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Are you a humanist or what?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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mollerdlr
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#381 Postby mollerdlr » November 28th, 2010, 4:02 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Animist wrote:

(snip) >>For this reason, BTW, I am also not too keen on the concept of spiritual humanism, as advocated by Moller; humanism is ipso facto value-rich, not value-free as he implies, so why do we need to add "spiritual"? - that, IMO, is also potential woo-woo>>

Moller:
Thank you for this insight. Humanism is indeed value-rich, as you say. However, I am not sure if I suggested that Humanism is value-free. Perhaps I may try to make myself a little clearer on this issue: In my post I referred to the tags folks hang on themselves i.e. secular, religious humanists etc., rather than making a distinction between the exploration of different branches of thinking (philosophies) within Humanism as an all-embracing fact of human existence, and identifying themselves with these tags. My use of the term Spiritual Humanism, could be seen to be one such off-shoot of exploration within Humanism. I, for instance, do not call myself a 'Spiritual Humanist'. By virue of my natural condition i am a humanist, as i pointed out we all are by default. When I add 'spiritual' to the term humanism, I suggest a way of exploring humanism differently, for instance to secular humanism, religious humanism etc.
My use of this term 'Spiritual Humanism' refers to an inner exploration of our innate human qualities towards which thought can only point, but which it can never fully encompass or fathom. To me these are truly 'spiritual' (for lack of a better word, perhaps) as they come from a disposition within our human potential which has transcended conditioned rationality, scientific enquiry and all forms of thought-created inspiration for living. Spiritual Humanism is therefore an exprience not founded upon conditioned thinking, and offers a way of life which is not conditioned by the fragmentary processes of our rational faculty. INO here lies unfathomable potential for value-rich human experience.


Animist wrote:
animist wrote:
Nick wrote:I think the important thing here is "giving credibility" to woo-woo. I did not say he was indulging in it himself. I think this is true in a couple of respects. First of all, by using the word "faith", which I agree, for him could be defined as hope, or confidence, he is creating a rod for his own back, because he will for ever have to explain why the religious cannot have their "faith" too. And their faith is woo-woo!

Secondly, I, personally, have difficulty with treating religious belief as equally legitimate as reason. The original quotation came from a thread about the involvement of humanists with faith groups. I am uncomfortable with reaching an accommodation with religious groups in some areas, especially in education. To do so confers upon them a legitimacy they don't deserve. Dawkins refuses to debate creationists for the same reason.

I appreciate I might not be right, and maybe we humanists should be more involved, but I couldn't do it without constant (and hence destructive) disagreement with them, or, at the very least, holding my nose.

I feel much as you do, and I don't like the word faith (as I said, IMO what has happened is that the same word has unfortunately been used in two rather different ways). In fact, humanism seems to definitely exclude faith in the religious sense, preferring reason plus benevolence/empathy. For this reason, BTW, I am also not too keen on the concept of spiritual humanism, as advocated by Moller; humanism is ipso facto value-rich, not value-free as he implies, so why do we need to add "spiritual"? - that, IMO, is also potential woo-woo!

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#382 Postby Gottard » November 28th, 2010, 5:37 pm

Moller: Yes. Exactly! But to follow the dictaes of our fragmented and imperfect ideals is IMO also not the way. When we are open and receptive to our inner of intelligence and love, we do not choose to be good or not. These qualities move us quite naturally. Love and charity cannot be created. They are innate and integral to our human nature.

Gottard: quite agree!

Moller: By virue of my natural condition i am a humanist, as i pointed out we all are by default. When I add 'spiritual' to the term humanism, I suggest a way of exploring humanism differently, for instance to secular humanism, religious humanism etc.

Gottard: this is a dangerous/confusing way of expressing oneself! Humanism includes both the rational thinking and the creative/spiritual aspects. The term “Secular Humanism” is a qualification of our Humanism just to oppose it to the “religious humanism”. This distinction is necessary – at least here in Europe - because of the pun often used by the Vatican as a technique to set what is good (Christian) and what evil (Atheism!).
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mollerdlr
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#383 Postby mollerdlr » November 29th, 2010, 6:38 am

Gottard wrote:
Moller: Yes. Exactly! But to follow the dictaes of our fragmented and imperfect ideals is IMO also not the way. When we are open and receptive to our inner of intelligence and love, we do not choose to be good or not. These qualities move us quite naturally. Love and charity cannot be created. They are innate and integral to our human nature.

