The Humanist Manifesto Pdf |VERIFIED| Free
Just as other philosophies of life, humanism has to position itself in the societal debate on sustainability. In this article, various tendencies in humanism are discussed that may have contributed to our disturbed relationship with our environment. At the same time, it is also shown that humanism can do without these tendencies and that humanism has a unique voice to offer in the sustainability debate. Because humanists do not believe in a metaphysical afterlife, but instead believe that life only continues here on Earth, humanists in particular have a reason to ensure that the projects to which we contribute and which we cherish have the opportunity to continue to flourish in the future. Without the prospect of a sustainable development, our ability to attach meaning to our present lives diminishes, at least if we are looking for secular sources of meaning.
The Humanist Manifesto Pdf Free
A sustainable development, whereby humanity permanently maintains its quality of life well above the level of a struggle for survival, will therefore be a typically human endeavor. Rather than a return to a natural process, it will be an accomplishment unprecedented in nature as it will require a self-imposed temperance in both procreation and consumption.2 Achieving a sustainable development will therefore pre-eminently require an appeal to human capacities. First, the capacity to oversee the consequences of our actions, even though these consequences extend far in space and time, far beyond our direct field of vision. Second, the capacity to be free in our choices: although at present we are essentially not behaving differently from other organisms, we are free to choose for a sustainable development; the ecological crisis is not a necessity. To make different choices, however, we need to understand ourselves and recognize our inner motivations. Third, the capacity to act from inner values: we are capable of caring about our fellowmen, here and now, but also further away in space and time, and caring about non-human nature. The idea that we humans possess these capacities, that we have no fixed nature but can choose our future by exercising our freedom, is pre-eminently a humanistic idea (Hinchman, 2004; American Humanist Association, 2011).
Since the Enlightenment, the importance of religion and tradition has diminished with increasing individualization. To the Enlightenment we owe a more rational perspective on reality and being allowed to criticize belief in higher powers. We also owe to the Enlightenment an appreciation of the individual: the idea of man as a rational, autonomous and independent being by nature, with accompanying rights and duties. There is neither divine providence or predestination limiting our individual freedom, nor is there historical or holistic predestination (Udehn, 2002: 340). We are influenced by our historical and cultural setting, but we are free to make different choices, as little are we bound by laws of development of the social groups of which we are part. Neither need we conceive of ourselves merely as matter determined by the laws of nature, or as organisms merely responding to external stimuli. Although we are these as well, we also experience a free will.
The same modern individualism and fascination with the self observed by Baumeister can be discerned in humanism, particularly in the humanist ideal of personal fulfillment. This ideal is generally attributed to the acknowledgment of our mortality combined with the rejection of a belief in an afterlife, the idea that we as persons would live on as the same person in a different realm after our death. As Andrew Copson (2015) writes in the introduction to the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism:
It is this human need for self-transcendence and meaning in life that offers humanism the opportunity for a unique and distinctive voice in the sustainability debate. Exactly because humanists do not believe in a metaphysical afterlife, but believe that life only continues here on Earth, humanists in particular have a reason to ensure that the projects to which we contribute and which we cherish have the opportunity to continue to flourish in the future. Without the prospect of a sustainable development, our ability to attach meaning to our present lives diminishes, at least if we are looking for secular sources of meaning. A humanism that focuses less on autonomy and fulfillment of the individual, and more on the value of the human project as such, a humanism that focuses less on self-actualization and more on self-transcendence, thus offers both a secular source of meaning and a strong motive for sustainable development. Is there life after death? Only if we protect it ourselves.