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Evolutionary Humanism


The Ape within

"We are not the pinnacle of creation, but rather tomorrow’s Neanderthals." The Giordano Bruno Stiftung advocates the position of Evolutionary Humanism, as formulated in the middle of the 20th century by Julian Huxley, the distinguished evolutionary biologist and first General Director of UNESCO. On behalf of the gbs, Huxley’s ideas have been revisited and supplemented with insights from modern scientific research; in this form they are described, for example, in the "Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism".

Like other humanistic philosophies, evolutionary humanism sees the improvement of human living conditions as both possible and necessary. Evolutionary humanists advocate values of enlightenment, critical rationality, self-determination, freedom and social justice. They do not view human beings as the "pinnacle of creation", but as the unintended product of natural evolution, different only by degree, not fundamentally, from the other life forms on this "speck of dust in space".

As children of evolution, we too are just "life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live" (Albert Schweitzer), and this realization must lead to a more responsible way of treating non-human animals.

The ethical foundation of the evolutionary humanism is the "principle of the equal consideration of equal-ranking interests". Therefore, discriminating ideologies such as racism, sexism, ethnocentrism or speciesism, as well as social Darwinist or eugenic concepts, which occasionally have been advocated by evolutionary theorists (for a time even by Julian Huxley!), are incompatible with evolutionary humanism.

"Evolutionary man can no longer take refuse from his loneliness by creeping for shelter into the arms of a divinized father-figure whom he has himself created, (nor escape from the responsibility of making decisions by sheltering under the umbrella of Divine Authority, nor absolve himself from the hard task of meeting his present problems and planning his future by relying on the will of an omniscient but unfortunately inscrutable Providence.) All that is required, but that is plenty, is for us to cease being intellectual and moral ostriches, and take our heads out of the sand of wilful blindness."
(Julian Huxley)