Most people think that Humanism is all about hard core rationalism and science. However, I think that the Arts are a huge part of Humanism because it amazing how much books, music, and visual arts have influenced our lives as much as science and rationalism has.
But what is Humanism? There is no solid definition of the idea because it’s meaning is different to every person, such as the ideas of Christian Humanism and Secular Humanism. Humanism is constantly evolving, and I feel that changing form is healthy for any idea. Humanism emphasizes using the Arts as well as reason and science to create conclusions.
In someways, I think that using science and rational thought is superior to emotion and belief.
Thinking with a neutral, non-biased standpoint is a great quality for helping other people come to a compromise on issues. When I was took a peer mediation class, I learned that having rational thinking is key to keeping things in balance while taking sides does not solve anything.
Science has also helped human society climb up the ladder. Medicine and electronics that we use everyday were brought up through science. Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and more fields of science continue to make our lives more comfortable, such as bringing heat and light to our houses during the cold night.
Science and rationalism doesn’t solve everything though.
Religion and belief provides hope, security, and boundaries, which most humans require to feel comfortable with themselves and to lead a moral life. It is only natural for humans to have feelings and a need for security. Humans are very social beings, and we sometimes forget that when we look at the rational side of things. Emotion and social interaction with one another is natural and causes bonds to be made between people, whether creating best friends or bitter enemies.
Massive shifts in our lives, from individuals losing jobs to whole countries shattering under a collapsed government, cause “psychological aftershocks” that leave us humans vulnerable and our sense of comfort questionable. When people become mentally shaken up, the best way to help them recover is to find a counselor or phsycologist that can help them gather their thoughts; both of the professions require a study of emotion.
The Arts are a huge part of Humanism, which is also considered today as an “outlet” for emotion.
“Licinius the Emperor [Roman Emperor, ruled 81-96 CE], denounced learning and the Arts as a danger to the State and hateful in themselves” (Vergerius), but in reality, I believe that literacy helps build up society. Being able to read and write allows us as humans to understand other people’s viewpoints and help societies come to compromise on issues between different cultures. New ideas are created and spread through books, possibly catching hold in our systems such as governments or institutions. These ideas are stored into books, where they will reside for many years to come, educating those that read its contents.
Back in the Medieval Period, not many people knew how to read. The reasons why were numerous, from having to continue a family trade to surviving hunger and famine from poverty. According to Vergerius,
“Education which calls forth, trains and develops those highest gifts of body and of mind which ennoble men, and whichare rightly judged to rank next in dignity to virtue only… It is, then, of the highest importance that even from infancy this aim, this effort, should constantly be kept alive in growing minds.”
Teaching children improves their minds, eventually leading to the kids becoming more successful adults.However, if they do not continue to grow, their ideas will not grow, and thus their statuses will remain the same.
Either way, I think that Humanism is a balance of rationalism and emotionalism. Humanism emphasizes being human, and part of being human is having feelings and drawing our own ideas from preconceived thoughts. But as I said before, humanism is different for everyone. What is your definition?
Bushnell, Rebecca W. A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice. Ithaca, New York. Cornell University, 1996. Print.
Chapman, Roger. Culture Wars: an Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. Armonk, New York. ME Sharp Inc, 2010. Print.
Law, Stephen. Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, New York. Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.
Brooks, David. “The New Humanism.” The Opinion Papers. The New York Times, 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2012.
Mar, Paul H. “Petrus Paulus Vergerius: The New Education (c.400).” Medieval Sourcebook. Internet History Sourcebook, 1996. Web. 9 Feb 2012.
Unknown. Einstein Pop Art. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <http://mrquijada.org/Projects/8thgrade/PopArtPSHP/einsteinPopARt.jpg>.
Geisel, Theodor Suess. You’re Only Old Once: A book for Obsolete Children. Web. 15 Feb. 2012 <http://images.borders.com.au/images/bau/97803759/9780375958908/0/0/plain/youre-only-old-once-a-book-for-obsolete-children.jpg>