The Humanist Lifestance

“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.

Taking Risks

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin

I am often amazed at my ability to buy into the illusion of permanence. Yesterday I took a risk. Only time will tell if it was wise or foolish.

What I am interested in is the feeling of insecurity it produced. I definitely like the feeling of security, whether financial or relational.

Even though I know that security is an illusion, the mirage is still there. A steady job, a strong relationship are both illusions. Knowing that does not destroy the illusion.

Maybe part of enlightenment is destroying the illusion of permanence and reliability. Until that time, the best I can do is recognize the illusion.

Recognizing the illusion has the benefit of helping me take risks. Calculated risks, yes, but risks nonetheless.

In order to move forward, you sometimes have to burn bridges. I don’t recommend doing it, but sometimes you have no choice.

I often think of a lyric I once heard, “Lady Luck favors the bold.” I think there is some truth in that, provided we don’t confuse boldness for rashness.

So here I go on the next stage of my life’s adventure.

Why I Believe in Open Source Software

Why am I so passionate about Linux and open source? I will tell you why.

It is because freedom is important.

Freedom to choose what to do with your computer. Freedom to use it the way that you want to use it. Freedom to improve upon a program that you use. Freedom to customize that program to better suit your needs.

The freedom to be free from surveillance and an invasion of your privacy. In other words, freedom of choice is why I believe in Linux and open-source software.

The freedom to use the software you need, regardless of your level of income. Lennox and open source software is free, in both respects. It is free as in free beer, and it is free as in freedom of speech.

If we are ever going to have a world in which there is equality see, there needs to be access to the means of production. And in the information age, the computer is the means of production in many cases.

Expectation and Disappointment

I don’t think we realize that how tightly expectation and disappointment are tied together.

Our level of disappointment is correlated to the level of expectation. Expect a lot from a person or situation, and when they fail to meet your explanations, you feel very disappointed.

Expect nothing, and when you get nothing, you are not disappointed.

But expecting nothing is not that easy. It is hard going into a relationship without high expectations. It is hard not to have expectations, even if we know we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Maybe a first step is to have more realistic expectations. Realizing that no one is perfect, that no job is without flaws, and that everything new becomes old, maybe we will expect more imperfections, frustrations, and broken devices.

This Epictetus quote is a good one to remember, “People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.”

An Open Source Philosophy of Life

Today I want to introduce the idea of open source philosophy.

I will be adapting the basic philosophy of Richard Stallman’s ideas of free software. He is the architect of the GNU General Public License, which in turn inspired the creative commons license, which this website is licensed under.

My innovation is to apply these ideas to philosophy, specifically the idea of a philosophy of life. This is the worldview that guides one’s way of life.

An open source philosophy of life should have the freedom to live the philosophy, the freedom to modify it to your life and current evidence, the freedom to redistribute copies of the philosophy of life, and the freedom to distribute modified versions of the philosophy of life.

It is my belief that Humanism should be seen as an open source philosophy of life. It should be open for modification as new evidence comes in, and it should be customizable to one’s cultural and social context.

I believe that in order for philosophy to be useful it has to be hackable. Everyone should be able to modify it and publish their modification without copyright restriction.

This is why copyleft is so important. It keeps the philosophy of life open to correction and improvement by everyone.

And let’s be honest, everybody has their own twist to whatever religion or philosophy they hold. I just think we need to encourage free sharing so that improvement becomes easier.

No Cookies and No Pop-ups

My website is unique in a number of ways. There are others who do the same, but it is not the majority.

First, there are no HTTP cookies used by this site. This means that no one is tracking you as you read my blog. Links on this site may take you to others sites that will track you.

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Doing this is very inconvenient for content creators. I can’t use Google Analytics or WordPress’s JetPack to get stats. I have to rely on my Webhosting stats alone. I also can’t offer their subscribe to blog by mail feature, which I used in the past.

Second, I also don’t have any affiliate links on the site. I used to have one to Green Geeks, but I removed the link but left the image, letting people know I run an eco-friendly website.

Third, I don’t have any annoying pop-ups. The only advertising is a link to my books on Amazon, and that is just for people who are interested.

This means that this blog makes me no money, but costs me to produce. I pay the Webhosting and domain name fees out of my own pocket. Why? It is a labor of love for you, my few readers.

What can you do? Subscribe and tells others about my site. That’s all I ask.

A Humanist Who Meditates

I have struggled for years to find a replacement philosophy of life for Christianity.

Christianity has had 2,000 years of evolution, adaption, and development. So it is a complete worldview and way of life. But it is wrong about the nature of reality.

Any other ancient religion is going to have similar problems. Even Buddhism, Daoism, and Stoicism have these problems.

Humanism, which follows science and reason, is right about reality as far as we know it. But it is not yet a complete philosophy of life. It is strong on epistemology, strong on metaphysics, moderately on ethics, but lacking in human flourishing.

This is mainly because only recently has psychology began studying this area with an evidence-based methodology. There is much work that still needs to be done. We are decades away from developing a comprehensive view of human flourishing.

So what’s a person supposed to do in the meantime? My path is to identify as a Humanist, but add Buddhist, Daoist, and Stoic nights to my philosophy of life. I call this Bodhidaoism, but I prefer the label secular Humanist.

Think Different

A great message in an Apple Ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

— Created for Apple by advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day in 1997.

Rethinking the Dao

One way to interpret the Dao is to view it not as a metaphysic, but as a relationship.

What I mean is, that the Dao refers to our relationship with reality, and not to reality itself.

There is no such thing as the Dao. That is, the Dao does not exist, it’s simply refers to our relationship with Nature.

This allow Daoism to be compatible with naturalism.

Naturalism tells us that nature is all there is, Daoism (Taoism) tells us that we need to flow with what is.

The Dao describes our relationship with Nature as one of flowing with the flux and rhythms of the Universe.

The yin and yang are the dualities that form part of the one whole. The Universe is a unity of diversities.

The Human Operating System

I have given a lot of thought to a person’s worldview, also known as a philosophy of life.

Another way of thinking about a worldview, is to think of it as an operating system. It is the human operating system.

Our worldview, our philosophy of life is like an operating system.

Each of us have been programmed from a very early age. Are operating system has been programmed by the language we use, the culture we grow up in, and the beliefs and values of our family and friends.

The human operating system helps us and hinders us. It is what creates our successes, our failures, and shapes the way we see and interact with the world.

At the lower levels of the human operating system, we are all very similar. We call this level Human Nature. But not everybody has the same human operating system.

Some have a Christian operating system. Some have a Confucius operating system. And some have a Humanist operating system.

The human operating system is human nature plus a philosophy of life.

The human nature part we share with all other humans, the philosophy of life we have adopted and absorbed from the culture and family we grow up in.

What’s interesting, is that trying to reprogram our operating system is very difficult. It is hard to change our philosophy of life. We have to know how to hack the code.