Humanism stays relevant despite a pedigree that goes back millennia because as a world view it places emphasis on human values, human agency, and human experience here, now. By so doing, the life stance reimagines itself with each human being who attempts to practice humanism in each time frame humans exist in.
utopias and panaceas seldom turn out as they first might appear
There are many humanisms because there have been and are many people in many historical and social locations.
At its core, humanism promotes the idea that human beings are capable of living ethical and fulfilling lives. Full stop.
So, let’s apply that to some questions of social justice:
What does humanism say about about poverty? Poverty prevents human beings from living ethical and fulfilling lives. Therefore, poverty is wrong.
What does humanism say about about war? War prevents human beings from living ethical and fulfilling lives. Therefore, war is wrong.
What about patriarchy? Patriarchy prevents human beings from living ethical and fulfilling lives. Therefore, patriarchy is wrong.
You get the idea.
Sure, such broad, sweeping abstractions are easy to create and even easier to agree with, which can make for some milquetoasty sorts of people. However, most humanists are in the realist camp. And the pragmatist camp. Panaceas and utopias are not a humanist’s style. Sure, we wish. But we humanists more than most know that thinking does not make it so.
Yes, humanism has long been identified with its focus on reason, critical thinking, and evidence-based knowledge. Yet, refer back to the definition above: Humanism stays relevant because . . . it places emphasis on human values, human agency, and human experience here, now.
Such is the humanist perspective on ethics and morality: human flourishing is where it’s at. Reason, critical thinking, and evidence can get us there faster than most other methods. No, not to a utopia or panacea. But yes to a slightly better place than we are now.
Last question: How does humanism differ from religious or supernatural worldviews?
Answer: Does it?