For centuries a concept known as Humanism has been growing and evolving. This concept has roots stretching as far back as the early years of the European Renaissance. Humanism is a philisophical concept that emphasizes the "human, the here-and-now, the humane", (Pg 1, Humanism). In its early years one of Humanism's main themes was man's creation in the image and likeness of God, (pg 33 The Waning of the Renaissance.) During this period of time Humanism had a more "God focused" purpose, but in its evolution Humanism has become more of an agnostic concept. "The word has developed since its use to describe 'Renaissance Humanism' to its twentieth century use to describe a belief system that calls upon reason and values to enable us to deelop our lives and our societies," (pg 1 Humanism). According to Jim Herrick in his book, Humanism: An Introduction, current day Humanism is "atheism/agnosticism with values", (pg 2 Humanism). Since the the Renaissance to current times Humanism has never been a religion, but simply a philosophy of life. Humanists are inquirers of the world, and "question existing ideas and quests for new ones", (pg 4 Humanism). Humanists also have a sense of social duty. An educationalist at the University of Padua stated: "Not everyone is called to be a lawyer, a physician, a philosopher, to live in the public eye, nor has everyone outstanding gifts of natural capacity, but all of us are created for the life of social duty, all are resposible for the personal influence which goes forth from us," (pgs 6-7 Humanism). It is because of this social duty that Humanists feel called to, that regardless of Humanism's evolution from a God centered concept to a godless one, much of man's developement as a people has been brought to be because of the philosophy of Humanism. Throughout the centuries Humanists have constantly voiced their opinions in society and work to make a more equal society for everyone. Their views have influenced many different aspects of life, specifically politics, the arts, and the environment.
Humanists believe that because we live together in communities we must participate in the life of the community, (pg 36 Humanism). Politics is important to Humanists because they view politics as a means of participating in their communities. They see that despite the usual relation of politics to "sleeze and corruption", politics can be an honorable pursuit. They see that "men and women may put themselves forward for political activity because they wish to help their fellows, despite the fact that the rewards, in a democracy, are not great," (pg 36 Humanism). Although some see politics as the problem for so much devision and constipation of thought in society, Humanists see politics with the mindset that without politics there would be chaos, but with too much there would be repression. It is true that Humanists as a whole believe in community activity, and that they are "community-minded", but Humanists are also dissident. Because Humanism is a free mind-set without a list of rules to follow, each person's personal philosophy of Humanism will be a little different. It is because of this that each Humanist's community activity will vary. The dissidence of Humanism can lead to "original thought and resistance to overmighty control," making some more anarchist than others, (pg 36 Humanism). Most Humanists who follow this personal philosophy will question the necessity of government. Is government necessary, or is it not? Jim Herrick states that modern government interferes with the liberty of action of its individuals in areas such as: taxation, compulsory schooling, control of consumption of addictive substances, owning weapons, building without planning permission, an absent father supporting his children, etc. (pg 37 Humanism). Some Humanists tend to feel restricted by these things. However, the feeling of the majority is that all benefit from a society that is peaceable, fair, and equable. Humanists...
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