Humanism and Aging

P. H. J. M. Derkx, H. Laceulle, A. B. Pinn (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Humanism, as a meaning frame, is defined by four characteristics: human agency; human dignity; self-realization; and love of vulnerable, unique, and irreplaceable persons. A humanist view of aging is in favor of healthy aging and life extension, but human life is and remains inherently vulnerable (not just medically), and in a humanist view other aims are regarded as deserving a higher priority than life extension for privileged social groups with already a high (healthy) life expectancy. Humanist priorities are (1) a better social organization of a person’s life course with a better balance among learning, working, caring, and enjoying; (2) more social justice—for too long differences in socio-economic status have been determinants of shocking differences in health and longevity; (3) development and dissemination of cultural narratives that better accommodate the fulfillment of essential meaning-needs of the elderly than the stereotyping decline- and age-defying narratives); (4) less loneliness and social isolation. Keywords: humanism, aging, life course, healthy life expectancy, agency, dignity, justice, self-realization, love, loneliness.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Humanism
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Cite this