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A comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance

This is true in two ways. Secondly, while for his narrative of cosmic unfolding William no longer follows scripture as a script comparable to how Eriugena follows the opening chapters of Genesis, their naturalist worldviews are closely aligned in their shared interest to portray the universe as both wholly integrated and rationally comprehensible.

This leads William to speculate on the invisible waters above the firmament as well as to reconstitute the definition of element Otten , He suggests instead that they were made of air, given that the closeness of these waters to the highest element of fire would cause them to evaporate. By contrast, the underlying pure elementa are invisible. The drive for a single unifying force seems not only an elaboration of the idea of natura operans , but is also another expression of his contempt for the chaos-theory of his day. While God had indeed created the elements, caused the virgin birth, and the resurrection, everything else falls squarely within the domain of natura operans and is hence governed by its laws.

In his Timaeus glosses William defines the scope of natura operans by inserting the work of nature opus naturae , i. In his final work, Dragmaticon , named for its dialogical form rather than its scientific content, William, whom John of Salisbury called the greatest grammarian after Bernard of Chartres Metalogicon 1.

That both are subject to a mix of physical and psychological reasons is clear from the way that Adam is simultaneously physically impeded by his expulsion from ideal paradise and psychologically exhorted to advance through learning Otten In another difference with Eriugena, William and Thierry of Chartres consider biological development an organic extension of cosmogony. Thierry, who denounced him as a potential heretic. In conformity with his quest for cosmological consistency, William of Conches held in his Philosophia that the first man bubbled up from the earth, that is, from the mixed element of earth, which became moist under the heat of fire.

Insisting on the literal interpretation of scripture, William of St. Thierry and others. His attitude exhibits an inherent anti-humanist tendency whereby creative rational ways to bridge nature and scripture are no longer tolerated, and the former must henceforth defer to the regime of the latter. From the twelfth century onwards, the experimental hermeneutics by which literary humanism and scientific cosmology are integrally linked is increasingly under siege.

While in some ways this makes new room for the strictly scientific study of nature Speer , , the question arises, given the loss of its wider cultural appeal, to what extent nature does not thereby forfeit the possibility to express its intrinsic order on its own terms, a characteristic that is key to medieval humanist cosmology throughout. This connects it with the problem of medieval selfhood, which is a fertile area for current analysis and speculation Morris ; Bynum and one in which attention to humanism, given the prominence of its trialogue between God, nature and humanity, can and should play an important role.

Careful scrutiny of medieval humanism would seem to alter this conventional view in two ways. First, it appears that the intelligibility of nature does not limit medieval humanists to the instrumental use of reason only.

What is Secular Humanism?

For Eriugena, comprehensive natura taps into a deeper sense of selfhood, making the role of reason more charged than a Cartesian notion of cogitatio would lead one to suspect. As indicated in the section on medieval literary humanism, the cosmogonies of Bernard Silvestris and Alan of Lille are underpinned by a sense of moral examination, revealing a guiding sense of self-worth as underlying their exterior of cosmological myth. If we also factor in the criticism of the experimental hermeneutics of medieval humanism by William of St.

Thierry and others, it appears these works also negotiate the problem of self-censorship Godman The second way in which medieval humanism alters the standard narrative of the medieval self also connects to ethics. Not affecting cosmic order alone, moral concerns are especially important in swaying certain thinkers who find themselves increasingly ill at ease inside a static, masculine, monastic context, towards embracing a more individualistic, inclusive, and personal expression of monastic life.

Peter Abelard and Hildegard of Bingen, neither commonly ranked as medieval humanists, qualify as such and inserting them in the humanist tradition facilitates a more integrative approach to their thought, especially as it relates to the aspect of monastic introspection. In the case of Hildegard of Bingen, there may further be Eriugenian-Dionysian influence on the notion of reditus Meier Not unlike Eriugena, her position in the medieval canon is unstable, as she is considered more a visionary or a prophet-teacher than a mystic McGinn , Devoid of feminist aspirations, she advocates a traditional view of marriage in divine support of cosmic order Scivias 1, vision 2.

