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Humanism, an attitude of the Renaissance revivers of ancient Greek and Roman writers, is the claim that human existence, far from being simply a painful period between birth and death, a preparation for the “after-life,” has a value all its own, worthy of philosophers, artists, and even the emerging scientific areas such as physiology, and that the “deities” have left humanity to work its own way through history. Liberalism (whose roots include “books” and “freedom”) refers to a socio-political attitude, opposing conservatism in the sense that human progress resides in new directions rather than just clinging to the old ways of doing things. These two terms cross in art, especially in literary works, where the value of the work resides in the critic’s view—should art follow the “rules” of the past and be judged by its adherence to those principles, or should it break new ground, bring something “new” and therefore be judged on that quality?
Based on the definitions below, contemporary usage of 'humanism' in the general social sense, humanism presumes an indeterminate 'good' in all, whereas liberalism ties itself more explicitly simply to tolerance. Further building on this idea, humanism concerns itself with the common again undefined 'good'. Liberalism stresses individualism and freedom over any over-arching 'good'. The origins of humanism lie in the rediscovery classic Greek thought and art, whereas liberalism is associated with free-market economics and progressive political theory.
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