC) comment, I refuted this showing very specific examples of how he correctly identified both sides of the "religious" vs. "secular" humanism debate, while affirming the nontheism of both.
  • In your 17:06, 30 July 2009 (UTC) comment, you wrote, "when theistic religions profess the same humanistic goals [as Ethical Culture] (which they do)."
  • In my 21:49, 30 July 2009 (UTC) comment, I refuted this showing, with nine (9!) sources, that the most common descriptions of humanism and the most common theistic religion DO NOT overlap very much at all in their most commonly-stated goals.
  • In your 05:16, 31 July 2009 (UTC) comment, you now try to pin that assertion on Dick Reichert, rather than take responsibility for your own obvious incorrectness.
  • In his May 1998 essay, Dick Reichert very clearly DID NOT write that theistic religions share the same GOALS as "ethical culture;" what he says is that "even theistic religions JUSTIFY THEIR BELIEFS in humanistic terms." This is nowhere near the same as having the same goals, nor having the same beliefs, nor having any overlapping philosophy at all.
All told, that makes more than a dozen sources I've cited from both pro-humanist and anti-humanist sources, while to disagree with me you've tried twice to rely on the same source but you've been obviously mistaken in both attempts. In addition, you criticize Tim LaHaye's "credibility" (with only a mere statement of opinion), though his "credibility" is not as noteworthy for this purpose as his POPULARITY. LaHaye has a wider audience than Reichert, and very certainly has a wider audience and wider agreement than YOUR opinion!
But what the heck are we doing discussing YOUR OPINION again? Why do you keep sharing it, as if you think it should be relevant? Your opinion is not relevant; this is not a philosophy forum. This is Wikipedia, and here the aim is not to discuss the opinions of random people on the internet; it's to publish what can be verified objectively. Let's start with the contents of the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002, shall we? Its contents are now a fact of history, not subject to any imposition of slanted point of view. What, can you tell me, does the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002 say in its second tenet, third sentence? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 05:53, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Flawed intro

Humanism is a term used for:

  • Humanist studies, since the 15th century, parted into:
  • religious,
  • agnostic,

Why does the article claim "the word dates from the nineteenth century"? We know that humanist thinking was around the time of the Protestant Reformation, since humanism was a major influence on some protestants. Deeming from the previous link spamming and edit wars, there is something about the emergence of Humanism that is either embarassing or otherwise inconvenient for the proponents of Humanism (life stance), which is expressed in a will to redefine (and thereby factually misrepresent) the historical heritage of the word. Cannot the definition referring to academical studies and the definition referring to the life stance coexist? (If not, then that life stance is somehow flawed, since it claims an absolutely free mind, while not practicing it). ... said: Rursus (bork²) 09:33, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

It merely means that all the words ending in -ism first were used in the 19th century (when history and schools of thought first began to be divided up into periods and -isms). However, the concept of self-consciously using human reason and public discussion to air and solve problems goes back to the Greek polis, where a space was made for it in the agora, or public square. At first this custom was very restricted, but it gradually gained prestige and spread through other countries. And this type of thinking was revived in a big way in the Italian Renaissance in Southern Europle and then the Protestant Reformation in Northern Europe -- to simplify on a grand scale. If that's what you mean, you are correct. And you are also correct that the agnostic variety is a late development. I agree with you that the introduction is misleading, but it has repeatedly been reverted.Mballen (talk) 14:19, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I mean – and so the humanist studies can be traced further back than I believed... Now, let's see if we can await that feelings calm down, and see if, after all, we might actually get an agreement to part the article space between Humanism "academical studies" and Humanism "life stance", maybe relating the one to the other by comparison. (Theoretically it wouldn't be too hard, since the space available is potentially unlimited, or nearly so). It would actually do that life stance a service, since it might occur that it can be traced back to academical studies via the agnostic variant. ... said: Rursus (bork²) 21:18, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
I do agree that the current introduction is rather flawed. It seems not to accommodate the coexistence of multiple definitions of humanism you're talking about. I'd already criticized the overloading of historical details and confusion of what humanism is in my comment of July 2nd, which has not been addressed, so I'm guessing we have agreement and will be fixing up some of the unsourced, redundant, and ill-placed details to make the introduction more clear again.
I think we are all agreed that humanism has multiple distinct definitions, all of which deserve their fair treatment, so I created the disambiguation page at Humanism (disambiguation) to ensure we can find the one we're most interested in. If you're interested in Renaissance humanism, for example, full treatment of the topic is found at Renaissance humanism. If you're interested in modern study of humanities, make yourself at home in the Humanities article. I hope this helps! OldMan (talk) 16:45, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
And if you're interested in Secular humanism or Humanism (life stance) you have those pages, so this endlessly disputed article should just redirect to the disam page. Johnbod (talk) 17:27, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
You forgot Religious humanism also! I will agree to this if you can convince the editors of Christianity that their article should be turned into a disambiguation page that points to the various denominations of Christianity, and the editors of Islam that their article should be a disambiguation page that points to the variety of Sunni and Shiite beliefs. If, in those cases, it's deemed worthwhile instead to have an umbrella article that summarizes what the subsets have in common, then that strategy should be pursued here for consistency. OldMan (talk) 17:43, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm delighted you agree! Of course WP:OTHERSTUFF means what other subjects do is irrelevant, even if the variety of shades of belief in Islam & Christianity were comparable to those among the various things that all have "humanism" in their names, which is a hard case to argue. Johnbod (talk) 20:12, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Of course I don't agree yet because you haven't accomplished this yet. The WP:OTHERSTUFF policy even says why not to base your argument on another article: because the other article might be wrong too. This is why I am not saying you are automatically wrong for disagreeing with me, but that successful change in a more closely monitored article will demonstrate the correct course of action here. If they are wrong on other articles, you should be able to convince them there. Then it will be unquestioningly clear that I have been wrong in my interpretation of the guidance on WP:DISAMBIG and WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. OldMan (talk) 23:55, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
It is not for you to impose conditions. Either it should just be a disam page or it should not. I doubt if it is the "interpretation of the guidance" that is different, though it might be, but the view of the factual question as to whether "there is a well-known primary topic for an ambiguous term, name or phrase, much more used than any other topic covered in Wikipedia to which the same word(s) may also refer". The situation here is somewhat unusual, as this article is something of a reverse WP:POVFORK, which attempts to cover several topics that are actually sufficiently different to have their own articles, as of course they do, and not sufficiently similar for there ever to be agreement over a suitable lead section. This lack of agreement strongly suggests that there is no real single topic of "humanism", just several that claim the name. Johnbod (talk) 02:03, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
There is a similar situation on the page for "Social Contract."Mballen (talk) 02:29, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

OldMan has recently returned to the much discredited intro of long ago. More people have voiced opposition to this approach than have voiced assent. The consensus is for change. Let us rewrite. Wilson Delgado (talk) 22:37, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

There was a version that lasted for some time not long ago, was there not? Alternatively, I set out a proposal below. Johnbod (talk) 01:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Proposal to redirect this page to Humanism (disambiguation)

  • As explained above, the long-term edit-warring on this page, and the apparent impossibility of agreeing a lead section (and the relative lack of trouble in the other sections of the article), suggests that this page is what I've called a "reverse WP:POVFORK" that artificially attemps to unite the several topics listed at the disam page, which reads:

"Humanism may refer to ethical philosophies such as

Humanism may also refer to:

There is no primary topic for Humanism, and the plain title should redirect to the disam page. Although this is not strictly a move proposal, I will ask User:Anthony Appleyard, who covers moves, to oversee and close the debate, as an uninvolved admin. Johnbod (talk) 01:30, 6 August 2009 (UTC)


  1. As nominator Johnbod (talk) 01:24, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  2. I strongly support this proposal. Wilson Delgado (talk) 02:04, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  3. Support as best of a bad job, from the encyclopedia's point of view. Really extensive discussion here has not succeeded, in my view, in finding a structure for an article on humanism, thought of broadly, for which the article as a whole can flourish. I'm not thinking just about the lede, here: the fact is that (quite typically for a protracted edit war) great attention has been given to rival versions of the lede, and the rest of the article (just as typically) has not received the sort of quality editing it needs. Charles Matthews (talk) 07:20, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  4. Support per Charles Matthews' reasoning. I do think that continuing the discussion about how to define "humanism thought of broadly" would be profitable, even if the article should remain a disambiguation page, we could still provide a lead paragraph defining the term broadly, based on reliable sources. Srnec (talk) 18:09, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I realise only now that this proposal is to redirect this article to the disambiguation article. What I actually support is converting this article into a disambiguation article. Srnec (talk) 23:44, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  1. Support, current article very confused, as it mixes up modern use in USA which is essentially a by-word for "liberal atheism". Best to simply have it going to a disambiguation. It is really not good to have the current insignificant definition usurping Renaissance Humanism which is one of the most influential and important to understand movements in Western history (influencing Protestantism, Counter-Reformation, Illuminsm, Absolutism, etc). - Yorkshirian (talk) 23:10, 8 August 2009 (UTC)


  1. This was voted on before, and voted down. Asking again strikes me as petulance, like a child stamping his foot because he really really really wants to get his own way. The argumentation isn't any better this time around; the "supporters" above still don't show any verifiable evidence of frequency of use whereas the book searches, news searches, and website searches over the past few months haven't changed. If I'm to adhere to Wikipedia's policy on verifiability, I don't really have a choice here. No supporters cite the Wikipedia policies they're following, and as Charles Matthews says, they're mostly just ignoring the other improvements that should be made to bring this article from a "B" grade to an "A" grade. They are numerous, and largely ignored by other editors in favor of making this article a discussion about unverifiable opinions. OldMan (talk) 13:13, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Simple comment: if you think issues here can be decided, once-and-for-all, in a way that excludes later reconsideration, then you have a certain amount to learn about the operations of Wikipedia. In short, a supposed consensus can be challenged. You would also do well to address the merits of the proposal rather than the merits of its supporters (I hardly need go into why). Charles Matthews (talk) 17:46, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  1. Oppose Many articles link here, assuming an atheistic, anthropocentric meaning. Happy Humanist (talk) 15:43, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  2. Oppose. See comments in "discussion." Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:31, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  3. Oppose Since I've been working on WikiProject Religion, this article has always been a useful and popular summary within the scope of our project, consistent with the humanism template, and as described in Outline of humanism. (talk) 22:33, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  4. Strongly oppose In-depth discussion of humanism as a collection of related beliefs is vital to understanding of the topic. You can't just chop a large and complex subject down to a list of disambiguation links. Spudtater (talkcontribs) 21:05, 11 August 2009 (UTC)


(Please keep comments brief)

Re Old Man: This is the link: 4 opposed & 2 supported a similar proposal (1 each of the votes already repeated here). Johnbod (talk) 17:09, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Re:Happy Humanist: All of those links would redirect to the disam page. In an ideal world they should all be given a more precise link in any case. Although many Renaissance Humanists have been linked more precisely, I see Pope Nicholas V still links here, & no doubt many Christian humanists etc too. Johnbod (talk) 17:03, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

In the proposal, Johnbod writes, "There is no primary topic for Humanism." This statement is false. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC says the following:

If there is extended discussion about which article truly is the primary topic, that may be a sign that there is in fact no primary topic, and that the disambiguation page should be located at the plain title with no "(disambiguation)".

Tools that may help determine a primary topic, but are not determining factors, include:

Yes, there IS "extended discussion" about whether this article is about the primary topic of humanism, but it's been a very one-sided discussion. One side shows google web, news, scholar, and book searches, and continues providing data for month after month that shows dominant usage within the news... and the other side shows... nothing. They do not provide any objective and verifiable sources, because all objective and verifiable sources show very clearly that the human-centered philosophy is the most prominent usage within books, magazines, news articles, and websites. So the "extended discussion" is not fruitful, it does not introduce any new facts; it is just endless repetition like that Monty Python skit: "that's not argument; it's just mindless contradiction!"

Try asking around to see if any of the "supporters" above will analyze the incoming wikilinks or Wikipedia article traffic statistics, as suggested by WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. They will all decline, as the results are very inconvenient to their viewpoint. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:30, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Those tools may result in Recentism, which is the problem I have with an article about secular humanism that is titled simply "humanism". Srnec (talk) 23:46, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Notice that Serpent ignores completely the oft-repeated point about the typical usage of phrases like "humanistic studies" and "humanists and scientists," and also the frequently cited major reference works that point away from his position. He ignores the valid critiques that have been made of his approach. The fact is that the word humanism relates closely to humanist and humanistic as well as humanities. Truncating the semantic field is not a fair tactic, particularly when the page gets all the searches for humanistic directed to it. Wilson Delgado (talk) 00:54, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Since this was already refuted at Talk:Humanism#Humanism and Science and Talk:Humanism#Most_common_usage_of_.22Humanist_Studies.3F.22, this comment is a perfect example of that Monty Python skit I mentioned: "That's not argument; that's just mindless contradiction!" Thanks for stepping up to demonstrate. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 14:25, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Not so, Serpent. Your "refutations" were shown invalid by the wrong choice of search terms. Wilson Delgado (talk) 23:11, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Which I also addressed in the discussions above. Again, "that's not argument; that's just mindless contradiction!" I sure do think those Monty Python fellas are hilarious! Thanks for the reenactment! Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:27, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I see no signs that Serpent adequately engaged the issue. Point out your response about the use of the phrases "humanistic studies" and "humanists and scientists," both of which tend to make humanism a matter of the humanities. Wilson Delgado (talk) 18:41, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
The signs that I adequately engaged the issue were in my comment of 14:54, 29 June 2009 (UTC). Serpent More Crafty (talk) 18:47, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
No, that response was not in the least adequate. You did not address the current usages that I pointed out, ones that are easily available through Google-searches and that speak against your position. You simply squirmed away. Wilson Delgado (talk) 19:11, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
No, your original assertion was not in the least adequate. You did not address the current usages that I pointed out, ones that are easily available through Google-searches and that speak against your position. You simply squirmed away. (Just like in the Monty Python skit! "Yes it is!" "No it isn't!" No substance anywhere.) Serpent More Crafty (talk) 19:49, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
Also, as we have seen, Serpent ignores qualiying terms, so a reference to "secular humanism" is used as data for an argument as to the primary use of Humanism, not of Secular Humanism. All (I think) regular commenters here have readily agreed that some form of non- or anti-religious humanism is the most common sense in modern news etc media, but not that, taken with other types of use, it passes the un-defined level needed to be "primary". But Serpent raises a good point: the incoming wikilinks are not useful because I & other have gone through many of them making the links more precise for Renaissance Humanists, for which there were many, & still are some. The same has not been done for other groups. But the wikitraffic has not been examined before. Here are the June 09 stats for the articles with "humanism" in their names, and for the ones on the disam page, their % of the total for the group of 52,927:

These can be divided in groups as "secularist" (SH+H(ls)), "probably religious" (RH,RH,CH), and "other" (NH, MH) - Most Renaissance humanists were religious believers, and what distinguishes a "humanist" Marxist from the ordinary sort is nothing to do with religion. The groups then sub-total %s as:

