11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Eupraxsophy (pronounced yoo-PRAX-so-fee) is a term Paul Kurtz introduced in 1988 to characterize a non-religious approach to life, which literally means "good practice and wisdom." In this collection of Paul Kurtz's essays,edited by Nathan Bupp, we read Kurtz at his best.
The key point of eupraxsophy "is the centrality of praxis or conduct; not philosophy, not the love of wisdom, but the practice of wisdom." (pp. 351-52) Distancing himself from ethical emotivists like A.J. Ayer, atheist existentialists like Sartre, and postmodernists like Rorty, and sounding a great deal like Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape,and Richard Carrier in The End of Christianity before them, Kurtz maintains "we can and should bring the best philosophical and ethical wisdom and scientific knowledge to deal with problems of practice," (p. 340) that is, with living a meaningful and valuable life. Distancing himself from analytic philosophers he argues with Marx that the goal of philosophy is not just to understand the world but to also change it. And he says he has "devoted the lion's share of my intellectual life to the application of philosophical analysis to concrete moral and social questions." (p. 341) He describes himself as a "practitioner of pragmatism," a "pragmatist's pragmatist, testing pragmatism itself in pragmatic terms" as an "eupraxsopher." (pp. 349-350) For as he argues, "It is simply not enough, and surely destructive, to destroy ancient beliefs and customs by negative criticisms...Because even if the existing beliefs are false or nonsensical, we surely need to fill the vacuum and to assuage the hunger for meaning, truth, and value: and we need to test new departures in ideals and practices not simply cognitively, but in terms of human needs, attitudes, and emotions. We need always to ask, what will take its place, and will this be experimentally viable," (p. 350) and he does so in these fine essays.
With his pioneering spirit and relentless efforts Paul Kurtz has done more to advance a positive image for a secular society devoid of religion than any other person in our generation, and perhaps in history. In an era like ours of angry atheists he is a breath of fresh air. Eupraxsophy does matter if we want to change our world. This may be his most lasting contribution, so it's wonderful to have all of these essays spanning his career together in one volume.
This book is a good read. Very highly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2012
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Paul has been my personal friend and something of a mentor since the early 1980s and I have read many of the essays in this new collection. It is very useful and convenient to have his finest writings about living life as a Humanist collected together in one book, since the alternative is to find them in a dozen different books. Paul Kurtz is certainly the major Humanist figure in our modern era (fortunately, also known as the "Secular Age" or, as Paul liked to call it, the post-postmodern age) for his writings have defined Humanism and his leadership and model have inspired many individuals to become naturalistic humanists. Most importantly, Paul didn't just describe Humanism in philosophical terms, but essentially inspired the creation of the modern Humanist life stance or worldview. This philosophy of life can be described as a non-theist, non-supernaturalist, quasi-religion or functional religion, although almost all humanists would not use the term religion. I use the word here to characterize it adequately for non-humanists; in fact, Paul coined the term "eupraxsophy" as a functional synonym for the traditional term "religion," thinking that the terms "life stance" or "worldview" or "life philosophy" were too clunky or non-specific. Perhaps they are, but the term eupraxsophy has never really caught on and the others persist as substitutes for "functional religion."
Modern Humanism is moral, naturalistic, nontheistic humanism, a worldview or personal philosophy that obliges Humanists to depend on themselves, society, and the writings of pagan, agnostic, and atheist philosophers to find meaning and purpose in life. Humanism is not a formal philosophy but a collection of philosophies that find meaning in individual lives and actions. These philosophies include pragmatism, realism, naturalism, empiricism, rationalism, and skepticism, essentially the philosophies that underlie science and non-theistic ethics. I think the idea that meaning in life and a guide to one's actions could and should be derived from these philosophies was Paul's most important message. It is not enough to accept and believe the various tenets and ideals of humanism--pragmatic and utilitarian ethics, nontheism, anti-supernaturalism, and science--but also live them in one's everyday life.
Humanists live extraordinary lives, not ordinary ones, because we are not only responsible for following our moral precepts but also responsible for creating them in the first place. Humanists are Freethinkers who refuse to accept moral tenets--many quite good--from traditional religions because they are often accompanied by bizarre, irrational, and frankly often cruel and anti-human beliefs. Supernaturalism and theism are mostly cultural artifacts passed down from parents to children, not knowledge from empirical or reasoned sources. Hundreds of books have been written that defend traditional revealed religions, but these books contain no empirical evidence that can withstand skeptical scrutiny or logical reasoning that explains or demonstrates the veracity of such religions' truth claims. Adolescents begin to think for themselves and reject the teachings of authorities, especially parents, and some continue to think for themselves throughout life and reject the anecdotes, revelations, and authority of others in the realm of personal philosophical belief and life activities.
Every person has meaning and values in his or her life, but it is best to have thought about one's personal meanings and values before formally adopting them in a reflective and philosophical way free of the authoritarianism and superstitions found in most modern religions. It is certainly better to do this than have unreasoned, unacknowledged, and even half-baked or bizarre meanings and values that cause a person to live an unfulfilled or meaningless life. This collection of Paul's essays gives a reader insight or a pathway to future discovery of what is possible to learn about such meanings and values, thus allowing one to freely, consciously, and reflectively develop and adopt one's own meanings and values from the best ethical and epistemological philosophers. This would be a worthwhile project for every human to undertake, and imagine what a world we would have if everybody did.
on April 18, 2014
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Paul Kurtz has been known as a great humanist for years. It is in this book, he puts together a tremendous collection of his best thoughts and philosophies in one volume. His writing is clear, his logic is faultless, and his conclusions flow smoothly from that logic. This is destined to be a classic in the realm of secular humanism. Also, it can serve as a course in advanced philosophy unto itself!
I would most highly recommend this rather heavy volume to my fellow freethinkers around the globe. If you are serious about secular humanism, this book is a must!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
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The late Paul Kurtz was a rare academic who could make significant improvements within a field, raise funding and create organizations, and connect with many publics. Nathan Bupp here introduces new readers to the many ideas and books that flowed from Kurtz. This humanism will outlast the many religious fads that now distract us from serious concerns about the future of the planet and human flourishing.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
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good summary of the humanist position. sometimes the philosophy was difficult to read through, but well worth the effort. recommended.