Gottard: quite agree!

Moller: By virtue of my natural condition i am a humanist, as i pointed out we all are by default. When I add 'spiritual' to the term humanism, I suggest a way of exploring humanism differently, for instance to secular humanism, religious humanism etc.

Gottard: this is a dangerous/confusing way of expressing oneself! Humanism includes both the rational thinking and the creative/spiritual aspects. The term “Secular Humanism” is a qualification of our Humanism just to oppose it to the “religious humanism”. This distinction is necessary – at least here in Europe - because of the pun often used by the Vatican as a technique to set what is good (Christian) and what evil (Atheism!).


Moller.

My sense here is that there is nothing dangerous about exploration, giving the subjects of explorations some kind of title to distinguish them from other forms of enquiry along a broad interest such as humanism. The only danger, IMO, is that of dogmatism and not leaving enough space for liberating and liberated exploration.

You mention something interesting here:

>>Humanism includes both the rational thinking and the creative/spiritual aspects.>>

On the Secular Humanist Counsil website they appear to disagree here:
>>Unlike religious humanism, secular humanism eschews transcendentalism in any and all forms. Depending on the context, transcendentalism can mean outright mysticism, the “spiritual” (itself a term with many meanings), or simply a rush toward emotional closure disproportionate to the knowable data. However defined, transcendentalism is rejected by secular humanists in favor of a rigorous philosophical naturalism: “naturalists maintain that there is insufficient scientific evidence for spiritual interpretations of reality and the postulation of occult causes.”>>

It is this kind of narrow-mindedness I believe has no place in a truly humanistic approach to life. For instance, is 'mysticism' not also part of our human experience and therefore rightfully integral to our human exploration. What do they mean by 'transcendentalism'? Why reject transcendence per se. Have any of these Secular Humanists ever had any deep transcendental experiences? Do they even know what the term implies in all or many of its forms? The Secular Humanist Council seems to reject any inner experience purely on the basis of 'insufficient scientific evidence', to support the validity of these 'spiritual' (transcendental) experiences. Is this not making a final arbiter of science and rationality? Is this not to dig themselves into a hole of ignorance rather than opening up their minds and hearts to that which is integral to human experience, and discover what could be learnt from it?

My understanding of Spiritual Humanism does not in principle marginalse any aspect of human experience, but rather attempts to place experience and our human potential in some kind of order of functionality. For instance, the thought of love is not love. The practice of love based on the thought of love can only be an immitation. Here we have two categories: the thought of love and the deeply felt natural revelation of love. Clearly both are legitimate human experiences and as such integral to our human condition. But unless we can see them, through insight and inner clarity, as two distinct manifestations of our potential, the one of a lesser order to the other, we may express our love as immitation rather than as the genuione article. No science is going to assist us to make the distinction. Only our deeper human intelligence, transcending conditioned rationality, has the clarity to do this.

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#384 Postby animist » November 30th, 2010, 12:22 pm

mollerdlr wrote:My sense here is that there is nothing dangerous about exploration, giving the subjects of explorations some kind of title to distinguish them from other forms of enquiry along a broad interest such as humanism. The only danger, IMO, is that of dogmatism and not leaving enough space for liberating and liberated exploration.

You mention something interesting here:

>>Humanism includes both the rational thinking and the creative/spiritual aspects.>>

On the Secular Humanist Counsil website they appear to disagree here:
>>Unlike religious humanism, secular humanism eschews transcendentalism in any and all forms. Depending on the context, transcendentalism can mean outright mysticism, the “spiritual” (itself a term with many meanings), or simply a rush toward emotional closure disproportionate to the knowable data. However defined, transcendentalism is rejected by secular humanists in favor of a rigorous philosophical naturalism: “naturalists maintain that there is insufficient scientific evidence for spiritual interpretations of reality and the postulation of occult causes.”>>

It is this kind of narrow-mindedness I believe has no place in a truly humanistic approach to life. For instance, is 'mysticism' not also part of our human experience and therefore rightfully integral to our human exploration. What do they mean by 'transcendentalism'? Why reject transcendence per se. Have any of these Secular Humanists ever had any deep transcendental experiences? Do they even know what the term implies in all or many of its forms? The Secular Humanist Council seems to reject any inner experience purely on the basis of 'insufficient scientific evidence', to support the validity of these 'spiritual' (transcendental) experiences. Is this not making a final arbiter of science and rationality? Is this not to dig themselves into a hole of ignorance rather than opening up their minds and hearts to that which is integral to human experience, and discover what could be learnt from it?

