What is humanism?
In part one of his alternative lecture, Frank Furedi reveals the history of humanist ideas and the rise of their anti-human opposite: determinism.
In this short lecture filmed at the studios of citizen TV channel WORLDbytes, Frank Furedi answers the question ‘What is Humanism?’.
While humanist ideas have been around for a long time, he observes, they have never been more weakly affirmed than at present. In ancient as well as Renaissance times, thinkers struggled with questions around what forces determine our destiny and began to formulate ideas that human beings themselves, rather than God or nature, had a responsibility for making the world. Humanism, we learn, begins to flourish in Renaissance Italy and finds more mature expression in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Modern determinisms such as nineteenth-century economic determinism – or today’s eco-determinism, biological determinism or psychological determinism – are all really evasions or excuses that diminish our own sense of taking responsibility for what happens. A Humanist outlook should equip us with an orientation towards reason, problem-solving and a healthy scepticism towards determinisms (or the fates) in the present day.
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