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date: 23 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While the varieties of humanist expression vary across cultural and historical contexts, all forms of humanism are necessarily related to politics by virtue of outlining ethical positions on matters of social relations. Tracing the history of humanism broadly, as well as secular humanism specifically, this chapter identifies recurring continua of conflict about the politics of humanism. There is a general, inherent tension between individualist and collectivist dimensions of humanism, which is manifest in specific disputes about orientations toward society (philosophical vs. applied humanism), religion (exclusivist vs. ecumenical humanism), ethics (scientistic vs. humanitarian humanism), and politics (libertarian vs. socialist humanism). There are also disputes within humanism that arise around the preferred strategy for managing the stigma of secularity between those who favor separatist subcultures and those who favor normalization through social reform. Ultimately a broad-based conception of humanism offers the greatest possibilities for political efficacy. In conclusion, the article outlines some of the important aspects of humanism and politics in need of further research.

Keywords: secular humanism, Western humanism, atheism, New Atheism, scientism, politics, secularism, progressivism, Social Darwinism, secular stigma

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