Examples of Humanism

Updated November 5, 2020

Humanism emphasizes human dignity and the love of nature. This philosophy sees humans solving problems with rational thought and without the influence of secular or religious institutions. Humanism supports individual liberty, as well as human rights and responsibility for humankind and the planet.

Examples of Humanism in the Arts and Sciences

Here are some examples of humanism:

  • The scholarly writings of Petrarch (1304 –1374), who is often called the father of humanism. These include The Canzoniere, sonnets and letters.
  • The statue of David by Michelangelo shows the human form alone, unadorned and without other people or objects.
  • The drawing labeled "Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo Da Vinci symbolizes the ideal human body, geometry, and human potential.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted scenes of everyday life, like "The Wedding Dance."
  • "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare includes introspection, self awareness and musings about mankind.
  • Euripides addresses the need for order in society along with freedom of choice in the "Bacchae" and shows the gods with human traits.
  • The tragedy "Antigone" by Sophocles shows the wonders of man: his creativity and nobility.
  • Erasmus satirized religious practices in The Shipwreck.
  • An essay titled "Oration on the Dignity of Man" by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola supports the dignity of man, man’s unlimited possibilities and freedom of choice.
  • Maria Montessori created a method of education that treats the child holistically and addresses the cognitive, social, creative, and emotional aspects of growth and development.
  • The United Nations and UNESCO promote human rights, education, peace and social progress.
  • Secular and religious views of the world are compared in Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses.
  • The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, shows the artist’s appreciation of the human form, especially in the depiction of Adam, who is painted nude.
  • Richard Dawkins opposed religion in his television series, "The Root of All Evil."
  • Democracy is an example of humanism because it gives control of a country to the individual citizens.
  • The human condition and consequences of personal choices can be seen in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
  • Prometheus of Greek mythology was defiant and stole fire from the gods for humans to use.
  • John Milton’s Paradise Lost deals with the dignity of man, his freedom of choice and his internal struggles.
  • "Star Trek," a television series created by Gene Roddenberry, shows man’s search for knowledge and respect for all cultures.
  • Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows humanism when Huck treats the slave, Jim, as a human being, and recognizes his worth.
  • Humanism in psychology is shown with a positive approach to the behavior of humans which emphasizes nobility and the ability for self-growth through personal experiences and self-awareness.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli, who penned The Prince, addressed the idea that people should be responsible for their actions, they have a role in their own destiny and they should not blame God for everything.
  • The advancement of science was facilitated by Francis Bacon, who invented the modern scientific method.
  • Protagoras, a philosopher in Ancient Greece, may have been one of the first humanists, shown by his words, "Man is the measure of all things."

Now you have lots of examples of humanism. Watch some of these movies or read some of these books for yourself to see a little bit more about how they encompass humanism.