An Outline of Humanism in Principle and Practice

The Humanist approach to living is based on the understandings that:

  1. The condition of planet Earth and its occupants is, apart from uncontrollable environmental forces, dependent on the actions of its human inhabitants and the effects that they create.
  2. Their genes and life experiences make every human being a unique individual whose identity ends on death, but the genes that they pass on and their influence on others persist beyond their life.
  3. Human experience and achievements in culture and knowledge provide the best guidelines for the conduct of personal and societal affairs.
  4. Subject to their responsibility to avoid harm to others, all persons are entitled to the freedom and conditions in which they may enjoy life on Earth.
  5. In order to create such conditions and to sustain the environment humans need to use and develop their capacities for reasoning, understanding, compassion, and co-operation.

In practice Humanists aim to:

  1. Enjoy life and help others to do the same.
  2. Be honest and truthful without being unkind.
  3. Honour their words and commitments.
  4. Take heed of their emotions and those of others.
  5. Be fair and considerate in the exercise of power and influence in any form.
  6. Be aware of their responsibility for the likely results of their actions.
  7. Be open to new knowledge and ideas.
  8. Base their views and actions on knowledge, reason, and compassion.
  9. Appreciate the diversity of human abilities, interests, and temperaments.
  10. Avoid resort to force except to restrain the misuse of force.
  11. Treat the environment with care and forethought.
  12. Co-operate with all who promote harmony and well-being.

Some Features of Humanism.

Humanism has no single founder or source of origin. Some elements are to be found in the ideas of early philosophers in Asia, Greece and Rome, but modern Humanism is based on the fuller knowledge of the universe gained in recent centuries and the increased understanding of the nature, role and interdependence of the communities and individuals that make up the family of Homo sapiens.

Many of the systems of belief that have provided guide-lines for human behaviour are no longer tenable. Humanism offers an up-to-date approach with the aim of bettering the conditions of existence for all people.

Humanism claims no exclusive wisdom and is open to all fresh knowledge. Humanists accept that they have to cope with the drives and stresses of their evolutionary inheritance as well as with the problems arising from their cultural histories.

Humanists are realistic in outlook and recognise that the prospects for fuller opportunities to enjoy life on Earth will depend on developments in goodwill and co-operation among human societies.

This outline was originally compiled by Auckland members of the Humanist Society of New Zealand. It now incorporates suggestions received from members of the society from throughout New Zealand.