If somebody asked you about the difference between humanism and humanitarianism, what would you say?
I’d begin by quoting Albert Schweitzer: ‘Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.’ Then I’d point out that this is a principle to which most humanists would at least pay lip service, but that humanists often embrace other principles besides (e.g. scientism, atheism, anti-clericalism, etc.) which sometimes take precedence over humanitarianism in their respective scales of value. I’d also point out that religious belief is not necessarily incompatable with humanitarianism. And I would probably end by suggesting that humanitarianism is the antithesis of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality that characterises many humanists in their relation to those (e.g. humanists, theists, proponents of laïcité) who embrace principles which are at odds with (and therefore perceived as inferior to) to their own.

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