Humanism is a philosophy for every day, a set of ideas to help us live life well. It answers Socrates’ question: ‘How to live?’
We all need guidance, passed on and evolving through the generations, on what a good life looks like, how to overcome hardship, and how far to take responsibility for others. One of the great things about humanism is that it says ‘Take these ideas, but don’t treat them as rules set in stone. Question them, put them to the test and debate them with others.’
Humanism is a broad and ancient philosophy, at least 2,500 years old, which puts human reason and experience at the heart of our understanding of the world. It is the desire to replace superstition with science, oppression with freedom, and hierarchies with equality. It is the belief that every person has worth, dignity and autonomy.
The Amsterdam Declaration 2002, the most recent internationally agreed description of humanism, opens by saying: “Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists, and gave rise to science itself.”
One of the most important things the declaration says is: “Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.” It is a tradition available to every single human being. In that sense humanism has no dogma or creed – there is no gate or gatekeeper to include some and exclude others.