  • "secularist" 55.57%
  • "probably religious" 40.50%
  • "other" 3.90%

56% of the traffic falls well short of the level of dominance required for "primary" status ("there is a well-known primary topic for an ambiguous term, name or phrase, much more used than any other topic covered in Wikipedia to which the same word(s) may also refer"). Note that this test is listed ahead of the Google stats in the guideline, and rightly so. It's funny Serpent never thought of trying this test, which is so much quicker and clearer than all those subjective Google figures.... Johnbod (talk) 03:01, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Johnbod (talk) 02:21, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Two uses of the term humanism that appear to have been left out are: a) "New Humanism" -- as used to refer to the 18th-Century German Enlightenment of Winckelmann, Lessing, and Goethe (not to be confused with the twentieth-century "new humanism" of Babbitt). And b) Medical humanism -- which a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine defines as "patient centered" as opposed to paternalistic medicine. (Neither of these necessarily presuppose secularism nor a "rejection" of religion, although religious tolerance was a big thing with Lessing). Also, the article in its present form may be said to exhibit not only Recentism but also Presentism! In this connection, the illustration of the Humanist Society logo on this page and list of prominent humanists would be better suited to the pages on Humanism as a life stance and secular humanism.Mballen (talk) 05:12, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
By all means start articles for them. Johnbod (talk) 07:59, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Your percentages show that you've discarded 60% of all visits. Don't forget that in June, the Humanism article described "a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity of humankind, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to rationality, while tending to reject the supernatural or the divine authority of religious texts." So those visits count toward your first category. Then, as Frederick Edwords wrote, "Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles... From the standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree." So Religious humanism also belongs to the same grouping as Humanism and Secular humanism, rather than a different one. So the correct percentages are as follows:
  • Human-centered philosophy (H, HLS, SH, RH): 112661 visits, 84%
  • Other uses (RenH, CH, NH, MH): 20984 visits, 16%
So yes, 84% does render other uses a fairly small minority. You might also be interested in doing a comparison between the visitation stats on the Humanism article vs. the ones on the Humanism (disambiguation) article. I'd started doing this soon after the disambiguation article was created, but haven't kept up on it because the results were so redundant and boring: fewer than 1% of visitors to the Humanism article clicked through to the disambiguation page in June. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 14:16, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
(WARNING! The following comment contains incorrect statements that remain uncorrected in the original. -SMC) A truly bizarre argument! Obviously readers did not know what the article would say when they searched for or clicked on it, and we can safely assume that those who returned frequently to savour the prose & wisdom contained therein were a tiny handful largely restricted to those of us featuring on this page. The only realistic way to see what WP readers were interested in is to look at the traffic to the other articles with more indicative titles. We do not know where viewers came from or where they went to, including how many hit the links to the other articles in the text or the template. The disam page was only started on June 18th & currently only has 5 incoming links, though it did get 617 views in July - not too bad for so new a page. I am interested to see what Frederick Edwords (who he?) wrote, (WARNING! The following statement is false, yet remains uncorrected in the original! -SMC) flatly contradicting the position you have vigorously maintained throughout. Why do you refuse to accept a lead section reflecting this view? Johnbod (talk) 14:33, 7 August 2009 (UTC) (UNEDITED ORIGINAL FOLLOWS) Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:26, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
A truly bizarre argument! Obviously readers did not know what the article would say when they searched for or clicked on it, and we can safely assume that those who returned frequently to savour the prose & wisdom contained therein were a tiny handful largely restricted to those of us featuring on this page. The only realistic way to see what WP readers were interested in is to look at the traffic to the other articles with more indicative titles. We do not know where viewers came from or where they went to, including how many hit the links to the other articles in the text or the template. The disam page was only started on June 18th & currently only has 5 incoming links, though it did get 617 views in July - not too bad for so new a page. I am interested to see what Frederick Edwords (who he?) wrote, flatly contradicting the position you have vigorously maintained throughout. Why do you refuse to accept a lead section reflecting this view? Johnbod (talk) 14:33, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
On 26 June I wrote to Wilson Delgado the following: "It looks like you're still sowing confusion with your terms "secularistic" (in your comment about the pope above) and "that phrase can be used of religious humanisms too." It looks like, after all these years, you're still vague on the point that both secular and religious forms of humanism exist that fit the description in the first paragraph of the article." Then, on 29 July, I quoted Fred Edwords more completely and cited the source. The fact that you don't know what "religious humanism" is, is strictly your fault for not following the discussion here and reading the very article on the subject. Once you understand that "secular humanism," "religious humanism," and "life stance humanism" are VERY SIMILAR philosophies that only vary in implementation, then you can understand how an article called "humanism" can summarize all three, and that the visits to such a page fit the same category, just as visits to "Sunni Islam," "Shia Islam," and "Islam" all count as expressing interest in Islam. (Thanks to OldMan for bringing this example to my attention; it's a very good one.) So the only problem is that you don't really know what religious humanism IS, or how the various subsets of humanism relate to each other. Perhaps you should read those articles before you try to make contributions to an encyclopedic article on the subject? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Oddly enough, our articles on Religious Humanism ("Secular humanists and revealed religious humanists primarily differ in their definition of religion and their positions on supernatural beliefs") and Christian Humanism ("Christian Humanism is the belief that human freedom and individualism are intrinsic (natural) parts of, or are at least compatible with, Christian doctrine and practice") take very different views! I've never edited either btw. Awaiting a response on the point re traffic stats. Johnbod (talk) 15:26, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
If you don't know what it means by "REVEALED religious humanists," you should read the Religious humanism article, which defines it very clearly: "Humanism as it was conceived in the early 20th century REJECTED revealed knowledge, theism-based morality and the supernatural." The lead of the article defines it also, so you don't have to confuse what they call "REVEALED religious humanists" with the subject of that article. (I haven't edited it either.) As for the traffic stats, we CAN tell how many people look for alternative meanings of "humanism" by comparing the total number of visitors to Humanism vs. those who specifically look for other definitions by visiting Humanism (disambiguation). Or by comparing Humanism stats against those of other meanings, like Renaissance humanism. So that works out to be an 84% advantage for the human-centered philosophy in the latter case, and approximately 99% advantage for the human-centered philosophy in the former case. Either one makes a very clear case for a primary topic. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:41, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
You are clearly confused yourself, as anyone reading that article might well be. However since "Religious humanism" includes both definitely non-deist and definitely deist positions, it is not useful for the figures above & small number of hits should be excluded altogether, or added to "other". That does not make much difference to the figures. The absurdity of including all Humanism hits as interested in the secular/non-deist meanings only will be obvious to everyone except you, & I won't labour the point. Johnbod (talk) 15:26, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Now you are introducing more terminology for which you don't seem to understand the definition: did you know that deism has a specific meaning that is NOT freely interchangeable with the term theism? Because "deism" has a specific meaning that is not a strict synonym for "theism," all sentences in which you use it in the above comment are incorrect. In fact the "religious humanism" article makes NO mention of deism at all, either way. However, even if you meant to say "theism," that's also incorrect: it mentions theistic or "revealed" religious humanism only tangentially, not as the primary focus of the article but under the "Related traditions" heading. As for counting the visits to the humanism article itself, remember that the humanism article DOES have a specific focus on the primary topic, as it did in June. However, there is a link to the disambiguation page right there in the hat-note, so if anyone is NOT happy with the content they find in this article, they can click through to choose another meaning. Counting how many actually do so is useful to tell whether the primary topic is meeting the needs of the readers, vs. how many have to find a different article through the disambiguation page. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
So now you are saying this page covers only one topic? Johnbod (talk) 16:14, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Our opinions on that are irrelevant. That's already been decided for us: please see WP:NAD#Major differences. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:55, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
If you believe that "other meanings, like Renaissance humanism" are not covered by "Humanism", then why do they have long sections in the article? This is exactly the point of the proposal we are discussing. The "Religious Humanism" article, which is clearly something of a mess, covers both "Secular Humanism as a religion" and "Revealed Religion Humanism" without adequately distinguishing between the two. A similar position to Humanism itself. Johnbod (talk) 15:45, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm actually okay with the discussion of "renaissance humanism" as part of the history of humanism because many major history scholars and reference works draw a connection between renaissance humanism and the enlightenment philosophy which gave rise to humanism. This is contrary to the opinions that mballen tries to insert, but if the "history" section of this article becomes nothing more than a forum for his opinions, then I would indeed be okay with removing the "renaissance humanism" section from this article entirely. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 15:53, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Refresh my memory about the sorts of "opinions" I have tried to insert.Mballen (talk) 17:01, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I was referring to sentences like this one: "Contrary to popular misconception, however, Renaissance humanism was not a philosophical movement, neither was it anti-religious." Not only is it a universal declaration, and therefore likely to have counterexamples, but in fact we actually GIVE such counterexamples only a few paragraphs later! In general, when you use phrases like "contrary to popular misconception," you run the risk of breaking Wikipedia policies like WP:GREATWRONGS. "We can record the righting of great wrongs, but we can’t ride the crest of the wave because we can only report that which is verifiable from reliable secondary sources, giving appropriate weight to the balance of informed opinion: what matters is not truth but verifiability." If many reference works and historians DO point out how Renaissance humanism contributed to enlightenment philosophy, then that bears noting, whatever your personal opinions may be. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:24, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
What you are quoting is not my personal opinion at all, but the consensus modern experts in the field. If you wish to find an opinion to counter or qualify it, then by all means do so. Don't just say that it's likely to exist, and don't just erase my words. The readers of Wikipedia deserve to know the consensus of modern historians not just what Corliss Lamont (expressing the opinion of the times in which he lived) thought. I can certainly source what I say. This is a topic about which many many books and articles have been written. For example (and this is only one of a great many possible ones):

Renaissance humanism, conceived as "a new philosophy of life" or a glorification of human nature in secular terms, melts away into vagueness as soon as the critical historian tries to define the terms of that philosophy or that glorification. ..... No serious scholar now believes that before the Italian Renaissance Europe lay sunk in darkness, barbarism, and superstition for a thousand years. It is true that Petrarch and other humanists claimed to have restored civilization after a millennium of cultural darkness. This claim may contain profound truths concerning the Renaissance period. But concerning the Middle Ages, it is patently false, so false that no one whose opinion counts now holds it. Humanism was not, as many people have assumed, a worldly rival philosophy that displaced a pious scholastic philosophy during the Renaissance. For one thing, humanism was not a philosophy at all . . . In the professional studies of philosophy and natural science, scholasticism (and Aristotle) retained a mastery unshaken and almost unchallenged right through the Renaissance centuries all the way down to the collapse of Aristotelian science in the time of Galileo and Descartes. The humanistic culture did not produce a new philosophy to replace this scholasticism, which continued not only to exist but also to develop along lines that were intellectually sound and philosophically fruitful."--Charles E. Nauert, Humanism and the Culture of the Renaissance (Cambridge, 2006) pp. 21-11".

According to Nauert, one modern historian of science, Thorndike, thinks that humanism was only a superficial movement about elegant writing style that actually retarded the progress of experimental science that was developing in the Middle Ages (though almost no one agrees with him). Others point out that humanism produced no philosopher of note to compare with Aquinas, Descartes, or Kant who came before and after. In religion, Renaissance humanists (like Valla and Erasmus) opposed Aristotelianism because its emphasis on reason tended to undermine religious faith, and it was in Aristotelian circles that the theory of atoms was revived, not in humanist ones. Pico and Ficino exalted man, not out of opposition to religion, but because they believed man was close to God, an opinion identical with that of the Church fathers. (Pico was a follower of the religious fanatic Savonarola.) I am not making this up. Enlightenment philosophes, such as Voltaire (who despised history), accepted Petrarch's valuation of the Middle Ages -- that is one obvious way in which the Renaissance contributed to the Enlightenment. And the nineteenth-century liberal humanists accepted the myth of the barbarous Middle Ages they picked up from Voltaire. A more nuanced historicism, based on looking at the evidence, was a thing of the future. But seriously, why don't you pick up a real book about the Renaissance or the Enlightenment and read it--the works of Cassirer or Peter Gay, or Anthony Grafton, for example, and cite those? Mballen (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:53, 12 August 2009 (UTC).
That discussion and those citations were part of an exchange between OldMan and Charles Matthews, if I remember right, so you'll have to dig in the archives to find such citations. However, if even the first page of google search results for "Renaissance humanism" returns articles that cite Marie Boas, The Scientific Renaissance, 1450-1630 (London, 1962) and John H. Randall, Jr., The School of Padua and the Emergence of Modern Science (Padua, 1961) as asserting the very thing you seek to eradicate, it doesn't look very good for us if anyone follows up on this article. Furthermore, it doesn't matter how emphatically Nauert phrases his opinion, nor how emotionally he seeks the dismissal of anyone who disagrees with him: if there are counterexamples of his assertion, then his assertion is not universally true and should not be presented as such. For that matter, he makes himself clearly unreliable by contradicting HIS OWN OPINION with a counterexample in the third sentence of your quote. His delivery is rife with childish illogic, like "no one whose opinion counts..." phrase which is a perfect example of the No true Scotsman fallacy. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:49, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
No, it was you who spoke of the supposedly unverified "opinions" mballen "tried to insert" and therefore I gave an example of a reliable source to back up my "opinion". So now then, what I want to know is, what do Marie Boas and John H. Randall actually have to say that you believe contradicts Nauert (who, far from being "emotional" is a very cautious, mainstream scholar, and who merely summarizes the conclusions of Kristeller and other researchers who are experts in the field)? If you can't supply a quotation, can you at least provide page references? Padua, where Galileo taught, was a center of Aristotelianism, by the way. As for "universally true", no doubt in future it will be modified but that is where educated opinion is now. Scholarship does not consist of counting references on Google, but of informed judgments, such as Nauert and Kristeller have made on the basis of close study of primary sources. You don't seem to grasp that there is no "universal truth" -- only changing opinions based on the best evidence currently available. According to the reviewer (James M. Estes) in Sixteenth Century Journal Nauert's book "Is surely destined to establish itself quickly as the best introduction to Renaissance humanism. In particular it will be essential reading for graduate students preparing for their comprehensive examinations and for instructors faced with the task of explaining humanism to their students". And George Huppert in the magazine The Historian says, "This book presents every aspect of humanist culture... [Nauert's] book supersedes any previous attempt at such a synthesis, and each chapter, with its own bibliography, is a key to the several sub-fields included here ... . Absolutely any reader, without any special preparation, can use this book as a first step toward mastering the field." I'd say that makes it a pretty reliable source. You ought to consider reading it yourself.Mballen (talk)

SMC says:

Furthermore, it doesn't matter how emphatically Nauert phrases his opinion, nor how emotionally he seeks the dismissal of anyone who disagrees with him: if there are counterexamples of his assertion, then his assertion is not universally true and should not be presented as such. For that matter, he makes himself clearly unreliable by contradicting HIS OWN OPINION with a counterexample in the third sentence of your quote. His delivery is rife with childish illogic, like "no one whose opinion counts..." phrase which is a perfect example of the No true Scotsman fallacy.

