This is humanism not as a feeling but as an attitude to life

From Antal Szerb’s essay on Thomas Mann, included in Reflections in the Library: Selected Literary Essays 1926-1944.  

This is humanism not as a feeling but as an attitude to life; in practice it is primarily a negative stance: abhorrence of the use of force, of tyranny, of the crippling of individuality.  This is the humanism of the eighteenth century, of Voltaire and Goethe.  It derives from an awareness of human dignity, and from the intellectual’s serenity, tenderness, and horror of fighting, for it rises far, far above the passions that provoke human beings to commit bloody barbarities.  It is an ethos that is not rooted in any feeling or religion, but solely and uniquely in the intellect.  This intellect-based morality has been from Goethe onwards the greatest pride and achievement of the German spirit, and from this the new German world, with its new uncertainty in ethics and intuition, has diverged the furthest.

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