Hildegard was no less reform-minded than less traditional contemporary monastic intellectuals like Abelard and Walter of St. Victor, even if her prudent way of going about reform made her embrace Benedictine conformity rather than voicing protest Deploige , , In this way she wins the sympathy of Bernard of Clairvaux, the co-conspirator of William of St.

A Final Word: We Are on Common Ground

Although her visions show her to be a smart monastic strategist, they reveal rather than conceal the idiosyncracy of her thought. The reason she fits well in the humanist canon is because she presents her hybridic amalgam of intellectual tensions and anomalies within a consistently holistic framework. Rather than seeing Hildegard as a deficient mystic hiding behind the conservative exterior of femina indocta , placing more emphasis on the intellectual arc of her visions shows how she underwrites her view of a reformed cosmic-social order through her manifold mediation between God and fallen creatures.

Hildegard remains a woman of tensions, between men and women, Church and Synogogue, Eve and Mary, God and Lucifer, but far from being rampant or eclectic, her visions whose nature a creatore ad virginem serves as a mark of divine authorization are robustly calculated as well as exegetically supported for the purpose of furthering restoration and redemption through an affirmation of the right cosmic-social order. If Hildegard can navigate the limitations of her traditional monastic persona without breaking through its conventions, Abelard pushes the boundaries of monastic life even further, with gender again playing a role of importance Flynn Forced to adopt monastic life after his castration, Abelard confesses that outward conformity to the monastic way of life preceded his inward commitment.

When he eventually comes to embrace it, he recoils at its imposition of intellectual submission, as he rather prefers to style monastic life on his own terms. Combining anchorite withdrawal with erudition in his Historia Calamitatum , he later pushes even further when at the request of Heloise he composes a separate monastic rule for women Letter 7. They especially want room for shared collaboration in an ascetic life devoted to study and self-reflection, as for them, monastic men and women should be able to cooperate in their joint life project von Moos Through writing the rule for women and in other ways, Abelard pushes the ethical dimension of selfhood not only beyond the notion of cosmic-social order found in Hildegard but also beyond the notion of self-knowledge known to Augustine and the earlier monastic tradition.

With only the divine capable of guaranteeing final justice, there is a felt sense of personal liberation in Abelard, who favors the examination of intention over ecclesial penitential structures. Otten who aims at turning outward discipline into an individualized program of personal self-examination and free intellectual endeavor. For both authors, gender impacts and sensitizes their sense of monastic self: for Hildegard, this is true for the way she circumvents and upends a deeply misogynist system, while Abelard opts, on the one hand, to make explicit room for women inside the monastic sphere, while on the other, redefines monastic life more broadly.

His key monastic insight is that, if monasteries are to continue their role as the intellectual and spiritual laboratories of medieval Europe, they need to be able to accommodate cross-gender collaboration and personal development. His key ethical insight is to show us a way forward in which the formation of moral conscience can survive also outside the monastic sphere. If we make up the balance of this survey of medieval Latin humanism, what it entails and who is covered by it, the following profile emerges.

Since its contours and portrait equally matter, they should be considered in common. The contours of the profile show medieval humanism referring to an area of thought that has often been negatively defined before it could be positively assessed. Even R. Southern could only describe its three central categories of 1 the dignity of humanity, 2 the dignity of nature and 3 the intelligibility of the cosmos by differentiating medieval humanism from renaissance humanism. This first negativity is also a corollary from the larger historiographical problem by which the Middle Ages are generally defined in contradistinction to the renaissance, as they represent a period not named after itself but after the eras that bookend it.

A second and related negativity stems from the fact that, almost from their inception as a period so-called, the Middle Ages have been typecast as scholastic, with all the negative overtones of arid and uncreative reasoning that went with that name, and as Catholic, leading to the perception of the era as quintessentially religious. Unlike the connotations of later humanisms, medieval Latin humanism is steeped in religion. Yet its premodern religious quality is distinct in that it projects a strongly literary vision, as medieval humanist knowledge certainly in its prescholastic phase, but also beyond does not only refuse compartmentalization, but assumes an encyclopedic guise, comprising scientific and philosophical aspects while being cast in the overall framework of philosophy as a way of life.

