Welcome to Critical Humanism
I have been working in the field of Critical Humanism for most of my life. It is present in my early book Documents of Life: An Invitation to a Humanistic Method (1983) and became a central theme in the second edition (published in 2001). Since then, It has become a central theme.
In 2021, I published Critical Humanism – as a way of bring these ideas together.
On this web site, I mainly update readings and debates in the sections that follow. It is ongoing – and a lot of work to be done in the coming months.
Here are a few opening thoughts, a few words from the book……
Connect the generations to our dreams:
Of love and kindness and care.
Connect creativity to dignity and hope,
To a politics of better worlds for all.
Connect to rights and justice and flourishing.
Hear the Stories. Only Connect. p10
We dwell in what might be called anti-humanity: a deep disconnection from being human as we engage in mass dehumanization, mass expulsions, mass digitalism and mass extinctions. p3
How can our human world, one we have been building so artfully over the millennia, remain such a flawed place? Over the years we can see the uneven march of progress in the sphere of the technical. But in the ethical and human sphere, we linger behind
How are we to live cooperatively with our diverse yet common humanity, not rendering it divisive or dehumanizing? How can we best live together with our dierences? Page
Once we announce the death of man, and the arrival of the posthuman, we are gone. There is little, maybe nothing, more to say about us. We have wished and written ourselves away. We are not here. End of Story. p33
If there is one idea that connects us all, it is that of ‘humanity’. p36
Our paradox of humanity is grounded in a flow of experience. Human differences can become human divisions. Divisions can be exaggerated and result in dehumanization. Life can become more segregated, antagonistic, and polarized. Enemies are created. The struggle is then on as to how we can resolve these conflicts – to bring people back together again, to create some sense of a common humanity, to live together well. P71
how can we best live together with our differences? P79
How are we to act in the world so as to live well with others? p81
How can societies, groups and people come to recognize the atrocities and traumas of their past and deal with them? How can ‘the world’ frame a suitable response to the horrors it has witnessed? Indeed, is such a response possible, or even desirable? Will it be possible in the future to build world institutions that can ‘make sense of the past’, maybe even ‘settle accounts’, helping to resolve traumas of past and ease the way into a future? How can we make sense of testimonies of atrocity, our stories, our rituals, our monuments? How can we remember this past as we handle the problems of memory, truth and justice across the changing generations?
What kind of future will we make for the world and for humanity? How might flourishing human lives be revitalized across generations? What is to be done? P149
When the pandemic entered the world in January 2020, we were already facing a major stage of upheaval. Covid-19 might be seen as advance warning, a threatening virus arriving in a world already under siege from many fronts p174
Critical humanism brings a wide-open politics and literacy of
humanity. It encourages multiple critical projects that work for
a more connected, transformative, and better planetary human
world future – projects that are political, cultural, and educational.
Each generation looks to others and tries to:
- reduce the harm and hazards of the planet, especially for
the vulnerable, exploited and marginal.
- connect lives to the continuity and richness of the earth and
cosmos we live in.
- build creative and flourishing human worlds for all life.
An agenda is being shaped.
1 Humanity is damaged. We need to heal the mutilated
world. We try to make sense of the sufferings of the world
and act positively towards them. We build a politics of harm
2 Humanity is divided. We need to live well with human
differences across the world. We try to resist the cruelty of
division, enlarge the human circle, cultivate compassion and
dialogue. We build a politics of dialogue, compassion and
3 Humanity has been traumatized. We need to confront our
troubled past and their atrocities. We try to build institutions
and develop practices that enable us to cope with
the trauma of the past. We build a politics of memory and
truth, justice and reconciliation.
4 Humanity is shaped by narrative. We need to understand
the long history of our narrative world. We try to develop a
narrative that ‘thinks like a planet’ while bringing a multiplicity
of responsible world narratives that enable flourishing
and bind us all together on one planet. We create a politics
of narrative worldly care.
5 Humanity is shaped by values. We need to pursue the
globalization of common shared human values. We try to
appreciate the world’s historical struggle to find a good
world and to negotiate this into the present. We create a
politics of global values.
6 Humanity is transformative. We create a politics and
education to create a connective and flourishing world for
all. We try to make each generation aware of human flourishing,
cultivating a human creativity directed towards a
better world and a future with hope. We cultivate a politics
of humanity and literacy: of generational hope and social
movements grounded in utopian realism for this better world.