Nauert wrote that: "No serious scholar now believes that before the Italian Renaissance Europe lay sunk in darkness, barbarism, and superstition for a thousand years". Serpent appears to find this "emotional" but it is a simple statement of fact on the order of: "No serious scholar believes that dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as the cave men" or that "in the Middle Ages people thought the earth was flat." Actually, one historian, Daniel J. Boorstin in the popular book "The Explorers" did write that in the middle ages people thought that the earth was flat and he became a public laughing stock as a consequence [[3]. There was a great deal of scholarship and technical advance in the Middle Ages -- a lot of it in France where Petrarch and Poggio Bracciolini made spectacular finds of "lost" manuscripts that had been carefully preserved by monks under the direction of Charlemagne, and where there was a robust secular culture called "le gai science' featuring elaborate love poetry, festivals, tournaments, epics and the like. Italy may have been sunk in decline, but France, where Petrarch grew up and whose universities Dante frequented, was not. Anyway the idea that there are "universal truths" sounds suspiciously like the Medieval Aristotelianism that the humanists objected to. The fact that Galileo believed that "universal truths" could be revealed by mathematics is a result of his Aristotelain training at the school of Padua, according to Stillman Drake, the distinguished Galileo scholar. "Universal truth" is not the same as a reliable source with expertise and academic credentials as required by wikipedia. Mballen (talk) 21:28, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
In fairness, it is impossible for either "Europe lay sunk in darkness, barbarism, and superstition for a thousand years" or the opposite position to be a 'fact' of the same order as 'humans didn't coexist with dinosaurs', since being "sunk in darkness", being "barbaric", and being "superstitious" are all relative and subjective terms. Our own modern-day culture might (perhaps even rightly!) be considered 'sunk in darkness,' 'barbaric,' and 'superstitious' by comparison with some future culture a thousand years from now. If the substance of this claim is that Europe was uniform, then it's obviously false. On the other hand, dismissing scholarly consensus (which has indeed shifted away from the 'Middle Ages = Dark Ages' view quite dramatically, although I think this is more a change of degree than of kind) because of objections you have with the argumentative style (which is, obviously, OR) is not relevant; what matters are scholarly objections to other scholars' arguments. -Silence (talk) 22:44, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand. The question of "fact" was not whether Europe actually lay in darkness but whether serious scholars believed that it did -- Petrarch believed it, or something like it, and this belief gave the Renaissance its name. It was still believed and even more vigorously asserted in the eighteenth century by anti-clerical polemicists such as Voltaire and others; and in the nineteenth century Burckhardt appears to have shared this view to a great extent. Certainly our age may be seen as a dark age of genocide and mass civilian slaughter by fire and atom bombs, or conversely, as a golden age of prosperity and enlightenment, who can tell? I don't approve of the burning of heretics or judicial torture, and if I were arguing for religious tolerance as Voltaire was, I might use similar language. But Nauert's statement about the views of modern historians is not an example of the "No true Scotsman fallacy," because it is not a fallacy but a true statement (which is what I meant by "a fact") and he backs it up with a bibliography, the first and still key work of which is Wallace Fergusson's The Renaissance in Historical Thought, 1948. Anyway, that is what I meant, but I don't want to talk about the Renaissance. I just added three encyclopedia references to definitions of humanism to the talk page diagram -- all of them light blue -- so far it is 7 red/pink and eleven light and dark blue.
What are the names of the "many history scholars" to whom you refer? Inquiring minds would like to know.Mballen (talk) 17:08, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
I think there should be a general introduction -- not one limited to the humanism of the 1933 Manifesto, like the present one -- that encompasses all the meanings of the term followed by a brief list of paragraphs in chronological order about philosophies of (or outlooks about) man -- giving a general trajectory of how the concept widened from a relatively restricted one (in Ancient Greece) to a more cosmopolitan one (in Hellenistic Greece and Republican Rome), became Christianized (in the Church fathers), and then partially, through the Arabs and Scholastics, and then more and more, secularized, culminating with with 19th century rationalism and then 20th century ot "humanism as a lifestance" last. It is an important topic insofaras the various humanisms have left their traces on our legal and educational systems, for better or for worse. (talk) 01:05, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Administrator's statement

  • Philosophy is a complicated subject, and (unlike biology and nuclear physics etc) there is unlikely to be one answer to many of its component topics. The plain-name page Humanism is needed; redirecting it to Humanism (disambiguation) would face readers with a list of names with nothing to say what they mean; many readers have no knowledge of philosophy. However, page Humanism should restrict each of its sections to enough to say briefly what each sort of humanism is, not to discuss it in depth and thus cause content forking with (that sort of humanism)'s own page; I remember this sort of situation a while ago when I text-merged Berlin#History to History of Berlin.
    The second hatlink could be changed to:
    This article is about human-centered philosophy. For a short list of types of this philosophy, and other uses, see Humanism (disambiguation)
    Page Humanism's lede (= header section) seems satiafactory to me.
    Anthony Appleyard (talk) 05:27, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Then you may be suggesting that other types of humanism should be given some short introductory space in the lead. My problem with the current approach on the page is that readers will see "Humanism stands aloof from religion / scripture / revleation." or some such formulation, and before they come to distinguish the literary / cultural / educational type of humanism they will already be judging it to be negative about religion. This is simply not true for many, many humanists. It would be better to separate out the sub-types of humanism from the core idea of humanism, which is simply an attitude, approach, or philosophy that gives special importance to humanity, human concerns and values (-- and this should be said without reference to religious stances). Wilson Delgado (talk) 06:41, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
The "current" version (see section above) is an old one that has just been reverted to. That version, and other attempts at a lead, have led to as lengthy and acrimonious a discussion as any any I can remember on WP, going back some 2 years as I recall - see above and the archives. Not all humanisms are philosophies; the disam page describes 4/8 of the meanings as such, and a philosopher might object to any being so called - I imagine one can complete a degree in philosophy very easily without studying it. Renaissance humanism is not a philosophy, although many philosophers of violently contrasting views belonged to the movement. Humanism in the Humanities sense is not a philosophy, and so on. One issue, but not the only one is "humanism rejects transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith or the supernatural, as well the notion that religious texts have divine origin" , which is plainly not true for a large number of those covered by the movements or beliefs the article then goes on to describe. The current lead is in fact a description of secular humanism, and versions of this type have been agressively maintained by two editors against the less persistent protests of many other editors over the years - see above and archives. Johnbod (talk) 12:51, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

In my opinion the secular "humanists" are aggressively asserting their definition onto this article at the cost of usurping one of the most notable movements in world history. I really can't understand how this has been allowed to happen? "Secular humanism" stripped of newspeak and its muddled presentation is simply, American atheism + liberalism. As an organised movement it is largely inconsequential. The only reason that "secular humanism" is related to the original humanism is through its connection to liberalism (Illuminism). But in any case so is much of the world around us today also, if not more related to the original humanism ; no matter which "sides" of the battle people have been on.

Bourbon/Stuart monarchal absolutism was influenced by Humanism, so were their Republican Illuminist oppposition. The Protestant revolution was influenced by Humanism, so were their Counter-Reformation Catholic opposition. And it goes on. The two things need separate articles, not be muddled together in one, in a highly ambigious, confused way in which this barely notable sect of liberalism (+atheism) is somehow given supremacy of coverage. This gutting out of the term so as that the word "humanism" is used in an atheistic, anti-metaphysical definition which is completely unconnected from the most famous (world changing) exponents of the movement like Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, John Dee, Desiderius Erasmus, Petrarch - or ignoring Hermeticism and other mysticism (Kabbalism for instance) based tenants is shocking for a serious encyclopedia. - Yorkshirian (talk) 08:43, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

You get a few things wrong in this comment: 1. I am not a secular humanist, 2. the "aggressively asserting their definition" happened in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, not today; 3. The definition of humanism that was aggressively asserted was as a new RELIGION, not secular, 4. Usage of a word that dominates best-selling books, presidential speeches, news articles, and websites is not "barely noticeable" or "inconsequential," and 5. an encyclopedia documents verifiable facts, not what's "in your opinion." If it makes you feel any better, though, we are all in agreement that "the two things need separate articles, not be muddled together in one." That's why there are separate articles for Humanism and Renaissance humanism. Please see the Humanism (disambiguation) article to select your area of interest, as the hat-note on this article says. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 13:30, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
  • I assume that editors here do not want this article to simply be a POV fork of Secular humanism. One would expect, if humanism is to be a separate article at all, that it would cover all its major subdivisions concisely, even if it does give a little more emphasis and time to secularism in order to correspond to the cited dictionary usages. There's a difference between a strict adherence to undue weight and simple redundancy that does no service to the reader.
  • Likewise, I assume that editors here do not want this article to disregard what seems, at this stage, to be a rather well-substantiated 'most common usage' claim for humanism vz. secular humanism — at the very least, we should not obscure the fact that 'humanism' seems to often connote, in the English-speaking world at minimum, some degree or form of secularism. Whether it's an outright equivalency does not seem clear, and I don't think it's our job to rule on the matter. I've proposed a new lead section which I think for the most part satisfies the needs of a general-overview Humanism article. -Silence (talk) 18:13, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Why should it give more emphasis to a practically insignificant movement which is simply a trendy way for atheists to dress up their muddy puddle confused ideas? This is why the article should be a disambiguation, the atheists have their own article called secular humanism. While the world changing movement is currently located at Renaissance humanism. Common sense, good stuff.
Typing in "Humanism" and been given this mess which mixes the two together isn't needed. Meandering down the history section, which mixes both definitions, separate movements like a cocktail but then ends up at a definition of secular humanism is a POV fork. Because that is not the most relevent legacy of the original humanist movement from the Renaissance.
The liberal atheists have usurped only the term "humanism" in recent times, but it is POV to award them with the heritage of the Renaissance movement. The two different definitions don't need to be spliced together at all and it only serves to cross wires and confuse or intellectually mislead the reader. - Yorkshirian (talk) 23:51, 18 August 2009 (UTC)


The phrase "humanism rejects supernatural belief" is repeated five times in various sections in body of the article and numerous time in the notes. Is there any reason the article has to be so repetitious? If this is the main thing about humanism why say it so many times. Why not have just one section about this?Mballen (talk) 16:30, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, there is a problem with the way the article is edited, and normal ways of addressing it have failed. In a word, POV pushing has been seen here. Charles Matthews (talk) 17:47, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

A Parallel discussion

Modern secular "humanists" tend to look at history for antecedents in an oversimplified way. Below is an example of someone taking issue with this from the wiki talk page about Averroes, pointing to the historically restricted nature of "secularism", i.e., advocacy of the use of human reason in determining truth:

Secularism? The article says, twice, that "Averroes is considered by some the father of modern secularism".

That could be highly misleading. The article linked to argues that Averroes allows a certain separation of religion and science on a high intellectual level, allowing philosophers and scientists to pursue truth rationally and with a certain independence from religious authority. That could be argued; but at the same time Averroes is careful to specify that this activity must be carried on in private and not divulged to the masses, who would be misled into rejecting their naive version of Islam without having the intellectual equipment to put the philosophical version in its place.

That is entirely different from "secularism" in the modern sense, which is political not philosophical, and means the independence of government from religion and the freedom of everyone (not just philosophers) to make their own religious or anti-religious choices and pursue truth in their own way. That is about as far from Averroes' position as it is possible to get. He believed that, once the freedom of the fully-trained philosophers is carefully ensured on a "consenting adults in private" basis, it is the right and duty of each religious community to enforce conformity on the masses (of course, as the Almohad court philosopher he had to say that). So yes, it may be one step more enlightened than Ibn Taymiyya and the Ash'arites, but it is hardly "secularism". --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) (talk) 10:39, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Calling him the father of modern western secularism is so broad as to be meaningless. — (talk) 09:07, 30 March 2008 (UTC) (talk) 15:15, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

From what I can tell, Sir Myles na Gopaleen's argument is half-right. He's correct that Averroes wouldn't be considered a 'modern secularist' by any stetch of the imagination, were he alive today; but he's wrong in leaping to the conclusion that this means that Averroes can't be a significant precursor (or at the very least, treated by reliable sources as a significant precursor) to true modern secularism. Specifically, one could say with some justification that Averroes is advocating a particular brand of secular activity: elitist secularism, the idea that a particular social or intellectual elite should carry on its important activities free of direct religious influence, but that this same behavior should not be extended to the rabble lest their tiny minds become flummoxed and misled. In fact, I imagine fascinating parallels could be drawn between this attitude and the modern attitude in academia of "we elites are above religion, but the masses need it as an opiate/crutch"—though that would be original research here.
Regardless, the issue is not so cut-and-dry for either side, at least based on what I've seen. One could construct similar arguments against pretty much any pre-modern figure being "the father" or "a precursor" to a modern school of thought or activity, since practically by definition a pre-modern version of an endeavor will not be identical to its modern equivalent. In that sense, Gopaleen's lesson is a wise one to be heeded: We should not leap to our own conclusions about linkages, but instead rely on the consensus of historians and like experts in mediating such matters. If it turns out, for example, that leading historians just tend to be stupid on certain matters (like over-using "the father of..." terms), that's just too bad; rejecting a bad argument that no noteworthy sources point out the flaws in is original research, sadly. :\ -Silence (talk) 16:29, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, thank you for your thoughtful response -- I certainly agree with you, Silence. I always thought that Averroes taught that there were two truths, the truth of reason and the truth of religion, and that Aquinas devoted his life to reconciling these truths, by postulating that the two truths were not contradictory but that religion added to and transcended human reason rather than contradicting it. The history of humanism is (among other things) a history of how the truth of reason gradually spread out from the small area to which it had been consigned by an elite. Sir Myles is right though, that in the popular mind the "significant precursors" role has been exaggerated. According to Jean-Pierre Vernant (I am paraphrasing from memory) the pre-Socratic philosophers who are hailed as precursors of modern secularism should more accurately be viewed as mediators who tried to reconcile human reason with the divine as they understood it. And this is really true of most of the so-called precursors, up until the eighteenth century when there really began to be atheists and materialists who didn't admit any role for the divine at all. But even they often treated providence as though it were a kind of benevolent divinity. (talk) 19:49, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Prominent alternative usages

It is easily proven that there are very, very prominent usages of the words humanism, humanist, and humanistic to mean something other than the type of humanism that eschews deference to religious beliefs and authorities (like Scripture), a humanism which it might be most convenient to call secular humanism, even if a kind of religiosity can be attached to it.

Consider the titles of these books that are current or still being used: Socratic Humanism (Versenyi); The Humanism of Cicero (Hunt); The Humanist Christology of Paul (Segundo); Literacy and the Survival of Humanism by Richard Lanham (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1983). There are articles like "The Prophetic Humanism of John Paul II," by Avery Cardinal Dulles, in America, October 23, 1993, pp. 6-11.

Most prominently of all, there are papal documents that refer to authentic humanism, notably the latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Also see an article like this: "Culture Promotes Authentic Humanism" by Pope John Paul II Address to the members of the International Union of the Institutes of Archaeology, History and Art History in Rome: "The mission assigned to your international union by its founders is to serve history and art by highlighting the numerous examples that Rome possesses of Western civilization, Christian culture and Church life. It is a precious heritage that has grown over the centuries. Careful to preserve, study and transmit this inheritance left by many peoples, you are the custodians as it were of a priceless treasure from which, like the scribe in the Gospel, you must draw unceasingly from both the old and the new through laborious and hidden work. You have not hesitated to make available to researchers and students a bibliographical data bank set up under the auspices of the Roman Union of Scientific Libraries, together with the Vatican Apostolic Library...The Church recognizes the irreplaceable role of cultural assets for the promotion of an authentic humanism and lasting peace among nations."

The collocation of "scientists and humanists" most frequently makes humanists teachers of the humanities. Consider this from the Booklist review of The New Humanists: Science at the Edge by John Brockman: "Brockman, whose books include The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-first Century (2002), founded the intellectual forum EDGE in 1988 (now on the Web at to encourage scientists and humanities scholars to present work that exemplifies the growing synergy between what has for too long, and to society's detriment, been viewed as two separate, incompatible realms. Brockman now presents the fruits of his advocacy for the necessary intermeshing of the humanities and science in a lively, mind-expanding anthology of essays by EDGE participants."

For the word humanistic, it is clear that some people do not consider the philosophical meaning the overriding one:

  • International Journal of Humanistic Studies: an "annual peer-reviewed journal, focusing on every aspect of Humanistic Studies with a strong interdisciplinary thrust." Contributions come from the fields of Philosophy, English Language, Literature, History, Theatre Arts, Music, Communication Arts, Anthropology, Library Studies, Information Science, Cultural Studies, Sociology and other relevant disciplines.
  • Humanistic Studies [a program at McGill University] "is intended to provide a broad liberal arts education while developing the analytical, critical, and contextual thinking skills that are vital for the creation, expression and transmission of ideas."

What name other than HUMANIST was chosen for the listserv that "is an international electronic seminar on the application of computers to the humanities" ?

If there are such prominent and repeated occurrences of these "alternative" meanings, then they should be given prominence in the opening of an article that is simply titled "Humanism," or at the very least not in effect ruled out as a living, important, and in some circles primary meaning.

If a small sub-group generates millions of occurrences of its own flavor, that is still not enough to hijack the entire term. The examples I have chosen come from a wide variety of directions. Not parochial at all. Not tiny-use at all.

