Humanism is a neologism that defines a socio-political doctrine ("-ism") whose bounds exceed those of locally developed cultures, to include all of humanity and all issues common to human beings. Because doctrines of cultural distinction and exclusivity are often phrased in terms of religion, secular humanism grew as an answer to the need for a common philosophy that transcended the cultural boundaries of local moral codes and religions. Many humanists are religious, however, and see humanism as simply a mature expression of a common truth present in most religions.
Renaissance humanism was the cultural movement in Europe beginning in central Italy in the late 14th century, that revived and refined the language (in particular the Greek language), science, philosophy and poetry of classical antiquity. As in "Renaissance humanism", modern humanism is characterized by an attitude and way of life centered on human interests or values, stressing an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason and logic, assessed by a logical critical approach and other human skills.
Among the humanists neo-Platonic thought once more reassumed central importance, from which Aristotelianism had displaced it in the 12th century. Because the writings of Antiquity were translated by Renaissance scholars, they and those who agree with them are sometimes called humanists. Medieval values such as humility, introspection, and passivity were replaced among the aristocracy by an emphasis on a nobility of spirit and action called virtu. Humanists encouraged leaders to cultivate generous and altruistic actions in order to gather the esteem of fellow men. Beauty was held to represent a deeper inner virtue and value.
The term refers to several belief systems and worldviews that combine the central position of human concerns with other preoccupations: See Secular Humanism, Religious humanism, or Christian humanism.
Finally, the word is sometimes, but probably incorrectly, used either to describe humanities scholars (particularly classicists) or as a synonym for "humanitarianism".
Modern humanism depends on reason and logic and rejects supernaturalism, but some religious people consider themselves humanists because their religious beliefs are moral, and therefore humane.
List of humanists
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