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Its worth noting that Nietzche was in the throes of advanced dementia from syphillis when he wrote Antichrist.

And humanism isn't a religion, its an ethical philosophy, same with transhumanism.

Actually, Nietzsche's mental breakdown didn't really kick off until after he finished writing Nietzsche Contra Wagner, which was after the Antichrist (although in the same year). Apparently, he was distressed at some carriage driver whipping his horse, rushed to the horse's aid and collapsed. He was never the same afterwards.

Are you saying that ethical philosophies can't form religions, or just that you don't want these ones to be counted in that way? :D What's Confucianism but an ethical philosophy from thousands of years ago? Well, I suppose one can make the argument that Humanism hasn't *earned* the right to be considered a religion yet... give it a few hundred years. >:)

Seriously, the only thing preventing Humanism from being considered a religion is its practictioners' refusal to accept it as such, and we don't let Christians/Hindus etc get away with claiming that what they practice is "not a religion but a way of life".

Whether we consider it a religion or a nonreligion (and the distinction between the two is marginal at best), the point still stands that Humanism was legitimised in part by the break with tradition spearheaded by Nietzsche.

Best wishes!

Why, when advocating freedom of belief, and especially in respect of Wittgenstein, do you feel the need to try to coral Humanists into a box labelled 'religion'? Surely if the distinction is marginal, the cognitive dissonance will be less if you allow humanists to call their belief system whatever name they choose?

zenBen: you're reading me wrong, although I undoubtedly contribute to the misunderstanding.

There are no separate boxes here for me. Everyone has a system of metaphysics, a system of ethics and a central narrative - *everyone* in my language game has a religion (although not necessarily a formal religion, and of course many of these religions are atheistic, non-theistic or agnostic). I don't separate the Humanists off and put them in a different box - I put everyone in together, on equal footing.

Therefore, from my perspective, what I see is Humanists refusing to participate in intra-religious discussions because "we're not a religion, we're a life stance". This term 'life stance' strikes me as a way for Humanists to consider themselves different from people who practice traditional religion. I see this as an isolationist tendency, and I don't think it's helpful in this case.

You are correct, that the cognitive dissonance from the Humanists would be less if I were to accede to this request to be considered a special exception. But this sets up cognitive dissonance from the vast majority of people instead! I don't see this as a useful way to proceed. Since I believe most Humanists are bright enough to understand the issues involved, I see more hope for resolution in trying to persuade the Humanists to abandon their term 'life stance' than I do in trying to teach the world a new term that seems to exist solely so that Humanists will not have to consider themselves on the same terms as the rest of humanity.

Humanists are free to consider their beliefs and practices however they wish - I can't make them consider their own beliefs a religion, and I wouldn't want to. But I would like to try and persuade Humanists of the benefits of accepting the word 'religion', at least in terms of reducing the number of 'us and them' divisions in play.

You want me to treat Humanists as some special case. I don't see the special case. I just see a religion - and a good one for atheists by all accounts. What is it that Humanists lose in calling their belief system a religion, other than the ability to collectively attack other people with different belief systems under this umbrella term 'religion' they seem so fervent to be excluded from?

Clearly, there are different language games in play - but do you really think that the most compelling solution here is to bend to the language demands of the minority over the majority? On what grounds? That Humanists have a strong psychological need to separate themselves from religion? Why would that be a desirable state of affairs, and why should I support it?

Disagreements about how the word religion is used is part of the problem right now. My solution is to say: we all have something equivalent to a religion; all people are essentially the same, despite their many differences. I feel this might be a helpful approach, but I'm open to counter arguments.

Hope this clarifies my position.

Best wishes!

.... Confucianism is not a religion.
Neither it nor humanism is generally considered a religion.

What's your definition of religion, Chris?

(if you want me to stop replying to year-old posts, please tell me ^_^; )

zeech: I wouldn't want you to *stop* replying, but you could slow down! :) You are somewhat stretching my ability to keep up with you which limits what I can say. For this particular issue, see here.

In brief: any ethical tradition may be considered a religion from a certain perspective. Humanism is doubly ambiguous, though, as there is a specific Humanist religion as well as a Humanist ethical tradition.

Best wishes!

Incidentally, there's a Christian meme about "It's not a religion, it's a person" or some such. It seems "religion" has simply become a bad word at some point, and everyone is trying to abandon it. ;)

Trevel: yes, I know what you mean. It starts with "it's not a religion, it's a way of life" and then becomes a sad us-and-then distinction. I fight against this, personally, by trying to present a positive perspective on religion in the hope that we can fight against anti-religious bias - both from non-believers, and from believers.

Best wishes!

I dunno, the reductionist in me wants to take things back to basics and define "religion" as a "an organisation or practice aimed at worship of a deity or supernatural force".

It feels like the broadening of the term "religion" first started as metaphor - someone was "religious" in their devotion to money making, for example, and eventually you could say that it was their "religion" and then all other things one could be devoted to became labelable as "religion".

Hmmm, it might be interesting to examine the words used for "religion" in other languages. Do they also contain these shades of meaning? Or are they more specific?
Sadly my less-than-fluent knowledge of Chinese and Japanese doesnt offer any insights here.
(interestingly, it doesnt seem like Chinese has a common term for the generic category "metal" - people like me end up having to say "steel" and then explaining "stuff that's kinda like steel"...)

zeech: "I dunno, the reductionist in me wants to take things back to basics and define 'religion' as a 'an organisation or practice aimed at worship of a deity or supernatural force'."

You make a common error, here, usually actuated by the belief that Christianity is the paradigm case for religion. But Buddhism is generally accepted as a religion, and two out of three schools of Buddhism have no notion of worship, no requirement for a deity (quoting the Dalai Lama: "we Buddhists are atheists") nor necessarily a supernatural force. Materialist Buddhism is perfectly valid, and would still be a religion under most schemes. Similarly, while most Hindu practice is in a theist (or transtheist) vein, Materialist Hinduism is equally viable.

I think the dominance of the Abrahamic faiths in the Western world skews people's perspective in this regard.

The Chinese word for 'religion', zongjido means "ancestral teaching". The Japanese word for 'religion', shukyo means "the fundamental teaching which brings all phenomena together", although the term is rather disliked in modern Japan for various reasons.

If you're interested in this kind of study, you would do well to pick up something by Ninian Smart - I recommend "Dimensions of the Sacred: Anatomy of the World's Beliefs".

Best wishes!

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