I still favor the DAB page solution, however, given the intransigency and blinkered opposition that we have encountered in the discussion. Wilson Delgado (talk) 19:32, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Speaking of "intransigency and blinkered opposition that we have encountered in the discussion," please note that ALL of the above sources have been brought up in this discussion page before, and ALL of them have been rejected as failing to achieve prominence, most commonly with Wilson being asked to show examples of how these have achieved parity of exposure to the IHEU/SHC/HUUmanist definitions, and with his failing to do so. I will repeat that request here, for any such objective, verifiable evidence of frequency of use, with little hope that I will receive any but intransigency and blinkered opposition instead. PLEASE NOTE: This is not a personal attack on Wilson; I'm criticizing only his content: he uses the same small number of sources over and over while failing over and over to provide any objective, verifiable data on frequency of use that addresses the issue of prominence brought up in WP:UNDUE or primary topic brought up in WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 19:51, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Serpent overreaches: "All of them have been rejected..." By whom??? By one person, perhaps? No, all of Serpent's arguments have been rejected, it could just as easily be asserted. "Parity of exposure"?? : the numerical argument again, specifically countered by my example. The pope addressed over 1 billion people in his last encyclical. That is a lot of intended exposure. The pope has more exposure by far than a group like the BHA (or any dozen such groups). And he used this term not in their sense but in a broader, richer one. That means something Serpent, squirm as you may. Consider also Yale's publication of Lanham's book: Yale has exposure and prominence. Yale must have figured that the secularizing philosophical meaning was not the overriding one before it titled the book as they did. And so on. If my examples are repeated it is for the benefit of those who are coming late to this argument. They are merely examples that could be multiplied again and again. Wilson Delgado (talk) 20:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Let's not forget that papal encyclicals are written originally in Latin, not English. The meaning and connotations of the word humanism can vary significantly from language to language. In this case, it sounds most like a direct callback to Renaissance Humanism (i.e., more like a scholarly approach and interest than like a moral philosophy or world-view), which makes sense considering that modern 'neo-Latin' first began to be codified during the Renaissance. In reliably sourcing word use, of course, dictionaries trump all else, except in extraordinary circumstances; the role of specific sourced usages of the terms is supplementary in determining common use. -Silence (talk) 20:52, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
The Pope meant it in the modern sense, if you read the encyclical. He quotes a Medieval bishop quoting a Greek tragedian (Sophocles?) saying "Nothing is more wonderful than man." As for the different meanings of the term see the article by Vito Giustiniani (available on the internet as a PDF) referenced in the (wiki) article of which this is the talk page. The chief difference is that while all modern usages derive ultimately from Classical Latin humanitas -- which in both English and Latin connotes kindness and urbanity -- the classical Latin term, but not the English, also means "learned". The Renaissance use of the term included this connotation -- Renaissance scholars used to greet each other as "Humanissime doctor" meaning "most learned teacher". The English word and modern humanism in general have little truck with humane letters (namely the study of Greek and Latin). The honest thing would be to acknowledge that the Pope considers Catholicism to be the true inheritor of humanism, in that (according to him) it supports learning and the development of the whole man, including his all-important spiritual and cultural aspect, but that, of course, modern secular humanists (who do not believe that people have a spiritual aspect) do not admit this to be true. For them belief in a divinity and belief in reason cancel each other out. American Christian fundamentalists also believe that reason and faith cancel each other out and do not care about learning. (talk) 21:41, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
You were making quite a lot of sense (albeit while supporting my suggestion that 'humanism' in English and Latin are not exact synonyms), until your somewhat peculiar non sequitur in the last three sentences. What does "honesty" have to do with the potential problems involved in relating a papal decree in an article which has not provided needed background on the meaning of humanism in a Christian, and particularly a Catholic, context? Surely the ideal location for noting that would be Christian humanism, where the needed background can indeed be related. Like the Renaissance understanding of 'humanism', the Pope's version of the term sounds like it's as much about an interest in education, literature, and arts or classics or humanities as it is about anything else, even if it is such only as part of "the development of the whole man". What you call a "spiritual aspect", most secularists simply know by another name—unless you think that 'spirituality' can exist only for those with a very particular metaphysical belief system. But if by 'spirituality' you are referring to a set of numinous or profound experiences, these are no more foreign to secular humanism than they are foreign to Hinduism or Islam. I do not think it would quite consonant with Wikipedia's neutrality policies for us to endorse the view that Christians are the 'most human' humans out there. :) -Silence (talk) 21:58, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess I didn't make myself clear. I don't endorse the Pope's position (that is I support it insofar as I agree with his support of art, education, and social justice). I was merely trying to accurately summarize what I understand it is. Describing it accurately is what I mean by being honest. I am sure that Catholics, Muslims, and others would in fact claim that their spiritual experiences are deeper and more meaningful that those of non-believers (among whom I count myself). My impression is that most of them do in fact make that claim. Whether it is true or not I cannot say, as I don't belong to any of those religions -- though I can sympathetically enter into their experiences using my imagination. On the other hand, religion has attracted the many of most intelligent people in the past -- and can't be easily glossed over or dismissed (even if some of these worthies did engage in witch burning). In any case, you could add that secularists believe that they too experience spirituality under another name -- I wouldn't object to that at all. There aren't easy answers. (talk) 00:08, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. I was just confused about the point's relevance to this particular page, since it seems more addressed to Spirituality, and to a lesser extent Christian humanism. -Silence (talk) 00:24, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Careful, 173. You say "the classical Latin term, but not the English, also means 'learned'." But he Merriam-Webster says: "hu·mane: 1 : marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals 2 : characterized by or tending to broad humanistic culture : humanistic <humane studies> . The two streams of meaning are not entirely disjunct. Vives says "The branches of learning are called humanistic since they make us human. They have their source in God, to make us good men." (Vives, "On Education"). Even today in English-speaking circles, the humanities, that is, humanistic education, are not infrequently presented as something that enhances, fulfills, grounds, balances our humanity. The main point of this section lies elsewhere, however: the secularizing, scripture-resistant meaning of the word humanism is not the only highly prominent usage in relevant communications today. Wilson Delgado (talk) 01:41, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
You are right, they are not entirely disjunct by any means, but if you say to a person on the street, "He is a most humane man", people are not going to understand "He is a very learned man" (more's the pity!). The other thing is that the prestige of Cicero (who is responsible for the diffusion of the term humanitas) and of Seneca, is entirely due to their having been given the imprimatur of the fathers of the early Church as teachers of morality, and this prestige and approbation (by Catholics and Protestants alike) continued right through the middle ages up unto and beyond supposedly pagan eighteenth-century French enlightenment. The Church approved of these writers because of their moral teaching, not because of their elegant style or their character as historical people. Of course Aristotle and Plato were pagans, too, and the Church (i.e., notably St. Thomas and St. Augustine) took over aspects of their thinking, as well. The morality taught by these pagans was deemed entirely suitable for laymen in the secular sphere, since it was recognized that the monastic life was not for everyone, and were considered especially suitable for secular rulers. An addition to these classical moralists, noted by Vito Giustiniani, is Plutarch, whose books, re-discovered in the Renaissance, became immensely popular and who is probably the "missing link" between Renaissance and Enlightenment humanistic ideas of secular virtue. Rousseau knew him by heart, but he was admired by practically everyone, I imagine the founding fathers were steeped in him.

We dunces would have been lost if this book had not raised us out of the dirt," said Montaigne of the first French edition (1559). C.S. Lewis concludes that in Elizabethan England, "Plutarch's Lives built the heroic ideal of the Elizabethan age." Sir Thomas North prepared the first English edition of Plutarch's Lives in 1579, and Shakespeare borrowed heavily from it. In 1683, a team of translators headed by John Dryden authored a complete translation from the original Greek (North had translated from Amyot's French edition).

Great souls have found comfort in Plutarch's wisdom. Beethoven, growing deaf, wrote in 1801: "I have often cursed my Creator and my existence. Plutarch has shown me the path of resignation. If it is at all possible, I will bid defiance to my fate, though I feel that as long as I live there will be moments when I shall be God's most unhappy creature ... Resignation, what a wretched resource! Yet it is all that is left to me." Facing death in Khartoum, General Gordon took time to note: "Certainly I would make Plutarch's Lives a handbook for our young officers. It is worth any number of 'Arts of War' or 'Minor Tactics'." Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Lives "a bible for heroes."[4] (talk) 04:59, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Most interesting. Yes, Plutarch's influence was so broad, deep, and long-lasting that it affected even the last person to be a U.S. president without a college degree, Harry Truman. . Classical humanism has indeed had a major effect on modern times -- and I think we can agree that it should not be downplayed in an encyclopedia article entitled "Humanism." Wilson Delgado (talk) 15:38, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Does humanism = secular humanism?

The current lead section for this article defines humanism as, essentially, secular humanism. I see no insurmountable problem with this approach, so long as it is backed up by all the major reliable sources. However, if that is Wikipedia's position, we must merge secular humanism into this article, or it will simply become a redundant POV fork. If there is a distinction to be made between

- a "broad category of ethical philosophies that focuses on universal human qualities, particularly rationality, rather than the supernatural or the authority of religious texts" (humanism) and
- a "philosophy that upholds reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural" (secular humanism)

... it is an incredibly fine and subtle one which can't possibly justify an all-out split.

Alternatively, if humanism is not being correctly defined in Humanism currently, and has broader applications, I want to see some truly mainstream sources (I'm talking dictionaries and encyclopedias of philosophy, not papal encyclicals) that support a broader 'umbrella term' interpretation of the term's main use. Only then can we justify treating "secular humanism" as a distinct topic, rather than as a clarificatory synonym. -Silence (talk) 00:12, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Try this:

Humanism: Not a school of thought or a collection of specific beliefs or doctrines, humanism is rather a general perspective from which the world is viewed. That perspective received a gradual yet persistent articulation during different historical periods and continued to furnish a central leitmotif of Western civilization. It comes into focus when it is compared with two competing positions. One the one hand, it can be contrasted with the emphasis on the supernatural, transcendent domain which considers humanity to be dependent on divine order. On the other hand, it resists the tendency to treat humanity scientifically as part of the natural order, on a par with other living organisms. Humanism discerns in human beings unique capacities and abilities, to be cultivated and celebrated for their own sake. KK, Cambridge Companion to Philosophy, page 397

Mballen (talk) 00:31, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
  • That's a good start. The RHD uses a similarly vague, not-necessarily-secular definition as the first entry for 'humanism': "humanism any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate." (The RHD has secular humanism as its 4th definition for 'humanism'.) If we accept these as 'mainstream', at the very least on par with "humanism = secular", then I think we can justify making humanism the "Not a school of thought.. rather a general perspective" article, while leaving Secular humanism the "rejects God and magic and stuff" page. Otherwise, I strongly recommend a merger. -Silence (talk) 00:45, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Pardon my ignorance, but I don't know what the RHD is. The Cambridge Companion describes humanism as developing and becomeing more and more secular with the passage of centuries. Then there is this:

The introduction of the term humanism is commonly attributed to the German pedagogical theorist F. J. Niethammer's 1808 book, which promoted reading of the ancient classics among secondary students as a counterweight to scientific and technological training. The word soon enjoyed wide currency in many European languages, in part because the much earlier Italian term umanista was already used to describe a person committed to the production or study of the artifacts of human culture. In turn, humanism contains echoes of the much earlier Latin ideal of humanitas, humanity or humaneness.

The application of the term humanism has been widely disputed. Some scholars, most notably Paul Oskar Kristeller, insist that it should be employed strictly to denote the intellectual and literary movement associated with Renaissance Italy, and especially Florence, during the fifteenth century and spreading thereafter to the rest of Europe.

Others apply a less rigorous definition that permits a broader field of use, both culturally and chronologically. Joel L. Kramer has isolated three features that are germane to a capacious conception of humanism: the common kinship and unity of humankind; an emphasis on paideia, or the shaping of human mental and moral capacities through literary and philosophical education; and the recognition of philanthropia, that is, humane love or love of humanity. An even more general account of humanism permits its application to any position that ascribes intrinsic value to the activity of human beings or to their pursuit of happiness in a human way apart from extra-human considerations. All these ideas of humanism offer useful filters and standards on the basis of which to understand its history. The more capacious constructions of humanism may be best, however, because they enable scholars to find bases of comparative analysis between world cultures across time.

Read more:

