Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential, and agency of human beings, whom it considers the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry.
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The meaning of the term "humanism" has changed according to successive intellectual movements that have identified with it. During the Italian Renaissance, ancient works inspired Italian scholars, giving rise to the Renaissance humanism movement. During the Age of Enlightenment, humanistic values were re-enforced by advances in science and technology, giving confidence to humans in their exploration of the world. By the early 20th century, organizations dedicated to humanism flourished in Europe and the United States, and have since expanded worldwide. In the early 21st century, the term generally denotes a focus on human well-being and advocates for human freedom, autonomy, and progress. It views humanity as responsible for the promotion and development of individuals, espouses the equal and inherent dignity of all human beings, and emphasizes a concern for humans in relation to the world.
Starting in the 20th century, humanist movements are typically non-religious and aligned with secularism. Most frequently, humanism refers to a non-theistic view centered on human agency, and a reliance on science and reason rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world. Humanists tend to advocate for human rights, free speech, progressive policies, and democracy. People with a humanist worldview maintain religion is not a precondition of morality, and object to excessive religious entanglement with education and the state.
Contemporary humanist organizations work under the umbrella of Humanists International. Well-known humanist associations are Humanists UK and the American Humanist Association.