John Dewey was what we would call today a humanist activist. He was one of the original thirty-four signers of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933 and an honorary member of the Humanist Press Association, which was the predecessor to the American Humanist Association. With a wide range of works that were not only highly respected in academia but also influential in shaping American public policy and dialogue, Dewey is arguably the single most important public intellectual in the history of modern American humanism.
It seems that any philosophy and any theology that humans advance will be limited by our concepts and categories of thought; and further it seems that our language and concepts developed in a context of a natural, physical world. So, even when someone dreams up gods, ghosts, and purely spiritual realms, there’s a sense in which that persons is limited to those categories of thought (many based on our physical existence and physical acts)
Does the study of philosophy result in a secular humanistic outlook? Sometimes it does, as some of us humanists came from a formal study of philosophy. But sometimes it does not; many students of philosophy never adopt humanism as their philosophy.
Despite the thinking of August Comte and William Young, contemporary secular humanism does not replace God with Humanity. In other words, humanist does not make humanity into an idol to replace deity. Humanism is not religious in that sense at all. But some have argued that there is a sense in which humanism qualifies as a religion.
Humanism is simply a general philosophy of life which focuses on human reality and bases knowledge of our world on reason and the methods of science. In most forms, it rejects the theism of the major religions (belief in a deity who plays an active role in human life) and supernaturalism, or the belief in an otherworld, a reality separate from the natural reality, the world disclosed by science, ordinary experience and rational inquiry.
Tavio Tellez and kindred spirits (romantics, for the most part) have seen philosophy an intellectual, moral, and spiritual enterprise (as a life-long project). Can we really make much sense of this?
The supernaturalist imagines that he possesses those absolutes which allows for genuine categorical imperatives. But these ‘absolutes’ ultimately turn out to be very human in origin, based (as they are for naturalists) on experience, conditioning, and specific theological interpretations by humans of codes attributed to supernatural authority, but which can be traced to some human or group of humans. Ultimately, the ‘absolutes’ of the religious authoritarian are in the same category with the ‘absolutes’ of any human-based morality.
A good way to see humanism is as a philosophy that rejects the god-centered picture of reality, but also rejects the idea that overt atheism should be an essential part of that humanism. Humanism is thus seen as a philosophy whose primary focus is on the human and natural aspects of reality.