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Humanism: An Introduction
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 7, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Humanism is a term that often appears in the media but which is seldom defined. "Humanism: An Introduction" by Jim Herrick could very well provide just about everything the average person would ever need to know about humanism. Short, succinct, and very readable chapters cover humanism plays its part in morality, religion, science, the arts, and even the environment. Chapters at the book's end tell of humanistic organizations' history and purposes. The chapter "Humanist Action and Humanist Living" tells how humanistic attitudes and values can be implemented outside the realm of academia.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2007
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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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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really regret paying $17 for this book, I should have looked at the number of pages before I bought it. I wouldn't really call this book an introduction. It's more of a starting point. It's like an outline, giving you bursts of breif information, very sketchy.
I will say, though, that its very objective and does make good points; its thought provoking.
What is really great about the book is that it lists many other works you can read for a more in-depth view of the specific topic. For example, it talks breifly about people that have had an impact on humanism throughout history, and if the few sentences about the person interest me, I can further research it myself. All of the names and novels are there to reference back on later.
But in general, if you're looking for an introduction that's a little more than an outline, I suggest finding another book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I previously knew little about this subject but know feel I have a solid overview of a subject I intend to learn more about.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2009
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This book is okay, but some-what boring. It isn't as insightful as I thought it would be.
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
it is one of the most boring books I have ever read. Perhaps that's why humanism is not that popular. What humanism needs is some mythic heroes :)
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