View Full Version : Humanism Vs Universalism

Sunday, June 26th, 2016, 10:16 PM
In this tread I would like to start a discussion about the fundaments of ethics.

I hope to challenge people to contradict me. For this will help me to improve my ideas, and hopefully it prove that I am on the right track.

I challenge people to contradict my following statement:

In modernism ethics is solely based on humanism. I believe this to be a shortcoming. Ethics should primarily be based upon universalism.
Universalism meaning the understanding that primarily it is universal laws that rule our lives and not humanistic laws.

Modern humanistic laws are primarily based on happiness, compassion and total equality among humans.

Universal laws however are primarily based on survival. The most important universal concept is that systems will not survive if they do not adapt to their surrounding and/or do not find a way to control their environment in way that is durably beneficial to both of them. Only after institutionalizing structures that will realize this can we begin to implement humanistic structures.

Universal ethics should come first. Humanistic ethics should come second.

Nowadays in modern ethics it's the world upside-down. Even worse, first seems to come the ethics of money in the hands of the few, then seems to come humanistic ethics to keep the sheep silent. For evolution of human kind and a better symbiosis between man and nature there seems to be no priority at all.

Monday, June 27th, 2016, 01:41 PM
Isn't the comparison a category mistake? Whereas humanism refers to a certain type of ethics, an ethical system, universalism denotes the nature of an ethical system (the question whether it is universally valid or not). Humanism is rather a type of universalist ethics, since it is an ethic of the universal and abstract human being, but there can exist other universalist ethical systems as well, such as utilitarianism.

If, by opposing universalism to humanism, you mean that the former transcends the mere human and is in this regard universal and per definition less restricted than the mere human humanism, the question rises whether ethics exist outside the human sphere in the first place. It concerns the philosophical difference between is and ought. For example Hobbes' political philosophy departed from a state of nature (which he conceived of as being on par with the natural sciences, thus that which is). But the ethical aspect (what ought to be) only entered at the moment when these 'wolves' of human beings started organizing themselves, i.e. the beginning of the social sphere. Ethics was dependent on the sovereign who reigned by social contract to put an end to the state of nature. Locke on the other hand did presume an ethic in the state of nature, but this made his conception of a state of nature more anthropocentric, so it would loose the claim to universality in the way you seem to understand it.

So I wonder whether these universal laws that you describe, being mainly based on survival, are of an ethical nature in the first place. In what way can for example 'survival' serve as an ethical imperative? I could imagine a folkish type of politics to serve the survival of the people, but than you have already entered the human realm and it ceases to be universal in the way you describe it.

Monday, June 27th, 2016, 10:19 PM
Bernard, before responding I would like to thank you for such a well thought answer. It honors me to be able to debate against this quality.

I believe my comparison is not a category mistake.

To better understand this you have to understand that I do not (mis)use the term Universalism in the way most us are brainwashed to use it.

We live in a world dominated by people who use words like Universalism as a means to give their own ideas the aura of Universal truth. Hell they even try to sell us that rights that they think should apply to all people have the right to be called Universal. Not because they are, but only because they want It to be like that.

If that was the way I used the term Universalism, than you would be right to call my comparison a category mistake. However that’s not how I use the term.

I believe the term Universal should only present what it literally means. Being truth all across the universe. And since ethics are rules of life this means that universal ethics must directly be derivable from and prioritized according to the natural processes that steer life itself.

Humanism as an ethical system does not seem to place the universe at the center, it even doesn’t seem to place life at the center. Worse it even doesn’t place human kind at the center (Thus the term Humanism is another misuse of terms to brainwash us).

At its best Humanism places the happiness of the individual at its center. In practice it places the happiness of those in power at its center, and uses it’s concept to keep the rest of us “happy” and peaceful. As in using it as a tool of control (Just the way they misuse the concept of “democracy”).

Humanism has no universal fundament, it is only sold to us as such. Humanism is only a human invention that holds no fundament in the natural processes of life.

Universal ethics however can never be an invention they must be derived from the natural processes of live, as soon as they are not they stop being universal and lose their value. They hold their value in the way they support life, this means survival comes first, happiness comes second.

Yes, Universalism transcends Humanism. And yes, universal ethics does exist beyond the human sphere, it applies to all life, be it plant, animal or even alien.

This also answers my position on Utilitarianism. When used in the narrow (brainwashed) concept it places the happiness of a human collective at its center. Used in this way it transcends Humanism, as used in its narrow (brainwashed) form.

However, Utilitarianism in its narrow form does not transcend Humanism used in it’s literal (non-brainwashed) and thus broader form (where Humanism places human life at its center, that is survival of the human race first, and it’s happiness second)

However, Utilitarianism in its literal (non-brainwashed) and thus broader form (where Unitarianism places life itself at its center, that is survival of life first, and happiness second) it becomes equal with universal ethics and transcend even Humanism used in it’s literal broader form.