The question should be asked, therefore, what there is to gain from using the term medieval humanism, especially since the term appears to cover authors or areas that also fall under other disciplines like literature, philosophy and even theology. Here it is easiest to comment first of all on its separation from scholasticism. To the extent that medieval humanism is about form as well as content, medieval Latin humanism proves very open to the dialogue form, which held intellectual sway from Boethius through the twelfth century, but far less so to the more constrained format of the scholastic quaestiones.

The most important reason for this would seem to be that there is a self-consciousness to medieval humanist texts which makes them deeply ambiguous and potentially transgressive. For this, the objectifying mode of scholastic reasoning does not seem to leave room. Hence, we should not call Aquinas a humanist but Dante may be considered one. A second separation differentiates medieval humanism from monasticism and mysticism.

Clearly, medieval mystical accounts also exhibit a strong self-awareness on the part of the mystic to the point where the experience of selfhood and of God at times nearly merge. Be that as it may, whereas medieval humanist texts want to achieve some form of return to the divine or the universe not always clearly distinguishing between the two in the context of the ongoing trialogue on the whole, humanist texts do not primarily aim at realizing union with the divine.

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On that basis, we might call Eriugena a humanist thinker but preferably not a mystic. The one author who remains anomalous throughout is Anselm of Canterbury, ironically the medieval thinker closest to the heart of R. Southern who seemed to include him.

Here the crudeness of terminology simply falls short of the subtlety of its subject. Anselm thus remains an outlier whose various labels, ranging from monastic thinker to the father of scholasticism, disqualify themselves more than they qualify him; adding the term humanist would no doubt have the same effect. David Luscombe, transl. Betty Radice revised by D. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Charles Burnett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library.

Bellah, Robert N. From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age. Bernard Silvestris, Poetic Works , ed. Winthrop Wetherbee. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Bezner, Frank, Vela veritatis. Hermeneutik, Wissen und Sprache in der Intellectual History des Leiden: Brill, Volume VII c. Allmand, Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as Mother. Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages.

Berkeley: University of California Press, Carlson, Thomas A. New York: Fordham University Press, Chenu, M. Taylor and L. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Originally published in Copenhaver, Brian P. Deploige, Jeroen, In nomine femineo indocta. Kennisprofiel en ideologie van Hildegard van Bingen According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech , as summarised by al-Hashimi a cousin of Caliph al-Ma'mun in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason : [27].

I. Definition

Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason , whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me.

For "There is no compulsion in religion" Qur'an 2 and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God! According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world , including the "art of dictation , called in Latin, ars dictaminis ", and "the humanist attitude toward classical language ".

Scholars including Jacob Grimm , J. Tolkien and E. Turville-Petre have identified a stream of humanistic philosophy in the Icelandic sagas. In his Teutonic Mythology , Grimm wrote:.

What is Secular Humanism? | Free Inquiry

It is remarkable that Old Norse legend occasionally mentions certain men who, turning away in utter disgust and doubt from the heathen faith, placed their reliance on their own strength and virtue. These strophes include numerous items of advice on good conduct and worldly wisdom.

Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement in Europe of the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The 19th-century German historian Georg Voigt —91 identified Petrarch as the first Renaissance humanist. Paul Johnson agrees that Petrarch was "the first to put into words the notion that the centuries between the fall of Rome and the present had been the age of Darkness". According to Petrarch, what was needed to remedy this situation was the careful study and imitation of the great classical authors.

For Petrarch and Boccaccio , the greatest master was Cicero , whose prose became the model for both learned Latin and vernacular Italian prose. Once the language was mastered grammatically it could be used to attain the second stage, eloquence or rhetoric. This art of persuasion [Cicero had held] was not art for its own sake, but the acquisition of the capacity to persuade others — all men and women — to lead the good life.