The "science jrank" web encyclopedia, about which I know nothing, has separate entries for Medieval humanism and for Chinese and Islamic humanism. There are books and essays,also, about tenth and twelfth century European humanism (chiefly french). These books consider both twelfth-century Medieval Aristotelianism and vernacular Arthurian romances, such as those of Cretien de Troyes, to be manifestations of humanistic culture.Mballen (talk) 01:52, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Here are four authorities testifying to a broader usage:
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy : "Humanism is the philosophical and literary movement which originated in Italy in the second half of the fourteenth century and diffused into the other countries of Europe, coming to constitute one of the factors of modern culture."
Oxford English Dictionary: 1. Belief in the mere humanity of Christ: cf. HUMANITARIAN n. 1a. [Obsolete] 2. The character or quality of being human; devotion to human interests. 3. Any system of thought or action which is concerned with merely human interests (as distinguished from divine), or with those of the human race in general (as distinguished from individual); the ‘Religion of Humanity’. 4. Devotion to those studies which promote human culture; literary culture; esp. the system of the Humanists, the study of the Roman and Greek classics which came into vogue at the Renascence. 5. Philos. A pragmatic system of thought introduced by F. C. S. Schiller and William James which emphasizes that man can only comprehend and investigate what is with the resources of the human mind, and discounts abstract theorizing; so, more generally, implying that technological advance must be guided by awareness of widely understood human needs.
Encyclopedia Britannica: HUMANISM - term freely applied to a variety of beliefs, methods, and philosophies that place central emphasis on the human realm. Most frequently, however, the term is used with reference to a system of education and mode of inquiry that developed in northern Italy during the 14th century and later spread through Europe and England. Alternately known as “Renaissance humanism,” this program was so broadly and profoundly influential that it is one of the chief reasons why the Renaissance is viewed as a distinct historical period. Indeed, though the word Renaissance is of more recent coinage, the fundamental idea of that period as one of renewal and reawakening is humanistic in origin. But humanism sought its own philosophical bases in far earlier times and, moreover, continued to exert some of its power long after the end of the Renaissance.
Catholic Encyclopedia: Humanism is the name given to the intellectual, literary, and scientific movement of the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, a movement which aimed at basing every branch of learning on the literature and culture of classical antiquity. (This is an old encyclopedia, but the more recent one follows its approach.)
Wilson Delgado (talk) 01:55, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
The very fact that humanism" can be combined with so many obviously religious or not-necessarily anti-religious modifiers should indicate a direction for this article. At the very least an article on secular humanism should be explicitly identified as such. Consider the implications of the following previously presented statistics (not used as some kind of scientific "proof of frequency" but as an indication of the wide range of usage):
Google hits on 1/28-29/2009 for English uses of humanism and related terms on the WWW: 6,630,000 for "humanism" // 1,690,000 for "humanists" // 665,000 for "humanism" "humanities" // 513,000 for "secular humanism" // 444,000 for "humanism" "curriculum" // 269,000 for "humanistic psychology" // 172,000 for "humanistic education" // 160,000 for "Renaissance humanism" // 149,000 for "liberal arts" "humanism" // 143,000 for "humanism" "Karl Marx" // 131,000 for "humanism" "Goethe"" // 126,000 for "humanism" "C.S. Lewis" // 102,000 for "Christian humanism" // 90,300 for "humanism" "Michelangelo" // 69,900 for "religious humanism" // 38,600 for "humanistic learning" // 30,200 for "Italian humanism" // 23,800 for "humanism" "Matthew Arnold" // 21,200 for "socialist humanism" // 20,000 for "classical humanism" // 15,600 for "humanism" "bha" // 13,300 for "humanism" "iheu" // 8,960 for "democratic humanism" // 8,800 for "atheistic humanism" // 7,450 for "islamic humanism" // 6,430 for "confucian humanism" // 5,050 for "literary humanism" // 4,690 for "Greek humanism" // 4,590 for "philosophical humanism" // 3,490 for "cultural humanism" // 3,310 for "jewish humanism" // 3,020 for "buddhist humanism" // 2,970 for "catholic humanism" // 2,070 for "theological humanism" // 1,500 for "rationalistic humanism" // 1,400 for "historical humanism" // 1,280 for "third humanism" // 1,200 for "protestant humanism" // 1,020 for "academic humanism" // 810 for "educational humanism" // 692 for "communist humanism"
Wilson Delgado (talk) 02:02, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Well, it's beyond obvious that in a historical context, 'secular humanism' is not the primary definition of 'humanism' (if one even can be said to exist)—however, I assume that the primary justification for in effect equating the two on Humanism is that this is primarily an article about modern-day 'humanism', not a historical review of various humanisms of the past. (And I can see a strong argument for prioritizing modern movements over historical ones when a term sees common usage both presently and historically, for the same reason we tend to use modern definitions of words and treat secondarily—if at all—any archaic significations: If only a tiny minority of our readers are historians, but all of our readers are present-day human beings, and not 15th-century aristocrats or the like, we have good reason to familiarize our readers with the current wide usage of a term, before addressing past historical significance.)
  • Still, I am sympathetic to treating Humanism's historical and contemporary significance on roughly even grounds (and thus not privileging its 'secular' significance), if only because we do have a "Secular humanism" article and this organizational schema makes it easiest to treat all the different humanisms roughly equally on a Humanism overview article (especially since the historical movements are of huge historical significance; they aren't mere footnotes). So I think our decision about whether to equate (and hence merge) secular humanism with humanism rests on two questions.
    1. An editorial question: Should we privilege the primary modern significance of 'humanism' so highly on Humanism that we don't allow historical definitions like Renaissance Humanism on this article to fall under the initial definition we use on 'humanism'? (Or should we treat past and present uses at least a little more evenly, and use a more generic definition here while noting later in the lead that many sources treat secular humanism as the term's primary present significance?)
What does Wikipedia policy say about this? Why haven't you sought out specific guidance from Wikipedia's policy pages, and what are you doing to pursue the courses of action suggested by Wikipedia's policy pages? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 14:07, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
As far as I'm aware, Wikipedia policy simply doesn't say whether we should make a particular article like Humanism historically neutral or 'modern-centric'. That's why I said it's an editorial decision: Is our intent with having a separate page called Humanism solely to discuss modern beliefs and movements, or is it to give a broad overview of both modern and historical humanism? -Silence (talk) 15:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually there are TWO policies that clearly state which strategy to use here, both of which I've mentioned on this talk page numerous times already. Would you like me to point you to them again? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:11, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
    1. A factual question: If we decide to privilege modern usage, are there insufficient (contemporary, non-historian) uses of non-secular (i.e., supernaturalistic, religious, theistic—if not outright theocentric—etc.) Humanism to justify using the broader definition? (Or are there enough modern non-secular uses to justify a 'big tent' definition, on the grounds that 'equal weight' is not the same as 'majority rules', and we should focus a little more on the majority, but without outright exiling minority groups of humanists from our Humanism article's definition?)
How can you tell the answer to this, using external sources that others can verify? Also, if you don't know the answer to this from research already, do you really think you have enough knowledge to edit such a mature article in a way to IMPROVE it rather than damage it? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 14:09, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
If mainstream, reputable sources can be found indicating substantial modern usage of humanism outside of secular humanism, that will qualify as justification for a broader definition being used on this page. Several found have already at the very least suggested this, such as the philosophy encyclopedia above. I am indeed being guided by Wikipedia policies: WP:NPOV and WP:NOR. I'm not sure what your second sentence means, SMC, so I'm going to disregard it instead of interpreting it as a personal attack. I'm not here to interject my pre-set opinion into the article, I'm here to see where the RSes lead. -Silence (talk) 15:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Which "mainstream, reputable sources" does Wikipedia policy say to check? Have you checked them? What was the result of the usage of American Heritage Dictionary definition 4 vs. definition 1 in those sources? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:11, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
  • If the answer to both of those questions is "yes", then I recommend merging Humanism and Secular humanism, and treating the two basically as synonyms. If the answer to either is "no", then I recommend instead changing the Humanism lead section to encompass things like Christian humanism, Renaissance humanism, etc., using this as a 'broad strokes' article rather than using it to focus in on only the humanist majority. (Regardless, the status quo clearly makes no sense.) -Silence (talk) 03:12, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Silence, I do wholeheartedly agree with you on everything except one small point -- namely that Renaissance humanism arguably also has a specialized meaning connected to the recovery of Latin manuscripts and polishing of Latin and vernacular writing styles, this is in addition to the fact that also fits under the usual rubric of "philosophy of man" in some way. Some scholars (most prominently P. O. Kristeller) very plausibly insist that, from a philosophical standpoint, there is virtually no difference between Renaissance humanism and Medieval humanism. These scholars, and right now they are the majority of specialists, will say that Pico della Mirandola, conventionally described as emblematic of Renaissance humanism, was in fact not a Renaissance humanist in any respect. The same with Ficino. In any case, my own feeling is that a wiki article should "discuss the controversies," and where meanings are conflated, confused, or contested, this should be stated out front, without taking sides. It is not wikipedia's job to say which meaning is "correct". Readers can decide this for themselves. The fact that there is a controversy demonstrates that a consensus has not yet been reached and is important information for Wikipedia's readers to know.Mballen (talk) 08:31, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
As I have indicated in the section on Contemporary Usage in Archive 3 and on this page under Prominent Alternative Usage, and again in this section, the word humanism is at this very moment in history being used very differently in different circles (and the connected terms humanist and humanistic are also involved). Thus the Big Tent direction is for me the only way to go on this article. Some people want to push original research of very dubious quality and suspicious methodology to say that the standard leading reference authorities (EB, OED) should be overthrown and the range of current usage disregarded. This is an illegitimate move. Many people over the years have expressed dissatisfaction with the article. The larger consensus can be said to be for change. I don't see why two intransigents should be allowed to hold this article hostage and constantly revert it to an unacceptable state. As it is now, a submeaning has subverted and usurped the larger, more inclusive and complex web of meanings. I think that it would be best if an informed board of editors should judge and enact a binding decision. Otherwise the intransigents will simply keep the article from being edited by anybody else in any significant sense. They will simply continue to override the long-expressed consensus that a basic change is needed. Wilson Delgado (talk) 15:11, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
From what I've seen, your case is quite sound. Even if secular usage is predominant, it does not seem overwhelmingly predominant such that we are justified in using a definition of 'humanism' which excludes all non-secular variants (including historical ones).
However, I strongly recommend dropping the language of "intransigents" and "suspicious methodologies", on both sides. This is not helpful. If you have an issue with regular editors here, take it up on those editors' talk page; failing that, see Wikipedia:Dispute resolution. Everyone here wants to improve the article, even if we disagree on the editorial issue of the article's proper scope, and the factual issue of the prominence of mainstream usage of humanism to not rule out supernatural/divine/religious/etc. factors. We are on the same side. -Silence (talk) 15:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your honest opinion and your encouragment to magnanimity. May that spirit prevail on all sides! Wilson Delgado (talk) 15:45, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I see essentially two strategies we can follow in trying to determine a direction for this article, to ensure our work is not prone to "suspicious methodologies":
  1. We can start with our preferred POV and hand-select sources that share our bias, ignore all sources that disagree with us, and return to this talk page over and over, over the course of months or years, and keep trying to shout down anyone who disagrees with our preferred POV bias.
  2. We can look at how Wikipedia says to choose names and topics for articles, follow its suggested means of determining a primary topic, and then cite aggregate statistics from the aggregation services Wikipedia policies suggest, such that anyone who comes behind us can verify our work objectively.
Which of these two strategies do you think we should pursue? How do you suggest we start? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:41, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I propose that Serpent More Crafty, OldMan, and Wilson Delgado go into permanent, self-imposed exile regarding this article, leaving it entirely to smart folks like Silence, Yorkshirian, Mballen, 173, Johnbod, and Charles Matthews. We've had our say. We owe it to the Wikipedia process not to keep putting our thumbs all over the matter. Wilson Delgado (talk) 00:54, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
You appear to have misunderstood my question. Are you saying you prefer strategy #1 or #2? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:00, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Serpent says: "We can start with our preferred POV and hand-select sources that share our bias" -- Serpent, I see nothing at all in NPOV that prohibits this. Everyone will tend to select sources that bolster their bias. This is fine as long as a) other POVs, if known about, are acknowledged and also verifiably sourced, or b) if other points of view are not known, then space is left for others to come along supply alternative views and sources. Pushing a POV means that other POVs are not sourced. It is fine to say that "Paul Kurtz states that if you believe in God you cannot be a humanist". It is not fine to say: "If you believe in God, you cannot be a humanist." And you may also say that Marshall MacCluhan and others, such as Pope Benedict, disagree with Kurtz (if that is the case). Those are the guidelines as I understand them. People are not going to "come along and verify our work objectively" using mathematics or statistics -- in the secular sphere, if not in metaphysics, absolute truth is a mirage. As far as statistics, the NPOV page specifically says that the majority view is not necessarily the correct one. Even in the field of statistics (so statisticians tell me, since I am not one) it is the quality of the sample, and not the quantity that is critical. (talk) 16:59, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree completely with your point about citing sources, which is why I had to work so hard recently to keep putting source citations back in the article when other editors kept trying to delete them recently. Note 1 of this article cites three sources, and Note 2 alone aggregates no fewer than SEVEN major reference works to be very clear about what humanism is! Other than that, it looks like your comment advocates strategy #1 above... is this correct? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:35, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

False Assumptions Above

The discussion above is predicated on the idea that the terms "secular humanism" and "humanism" are completely synonymous. Opening any online dictionary will prove this is not correct: "secular humanism" is merely a SUBSET of "humanism," as defined by most dictionaries. "religious humanism" and "life stance humanism" are two other subsets of humanism that DO fit the dictionary definition but DO NOT necessarily overlap with "secular humanism."

A few unscrupulous editors have taken to REMOVING source citations from the first paragraph of this article. Please keep an eye on all such edits: removing sources is a good indicator that an editor is attempting to push a slanted POV or advertise for something. I will do my best to keep adding sources as they are removed, but it's easiest if we all work together to make sure our article isn't coopted by those who have poorly-sourced or unverifiable opinions. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 13:54, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

The discussion is not predicated on this idea. You can see my two underlined quotes from the lead section of Humanism and Secular humanism; how are these not both Secular humanism? I'm a secular humanist, and even I'm confused by the equivocation here. :P -Silence (talk) 15:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
These questions are easily answered by reading the Wikipedia articles on those respective subjects. Here are links: Humanism (life stance), Religious humanism, Secular humanism, and of course right here in this very article, there is Humanism#Religion that discusses the differences and commonality of all three. Another editor once gave the example of how Wikipedia has articles that cover Islam, Sunni Islam, and Shia Islam even though the latter two are subsets of the former. This example fits here also. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:17, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
An outside source, Science Jrank Encyclopedia, categorizes "Religious humanism" as a subsection of Secular humanism (which is rooted in Enlightenment anti-clericalism). They define it this way:

Humanism as a distinct intellectual movement arose in early-twentieth-century America among self-described religious humanists. It arose first among radical theologians, especially Unitarian clergymen, who saw religious humanism as anything but an irreligious movement; although these men entirely rejected the "God language" of their colleagues, they felt it essential to retain the institution of religion. Religion was a historical construction, they believed, which developed and changed over time to accommodate new social forms, and it would have to remake itself dramatically in order to continue to exist in the modern world. Already many Protestant modernist theologians were arguing that traditional religion was outdated, based as it was on views of God as a king or lord over creation, and that religion must change and embrace a democratic ethos. The humanists went further, rejecting all discussion of God as unjustified in a scientific age. And yet, they argued, religion itself was not defunct; it fulfilled certain social and psychological urges of human beings. The challenge for moderns was to find ways to integrate current scientific knowledge and democratic social values with the institutions of religion. This is largely what early religious humanism was designed to do.

Read more:
If this is correct, then secular humanism is a subsection of philosophical humanism and "religious humanism" is a further subsection of secular humanism.Mballen (talk) 19:12, 18 August 2009 (UTC)Corrected first word of quote. Should read "Humanism as a distinct intellectual movement" not "religious humanism", however, this article is a subsection of "Secular Humanism in United States" in the Science J-rank encyclopedia.Mballen (talk) 19:28, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
  • I have read already the articles in quesiton, SMC. They clarify nothing. According to Wikipedia:
    1. secular humanism is a branch of humanism which rejects the supernatural;
    2. humanism is a group (or "broad category") of philosophies which neglect the supernatural;
    3. religious humanism is a branch of humanism which incorporates "religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities" (and which pushes aside the supernatural and de-emphasizes the "authority of religious texts", if the definition of humanism used on humanism holds in all 3 articles)
  • Based on these 3 articles, every form of humanism is secular (if it believes, for example, that religious texts have any authority, it ceases to be humanism), 'secular humanism' is just especially secular, and religious humanism is secular but with the trappings of religion interjected. Is that about right? :) Forgive me for still not seeing such a clear-cut distinction between 'humanism (which is always secular)' and 'secular humanism'.
  • I would also note that Humanism#Religion has zero references that actually discuss 'humanism' in any way, shape, or form. All it has are two references discussing atheism, and two citation-lacking footnotes representing apparently the personal opinions of Wikipedia's editors. -Silence (talk) 20:31, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
You've certainly done a good job of noting what they have IN COMMON, and that's great that we can all agree on that! However, we ought not (to extend a metaphor) look at Sunni and Shiite Islam and say, "I don't see a difference! They all believe the Qu'ran is the inspired word of Allah!" Yes, you, I, and the Frederick Edwords essay quoted above all seem to agree that the FUNDAMENTAL PHILOSOPHY of secular, religious, and life stance humanism is similar or the same. This is why it's good to have an article that describes what the commonalities are, like the "Islam" article describes the commonalities between Sunni and Shiite subgroups. Perhaps if you kept reading... for example, looking at the heading on the Secular humanism page that says outright, "Comparison with religious humanism." Pay attention when I write, "right here in this very article, there is Humanism#Religion that discusses the differences and commonality of all three." Also, see the Frederick Edwords article on types of humanism that says, "Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles... It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree." Keep reading his essay to see what those differences in semantics and practice are. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:34, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Your condescension is much appreciated, good sir! :) But I'm afraid you haven't at all addressed the issue here. The substance of the problem is not that 'religious humanism' and 'secular humanism' are virtually indistinguishable, but rather that humanism and 'secular humanism' are virtually indistinguishable. You apparently did not read my response directly above yours, since I directly addressed Human#Religion, pointing out that none of the humanism-relevant claims there are cited (unless citing Wikipedia editors' footnoted opinions counts!); that section will have to be deleted entirely if this situation is not quickly remedied, in the form of citations explicitly backing up all the claims made in that part of the page. I'm sure at least some of them should be substantiable. Hopefully, the process of adding reputable citations (preferably with at least some academic basis, and not just purely quoting AHA FAQ pages and the like..) will also clarify this vague distinction between secular humanism and humanism that's secular, as well. -Silence (talk) 21:52, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
In your 18 August comment, you write that "My first post asked if this was the case, or if there was some subtle distinction I was missing. I still haven't heard the distinction." So I've pointed out the distinction to you (from sources here on Wikipedia) multiple times, and yet you continue to ignore the most straightforward statement of the distinction as given in the Secular humanism article, under the "Comparison with religious humanism" heading. If it turns out that you ARE aware of the distinction, but just choose not to acknowledge it, let me know so I can stop repeating myself and you can stop being embarrassed by what you perceive to be "condescension." That was never my goal; I thought you were legitimately asking rather than being disingenuous. As for sources cited, there weren't before but some editor has apparently taken your critique seriously and put some in, so that should be less of an issue now. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 16:58, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Torcaso and Watkins

The article says:

In the United States, the Supreme Court recognized that humanism is equivalent to a religion in the limited sense of authorizing humanists to conduct ceremonies commonly carried out by officers of religious bodies. The relevant passage is in a footnote to Torcaso v. Watkins (1961).

But the wikipedia article on Torcaso v Watkins only says that decision was that there should be no religious tests. Can anyone produce the footnote?Mballen (talk) 21:39, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that's footnote 11. It doesn't look like that footnote does exactly what the sentence in this article suggests, so perhaps I'll trim the sentence a bit to keep it fair. What I haven't done yet is look up any of the sources that footnote 11 references, so I'm not sure if the irony of calling "secular humanism" a religion originates in that court case or in the source cited. OldMan (talk) 03:46, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Justice Black was a great guy, but according to the website, footnotes have no force in law so it is not accurate to say that the Supreme Court recognized Secular Humanism a religion -- it seems the case was about whether belief in God was a requisite for holding public office [5].

Footnote 11 in Justice Black's ruling states:

"Among the religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others." 2

This footnote is often quoted by religious conservatives to prove that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes Secular Humanism as a religion. Some then interpret this to mean that any teaching of Humanism in the school violates the principle of separation of church and state. Since the vast majority of Humanists believe in the theory of evolution of the species, many religious conservatives conclude that the teaching of evolution also violates this principle. They appear to be unaware that footnotes in a court ruling have no force in law. They are merely additional comments added by the author of the ruling.

. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mballen (talkcontribs) 11:15, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Comparing definitions

Since there seems to be a bit of a (quite silly) citation war going on, with editors replacing each others' reliable sources rather than following WP:NPOV and reporting on all sides of disputed issues, I've tried to quarantine the chaos a bit by creating a new page for centralizing our citations of dictionaries and encyclopedias defining the term humanism. See Talk:Humanism/Definitions; I've just started it, feel free to expand. -Silence (talk) 21:55, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

  • Interesting to note that, out of 20 mainstream sources found so far, only about a third (7) employ a naturalistic or secular philosophy as the main definition of 'humanism', while 13 do not. (And only 10%, 2 sources found so far, treat some form of 'secular-ish' humanism as the only possible form.)
  • However, a mere count isn't a fraction as interesting as reading the actual entries; I was particularly surprised to see that encyclopedias we've found tend to hugely neglect secularist definitions, compared to English dictionaries — perhaps because encyclopedias tend to have a bias towards historical movements, whereas dictionaries are more concerned with present-day and colloquial uses. Since Wikipedia is somewhere in between these two extremes (being more concerned with modern issues like Simpsons episodes than a conventional encyclopedia, but less limited to contemporary meanings than a general-use dictionary), perhaps some compromise between these two extremes would be most appropriate for Humanism? Simply a thought. -Silence (talk) 00:28, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
And an excellent thought it is. Yes. Let Silence's comments be taken as the default guide to a rewriting of the article. I personally would tend to give more weight to the direction of pre-eminent authorities like the OED and the EB over simplified dictionaries intended for schoolroom use or for learners of English as a second language. (A reasonable "bias," no?) And as Silence points out, the pure "secularistic" approach is definitely minimized in encyclopedic works. In any case, we can certainly keep the article from misleading people as I believe it has for so long. I hope this breakthrough is enough to avoid the recidivism we have seen in the writing of this article. Thanks to Silence for his wonderfully helpful table of meanings. Wilson Delgado (talk) 14:17, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

The problem with the comparison is that it ASSUMES that the answer to your question above is "yes, humanism = secular humanism," whereas in fact the latter is a subgroup of the former. You've based your comparison on your opinion of the definition of secular humanism, so you can make the results be anything you want. I'd suggest, to make it more objective, you use a more verifiable source as your basis... for example, just pick one of your sources, or Wiktionary, or notes 1, 2, and 3 of this article as your basis for comparison.

Just to be clear: here are a list of sources that title "human-centered, rather than supernaturalist" philosophy as "humanism" rather than "secular humanism:"

  • Humanist Manifesto I, 1933.
  • Humanist Manifesto II, 1973.
  • Humanist Manifesto III, 2003.
  • Amsterdam Declaration, 2002.
  • IHEU minimum statement on humanism, 1996.
  • The constitution of the Humanistic Religious Association, 1853.

Heck, even the Council for Secular Humanism doesn't make any statement that all such human-centered philosophy must be termed "Secular Humanism;" that's just the name they've chosen for themselves. Regardless, any of the sources you cite on your list that DO NOT break out "secular humanism" as a separate entry or article from "humanism" also negates this association. So I think you should choose a more objective basis for comparison. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 17:17, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

I don't assume that humanism is secular humanism. If I did, then I'd be recommending a merger, whereas my current recommendation is that we broaden our initial definition of 'humanism' at the top of Humanism, to at the very least avoiding defining things like Renaissance humanism or Christian humanism out of the picture, even if we don't give them nearly as much of a focus as we give to modern-day movements. If all the dictionaries and encyclopedias I'd found had exclusively said stuff like "humanism is a philosophy which focuses on the human realm and rejects divine or supernatural authority...", then I'd have endorsed a merger or something of the sort; instead, it seems to make the most sense to treat the Humanism article as a general historical overview (which is what the current article layout suggests anyway, even though the lead section contradicts that), and treating Humanism (life stance) as more of the 'top article' for both secular and 'religious' humanism, since life stances are not really something you can call 'unphilosophical' anyway. Even if secular humanism is different from 'humanism that's secular', we don't need three articles on the same basic topic, while lacking even a single 'overview' article to help readers that might want to look at the general picture before zeroing in on just one philosophy-movement.
Incidentally, I think that the only reason we haven't resolved this problem before is because there's been a problem: We've been presupposing that self-definitions are always more valid than external definitions. We've been presupposing that humanist organizations are the only ones qualified to define 'humanism', and that independent academics (sources like Britannica) are less qualified by default. This is not consonant with Wikipedia convention or policy. Scientologist manifestos are less reputable sources for defining and explaining 'Scientology' than documents by non-Scientologists. Not that I'm equating my own philosophy, humanism, with silly cults like Scientology ;) I simply, being naturally curious, am interested in finding out why our articles have come so detached from other mainstream encyclopedias in covering Humanism(s). -Silence (talk) 21:12, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
What does Wikipedia policy say about how to handle words for which multiple definitions and uses exist? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 21:26, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Silence is right. Serpent thinks it is POV to have an objective, demonstrably more capacious concept that takes into account the majority of reference works, even while he thinks it is a NPOV to accept a sub-group's self definition. I cannot revert his recent edits because of the triple-revert rule, but they will have to go. (I had accidentally removed the reference to the DAB page. That should stay.) A new consensus has been forming on the talk page. Serpent has not replied adequately. It is Wikipedia practice to edit according to such reasonable consensus, especially when it is as thoroughly backed up as it has been here. So let us edit. Wilson Delgado (talk) 22:54, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
The defintions of humanism from the Institute for Humanist Studies web page that Serpent wants us to use are in many cases the exact same sources on our definitions talk page chart (which in turn come from our own wiki article), only cherry-picked and with many ellipses. This is because theirs is a polemical and not an objective source:

Definitions of humanism

Humanism is:

"...seeking, without religion, the best in, and for, human beings." Chambers Pocket Dictionary

"...a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially: a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason." Merriam Webster Dictionary

"...a non-religious philosophy, based on liberal human values." Little Oxford Dictionary

" appeal to reason in contrast to revelation or religious authority as a means of finding out about the natural world and destiny of man, and also giving a grounding for morality... Humanist ethics is also distinguished by placing the end of moral action in the welfare of humanity rather than in fulfilling the will of God." Oxford Companion to Philosophy

"The rejection of religion in favor of the advancement of humanity by its own efforts." Collins Concise Dictionary

"That which is characteristically human, not supernatural, that which belongs to man and not to external nature, that which raises man to his greatest height or gives him, as man, his greatest satisfaction." Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences

"A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth." American Heritage Dictionary (talk) 01:02, 21 August 2009 (UTC) (talk) 01:08, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
I have made a few revisions, chiefly to correct the gross error about Torcaso v Watkins and also trying to clarify the language a little bit. I still think that the article depends excessively on the polemical literature of the various Humanist societies to the exclusion of more knowledgeable and objective sources and am unhappy with it on that account. A wikipedia article should not be an advertisement for a particular point of view. Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. I consider myself a secular humanist, but I have to say that the many of the statements coming from the various humanist associations quoted here represent dated and sometimes laughably erroneous information and views. I am not happy about the section on knowledge and the scientific method, for example, my sense is that it is not by chance that so many modern humanists were pragmatists. Humanists, from the Greeks through the Renaissance through modern times insisted that in the secular (as opposed to the eternal) realm, only relative knowledge is possible. This is why they attached so much importance to the open-ended dialogue that follows truth wherever it leads. We also still need sections on Roman, German, and French humanism, as well as dealing with the criticism that humanist universalism disregards the claims of the particular and of marginalized groups. (talk) 19:46, 22 August 2009 (UTC) (talk) 19:48, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

[edit conflict] If there are multiple versions of the lead section under discussion, post them here so we can discuss which variants to include, line-by-line. Just reverting back and forth solves nothing. The current version, for example, seems both inaccurate and uninformative: the definition we use is not exclusively "contemporary", calling it "philosophical" says nothing, and it is inaccurate to say "as distinguished from its literary, historical, and educational uses" if this is meant to imply that, for example, Renaissance humanism does not "affirm the dignity and worth of all people", nor does it "attach importance to human dignity, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality" (note also the redundant use of "dignity", whatever that term even means here). None of these claims seem directly supported by our sources, either, even though we now have a huge number of excellent ones to choose from. I suggest starting the first sentence with its broad, ahistorical meaning. It is common to go in an encyclopedia from general to specific, and we need not obsess about which specific definition is most common, when it seems that several are common, just in very different fields of discourse. So the simplest compromise is to begin with the general, then use our brief sentence or two on history to introduce the modern usage (which seems essentially to be called either 'Modern Humanism' or, on Wikipedia, Humanism (life stance)). -Silence (talk) 19:49, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Silence, here, as per your suggestion, is my proposed alternate version of the lead section, which I think is both inclusive and conforms to the Oxford Companion among others. I think that theistic versions of humanism ought not to be omitted. I also object to having my other changes instantly reverted by Oldman, whom I believe is engaging in edit warring.

Humanism is a perspective common to a wide range of ethical stances that attaches importance to human dignity, worth, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality. Although widely disputed, its meaning comes into focus when contrasted with other perspectives emphasizing the supernatural or appeals to authority.[1][2] Since the nineteenth century humanism has been associated with anti-religious attitudes (inherited from the Anti-clericalism of eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosophes). Historically, however, humanism was seen as concerned with a realm that was separate from but not incompatible with religious faith or belief in a Supreme Being. For example, according to the Oxford Companion to Philosophy’s article on Humanism;, in the Renaissance , humanism, “denoted a move away from God to man as the center of interest. God still remained as creator and supreme authority – the Renaissance humanists were far from being atheists – but his activity was seen as less immediate, more general control than as day-to-day interference, and this enabled a scientific outlook to arise which saw the universe as governed by general laws, albeit these were laid down by God. (A rather similar development had occurred earlier when the Stoics relied on the notion of an impersonal fate to provide the stability needed for a coherent description of the world.) One feature which made this specifically a humanist development was the emphasis in both the ability of man to find out about the universe by his own efforts, and more and more to control it,” Oxford Companion to Philosophy New Edition, Ted Honderich, Editor (Oxford University Press, 2005). Manifestations of contemporary humanism include organized non-theistic religions, secular humanism, and a humanistic life stance.[3] Modern humanism tends to strongly endorse human rights, including reproductive rights, gender equality, and the separation of church and state. There are also some modern theistic movements associated with social justice also identify with humanism, including Latin American Liberation Theology and the Black humanism of Anthony B. Pinn. [4]

  1. ^ Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2007. humanism n. 1 a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. 2 a Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.  Unknown parameter |publicationyear= ignored (help) Typically, abridgments of this definition omit all senses except #1, such as in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Collins Essential English Dictionary, and Webster's Concise Dictionary. New York: RHR Press. 2001. p. 177. 
  2. ^ "Definitions of humanism (subsection)". Institute for Humanist Studies. Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
  3. ^ Edwords, Fred (1989). "What Is Humanism?". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 19 August 2009. Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles... From the standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree. 
  4. ^ See Miguel A. De La Torre's, The Hope of Liberation in World Religions (Baylor University Press, 2008), page 56 and passim. (talk) (talk) 20:25, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Are you more interested in making an introduction that soothes the egos of editors on Wikipedia, or one that is factually correct? Keep in mind that in the nineteenth century, clear through the publication of Humanist Manifesto I in 1933, humanism was ONLY known as a religion: there was no such thing as "secular humanism" or a "life stance" at the time. Those are more recent inventions, or "couchings" of the same philosophy originally taught by RELIGIOUS humanists. If you try to make the article say that humanism is "associated with anti-religious attitudes," it's going to break Wikipedia's policy of verifiability. If you're interested in learning more about the history of humanism, may I point you to the Religious humanism article? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 19:24, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
I tried to make the references show up here. Also, I don't think it is necessary to discuss what compact and abridged dictionaries leave out but I have left this reference in as Oldman seems to be so attached to it. It is self-evident that the modern anti-religious is the more common usage (although that is not the opinion of Websters Dictionary). Renaissance humanism is of course a major aspect of humanism, as are enlightenment and Greek and Roman humanism, leaving these out cannot be defended. As can be seen from the table on our talk page, the Institute For Humanist Studies definitions are misleadingly truncated to make it appear that the word does not cover renaissance humanisml, which demonstrates why this is not, unfortunately, a reliable source. I propose that it be eliminated. (talk) 20:46, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. I don't like the bit about the meaning being "widely disputed" - outside WP, the various widely different meanings mostly go about their business without bothering each other as to primacy etc; this is what we should try to convey. Johnbod (talk) 21:04, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
How about "much contested" or "Hard to pin down"? Though I admit that Wikipedia might consider "widely disputed" to be weasel words, still, defining humanism really is a source of terrific contention as many of the sources I have read all state, not to mention the history of this page. I added that to convey why the Oxford Companion, say, emphasizes that we need to look at it in the context of what it is contrasted to. Is that the distinguishing characteristic of a relative term? What do you think, Wilson Delgado? I tried accommodate your your views, as well, though perhaps from your perspective it skimps on the scholarly side, but this can be made up for in the body of the text, especially in a discussion of Renaissance and modern German (Humboldtian) educational humanism (which emphasizes understanding, I gather). (talk) 22:03, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
They would be better, though "used with widely varying meanings" or something would be better for me. Johnbod (talk) 22:08, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
I admire what you have done here, 173. But consider the second sentence: "Since the nineteenth century humanism has been associated with anti-religious attitudes..." I tend to think we shouldn't overdo the idea of humanism standing over against religious belief, even traditional / Scriptural religious belief. Why? Because the still-living traditions established by most of the Renaissance humanists were decidedly religious in the traditional way. See the long study by Trinkaus In Our Image and Likeness. For me, the anti-traditional-religious strand is in fact only one strand. Some people do indeed take the word that way, and many do not. The general meaning should not be prejudiced at the outset. One could argue that Greek religion is humanistic and represents a humanism because its gods are so anthropomorphic, or that Christianity is even more profoundly humanistic and a higher expression of humanism because it has God becoming Man in a very really, not apparitional sense. There is a very, very powerful line of Christian humanism (Jerome and Erasmus loving Cicero, Augustine respecting the neo-Platonists, Aquinas ceding authority to Aristotle, etc. etc. etc.). This kind of usage should not be thrown into the shadows. There is also the other line of meaning: humanism is connected with a belief in the ethical value of humanistic studies -- this says NOTHING about religious stance, and in fact the default position would tend to favor religion (e.g., Cicero, Petrarch, both religious men). The connection with liberal arts has made humanist mean one who professes the humanities, even in our own day (hence the meaning in the phrase "scientists and humanists"). That is a humanism, even if the noun form all by itself may suggest non-religious belief in some circles. The very fact that people talk about Christian humanism means we shouldn't be prejudicing the meaning at the start. So Silence is right: be general at the start, then work to the various specific forms. That is why I recently suggested this as a beginning:
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. The term can mean several things, for example (1) a historical movement associated ultimately with the Italian Renaissance; (2) a humanistic approach to education (in any period of history) that uses literary means or a focus on the humanities to form students; or (3) a philosophical approach that sometimes stands over and against traditional religious modes of thought, but that may also be fully integrated into them (e.g. Christian humanism).
Wilson Delgado (talk) 22:36, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
In defense of Wilson Delgado, the distinction between Renaissance humnanism (an educational movement to revive Classical languages and literature) and philosophical humanism having to do with human potential (to simplify horribly) is made by Kristeller, who worked extensively with the texts and was reacting to the "windy generalizations" of modern nineteenth and twentieth century humanists influenced by Burckhardt. Kristeller felt, on the basis of examining the texts, that the ethical philosophy of Renaissance humanism was identical with that of Medieval Christianity.Mballen (talk) 23:33, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, I don't deny that Christianity is a living tradition, and that it nurtured classical humanism and claims itself to be a form of humanism (as do other traditional religions). On the other hand, I also think it is true that nineteenth-century humanism as a movement was a liberal one that was opposed traditional religion. It was during the 19th century that the word "humanism" was invented by French and German speakers, pretty much in opposition to traditional religions that they saw as impeding progress and tolerance. Renaissance humanists were known as "umanisti", but not as believers in "humanism", that word was a nineteenth century invention. Renaissance humanists were Christians of one sort or another. The fact is that by the nineteenth century the Catholic Church was engaged in a battle against liberalism and did not at all resemble the fifteenth-century church, in which it had been possible, for example, to debate the miracle of the Eucharist (as depicted in Rafael's Stanze, located in the Vatican), without taking a definitive position on the matter. After the council of Trent debate was no longer allowed and this was no longer possible. According to Wikipedia: In 1864 Pope Pius the IX condemned as erroneous the following:

  • "human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil" (No. 3) "All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind." (No. 4)
  • "in the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship." (No. 77)
  • "Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church" (No. 18).
  • "the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church." (No. 55)
  • "every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true." (No. 15) and that "it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship." (No. 78)
  • "the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with, progress, liberalism and modern civilization." (No. 80)

The condemned propositions had been previously discussed and condemned in papal documents, and the interpretation of the condemned statements was intended to take place in light of the contents of those previous statements, hence the reference to other documents after each proposition. Thus the often-cited eightieth thesis is to be explained with the help of the Allocution "Jamdudum cernimus" of 18 March, 1861. In this allocution the Pope expressly distinguishes between true and false civilization, and declares that history witnesses to the fact that the Holy See has always been the protector and patron of all genuine civilization; and he affirms that, if a system designed to de-Christianize the world be called a system of progress and civilization, he can never hold out the hand of peace to such a system. (talk) 00:22, 23 August 2009 (UTC) (talk) 00:25, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

And the point is??? The anti-modernist moment in Church history does not essentially define the larger tradition or the radically humanistic implications of the theology of the Incarnation. The trend of Church history does not follow an anti-modernist discourse, but has moved strongly toward the language of authentic humanism, even while the inheritors of the enlightenment (Horkheimer, Adorno) have excoriated the foolish exaltation of the Myth of Reason. The use of the word humanism in some circles and in some times and in some dialectical frameworks does not override all other currents of usages that flow through history. If the umanisti did not use humanism of themselves, it does not mean that the movement is not referred to again and again and again as humanism in later days (our days included). Humanism is a wonderfully rich complex word. Do not fall into a simplistic reductionism. Once again: Silence is right: Be general. Then specific. Hence the opening I offered above. It seems quite a rational thing to do. Wilson Delgado (talk) 03:58, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
The point is that nineteenth-century humanism really was an anti-religious movement, or at least it felt it had to reinvent religion. That is a fact. Renaissance humanism was not anti-religious or felt in any way to conflict with religion. I think it is legitimate to mention that Catholicism now is moving to reclaim humanism and embraces social justice, but though I personally applaud this trend, I don't think this a defining quality of humanism, whereas the difference between earlier humanisms and modern humanism are defining characteristics. As I see it, your definition tends to give too little prominence to the humanist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are important.
Also, I am not comfortable with your second definition "2) a humanistic approach to education (in any period of history) that uses literary means or a focus on the humanities to form students" because it is so vague that it almost inaccurate. The meaning of "the humanities" introduces another whole can of worms, since this has changed so drastically from era to era. So discussion of education is something else that could be saved for later in the article. As I understand it, what you are talking about is "paideia", but most people don't know what that means, and I don't think the Romans and therefore the Renaissance humanists used that concept. They were talking about instruction in rhetoric -- their "humanities" curriculum was centered on it -- even history and poetry (considered a teachable skill) were subordinated to teaching rhetoric. Rhetoric was considered an eminently practical, useful skill, more practical for everyday active living than the logical syllogisms and dense commentaries offered by Medieval universities. It was supposed to be used for good ends not bad, but was not really concerned with forming character.
Your definition also leaves out two things that in my estimation are integral to humanism, namely the importance humanism gives to reason and discussion -- these were present from the very beginning. Also, from the beginning, humanism was chiefly concerned with the question of how to live and solve problems in this world. Before the Greeks, the domain of wisdom and knowledge had been the private chambers of the royal palace or the inner sanctum of the religious temple. Writing was used only for court records or priestly pronouncements. The Greeks brought all this out into the public square to be openly discussed. They had a high level of literacy and they expected their written philosophical works out to be read out loud and discussed in public as well. Classical humanism stressed moderation and self-restraint. It frowned on individuality and private display, and emphasized man's difference from barbarians and animals. The Greeks, especially, believed in submission to fate (unlike modern humanism). Medieval Christianity, on the other hand, stressed man's similarity to God. (talk) 06:13, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
This is excellent reflection, 173. I see what you mean. And I have nothing at all against a position that says that a 19th-century movement calling itself Humanism was in essence something that arose to oppose traditional religion at a particular time. If that is true, let us be sure to say it. The question is whether an article simply called "Humanism" should essentially be about "human-centered philosophy," as the hat-note says, *particularly'* when this "human-centered philosophy" is taken as the anti-traditional-religion type of philosophy. Again, I am not against such an article, if and only if it is labelled clearly as such, not just "Humanism" pure and simple. Consider the reader: He/she may have just read in a book somewhere about the "humanistic values of the liberal arts curriculum offered today at St. John's College." Now is such an article really going be as clearly directive in its opening as it should be? No. What if the person has just seen in the news the headline "Pope Speaks for Authentic Humanism"? Or if he/she has come across the title of the Yale-published book by Lanham about The Survival of Humanism? Or sees on the library shelf The Humanism of Cicero? There are thousands of such possible examples pointing to different flavors of this root concept. There needs to be a clear map given in the lead, not a parochial article that makes the reader eventually realize that he/she should be looking elsewhere. People are coming to this page not just looking for humanism, but also they are sent here if they type in humanist (in Google) or humanistic (in Wikipedia). Those semantic domains are also relevant and they open upon oceans of usage that are not limited to the anti-traditional-religious, rationalistic, systematic philosophical position that is given the core meaning in the article as it is written now.
As for what I leave out in my definition: yes, add to it what is lacking. The basic direction is what I am more concerned about now.
You say that you do not like the part that says humanism is "a humanistic approach to education (in any period of history) that uses literary means or a focus on the humanities to form students" because it is so vague that it almost inaccurate." Think about it: Greek humanism, Roman humanism, Renaissance humanism, classical humanism of any period of history: what do they do? They use literature to form people. They are humanists rather than theologians. It is a core recurrent feature, a concrete feature of this long tradition. It is the development of the Western Canon (Homer, Hesiod, et al.) in education. It is concrete and not vague, in my estimation. It is a major current in humanism, the educational/ cultural usage.
One final point, if someone wants to insisting on using a restrictive truncated meaning from a severely abridged dictionary, then shouldn't we also, for fairness and balance, cite how the Encyclopedia Britannica says the most *frequent* use is something quite different? Wilson Delgado (talk) 14:27, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

Wilson, I totally agree that we shouldn't use truncated definitions and that we shouldn't make nineteenth century humanism the sole focus of our article. I would like to see an opening paragraph that conforms to and is sustained by the broader Oxford Companion entry. I would like to -- preferably just through the use of one or two words -- allude or nod to the ideals of humanistic education as a way of broadening the conversation to include the great minds of the past, but I have to think and read some more about how to do that.

  • Let my Lamp at midnight hour,
  • Be seen in some high lonely Towr,
  • Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
  • With thrice-great Hermes, or un-sphere
  • The spirit of Plato to unfold
  • What Worlds, or what vast Regions hold
  • The immortal mind that hath forsook
  • Her mansion in this fleshly nook...
  • Some time let Gorgeous Tragedy
  • In Scepter'd Pall come sweeping by,
  • Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line,
  • Or the tale of Troy divine.
  • Or what (though rare) of later age,
  • Ennobled hath the Buskind stage...
  • And may at last my weary age
  • Find out the peaceful hermitage,
  • The Hairy Gown and Mossy Cell,
  • Where I may sit and rightly spell,
  • Of every Star that Heav'n doth shew,
  • And every Herb that sips the dew;
  • Till old experience do attain
  • To something like Prophetic strain.--Milton (talk) 16:22, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

I hope your "thinking and reading some more about how to do that" includes reading Wikipedia policies. As I follow this discussion, it looks like we are mostly agreed on most aspects; the only question seems to be proper implementation. Sadly, Wikipedia already gives several clear policies on how to accomplish our goals, and yet none of the editors who discuss the path forward here seem to bring up those policies.
  • I know we are all agreed that the term "humanism" has a variety of definitions. What does Wikipedia say about how to handle terms with multiple definitions?
  • I know we are all agreed that readers who seek a specific definition must be able to find the article referencing that definition easily. What does Wikipedia say about how to help them find the correct article?
  • I know we are all agreed that one definition has achieved the most common use. What does Wikipedia policy say about how to treat the most common use?
And, of course, there's the question of whether each editor is committed to following Wikipedia policies at all. I recently asked the following question of Wilson Delgado, which has, sadly, thus far gone unanswered:
I see essentially two strategies we can follow in trying to determine a direction for this article, to ensure our work is not prone to "suspicious methodologies":
  1. We can start with our preferred POV and hand-select sources that share our bias, ignore all sources that disagree with us, and return to this talk page over and over, over the course of months or years, and keep trying to shout down anyone who disagrees with our preferred POV bias.
  2. We can look at how Wikipedia says to choose names and topics for articles, follow its suggested means of determining a primary topic, and then cite aggregate statistics from the aggregation services Wikipedia policies suggest, such that anyone who comes behind us can verify our work objectively.
Which of these two strategies do you think we should pursue? How do you suggest we start? Serpent More Crafty (talk) 19:09, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Contrary to your repeated assertions, SMC, we are by no means "all agreed" on what you think we are "all agreed" on. That is to say, we do not all necessarily agree that humanism is a term that "has many definitions." On the contrary, most of us here agree that humanism is a strain of thought or perspective that historically has had many manifestations and changes of emphasis, but also many continuities. This makes defining it somewhat problematic, but such problems of definition need to be clearly established and dealt with in their contexts not ignored. Contrary to what you believe, humanism is not comparable to Islam or Christianity, with institutions and established (or contested) dogmas and canons of prophetic writings. (talk) 20:11, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Why are you presuming to know what I believe? I have never stated my personal beliefs on this page, so you can't make any statement and claim it to be "contrary to what I believe." While you are correct that humanists don't claim to have a "canon of prophetic writings," you had better call the International Humanist and Ethical Union, American Humanist Association, British Humanist Association, Institute for Humanist Studies, Council for Secular Humanism, Fellowship of Humanity, hUUmanists, and the Humanist Society to tell them that they don't actually exist--they are under the impression that in fact they do, and would no doubt appreciate your correcting them on this point of fact. :) Serpent More Crafty (talk) 20:42, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't have to call them. I am a secular humanist. (talk) 21:38, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
I do not answer SMC's question because I am not sure SMC is serious, or that he is not just using "the Law" (Wikipedia policies) as a way of coming out with his POV (under the guise of "objectivity") or as a way of just messing with us. Forgive me if I'm wrong. I believe this article's contents are best settled by others in dialogue that I can trust. Wilson Delgado (talk) 22:45, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, I also think he is "gaming the system," but whether he is or not, the sources he quotes do not back him up. The website of The Committee on Humanist Education of the Institute for Humanism Studies (whose creators have evidently read the Oxford Companion to Philosophy and defer to it as a creditable authority) defines humanism this way:
Humanism is a: “Philosophical outlook that has developed over thousands of years".”
It also says that: The word "humanism" has been used in many different senses over the years. It has referred to the educational program of Renaissance scholars, as well as to movements in art, literature, psychology, architecture, and other cultural fields. While these senses differ, they all share a central focus on humanity, often representing a move away from concerns with ‘divinity.’" [(my emphasis) note: often, not always, representing a move away from divinity]
And it goes on to say that: "There is no requirement for humanists to agree with any manifesto or statement and, indeed, there is an enormous diversity of opinion in the humanist community about virtually every one in print."
It does not say "humanism has many different definitions" (to quote SMC), one of which is more "primary" than other ones (as SMC asserts). It says "the word has been used in many different senses over the years" but all these senses "share a central focus on humanity", "often" (but not always) "representing a move away from divinity." (talk) 23:02, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Wilson, yes, you ARE wrong, but per your request, I DO indeed forgive you. I do hope, as part of your request for forgiveness, you'll try harder not to make such accusations in the future when in fact what you perceive as "POV" is actually just what all the major humanist organizations publish on their websites, their books, and their magazines. Serpent More Crafty (talk) 13:38, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Here is precisely the error that SMC does not understand that he has been making all along: the definition of "all the major humanist organizations" is not appropriate for the core definition of humanism in an encyclopedia article on "Humanism." Their definition is fine within their circles (POV), but it is not able to encompass the whole of the concept and all the main streams of usage. If you want an article on the definition within such circles, label it clearly as such in the heading of the article. Wilson Delgado (talk) 19:22, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
(WARNING: The following comment misrepresents my views repeatedly. I quote here with inline corrections. Uncorrected original comment follows. -SMC) Well, I also think he is "gaming the system," (NOTE: That was a personal attack, and against the policies of Wikipedia. -SMC) but whether he is or not, the sources he quotes do not back him up. The website of The Committee on Humanist Education of the Institute for Humanism Studies (whose creators have evidently read the Oxford Companion to Philosophy and defer to it as a creditable authority) defines humanism this way:
(WARNING: Link is incorrect. Even removing the trailing quote mark from your URL bar just takes you to a nearly blank page. -SMC) Humanism is a: “Philosophical outlook that has developed over thousands of years".” (NOTE: If you click on the "COHE" link at the top of that blank page, how they ACTUALLY define humanism is as follows: "Humanism is a godless philosophy based on reason and compassion." -SMC)
It also says that: The word "humanism" has been used in many different senses over the years. It has referred to the educational program of Renaissance scholars, as well as to movements in art, literature, psychology, architecture, and other cultural fields. While these senses differ, they all share a central focus on humanity, often representing a move away from concerns with ‘divinity.’" [(my emphasis) note: often, not always, representing a move away from divinity] (NOTE: This has been agreed upon many times over many months. I agree that there are different senses, just as all dictionaries show. I have never said humanism ALWAYS refers to any one definition, and to say I have said so is a lie. -SMC)
And it goes on to say that: "There is no requirement for humanists to agree with any manifesto or statement and, indeed, there is an enormous diversity of opinion in the humanist community about virtually every one in print." (NOTE: This is also agreed. This has never been a point of contention. -SMC)
It does not say "humanism has many different definitions" (to quote SMC), one of which is more "primary" than other ones (as SMC asserts). (NOTE: this is not in contention either. I said this only because this is the viewpoint shared by the following sources: 1. Oxford English Dictionary 2. American Heritage Dictionary 3. Wilson Delgado, in his comment of 22:36, 22 August 2009 (UTC) 4. Johnbod, in his comment of 21:04, 22 August 2009 (UTC) 5. The Frederick Edwords essay quoted in note 2 of the article -SMC) It says "the word has been used in many different senses over the years" but all these senses "share a central focus on humanity", "often" (but not always) "representing a move away from divinity." (NOTE: Once again, this is not in contention: I wholly support the existence of the Renaissance humanism article, that it should be linked to from Humanism (disambiguation), and that it should be linked from this article as well. Please, let's have no such further incorrect insinuations. -SMC) (talk) 23:02, 24 August 2009 (UTC) (ORIGINAL COMMENT FOLLOWS, UNEDITED.) Serpent More Crafty (talk) 13:56, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I have moved my comment back under Wilson Delgado's to where it chronologically belonged before the order was changed by SMC. The link that SMC states is incorrect goes in fact to the portal page of the COHE website. The sentence "Humanism is a: '“Philosophical outlook that has developed over thousands of years'" is the "correct" answer, according to COHE, taken from the COHE [6] quiz. If it is a correct definition, I don't see how one can get any more authoritative than that.
  • 3. Humanism is a:
  • a. Political program from Ancient Greece
  • b. Doctrine created in the last 40 years
  • c. Philosophical outlook that developed over thousands of years
  • d. Branch of science developed in the Middle Ages
  • e. Religion created by Mao Tse-tung
If SMC believes that another editor has misunderstood or misquoted what he has said, he has the opportunity to make himself clear without accusing others of lying or personally attacking him. His snarky [7], condescending tone and use of capital letters and bolding in order to SHOUT violate of wikipedia's policy of civility. I am pleased that a consensus has been reached on other matters. (talk)