This also answers my position between what is and what ought.
I believe that the only real ethics are ethics grounded in nature, other “ethics” are mere human inventions. Ergo, what is, is also what ought to be! When it comes to ethics there is no room for difference between the two. Our ethics should be a mirror of reality, not a mirror of our wishes.

I hold the same position between science and religion. Forms of religion not grounded in science are mere human inventions, grown at of the hope that stems from human impotence.

The moment we outgrow our impotence, the moment we choose to be an “Ubermensch”, and dear to face life as it is, is the moment we don’t need to live in dreams of wishes anymore.

At that time we are ripe to choose to ground our religion in science. That will be the moment our religion becomes a mirror of reality. It’s the moment that believing transform into knowing….

Monday, June 27th, 2016, 11:07 PM
Humanism properly refers to ethics at the human scale, as in Japanese Humanism. In the west it took a very different course and is anything but at human scale. Self-described humanists and universalists are almost always the same people. Human-race-centrists.

I sort of agree with the OP about the need for naturalistic ethics. Nature determines optimal morals. The modern West is degenerated because of its moral judgements rather than because it is immoral. "Our" civilisation has defied human nature on principle instead of being pro-life.

Friday, July 1st, 2016, 10:40 PM
Hello Catterick, thanks for your reply.

We seem to be on the same page (literally and figuratively).
However I do not “really” understand what you mean to communicate with your following remark.

“Self-described humanists and universalists are almost always the same people. Human-race-centrists.”

Maybe you meant it the same way I did, but that all depends on how you yourself define and use terms like humanism, universalism and human scale.

Maybe for the sake of clarity we could agree that in this discussion we will use capitals when we use them defined in the broader literal natural sense of their meaning, and with small caps when we use them in their common misused narrow meaning (as described by me above)?

This would lead to the following “definitions” (open for improvement):

Common, narrow, use of the term (How we are brainwashed to use them)
- humanism: Strive for the happiness of individuals
- human scale: At the scale of the individual human being.
- universalism: Strive for humanism for all individuals whatever their genetics, culture or religion, as long as they subject themselves to this unnatural universalism.
- individual: The egoist that feels himself to be the centre of the universe.

Natural, broader, use of the terms (How I would like to use them)
- Humanism: Strive for the survival and happiness prioritized according to Universal Natural Ethics (Survival before happiness, Life before Human race before Folk before Individuals)
- Human Scale: At the scale of the Human Race as a collective.
- Universalism: Strive for Natural Ethics.
- Folk: A collective of Individuals with the right balance between diversity and homogeneity to optimize the survival of the Folk.
- Individual: The smallest entity within a Folk, committed to the survival and prosperity of it’s Folk before it’s own survival.

Now to get back on your remark.
For as far as I can see self-described humanists and universalists don’t so much care for the human-race at all. The only care for individuals of the human-race. That’s what I meant with the mis-use of those terms.

However self-described Humanists and Universalists do care for the Human-race, first, for the Folk that are part of it second and for Individuals third.

The first group of people has their priorities upside-down compared to the second group of people.
Or in religious terms “they mentally wear their cross upside down”.
(As in the sign of dead , also found in the universal peace symbol ☮. Why strive for peace leads to the dead of nature and the human race is however a theme worth a discussion on itself.)

The first group define happiness more important than survival, and smaller entities more important than larger ones.

The second group of people has their priorities ordered conformed to nature. Or in religious terms “they wear their cross as Life is meant to be”. As in the sign of Life ᛉ. They define survival (longterm focus) more important than happiness (shortterm focus), and larger entities more important than smaller ones.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016, 12:35 AM
It isn't just that (western) humanists strive for the happiness of individuals. It presents a distorted idealisation of the relationship between the human individual and society, for example, liberty and equality as desirable ends in themselves, as a kind of common good rather than earned or situational. Such distorted perceptions are present even in the most totalitarian interpretations of humanism, such as strict Communism. They also follow precedents in organised religious sects, of course. Philosophical secularism as religion since the Enlightenment. And, the religious desire of people attracted to secular ideologies, for a personal relationship between themselves and the rational/universal.

Htriber, I agree with what you are arguing, but your chosen language is off, in that it might be found confusing.

Monday, August 22nd, 2016, 11:48 PM
I agreewith you. I also agree that the language I choose might confuse. The problem however is the fact that those words were hihgjacked by others and that the media have indoctrinated with those misconseptions. The effect of this is that they made it impossible for people like us to communicate our ideas properly and easely. The only thing we can do before we can start convincing others is to stop and reverse this process. To take those words back and start using them as they were meant to be used. Yes this will lead to misconceptions first but it that will give us an opportunity to explain. To find a listening ear. An ear that can become a comrade in arms in our fight for the truth.