As Petrarch put it, 'it is better to will the good than to know the truth'. Rhetoric thus led to and embraced philosophy. Leonardo Bruni c. The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write typically, in the form of a letter. One of Petrarch's followers, Coluccio Salutati — was made chancellor of Florence , "whose interests he defended with his literary skill.

Contrary to a still widely held interpretation that originated in Voigt's celebrated contemporary, Jacob Burckhardt , [32] and which was adopted wholeheartedly — especially by modern thinkers calling themselves "humanists" — [33] most specialists today do not characterise Renaissance humanism as a philosophical movement, nor in any way as anti-Christian or even anti-clerical. A modern historian has this to say:. Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary knowledge and linguistic skill based on the "revival of good letters", which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar, This is how the word "humanist" was understood by contemporaries, and if scholars would agree to accept the word in this sense rather than in the sense in which it was used in the nineteenth century we might be spared a good deal of useless argument.

That humanism had profound social and even political consequences of the life of Italian courts is not to be doubted. But the idea that as a movement it was in some way inimical to the Church, or to the conservative social order in general is one that has been put forward for a century and more without any substantial proof being offered. The nineteenth-century historian Jacob Burckhardt, in his classic work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy , noted as a "curious fact" that some men of the new culture were "men of the strictest piety or even ascetics".

If he had meditated more deeply on the meaning of the careers of such humanists as Abrogio Traversari — , the General of the Camaldolese Order, perhaps he would not have gone on to describe humanism in unqualified terms like "pagan", and thus helped precipitate a century of infertile debate about the possible existence of something called "Christian humanism" which ought to be opposed to "pagan humanism". The umanisti criticized what they considered the barbarous Latin of the universities, but the revival of the humanities largely did not conflict with the teaching of traditional university subjects, which went on as before.

Nor did the humanists view themselves as in conflict with Christianity. Some, like Salutati, were the Chancellors of Italian cities, but the majority including Petrarch were ordained as priests, and many worked as senior officials of the Papal court. In the High Renaissance , in fact, there was a hope that more direct knowledge of the wisdom of antiquity, including the writings of the Church fathers, the earliest known Greek texts of the Christian Gospels, and in some cases even the Jewish Kabbalah , would initiate a harmonious new era of universal agreement.

The humanists' close study of Latin literary texts soon enabled them to discern historical differences in the writing styles of different periods.

Medieval Latin Humanism

By analogy with what they saw as decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes , or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning, seeking out manuscripts of Patristic literature as well as pagan authors. In , while employed in Naples at the court of Alfonso V of Aragon at the time engaged in a dispute with the Papal States the humanist Lorenzo Valla used stylistic textual analysis, now called philology , to prove that the Donation of Constantine , which purported to confer temporal powers on the Pope of Rome, was an 8th-century forgery.

Instead, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turks in , which brought a flood of Greek Orthodox refugees to Italy, humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of Neoplatonism and Hermeticism , hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the non-Christian world.

After , when the new invention of printing made these texts widely available, the Dutch humanist Erasmus , who had studied Greek at the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius , began a philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Valla, comparing the Greek originals with their Latin translations with a view to correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter. Henceforth Renaissance humanism, particularly in the German North, became concerned with religion, while Italian and French humanism concentrated increasingly on scholarship and philology addressed to a narrow audience of specialists, studiously avoiding topics that might offend despotic rulers or which might be seen as corrosive of faith.

The ad fontes principle also had many applications. The re-discovery of ancient manuscripts brought a more profound and accurate knowledge of ancient philosophical schools such as Epicureanism , and Neoplatonism , whose Pagan wisdom the humanists, like the Church fathers of old, tended, at least initially, to consider as deriving from divine revelation and thus adaptable to a life of Christian virtue.

Richard Bauman writes:. Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. The words of the comic playwright P. Terence, an African and a former slave, was well placed to preach the message of universalism, of the essential unity of the human race, that had come down in philosophical form from the Greeks, but needed the pragmatic muscles of Rome in order to become a practical reality. The influence of Terence's felicitous phrase on Roman thinking about human rights can hardly be overestimated.