The line at the beginning "This article is about human-centered philosophy. For other uses, see Humanism (disambiguation)." is satisfactory, but the article is still less than perfect, even after all this time! The history section confuses the history of (secular) humanism with the history of the use of the term. These are far from the same thing, although they do have overlapping parts. Seen historically,(secular) humanism is (simply?!) a development of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, resulting from gradual and continual enlightenment among (Western) Christians and Jews. The Protestant Reformation could be considered to be more important in this story than the work of Petrarch. Dadge (talk) 22:43, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

You are welcome to participate in sorting out the article; but the requirement to add only well-souced material needs to be followed scrupulously here. Charles Matthews (talk) 09:57, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
There is another wiki article -- Enlightenment in Western secular tradition, which perhaps deals with what Dadge is talking about -- namely the contention that there has been a "gradual but continual enlightenment among Western Christians and Jews".Mballen (talk) 20:24, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Removed reference to Norman Davies & explanation of other changes

I removed the references to Norman Davies because it is no longer a matter of dispute that the Italian Renaissance was neither anticlerical nor in any way opposed to religious faith. This is common knowledge, but in case if anyone wants to look up the six humanist popes, Hale's Dictionary of the Italian Renaissance is a perfectly adequate reference and is still there (also Davies, who is not an expert in this field, is problematic in his reliance on Burckhardt -- whose wiki entry remains to be fixed up, should anyone wish to do so). I also attempted to clarify the association of Renaissance humanism with the development of philology, and Erasmus's application of the same to the Bible -- with a nod looking ahead to the German Higher Criticism that was to be so influential on the various humanist movements of the nineteenth century. Among its other defects, the entry still does not adequately cover the influence of humanism on education -- a tangle of worms that would need a lot of research. Also, the reverse POV fork still obtains and will have to be dealt with by future editors. (talk) 17:04, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree it is, or should be, "common knowledge", but nonetheless the inclusion of this information was fiercely contested in recent months by two editors here. It would have been better to find a more independent & recent reference than the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is still the first one (or several) cited on this point. Johnbod (talk) 17:24, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Pico's nephew Giovanni revived ancient Greek skepticism, initially in order to bolster religious faith. Since going back to the sources (particularly after the advent of printing when the "sources" became widely available, rather than existing, as previously, in only a few scattered manuscripts that had to be copied by hand) revealed once and for all deep and unbridgeable conflicts of opinion among ancient authorities. In this sense, humanism (or printing) proved corrosive to belief. This is why from the sixteenth century on, there was renewed insistence on the importance of unquestioning faith (fideism), and a growing sense, that became stronger and stronger in the baroque world, that "La vida es sueño" ("Life is but a dream"). All human-derived knowledge was now seen as doubtful -- only the Bible could be relied on (in the case of Protestants) or (among Catholics) the authority of Rome. Montaigne was a skeptic of this kind and so probably was the proto-Enlightenment thinker Pierre Bayle. The use of skepticism to question religious faith is basically not a Renaissance but an eighteenth century phenomenon (see Paul Hazard's wonderful book The European Mind, the Critical Years, 1680-1715, tr. 1952). (talk) 22:09, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Reference to Catholic Encyclopedia gone (a biased source in this context). Iris Origo -- I'm a fan, but this topic not her forte -- also gone. I recommend her biography of Leopardi, though. (talk) 02:03, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Given the extreme resistance shown not so long ago to having these basic points in, some other references should be added from the many references you evidently command. You have now removed three references to this passage, without adding any. It is less useful to mention books here than to use them to reference the article. Johnbod (talk) 02:07, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

OK. Will try to do so soon. But if you look at the quotations in other sections you'll see that there is quite a lot of substantiation there for this already. What really we need IMO is something about Roman humanism and its continuation (and transformation) by the Church fathers. Kristeller's point was that much of what the humanists wrote was basically a re-hash of longstanding themes in Medieval Christianity. If you don't think that the Renaissance was a sudden change (which it wasn't) then you realize that what the humanists were upset about was the Middle Ages -- which was still going on all around them and continued to do so in many ways for a couple of hundred years more. Besides, my own feeling is that this should be addressed in the wiki entries on Renaissance humanism and on that on Burckhardt. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:43, 27 August 2009 (UTC).

Johnbod, a few days ago I added the following note to the Jackob Burckhardt discussion page. The books mentioned are all acclaimed classics that are still very much worth reading (as are Burckhardt's, once you take into account that his real subject was the unification of Germany. Burckhardt was a great genius and fixing his page would be a delicate undertaking). In fact Haskins' book had such a huge influence that historians stopped writing about the Renaissance for some years after it was published (in 1927). And if you look up Lynn Thorndike in wikipedia, you will see there that one of his defining characteristics was that he contested Burckhardt. But here we are, over a hundred years later and in popular accounts Buckhardt's conception is one of those zombie myths still refuses to die. It's in all the high school (but not college) textbooks, last I checked (when my son was in school in the 1990s):

The article ought to mention that Burckhardt's conception of the Renaissance as a revival of pagan philosophy and individualism after a dark age of asceticism and ignorance was bitterly contested by Medieval historians and historians of science such as Lynn Thorndike and is not accepted any more, or accepted only with severe qualifications. In 1927 Charles Homer Haskins wrote a very famous book, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, showing that the period we know as the Renaissance was preceded by many revivals of classical antiquity that took place periodically in the Middle Ages, most notably in France in the twelfth century, which had virtually of all the characteristics of the later one:

The continuity of history rejects violent contrasts between successive periods, and modern research shows the Middle Ages less dark and less static, the Renaissance less bright and less sudden, than was once supposed. The Italian Renaissance was preceded by similar, if less wide-reaching, movements.

The book to read is Wallace K. Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Thought: Five Centuries of Interpretation (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948). Then in 1960 the great art historian Erwin Panofsky wrote Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art: [his biography states that the book was based on a series of lectures he had given:] "The lectures posed the (now) generally accepted notion that smaller "renaissances" (re-births) of the classical happened periodically in medieval art and literature before the major one in Italy." (talk) 14:22, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

what is wrong with something like this for the lead "Humanism is a collecion of philisophical ideas that place the most value on human needs and experiences." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:59, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Humanism was fueled by Stoicism, which stressed living according to nature and put Providence and Reason, not humanity at the center of things. Humanism (without qualification) does not stand for human domination of the universe or for belief that human values are the highest of all realities. Better to imply that human values can participate in those highest values, rather than that the latter can be reduced to the former. In the Judaeo-Christian humanistic dispensation, human beings are stewards rather than "masters" of nature. Wilson Delgado (talk) 19:24, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
That may be true, but some Enlightenment philosophes wrote in terms that could be interpreted as advocating domination of nature (don't have references, offhand) or at any rate, (rightly or wrongly) they are sometimes criticized for this . Pico della Mirandola put man at the center of things -- in the sense that man, in contrast to animals, alone has free will -- but he was supposed to use this will to approach God. Anyway, pace Burckhardt, Pico really isn't a humanist, or at least was very untypical of a Renaissance humanist -- more typical are Gianozzo Manetti, Alberti, and Castiglione, who laid out schemes of life appropriate for a Christian gentleman living in the secular world -- a life centered around family and active participation in public life, whether advising a prince under a despotism or taking part in the political life of a republic. I think you are right about "living according to nature" -- this would have meant avoiding all excessive behavior (including in dress and consumption of luxuries) and practicing moderation in all things. (talk) 23:13, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. Enlightenment thinkers and their severe rationalism are a different development, coming out of humanism, but not fully in its spirit. Francis Bacon seems to be the swivel-point in that direction. Wilson Delgado (talk) 14:34, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Francis Bacon is definitely the turning point. It is my impression that in their program to "sweep away all the idols of the past" and start afresh with a blank slate, the rationalists tended to discount what can be learned from a study of history (which in the humanist educational scheme was supposed to teach the moral value of prudence). Of course not all of them ignored history. I think Rousseau was steeped in it, not to speak of Gibbon (and his model Paolo Sarpi) and of course Vico. But it seems that modern humanist movements may have inherited some of this enlightenment tendency to have a cavalier attitude toward the past. We see this on a popular level in the American educational system, which hardly seems to value history at all. (talk) 16:41, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Another definition from Oxford Companion series

This following passage (summary/definition of "humanism") occurs as a prelude to a discussion of the celebrated debate between Sartre and Heidegger over the meaning of "humanism". I believe our wiki article is approaching consensus with it. Baldwin distinguishes Comtean (or French strain, so to speak) strain of humanism vs Neo-Humanism (the German, homo humanus emphasizing classical learning):

It is often said that this term (or rather humanismsus) was first introduced by the German educator F. F. Neithammer in 1808 to defend the study of Latin and Greek in schools; and Heidegger alludes to this position when he remarks that “a studium humanitatis", which in a certain way reaches back to the ancients and thus also becomes a revival of Greek civilization, always adheres to historically understood humanism” (Heidegger 1974:44). Those who make this connection with the ancient world invoke the “humanists” of the Renaissance, such as Erasmus, who sought to revive the study of the values of the ancient world and the conception there of homo humanus who exemplified these values; and it is certainly from this study of the writings of the ancient world (the litterae humaniores) that we get our conception of “humane studies” or “humanities.” But once one looks at historical dictionaries this classicist origin for the use of the term “humanism” is called into question. For the term “humanisme” can be found in French from 1765 with the meaning “love of humanity” (philanthropy), and use of the term at this time does not appear to bring with it any specifically, classical allusion. Subsequently Comte’s development of his “religion of humanity” in the 1850s was especially influential as a form of “humanism,” and around this time the term is increasingly used in French and English to describe positions which emphasize the intrinsic value of humanity. Contemporary “humanist” associations have their origins in the influence of Comte’s work (the British “Humanistic Religious Association” was founded in 1853). It is clear too that the “humanism” of Sartre’s lecture is to be understood in terms of this Comtean tradition, even though Sartre explicitly distances himself from Comte’s “religion of humanity”. --Thomas Baldwin, “The Humanism Debate” in The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy, Brian Leiter and Michael Rosen, editors (Oxford University Press, 2007) pp. 671-72.

Long comment just inserted and deleted (from the article) represents a modern criticism of humanism that is not infrequently heard, as a case of "man" asserting empire over nature, rather than seeking to co-exist with it, this argument, whatever its merits, deserves mention, actually. The language of past humanists, and especially of enlightenment thinkers, certainly suggests this. (talk) 16:09, 28 August 2009 (UTC) (talk) 16:10, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Humanism is the idea that the greatest value should be placed on humanity and human experiences, whether in a religous, anti-religous, or educational sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Prodygii (talkcontribs) 16:07, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
"Humanism is the placing of Man at the center of all things and making him the measure of all things." (-Francis Schaeffer) Student7 (talk) 20:58, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

The bible

An offhand remark in history for the 19th century suggests that a humanist was one of the first to determine that the bible was not historically accurate. I do not know whether this is true. Certainly humanists today do not appear to consider the bible important.

But my Catholic concordance with an Imprimatur says (among many other things) that Moses may not have had the ten commandments (in that form). My point being that a number of religions today do not take the bible as inerrant on history. Should the point be made that it was humanists who led the way? I would think the offhand remark should either be enlarged on or discarded.Student7 (talk) 21:57, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

It doesn't exactly say that. Taking everything in the Bible as literally & simply true could almost be said to be an invention of American fundamentalism; most earlier religious traditions had not done this, at least in pointy-head circles, though certainly they would not have agreed with Strauss's approach - which mainly directly concerned the New Testament. Johnbod (talk) 22:54, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
Catholicism never took the Bible literally -- or at least, as I understand from studying Dante, in the Medieval period it was felt that the Bible had many layers of meaning and that is why it should be read first and interpreted by trained priests, and supplemented by Church teachings. As Johnbod said, taking the Bible literally was a Protestant (fundamentalist) innovation. However, in Catholic as well as Protestant countries there was a reluctance by theologians until the 19th century to approach the Bible as though it were a historical document to be studied objectively and critically like any other. Actually, however, there was at least one precursor in the seventeenth century (in the reign of Louis XIV), a French Catholic Oratorian priest, Richard Simon, author of a Histoire Critique of the Old Testament (my information comes from Paul Hazard's The European Mind). But Richard Simon did not call himself, nor was he called by others, a humanist. He was a polemicist who felt that by attacking the coherence of the Bible he was striking a blow at Protestantism. His book was initially approved for publication by the Censor, but what happened afterward was that he was anathematized by many Protestants and Catholics. The wikipedia entry says:

The powerful influence of Bishop Bossuet, at that time tutor to the dauphin, was invoked; the chancellor, Michael le Tellier, lent his assistance; a decree of the council of state was obtained, and after a series of paltry intrigues the whole impression, consisting of 1300 copies, was seized by the police and destroyed, and the animosity of his colleagues in the Oratory rose to so great a height against Simon that he was declared to be no longer a member of their body. Full of bitterness and disgust, Simon retired in 1679 to the curacy of Bolleville, to which he had been lately appointed by the vicar-general of the abbey of Fécamp.

Richard Simon fled to Holland and spent the rest of his life embroiled in controversies, which you can read about in Paul Hazard and wikipedia. To make a long story short, there was plenty of doubt about the historical truth of the Bible before humanism came along. They can't take credit for that. (talk) 00:40, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
John Toland (1670-1722), the originator of eighteenth century Deism and author of Christianity Not Mysterious, (1696) was a significant precursor of modern "secular" humanism and a link to the older humanism, based on a revival of classical thinking. Originally a lapsed Irish Catholic, Toland's writings tended to be polemically anticlerical (this was the heyday of absolutism in politics and the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV). He was the first person to be called a "freethinker." Toland started a Philosophic Socratic Society, whose ethical credo was based on the writings of Cicero and Seneca. Members were supposed to come together to eat and drink and discuss philosophic questions in the manner of Plato's Symposium. It's not known how many of these societies actually existed, but Toland's writings were very popular among all classes. In his 1714 Reasons for Naturalising the Jews, Toland was the first to advocate full citizenship and equal rights for Jewish people. (talk) 17:31, 2 September 2009 (UTC) (talk) 23:49, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks to everyone. I've removed what now seemed to be a blurb supporting George Eliot's credentials as a philosopher. The remark about bible not inerrant on history was a throwaway remark to support these credentials. (So I threw it away!  :) (Since it simply caused confusion in context). I'm not really sure about her credentials but I suppose her statement is okay as history. Student7 (talk) 21:18, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Not sure I understand how this "a blurb supporting Eliot's credentials"? It was the writings of the liberal German theologians Strauss and Feuerbach that cast doubt on the historical accuracy of the Bible, not Eliot (casting doubt is not the same as flatly saying that the Bible is "not inerrant"). Eliot is recognized as one of the greatest of English novelists -- she doesn't need any blurb! She and Lewes were very influential in bringing German scholarship and thought to England and hence in the formation of humanist societies. Could you please explain at greater length the rationale for your deletion? (talk) 04:21, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Agree about novelist. The statement originally read "Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, known to the world as George Eliot, translated Strauss's Das Leben Jesu (The Life of Jesus, 1846) and Ludwig Ludwig Feuerbach's Das Wesen Christianismus (The Essence of Christianity), which called into question the historical accuracy of the Bible, in 1854. She wrote to a friend:". I deleted "which called into question the historical accuracy of the Bible" since it didn't seem to have anything to do with the point the editor was trying to make; his point having nothing to do with the historical accuracy of the bible per se. It was confusing in that context. The editor appeared to try to enhance, for his purposes, Eliot's non-novelist credentials in order for her to be quoted here, in a philosopher's (?) theologian (?) milieu. Hope this helps. Student7 (talk) 13:41, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
It was correct to remove it. Right or wrong, it was not sufficiently relevant to this subject. Johnbod (talk) 14:18, 6 September 2009 (UTC)