Humanist quotes

Scroll down the page to find quotations from humanists explaining humanism or click on a link in the menu to the left to find other quotes that illustrate the humanist world view.


Humanism is a most human philosophy of life. Its emphasis is on the human, the here-and-now, the humane. It is not a religion and it has no formal creed, though humanists have beliefs. Humanists are atheists or agnostics and do not expect an afterlife. It is essential to humanism that it brings values and meaning into life.

Jim Herrick, Humanism: an introduction

Humanism in the modern sense of the term is the view that whatever your ethical system, it derives from your best understanding of human nature and the human condition in the real world. This means that it does not, in its thinking about the good and about our responsibilities to ourselves and one another, premise putative data from astrology, fairy tales, supernaturalistic beliefs, animism, polytheism, or any other inheritances from the ages of humankind’s remote and more ignorant past.

A C Grayling, Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness

There is no humanist creed, no set of beliefs to which every humanist has to subscribe. Humanism is not a dogma or a sect…as human beings we can find from our own resources the shared moral values which we need in order to live together, and the means to create meaningful and fulfilling lives for ourselves.

Richard Norman, On Humanism (Thinking in Action)

The word ‘humanism’ has more than one meaning—Generally, it implies a desire to think for yourself; to ‘do your own thing’; to accept the results of free inquiry, whatever they may be; and to act in accordance with those results, in the light of reason and in co-operation with others, for the promotion of human happiness.

Barbara Smoker, Humanism

The Humanist view of life is progressive and optimistic, in awe of human potential, living without fear of judgement and death, finding enough purpose and meaning in life, love and leaving a good legacy.

Polly Toynbee, former President of the BHA

Humanism involves far more than the negation of supernaturalism. It requires an affirmative philosophy…translated into a life devoted to one’s own improvement and the service of all mankind.

Corliss Lamont, 1902–1995, philosopher

Humanism is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity, of application of new ideas of scientific progress for the benefit of all.

Linus Pauling, 1901–1994, American scientist, Nobel Prize winner

Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922–2007, American novelist

Humanism is the commitment to the use of reason in human affairs, applied in the service of compassion.

Hans Jürgen Eysenck, 1916–1997, psychologist

Humanism is optimistic regarding human nature and confident in human reason and science as the best means of reaching the goal of human fulfillment in this world. Humanists affirm that humans are a product of the same evolutionary process that produced all other living organisms and that all ideas, knowledge, values, and social systems are based upon human experience. Humanists conclude that creative ability and personal responsibility are strongest when the mind is free from supernatural belief and operates in an atmosphere of freedom and democracy.

Author unknown