“The lifestance of Humanism — guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience — encourages us to live life well and fully” (Humanist Manifesto III).
“Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives” (IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism -1996)
Humanism is like a religion, but it is not a religion, because it doesn’t believe in Gods, priests, or holy books. It believes in making this world the best place for humans to flourish in harmony with Nature.
So what is Humanism? You could call it a philosophy of life, a worldview, or a way of life. Paul Kurtz even suggested calling it a Eupraxsophy. But the simplest term is lifestance.
So what is a lifestance? Wiktionary defines it as, “The relation that one has with what he or she accepts as being of ultimate importance, the presuppositions and theory of this, and the commitments and practice of working it out in living.”
Wiktionary’s “Usage notes” becomes insightful here:
The term was intended to be a shared label encompassing both religions and alternatives to religion, without discrimination in favour of either. A life stance differs from a worldview or a belief system in that the term life stance emphasizes a focus on what is of ultimate importance. Life stance differs from eupraxsophy in that the latter typically implies a strictly non-theistic outlook, whereas a life stance can be theistic or non-theistic, supernaturalistic or naturalistic.
Humanism is, of course, is “non-theistic” and “naturalistic.” But it is helpful to have a neutral term for either type of system.
After much consideration, I have decided to adopt the label “lifestance” to my work on Humanism. I will still use the terms philosophy of life, worldview, and other synonyms for clarification’s sake.