Teaching Humanism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter proposes a humanist way of teaching humanism. Rather than as a doctrine or a fixed set of values, humanism is understood as a tradition, that is, a movement of passing on (finding, reinterpreting, and applying to new contexts of) meanings, values, ideas, and practices in a critical relationship to existing (cultural, religious, political) views, opinions, and practices in which movement the critical is for the sake of humaneness. Subsequently, it is argued that humanist traditions can be articulated through exemplary people—sometimes called ‘role models’— who represent or embody this by (briefly speaking) ‘applying of humanist values’. These may be thinkers, scientists, artists, activists, or politicians (e.g. Nelson Mandela). From there it is shown that teaching humanism starts with being inspired by an exemplar representing a humanist tradition, and that by hermeneutically (re)interpreting the views and practices demonstrated and ‘lived’ by the exemplar, one becomes oneself part and representative of that humanist tradition. Thus, teaching humanism does not deal with ‘something out there’, but it consists of relating oneself to a humanist tradition, guided by a humanist exemplar, interpreting what is conveyed from sources, and passing it on in new directions—again, for the sake of humaneness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducating Humanists
Subtitle of host publicationThe Challenge of Sustaining Communities in the Contemporary Era
EditorsWilliam David Hart
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-88526-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameStudies in Humanism and Atheism


  • Autonomy
  • Heteronomy
  • Humaneness
  • Hermeneutics

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