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Kosmocentrism

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I have been a Humanist for something over forty years. I have devoted the second half of my life to furthering the cause of Humanism. However, I, like so many, do not like the name. Sure, there are historical reasons for using the term humanism. However, there are historical pressures and challenges that I believe compel we Humanists to change our name.

Over the years, we have been called freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, secularists, heretics, infidels, naturalists, and I’m sure I’m leaving out a few.

I sometimes facetiously say that our movement should be called Everything-ism. That term comes with its own challenges, no doubt. I do want to make a case for a new term: Kosmocentrism.

The “k” harkens to the Walt Whitman poem “Kosmos.”*

Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day but for all time, sees races, eras, dates, generations,

The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, inseparable together.

In his poem, Walt Whitman has the same ambitions that I do: expressing the wondrous and impossible impulse to love and care for all that is in our cosmos, as we “construct the houses of ourselves.”

As Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius phrased it long ago,

. . . things coming into existence are not merely a string of things but a wondrous series of relationships. (Meditations 4.45)

In day-to-day life we too often ignore that “wondrous series of relationships” that add up to reality. That is a mistake. And that’s why I would like to see a new name for an old idea. Humans, yes, but also all sentient beings, and the universe itself.

A tall order. But a worthy one.

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