Two hundred years later Seneca ended his seminal exposition of the unity of humankind with a clarion-call:. There is one short rule that should regulate human relationships. All that you see, both divine and human, is one. We are parts of the same great body. Nature created us from the same source and to the same end.

She imbued us with mutual affection and sociability, she taught us to be fair and just, to suffer injury rather than to inflict it.

Merkaba - Humanism

She bid us extend our hands to all in need of help. Let that well-known line be in our heart and on our lips: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. Better acquaintance with Greek and Roman technical writings also influenced the development of European science see the history of science in the Renaissance. This was despite what A. Crombie viewing the Renaissance in the 19th-century manner as a chapter in the heroic March of Progress calls "a backwards-looking admiration for antiquity", in which Platonism stood in opposition to the Aristotelian concentration on the observable properties of the physical world.

However, by the mid-to-late 16th century, even the universities, though still dominated by Scholasticism, began to demand that Aristotle be read in accurate texts edited according to the principles of Renaissance philology, thus setting the stage for Galileo's quarrels with the outmoded habits of Scholasticism. It was in education that the humanists' program had the most lasting results, their curriculum and methods:. The humanistic school, animated by the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral standards and a civilised taste for future rulers, leaders, and professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many religious, political and social revolutions.

It has but recently been replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less demanding forms of education. Renaissance scholars associated with humanism were religious, but inveighed against the abuses of the Church, if not against the Church itself. In the Renaissance to be secular meant simply to be in the world rather than in a monastery. Petrarch frequently admitted that his brother Gherardo's life as a Carthusian monk was superior to his own although Petrarch himself was in Minor Orders and was employed by the Church all his life.

He hoped that he could do some good by winning earthly glory and praising virtue, inferior though that might be to a life devoted solely to prayer. By embracing a non-theistic philosophic base, [49] however, the methods of the humanists, combined with their eloquence, would ultimately have a corrosive effect on established authority.

Yet it was from the Renaissance that modern Secular Humanism grew, with the development of an important split between reason and religion. This occurred as the church's complacent authority was exposed in two vital areas. In science, Galileo's support of the Copernican revolution upset the church's adherence to the theories of Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic adherence to Jerome's Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were then understood.

For some, this meant turning back to the Bible as the source of authority instead of the Catholic Church, for others it was a split from theism altogether. This was the main divisive line between the Reformation and the Renaissance, [51] which dealt with the same basic problems, supported the same science based on reason and empirical research, but had a different set of presuppositions theistic versus naturalistic.

The phrase the "religion of humanity" is sometimes attributed to American Founding Father Thomas Paine , though as yet unattested in his surviving writings. According to Tony Davies:. Paine called himself a theophilanthropist , a word combining the Greek for "God", "love", and "humanity", and indicating that while he believed in the existence of a creating intelligence in the universe, he entirely rejected the claims made by and for all existing religious doctrines, especially their miraculous, transcendental and salvationist pretensions.

The Parisian "Society of Theophilanthropy" which he sponsored, is described by his biographer as "a forerunner of the ethical and humanist societies that proliferated later" The second is philosophical, German, seeks the totality and autonomy of knowledge, and stresses understanding rather than freedom as the key to human fulfilment and emancipation.

The two themes converged and competed in complex ways in the 19th century and beyond, and between them set the boundaries of its various humanisms. She wrote to a friend:. Eliot and her circle, who included her companion George Henry Lewes the biographer of Goethe and the abolitionist and social theorist Harriet Martineau , were much influenced by the positivism of Auguste Comte , whom Martineau had translated.

Comte's austere vision of the universe, his injunction to " vivre pour altrui " "live for others", from which comes the word " altruism " , [58] and his idealisation of women inform the works of Victorian novelists and poets from George Eliot and Matthew Arnold to Thomas Hardy. The British Humanistic Religious Association was formed as one of the earliest forerunners of contemporary chartered Humanist organisations in in London. This early group was democratically organised, with male and female members participating in the election of the leadership, and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and the arts.