My understanding of Spiritual Humanism does not in principle marginalse any aspect of human experience, but rather attempts to place experience and our human potential in some kind of order of functionality
I think you keep confusing "investigation" with "belief". Of course, all human experience, including what might called transcendental and mystical experiences and beliefs, are of interest to humanists and worthy of investigation; and I think this forum, Think Humanism, is very good in that it does not exclude contributions from people who are not actually Humanists - for instance, MickeyD is an evangelical Christian who has sent in many posts now, and I find it interesting to try to understand his beliefs. But I do think that humanism, as a very loose collection of beliefs, does exclude such beliefs if they involve belief in supernatural entities, which would include ghosts, angels, spirits, fairies and gods - plus many more things in which people have believed. I also think that you are too ready to identify "reason" with "science". Again, I have to ask you to define the terms which you use in your eloquent posts.

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#385 Postby Gottard » November 30th, 2010, 4:56 pm

Moller,
Animist anticipated what my answer would be. I am sure there is a problem of 'word meaning' or 'hue' if you prefer; this can easily be due to the geographical/language distance separating us.
Let's put down a few pivots (Webster dictionary):
Transcendence:
-exceeding usual limits
-transcending the universe or material existence — compare
-extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience

Spiritual:
1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>
2: a: of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
3: concerned with religious values
4: related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>
5: of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena

Secular:
a : of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns>
b : not overtly or specifically religious <secular music>
c : not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>

I must infer that, according to Webster, Secular is just the opposite of Spiritual.
You spoke of 'Secular Humanist Council', would you pls. mention their website so that we may know who they are?
I used the word "creative" not in the religious sense but marked by the ability or power to create "the human creative impulse".
Sorry to be too brief in this post but I am really in a hurry....I'll read you in 1-3 days.
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#386 Postby Dave B » November 30th, 2010, 9:43 pm

I am trying to keep out of this discussion - but it is hard!

Gottard, do you have an alternative to "spiritual" for those sensations that, though they are merely a function electrochemical activity in the brain, have that certain "something" that is not easy to define? It may be just something in the emotional spectrum but you cannot directly measure such things. Hormonal levels have different effects on different people; some are transported by pain, others by pleasure.

I think humanist language is missing out on a whole lexicon of descriptive words simply because it is afraid of those words that have been used by others that we oppose. "Spirit" and its derivatives have been the property of the religious for most of history so it must be something to avoid. We also avoid those things we cannot measure or quantify.

"Love" is also something that we cannot measure or quantify accurately, can't even really describe for that matter! Should we ban "love" to the language scrap heap? The religious use that word an awful lot as well.

I am moved by certain pieces of music, scenes and others things beyond merely liking them but I would not say that I love them. But they touch something deep within me that has nothing to do with the basic functions of sex and survival (in fact they may be things that threaten survival!) And have no noticeable intellectual content either. So how do I describe that sensation if I cannot use "spiritual" to describe a something that touches the inner self?
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#387 Postby Marian » December 1st, 2010, 9:25 pm

Dave B wrote:So how do I describe that sensation if I cannot use "spiritual" to describe a something that touches the inner self?


A couple of words come to mind: pulchritudinous or sublime. :)
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#388 Postby thundril » December 1st, 2010, 9:41 pm

I LOVE pulchritudinous! Beautiful, Marian, literally!.

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#389 Postby animist » December 3rd, 2010, 7:24 pm

Dave B wrote:I am trying to keep out of this discussion - but it is hard!

Gottard, do you have an alternative to "spiritual" for those sensations that, though they are merely a function electrochemical activity in the brain, have that certain "something" that is not easy to define? It may be just something in the emotional spectrum but you cannot directly measure such things. Hormonal levels have different effects on different people; some are transported by pain, others by pleasure.

I think humanist language is missing out on a whole lexicon of descriptive words simply because it is afraid of those words that have been used by others that we oppose. "Spirit" and its derivatives have been the property of the religious for most of history so it must be something to avoid. We also avoid those things we cannot measure or quantify.

"Love" is also something that we cannot measure or quantify accurately, can't even really describe for that matter! Should we ban "love" to the language scrap heap? The religious use that word an awful lot as well.

