Humanist Philosophy

Dominic Tweedie

December 2005 – February 2006

This session is part of a sub-set as follows:

"I am a Communist because I believe in Freedom"
Feb 1
Liberty, A Study in Bourgeois Illusion, 1938, 12pp.
Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, 1843, 8pp.
Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion, 1900, 7pp.
Humanist Philosophy, Alberti & Spinoza, 2006, 20pp.
Mar 1
Pacifism & Violence, 1938, 11pp.
'Death of the Subject' Explained, 2002, 19pp.
State and Revolution, Chapter 1, 1917, 8pp.

The quotation at the head of this table is from Christopher Caudwell’s “Liberty, a study in Bourgeois Illusion”, which is the first paper in the series.

The purpose of the series is to introduce to young people of the YCL , some of the philosophy of freedom.


The single question of freedom underlies everything else. This is a fact that is impossible to disguise or hide. Every young person growing up in the world cannot help but encounter the question of freedom again and again in circumstances that are sad or happy, frustrating or exciting, and therefore memorable, so that the question of freedom is the question of life.

As to what freedom is, bourgeois society is quite unwilling to say, although the word Is often used.

Communist, unlike bourgeois thinkers and writers, do have a definite idea of what freedom is. It is the “recognition of necessity”. This phrase was first coined by Baruch Spinoza in the 17th century.

The question of freedom can be discussed all the way through these seven topics looked at from different sides.

Humanist Philosophy

What is the particular reason for having a topic called “Humanist Philosophy?”

It is because Humanism is the philosophy of human freedom and because Marxism is a humanist philosophy.

It is also because humanist philosophy gives answers to questions which young people raise. Marxism does not duck such questions.

Humanism says that human beings create their common humanity in work, and that this creation of humanity goes on all the time. There is therefore always change, and there is always progress, or movement forward.

The reading given is extensive. In the longer piece, a window is opened on one of the critical passages of history, during which conscious humanism was revived, namely the Italian Renaissance, associated with Leon-Battista Alberti.

In the other piece I have run through the history of philosophy with the purpose of showing where humanism has arisen and where it has been challenged.