President's Welcome 2016
Humanism is a richly varied philosophy, and each Humanist has their own unique perspective. In this respect we are no different from any other human beings. One way we do differ, though, is that we accept our humanity in both its limitations and its potentials. As far as we can tell, there are no gods to help us. Human ingenuity, curiosity, learning and goodwill are all we have to work with. Humanists base their judgments in honest examination of shared human experience. Humanism respects the free individual, accountable to society - dependent on the natural world, yet also responsible for it.
The path of Humanism can be traced through the millennium of ancient Greek thought from Thales to Hypatia, as well as parts of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese and Indian thought. Indigenous hunter-gatherers tuned to their environment, their bodies, their companions and their human needs, also epitomise the Humanist approach. But as a distinctive movement, Humanism has its roots in the conscious individualism of the early Renaissance, and its flowering in the freedom, civility and enterprise of the modern Enlightenment.
While we appreciate the struggles of our ancestors, their architecture and their craftsmanship, we feel that humanity got lost in the savagery of the Dark Ages, and the superstition of the Middle Ages. But the rise of Renaissance 'Humanitas' allowed the fullest development of human virtues - both modern human qualities like understanding, benevolence, compassion, and mercy and traditional character traits like fortitude, judgment, prudence, eloquence, and honour. Human art and science flourished again.
Then, after the bloody distractions of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation had run their course, Enlightenment values of human rights, rule of law, equality, scientific inquiry, aesthetics, cosmopolitanism, transparency, civility, optimism, and inclusion laid the basis of the modern Humanist project.
Despite these 'western' origins, Humanists also welcome the contributions of diverse communities and cultures from around the world, where these make humanity central in their customs and valuations. More... (updated article Sep 2016)
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