Life stance

Life stance

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Encyclopedia
A person's life stance, or lifestance, is their relation with what they accept as being of ultimate importance
Intrinsic value (ethics)
Intrinsic value is an ethical and philosophic property. It is the ethical or philosophic value that an object has "in itself" or "for its own sake", as an intrinsic property...

, the presuppositions and theory of this, and the commitments and practice of working it out in living.

It connotes an integrated perspective on reality as a whole and how to assign valuations, thus being a concept similar or equivalent to that of a worldview; with the latter word (derived from the German "weltanschauung") being generally a more common and comprehensive term. Like the term "worldview", the term "life stance" is intended to be a shared label encompassing both religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 perspectives (for instance: "a Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 life stance" or "a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 life stance" or "a Pagan
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 life stance"), as well as non-religious spiritual or philosophical alternatives (for instance: "a humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 life stance" or "a personist
Personism
Personism is a life stance that has been called the philosophy of Peter Singer. It amounts to a branch of secular humanism with different rights-criteria. The main distinction is that personists believe that rights are conferred to the extent that a creature is a person...

 life stance" or "a Deep Ecology
Deep ecology
Deep ecology is a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes an inherent worth of all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of organisms within ecosystems and that of ecosystems with each other within the...

 life stance"), without discrimination in favour of any.

Origins of the phrase "life stance"


Life stance is a neologism apparently coined in the mid 1970s by humanists
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 interested in educational matters, and developed originally in that context by Harry Stopes-Roe
Harry Stopes-Roe
Dr. Harry Stopes-Roe is a British philosopher and humanist. He is a Vice-President of the British Humanist Association.He is the son of Marie Stopes, the women's rights and family planning pioneer, and Humphrey Verdon-Roe. He started his career as a physicist, and received a BSc and MSc in...

 of the Rationalist Press Association
Rationalist Association
The Rationalist Association, originally the Rationalist Press Association, is an organization in the United Kingdom, founded in 1899 by a group of free thinkers who were unhappy with the increasing political and decreasingly intellectual tenor of the British secularist movement...

 and British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect...

. It was originally used in the context of debates over the controversial content of the City of Birmingham's
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education, 1975. That document referred to "non-religious stances for living". According to Barnes:
In the late 1980s, Harry Stopes-Roe initiated a successful campaign for the adoption of the term by the International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union
The International Humanist and Ethical Union is an umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organisations worldwide. Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, the IHEU is a democratic union of more than 100 member organizations in 40...

 and other organisations (see also his comments quoted below on its provenance). It was not an uncontroversial proposal among humanists.

The term was introduced as part of an attempt to establish a clear identity for Humanism, in order to gain recognition and respect.

According to Stopes-Roe:

Definition


Harry Stopes-Roe, who fought for the term's acceptance by the Humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 movement, defined "life stance" as follows:
Another suggested definition of life stance is:
A further, more analytical definition has been put forward by the British Humanist Association, drawing in part on jurisprudence related to the term 'religion or belief' in the European Convention on Human Rights:

Orthography


A life stance may be distinguished from general support to a cause by capitalization
Capitalization
Capitalization is writing a word with its first letter as a majuscule and the remaining letters in minuscules . This of course only applies to those writing systems which have a case distinction...

 of the first letter. For instance, the life stance of Humanism is distinguished from humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 generally. Many life stances may contain humanism to a greater or lesser extent as instrumental value
Instrumental value
Instrumental value is the value of objects, both physical objects and abstract objects, not as ends-in-themselves but a means of achieving something else...

 in order to fulfill their own chosen intrinsic value(s)
Intrinsic value (ethics)
Intrinsic value is an ethical and philosophic property. It is the ethical or philosophic value that an object has "in itself" or "for its own sake", as an intrinsic property...

. However, Humanism regards it as having intrinsic value.

Not all life stances use this orthography.

Spectrum


The term was intended to be a shared label encompassing both religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s and alternatives to religion, without discrimination in favour of either.

A life stance differs from a worldview
World view
A comprehensive world view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and...

 or a belief system in that the term life stance emphasizes a focus on what is of ultimate importance. Life stance differs from eupraxsophy in that the latter typically implies a strictly non-theistic outlook, whereas a life stance can be theistic or non-theistic, supernaturalistic or naturalistic.

Religious life stances



A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and/or moral claims about reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

, the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, and human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

, and often codified as prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, and law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

s, writings, history, and mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

, as well as personal faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 and mystic experience
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

In the frame of European religious thought, religions present a common quality, the "hallmark of patriarchal religious thought": the division of the world in two comprehensive domains, one sacred, the other profane
Sacred-profane dichotomy
French sociologist Émile Durkheim considered the dichotomy between the sacred and the profane to be the central characteristic of religion: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden." In Durkheim's theory, the...

. Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

, sacred, divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

, or of the highest truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

.
Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief. Religion is also often described as a "way of life".

Non-religious life stances



Alternatives to religion include life stances based on atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, agnosticism
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

, deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

, skepticism
Religious skepticism
Religious skepticism is a type of skepticism relating to religion, but should not be confused with atheism. Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious but are those skeptical of a specific or all religious beliefs or practices. Some are deists, believing...

, freethought
Freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

, pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

, secular humanism
Secular humanism
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

, SBNR or general secularism
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

.

Humanism


Humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 is an example of life stance which may be considered to be religious (usually in a non-theistic, ethical sense) or non-religious or anti-religious. One of Stopes-Roe's reasons for advocating the adoption of "life stance" as a label for the Humanist movement, was his hope that it would end the arguments between the different sides as to how best to characterise their position (note that Stopes-Roe uses the term "god-religious" to distinguish theists from non-theists in what follows):
Bill Cooke comments:

Values and purposes



Different life stances differ in what they hold as intrinsic value
Intrinsic value (ethics)
Intrinsic value is an ethical and philosophic property. It is the ethical or philosophic value that an object has "in itself" or "for its own sake", as an intrinsic property...

s and purposes in life.

For instance, the purpose in Humanism is (in the broadest sense) personality, determined by humans, completely without supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 influence. For Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, on the other hand, it is to serve God and to prepare for Olam Haba, "the world to come".

What is held as intrinsic value and purpose may differ substantially between individuals regarding themselves as belonging to the same life stance.

See also

  • World view
    World view
    A comprehensive world view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and...

  • Intentional stance
    Intentional stance
    The intentional stance is a term coined by philosopher Daniel Dennett for the level of abstraction in which we view the behavior of a thing in terms of mental properties...

  • Meaning of life
    Meaning of life
    The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as "Why are we here?", "What is life all about?", and "What is the meaning of it all?" It has...

  • Personal life
    Personal life
    Personal life is the course of an individual's life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one's personal identity. It is a common notion in modern existence—although more so in more prosperous parts of the world such as Western Europe and North America...

  • Lifestyle (sociology)