I am moved by certain pieces of music, scenes and others things beyond merely liking them but I would not say that I love them. But they touch something deep within me that has nothing to do with the basic functions of sex and survival (in fact they may be things that threaten survival!) And have no noticeable intellectual content either. So how do I describe that sensation if I cannot use "spiritual" to describe a something that touches the inner self?
think you make some good points. Some of what you mention could be called aesthetic experience, and some is emotion, and there is also our ethical life. The human "spirit" sort of includes all of this, but as you say, it is hard not to sound as though you believe in some separate entity if you use the word. "Humanistic" does sound as though it includes these non-quantifiable activities, so again I would have to say that Moller is too concerned to add something to the concept of humanism

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#390 Postby Dave B » December 3rd, 2010, 7:44 pm

Marian wrote:
Dave B wrote:So how do I describe that sensation if I cannot use "spiritual" to describe a something that touches the inner self?


A couple of words come to mind: pulchritudinous or sublime. :)
Yes, lovely words, Marian, but they are adjectives, I am looking for something more like a noun, or can be used as one. The thing I view may not even be beautiful, "awesome" might fit and even utter ugliness can be moving at times.

OK, some might consider ugliness as beautiful . . .
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#391 Postby Gottard » December 4th, 2010, 4:36 pm

Dave B wrote:Gottard, do you have an alternative to "spiritual" for those sensations that, though they are merely a function electrochemical activity in the brain, have that certain "something" that is not easy to define? It may be just something in the emotional spectrum but you cannot directly measure such things. Hormonal levels have different effects on different people; some are transported by pain, others by pleasure.

Sorry to be late DaveB, I was busy elsewhere. I would suggest "sublimity" (courtesy of Marian!)
but even "emotionality" would do imo. Also "human spirituality" (as opposed to 'divine / transcendental') but, in the end, it's important to communicate the meaning rather than the word; yes not always easy!
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#392 Postby mollerdlr » December 5th, 2010, 8:35 am

animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:I am trying to keep out of this discussion - but it is hard!

Gottard, do you have an alternative to "spiritual" for those sensations that, though they are merely a function electrochemical activity in the brain, have that certain "something" that is not easy to define? It may be just something in the emotional spectrum but you cannot directly measure such things. Hormonal levels have different effects on different people; some are transported by pain, others by pleasure.

I think humanist language is missing out on a whole lexicon of descriptive words simply because it is afraid of those words that have been used by others that we oppose. "Spirit" and its derivatives have been the property of the religious for most of history so it must be something to avoid. We also avoid those things we cannot measure or quantify.

"Love" is also something that we cannot measure or quantify accurately, can't even really describe for that matter! Should we ban "love" to the language scrap heap? The religious use that word an awful lot as well.

I am moved by certain pieces of music, scenes and others things beyond merely liking them but I would not say that I love them. But they touch something deep within me that has nothing to do with the basic functions of sex and survival (in fact they may be things that threaten survival!) And have no noticeable intellectual content either. So how do I describe that sensation if I cannot use "spiritual" to describe a something that touches the inner self?
think you make some good points. Some of what you mention could be called aesthetic experience, and some is emotion, and there is also our ethical life. The human "spirit" sort of includes all of this, but as you say, it is hard not to sound as though you believe in some separate entity if you use the word. "Humanistic" does sound as though it includes these non-quantifiable activities, so again I would have to say that Moller is too concerned to add something to the concept of humanism


Moller:
Hi DaveB,
I think you have put your finger on the right question with regard to how one would describe the experiences you mention. 'Spiritual' seems fine to me. I have no hang-up with the connotations the religions have attached to this word. 'Spiritual' certainly includes that which transcends mind, as conditioned emotionality and thought. It points to a deeper aspect of human nature where free intelligence, intuition, insight, self-transcendending experiences, emotional equanimity and feelings such as love, charity and care simply present themselves as natural to our human condition. But for these to reveal themselves, certain inner conditions are necessary, such as an inward quiet state of emotional equilibrium, wholeness (non-duality), ego-transcendence, and the general noise of the so-called rational mind and mere emotional reactivity and the random movements of attention have come under conscious control. These inner conditions are made possible by proper forms of inner practice such as meditation. In the process mystical experiences may arise and these may include a deep sense of unity consciousness, where the presumed observer/observed duality is fundamentally transcended. In fact, at its core, human experience presents itself as nothing but this sense of innate wholenes of experience.
So, rather than being 'too concerned with adding something to the concept of humanism' my complaints is rather that secular humanism has painted inself into a corner with its emphasis on rationality and science.
In fact, my concern no longer dwells primarily on definitions of humanism or what a humanist is, but rather explores what it means to be fully and completely human, in the most fundamental sense of this term. Because to be human is to think, feel and act in any circumstance we may find ourselves in. Our job as humanists is to discover how to live fully in the context of human life and how most effectively to deal with the challenges facing us. We can play around with definitions and other such superficialities, but life awaits us at every corner. We have made a mess of our world. My sense is that as humanists we need to discover how to correct this mess by making use of all of our faculties in an appropriate a manner as possible. Not as ideas but as living reality.
Humanism is a challenge of life itself. It is not only a comfortable alternative philosophy to religion, social dogma and the irrational. It has to present us with a way of life which is better and more sustainable than the folly we have been presented with up to now. How we go our humanism, is of crucial importance to our own sanity and well-being as well as to that of the world in general. This for me is the challenge of humanism and it is here where my interest lies. Not as mere intellectual values, but as a new paradigm for living.