In February , the word was used pejoratively, apparently for the first time in America, to describe Felix Adler. Active in the early s, F. Schiller labelled his work "humanism" but for Schiller the term referred to the pragmatist philosophy he shared with William James. Raymond B. Bragg asked Roy Wood Sellars to draft a document based on this information which resulted in the publication of the Humanist Manifesto in Potter's book and the Manifesto became the cornerstones of modern humanism, the latter declaring a new religion by saying, "any religion that can hope to be a synthesising and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.

To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. In , the American Humanist Association was organised. Noted members of The AHA included Isaac Asimov , who was the president from until his death in , and writer Kurt Vonnegut , who followed as honorary president until his death in Gore Vidal became honorary president in Robert Buckman was the head of the association in Canada, and is now an honorary president.

In , American Humanist Association , along with other groups representing agnostics, atheists, and other freethinkers, joined to create the Secular Coalition for America which advocates in Washington, D. Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and theology.

Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach and the narrow pedantry associated with it. They sought to create a citizenry frequently including women able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis , today known as the humanities : grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy. Secular humanism is a comprehensive life stance or world view that embraces human reason , metaphysical naturalism , altruistic morality and distributive justice , and consciously rejects supernatural claims, theistic faith and religiosity , pseudoscience , and superstition.

According to the IHEU's bylaw 5. Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic , and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Though practitioners of religious humanism did not officially organise under the name of "humanism" until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, non-theistic religions paired with human-centred ethical philosophy have a long history. A unified Ethical Culture movement was first founded in ; its founder, Felix Adler , was a former member of the Free Religious Association and conceived of Ethical Culture as a new religion that would retain the ethical message at the heart of all religions. Ethical Culture was religious in the sense of playing a defining role in people's lives and addressing issues of ultimate concern.

Nowadays religious humanists in the United States are represented by organisations such as the American Ethical Union and will simply describe themselves as "ethical humanists" or "humanists". Secular humanists and religious humanists organise together as part of larger national and international groupings, and differentiate themselves primarily in their attitude to the promotion of humanist thinking.

Earlier attempts at inventing a secular religious tradition informed the Ethical Culture movement. This early group was democratically organised, with male and female members participating in the election of the leadership and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and the arts. The distinction between so-called "ethical" humanists and "secular" humanists is most pronounced in the United States, although it is becoming less so over time. In the UK, where the humanist movement was strongly influenced by Americans in the 19th century, the leading "ethical societies" and "ethical churches" evolved into secular humanist charities e.

Over time, the emphasis on human-etisk code: nno promoted to code: nn has become less pronounced, and today HEF promotes both humanisme code: nno promoted to code: nn secular humanism and human-etisk code: nno promoted to code: nn. In Sweden, the main Swedish humanist group Humanisterna "Humanists" began as a "human-ethical association" like the Norwegian humanists before adopting the more prevalent secular humanist model popular in most of Europe.

Today the distinction in Europe is mostly superficial. Polemics about humanism have sometimes assumed paradoxical twists and turns.

II. Types of Humanism

Earlyth-century critics such as Ezra Pound , T. Hulme , and T. Eliot considered humanism to be sentimental "slop" Hulme [ citation needed ] or "an old bitch gone in the teeth" Pound. Because despite his great, divine gifts, he must still achieve his own humanity, he must struggle toward it, overcoming his weaknesses. So while the Hebrews are interested in humans reaching for divine, Godly perfection, the Greek humanists are interested in how each of us must come to grips with, and make the best use of, our inherent human imperfection.

The Greeks see this struggle as fascinating and beautiful. Our own obsession with hot movie stars and with sports, and our culture's willingness to bestow massive economic benefits on athletes, comes directly from this legacy. As you'll read, the original, Greek Olympics were also literally structured on the chapters of the Iliad and Odyssey that describe athletic events.