Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. The term can mean several things, for example:
- A historical movement associated especially with the Italian Renaissance.
- An approach to education that uses literary means or a focus on the humanities to inform students.
- A variety of perspectives in philosophy and social science which affirm some notion of 'human nature' (by contrast with anti-humanism).
- A secular ideology which espouses reason, ethics , and justice, whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogma as a basis of morality and decision-making.
The latter interpretation may be attributed to Secular Humanism as a specific humanistic life stance. Modern meanings of the word have therefore come to be associated with a rejection of appeals to the supernatural or to some higher authority. This interpretation may be directly contrasted with other prominent uses of the term in traditional religious circles. Humanism of this strand arose from a trajectory extending from the deism and anti-clericalism of the Enlightenment, the various secular movements of the 19th century (such as positivism), and the overarching expansion of the scientific project.