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#393 Postby Dave B » December 5th, 2010, 12:24 pm

I think that I can largely accord with the sentiments you express, mollerdlr. However I do not feel that humanism is a
comfortable alternative philosophy to religion, social dogma and the irrational.
At least not if one is "converting" to it or indulges in the consideration of the responsibilities it implies!

Per haps, though, any "discomfort" comes from inside and is not imposed by the expectations dogma, there is no official set of rules and the humanist has to carve his or her own image of themselves and the rest of humanity and the world - then get them to mesh harmoniously and live to that pattern. Thus, in my view, humanism possesses more honesty and sincerity - integrity. And takes a degree of moral effort.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#394 Postby Gottard » December 5th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Moller,
I agree with all your thoughts and considerations but I am not in tune with you when you say
that "humanism has painted itself into a corner with its emphasis on rationality and science".
Humanism encompasses rationality, science, compassion and love for the arts; let's not forget that Aristotle, Democritus, Lucretius, Petrarca, Botticelli, Voltaire, Hume, Rousseau, J.S. Mills, Dunant, Sartre ......were all Humanist philosophers, some also poets and some painters.
However, it is possible that rationality is sometimes emphasized when in opposition to religious dogma, but I hope you will accept that we have to respond to the overwhelming power of some religions. :smile:
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#395 Postby DIESEL » April 7th, 2011, 10:31 pm

Tried to read this thread to decide what i was and my brain melted and leaked out my ears by page 8!
Oh my goodness but you lot can be painfully pedantic! :D no offence meant at all but i'm no closer to a label and really don't want one :wink:

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#396 Postby Fia » April 7th, 2011, 10:40 pm

:welcome: Diesel, and - you are who you are. Labels are probably more useful to others than ourselves, but as you've surmised, on TH we do like to work our way through stuff, and have our fair share of pendants. Hey we're all pedantic about some things and it's good to share...

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#397 Postby Dave B » April 8th, 2011, 10:19 am

DIESEL wrote:Tried to read this thread to decide what i was and my brain melted and leaked out my ears by page 8!
Oh my goodness but you lot can be painfully pedantic! :D no offence meant at all but i'm no closer to a label and really don't want one :wink:
Good on you, Diesel, and greetings.

"Labels do not maketh man" they are only things others hang around your neck for their convenience. I know Christians who are possibly more humanistic and tolerant in their attitude towards others than some humanists I also know!

It is actions that count in the end, regardless of the motivation behind them.

Being a pedant I have to defend that stance. Ben Jonson (17thC playwright) said, "Language most shows a man; speak that I might see thee." If we use sloppy language we end up with sloppy opinions and others taking what we say the wrong way.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#398 Postby Gottard » April 8th, 2011, 9:37 pm

:pointlaugh: :thumbsup:
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#399 Postby DIESEL » April 9th, 2011, 9:37 am

Dave B wrote:Being a pedant I have to defend that stance. Ben Jonson (17thC playwright) said, "Language most shows a man; speak that I might see thee." If we use sloppy language we end up with sloppy opinions and others taking what we say the wrong way.


Absolutely agree!I think i should aspire to be a little more pedantic myself.. :wink:

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#400 Postby Fia » April 9th, 2011, 12:34 pm

Diesel, if it helps your aspiration we have a whole thread on pedantry here :D

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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#401 Postby ludite » April 10th, 2011, 3:14 pm

dont worry diesel I often find my brains leeking through my ears but i stick around for the fun and inerest


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