Identify a contemporary person who can be considered a Humanist.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the main features of Humanism are

  • a belief in the essential dignity of man
  • a focus on the moral and ethical context of classical texts
  • an involvement in the affairs of the world as opposed to the asceticism of the scholastic
  • an interest in authenticating classical texts
  • a rejection of formal religion and the application of ethical principles to one's life.
  • a championing of conservative values
  • a dissatisfaction with modern culture's stress on wealth and progress
  • an emphasis on reason, proportion, and decorum
  • an intellectual and cultural advancement

One contemporary person who certainly possesses characteristics that are consistent with those of the Humanist is Charles Krauthammer, a board-certified psychiatrist, news commentator, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author as a syndicated columnist. 

  • As a physician, Krauthammer certainly believes in the dignity of man. He served on President George W. Bush's Presidential Council on Bioethics. While he supported relaxing the limits Bush placed upon discarded stem cell research, he opposed cloning, human experimentation, and euthanasia. He did not support President Obama's executive order that promotes stem cell research because of the "door being left open" with regard to the cloning of human embryos and the creation of human embryos simply for the purpose of research. 
  • As a syndicated columnist and member of the panel on the Bret Baier Report on FoxNews, Krauthammer is clearly involved in the affairs of the world as a political analyst. He is also a contributor to The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication.
  • Thus, Krauthammer, who states that he was a liberal as a young man, having worked for Walter Mundale, underwent what he calls "a crisis of conscience" at 21 and became a conservative. He writes in his book,

I began to regard it [liberalism] as something of an intellectual self-indulgence, increasingly divorced from reality and from duty.

  • Krauthammer is a graduate of Oxford and Harvard, schools which support the learning of classicatexts.
  • While Krauthammer's ethnicity is Jewish, he is "not religious." Like a Humanist, he is, indeed, ethical. For instance, he strongly opposed the construction of a mosque in Manhatten, where the Twin Towers had been destroyed,

[for]... reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettsburg...and no mosque at Ground Zero....

  • His editorials [opinions] reflect Krauthammer's emphasis upon reason and decorum. In a recent one, Dr. Krauthammer remarks upon the recently published memoirs of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who observed that the president "does not consider the war [in Afghanistan] to be his"; furthermore, Krauthammer is very critical of the decorum and reasoning of the commander-in-chief. He writes his opinion, which reflects his sense of decorum, on January 21, 2014:

How can a commander in good conscience send troops on a mission he doesn't believe in, a mission from which he knows some will never return? [He] ignored the obligation of any commander to explain, support, and try to rally the nation to the cause.

  • Krauthammer is also very concerned about intellectual and cultural advancement. For, he has assisted his wife, sculptor and artist Robyn, in starting up Pro Musica Hebraica and realizing its goal of bringing lost and neglected Jewish classical music to the concert halls of the world. As a graduate of very prestigious universities, Krauthammer promotes learning, as well.
Wiggin42 | Student

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value andagency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalismempiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). 

Carl Sagan can be considered a humanist. He cherished the value and importance of human life. He marveled at the beauty of a collective humanity. We are all made of star stuff! And as an advocate of science, critical thinking, and reasoning, he definitely fits the label. 

Even more contemporary examples include Bill Nye the Science Guy and Neil deGrasse Tyson