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Humanism: An Introduction Paperback – January 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591022398
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591022398
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,348,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Herrick (London, UK) is editor in chief of the Rationalist Press Association, literary editor of the New Humanist, formerly editor of the Freethinker and of the International Humanist News, and the author of a number of books on the history of humanism. He has written two books on the history of freethought and has worked in the humanist movement for over 25 years. Herrick, previously a school teacher, has carried out non-religious ceremonies including funerals, weddings and same sex affirmations. The international dimension to humanism is very important to him and he has traveled to meet humanists in many parts of the world.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Blue Meanie on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Filled with quotes from historical humanists, this small guide packs a persuasive argument for walking a moral patch without the crutch of religion. The book traces the history of humanism and analyzes the philosophy in relation to morality, science, religion, politics, and the arts. An excellent read for anybody interested in the question: "Is it possible to be good without God?"
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William Broadwater on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Humanism, An Introduction is just that - an introduction, albeit a good one. Author Jim Herrick, a British Humanist advocate, outlines the main points of Humanism simply and clearly. He breaks down Humanism so that it can be easily understood. He explains Humanism's take on morality, religion, politics, science, the arts, and more. The book also contains a brief history of Humanism and it's outlook for the future.

The author's unifying outlook on Humanism is commendable: he declines to get involved in delving into the differences between different kinds of Humanism, preferring instead to highlight the philosophy's unifying features. This is good because emphasizing the unity of the worldview is more useful than pointing out differences, especially in an introduction. A central idea is that Humanism is an atheistic/agnostic outlook on life that emphasizes values and requires thinking and reason. Anyone looking for a clear, simple introduction to the philosophy of Humanism should benefit by reading this book.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Introductory books are difficult to pull off. On the one hand, you want to present the subject matter in a way that novices can comprehend. But on the other hand, you don't want to dumb-down what you're writing about. As anyone knows who's ever tried to write an introductory text, this isn't an easy course to navigate.

Jim Herrick ambitiously offer an introductory exploration of a huge subject in his Humanism: An Introduction. Although Herrick is a good stylist and clear author, the result is mixed. He's at his best when discussing the history of humanism (chapter 2), humanistic responses to religion, morality and politics (chapters 3-6), and humanism and the environment (chapter 9). But he seems out of his depth in his exploration of humanism and science (chapter 7), his discussion of humanism and the arts seems platitudinous (chapter 8), and his rundown of institutionalized humanism (chapters 10 & 11) is boringly skip-worthy and way too long (taking up a full one-fifth of the book). Moreover, even the better chapters are short on argument and long on declaration. Finally, the book lacks a bibliography to guide further reading, an essential for any introductory volume.

So although Herrick's book isn't awful, there are better short introductions to humanism. Paul Kurtz's terse What Is Secular Humanism? (2007) may be the single best place to start. It's accessible but rigorous. Corliss Lamont's The Philosophy of Humanism (reprint, 1997) remains a classic, although dated in some sections. Margaret Knight's and Jim Herrick's Humanist Anthology From Confucious to Attenborough (1995) is a decent collection of primary sources. Finally, for those with a taste for Continental approaches, Sartre's Existentialism Is a Humanism (reprint, 2007) can't be beat.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is for absolute beginners who really don't have a clue about humanism. Anyone else is bound to be disappointed or frustrated because there is little if any philosophical substance or insight here, just the sketchiest outline of what humanism is - at least in the Anglo-American tradition. There is not a word here about Jaspers, Sartre or Heidegger for example, and humanism on the Continent. With these caveats in mind, this book has the virtue of being written in a clear and engaging style, and being well-organized into relevant topic headings. It also introduces us to numerous humanist thinkers in the Anglo-American tradition, especially the English. If readers are interested in contacting the British and international humanist associations, they will find the references they need in this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tinker on August 24, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an overview of what Humanism is and it is done in a simple, concise way I would recommend it to anyone who is curious as to what Humanism is.
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