Ethical Culture, also called Ethical Humanism, is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. In Ethical Culture, the ultimate questions are not about the existence of gods or an afterlife, but rather, “How can we create meaningfulness in this life?” and “How should we treat each other in order to create a humane and just world?
Ethical principles play the essential role in human relationships. Despite how uncertain we might feel about our personal standards—or how best to apply them— in Ethical Culture, there are unquestionably acts that are good and evil, right and wrong. In order for human beings to lead good lives, love must prevail, truth must be respected, honesty esteemed, justice secured, and freedom protected. Learning how to realize these ideals in personal and political relationships is the purpose of an Ethical Society.
While there is no community dogma or creed, there are principles that are generally shared:
- Reverence for Life:We cultivate the spiritual dimension in life by acknowledging our interdependent connections to all humanity, to nature, and to our inner values.
- Freedom of Belief: When we stimulate our thinking with new insights and inspirations, our understanding of the world evolves and, through intellectual growth, we realize the full capacity of our human spirit.
- Eliciting the Best: It is by acting in a way that encourages the best characteristics in others that we bring out the best in ourselves.
- Respect for Human Worth: We treat all people as having inherent worth as well as having a capacity for living ethically.
- Ethical Living: When we put into practice ethical principles such as love, justice, honesty, and forgiveness, we experience harmony within ourselves and in our relationships.
- Deed before Creed: Our actions are more consequential than the philosophical trappings we ascribe to them. While we may differ in our creeds, we can still be united in performing the deeds necessary to alleviate suffering, assure equity and justice and to secure peace.