Definition of humanism in English:



mass noun
  • 1A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

    • ‘The roots of ethnology lay, in turn, in the traditions of natural history, moral philosophy and humanism.’
    • ‘Teaching humanism would be one important step towards ensuring that school education reflects their views.’
    • ‘This has something to do with humanism, and humanist rationality.’
    • ‘I've always believed in the twin values of rationalism and humanism, but humanism has often felt as though it got short shrift in our community.’
    • ‘At the beginning of university, I was influenced by rationalism and humanism.’
    1. 1.1 A Renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.
      • ‘Of the forces springing from the European Renaissance, humanism and the influence of classical learning came first.’
      • ‘Renaissance humanism gradually replaced the medieval scholastic tradition from which it emerged.’
      • ‘If there is any one aspect of the Renaissance that can be said to have been characteristic, that must surely be the movement known as humanism.’
      • ‘Renaissance humanism did not necessarily promote natural philosophy, but its emphasis on mastery of classical languages and texts had the side effect of promoting the sciences.’
      • ‘He read Latin and Italian literature, and he promoted Renaissance humanism in England.’
    2. 1.2 (among some contemporary writers) a system of thought criticized as being centred on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the conditioned nature of the individual.
      • ‘The Party, on the other hand, frowned upon too much individualism, too much humanism practiced by any of its members.’
      • ‘Enlightenment humanism freed the individual from the status quo of natural identity, allowing humanity to reach beyond self, to change rather than simply be.’
      • ‘Historically, however, this tension has been a highly creative one, helping develop both a more rational humanism and a science of humanity compelled to address the exceptional character of human nature.’
      • ‘Critics of humanism have for centuries declared that freethinkers once departing from religion have abandoned morality.’
      • ‘The ideology that did most to sustain capitalism was humanism, the belief in man as the free, autonomous origin of history.’