I believe in humans

I like what Mike Chapman's doing over at A Bricolage of Bricolage, as evidenced by me posting here a comment I wrote for his blog. Mike has inspired me once again to think, and I'd like to repost my comment here again, both to collect my thoughts in one place and to generate a wider audience for this topic, either here or on Bricolage.

Mike's post: (the whole thing; it's rather short)

What follows is the link to the Humanist Manifesto III hosted by the American Humanist Association. I wanted to share it because I agree with it but also because I think it is wonderfully written in terms of clarity and conciseness. I simply think it’s a great document:

Humanist Manifesto III

And my comment:

Overall, the Manifesto sounds good to me, too, but I have one complaint. I definitely don't subscribe to the contrarian/defensive wording in some of the paragraphs. The phrases "unguided evolutionary change", "self-existing", and "open, secular society", however true they may be, sound more like a political agenda than sociological goals. Leaving out "unguided", "self-existing", and "secular" would achieve the desired effect without pointing a finger directly at certain groups of non-humanists. Humanism, and its' manifesto, should be able to exist without a direct opponent, which from this document is obviously religion/creationism.

It must be a very challenging task to generate a doctrine applying to those people who admittedly have spent much of their epistemologic lives revolting against it. And even if humanists have spent and will spend most of their time countering the ideas of organized religion, what one believes in and what one does to achieve it are innately separate. One can base actions and strategy, but not beliefs, on an opponent.

The Humanist Manifesto should be a statement of "What We Are" and "What We Believe In". "What We Are Not" should be reserved for the FAQ section of the web page.


RM said...

Sometimes I try and make it through a few sentences of your blog posts. Today I was unsuccessful, I didn't have the right brain waves. I'll try again tomorrow.

Mike Chapman said...

Hey Brian,

Thanks for showing me some love on your blog...I'm going to have to start participating here. To hopefully generate more discussion on this topic, I'm posting below a post I just made to my blog in response to your comments. I figure by putting the discussion in a couple of places may get more people talking:

I agree with your point that this manifesto (which is a word that for some has a negative connotation--those folks that associate it with a purported communist overthrow of the world--of which Marx gets a lot of credit but he is often looked upon poorly by many outside the academy--I think he was a brilliant thinker although I disagree with some of his politico-economic structural theory). Anyhow, I too think that this life philosophy should be able to exist on its own accord; that is, aren't the values and ways of thinking about life espoused by Humanism legitimate without any counterpart? I certainly think so.

My take on the the explicitly political comments and those that are a bit more implicit is, for one, that all things, in my opinion, are political. Some causes are simply more overt than others. Even our epistemologies (those views we have about the nature--or not nature--of knowledge are efforts to advance one way of thinking or looking at the world over others). Second, freethinkers, Humanists, and atheists, etc., I think, should be political in American society. They have been pretty disenfranchised from certain aspects of our society for a long time and continue to be so (i.e. certain states still require a religious test of sorts to even be considered for political office--that's just one example).

A question that I often consider and I am wondering your thoughts on is this: if we can agree that godless people in America are disenfranchised, what then should I as a freethinker do about it? Should I do anything? Should I get "political", although this might be a silly question considering all that I do is in some way, shape, or form political (i.e. this is easier to accept if one broadens their definition of what politics are).


fbg said...

Don't worry about participating too much in my blog; I hardly participate myself.

I mean to write more, but I never do. And then most of the stuffI write about is completely unrelated to anything anybody else cares about. But please make a comment whenever something I've said interests you!

THE KRIS said...

i like the idea of a manifesto without an opponent, but i don't see it as quite possible. no matter what you say, someone will always disagree, and that person will most likely feel threatened by differing views... in this case yours. it could be said that it takes two to fight, but not fighting doesn't keep you from getting your ass kicked.

anyway, i'm getting here a bit late, but great post as always.