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In Defense of Secular Humanism Paperback – October 1, 1983


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879752289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879752286
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an excellent introduction to the philosophy and goals of Secular Humanism." -- About.com

About the Author

Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of Prometheus Books, the Institute for Science and Human Values, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and has lectured at universities worldwide.

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By D. Carlson on September 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
In Defense of Secular Humanism is a collection of essays written by Paul Kurtz, mostly in reaction to allegations leveled against secular humanism (and humanism in general) by the Religious Right and other fundamentalist Christian organizations in the United States.

And therein lies the chief problem: it's a collection of essays that are almost totally focused on one central concern. Whereas many other essay collections by other authors tend to cover wide ranges of concerns (anything from war, to ethics, to religion, to sports), Kurtz's collection is focused almost entirely on answering allegations by his opponents.

And since his opponents had a habit of making the same allegations again, and again, and again, much of this book is Kurtz writing the same responses again, and again, and again.

To sum the problem up, there's a heck of a lot of repition in this book.

Of course, there are several good essays, and some excellent ones. Kurtz's "Principle of Tolerance Reaffirmed", "Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle", and "The Democratic Ethic" are very thought-provoking works to read. However, much of the book delves into seemingly mindless repition and even vitrolic rhetoric, which is, in my opinion, unbecomming of a person of Kurtz's intellectual capabilities.

Bear in mind that I do have some biases on this subject. This was my first introduction to humanism, and it's a very poor book for a first exposure. If you're like I was, and looking for something to introduce the ideas of Humanism to you, read "The Philosophy of Humanism," by Lamont.

Ultimately, I would hesitate to buy this book if I were you. If you're like me, and willing to spend the money to add this to your collections (and read the occasional very interesting articles within), go ahead. However, overall the book is intellectually unstimulating, and probably not worth most people's money. These essays just weren't meant to be put together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Paul Kurtz (1925-2012) was a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist, who was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has written many other books such as Eupraxophy: Living Without Religion, Exuberance - Your Guide to Happiness & Fulfillment, The Transcendental Temptation, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1983 book, "Secular humanism has come under sustained criticism in recent years, especially from religious conservatives and the fundamentalist right... Basic to the attack is the view that secular humanism lacks a moral framework and that it has contributed to the decay of moral values in modern society... My main interest is in defending SECULAR humanism, that is, the point of view that holds that it is possible to lead a good life and contribute significantly to human welfare and social justice without a belief in theistic religion or benefit of clergy." (Pg. vii) [He particularly has in mind critics such as Tim LaHaye, author of The Battle for the Mind : A Subtle Warfare]

He points out early in the book that "[A] mistake that fundamentalists make is to argue that the schools are dominated by secular humanists... While there are at least three million teachers in the United States, there are only ten thousand members of humanist organizations.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brett Williams on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
A compendium of essays, some better than others, Kurtz reports secular humanism (SH) is based on rational thinking, opposed to dogma and any system or influence suppressing critical thinking (Church, State, bigotry Left or Right). It is not a religion as it "generally" dismisses the supernatural as readily as the paranormal, astrology, UFOs and all superstitions. (One can see why it will never have a significant following, as superstition is much easier and goes far in making boring / suffering lives more exciting / tolerable.) High on the SH list is moral education, noting non God-based morality needn't be antisocial, subjective or promiscuous (as is, apparently frequently, one of the attacks on SH). Kurtz supports a program of moral education rather than obedience to a canon. Ethics has a longer history than Judeo-Christianity, he argues. (We assume he's not predating Greek ethics before Hebrew Law - perhaps Hammurabi?) "It is in the crucible of history that ethics have been tested." (i.e. no need for commandments.) Kurtz submits that God does not speak to humanity from above, but the Word is instead an expression of humanity's deepest longings (i.e. it is man speaking to himself). Yet, he stresses that simply rejecting theism is not humanistic, respect for religious freedom must be maintained. Likewise his Secular Humanist Declaration reads like a review of the US Constitution and Bill Of Rights. He also notes reasonable limits to science, misapplied to nature and human life, opening opportunities for ecological disaster and dehumanization of people and their institutions. The ultimate goal should be human growth for all, not a few, and humans are to be responsible for it, rather than forever waiting on divine intervention.Read more ›
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More About the Author

PAUL KURTZ (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of the Institute for Science and Human Values as well as the founder and chairman emeritus of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and lectured at universities worldwide.

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