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The Courage to Become: The Virtues of Humanism Paperback – June 30, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0275960162 ISBN-10: 0275960161

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (June 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275960161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275960162
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,611,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Kurtz, a former copresident of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, says he is writing not philosophy but eupraxophy?instructions for a good and practical life. So his book resembles a creed?that of a liberal Protestant except that God has been abolished and the sense of community somewhat weakened in consideration of the biological nature of man. (Kurtz finds our genes less altruistic than the abandoned God and cites the ultra-conservative philosopher Antony Flew, who rules against the imposition of egalitarianism by the state.) Humanism opens alternatives to traditional sexual arrangements and familial organization. Though we must supply the meaning of our lives, humanism is not a license to go on an egomaniacal binge; human animals live in communities and share a common reason. So Kurtz thinks we have duties to each other, future generations, and the environment. But he is sure (though he offers no arguments) that science has disposed of God and immortality. He does not ask whether there might be more than one kind of knowledge, reason, and informative language or whether all values are in space and time. This is not a book to persuade nonhumanists but rather to provide a clear, readable, and encouraging outline of the prospects for those who put their trust in science alone. The book is rather more conservative than would be most people who call themselves humanists, but, that aside, it does its job very well?as well one might expect from the author of 30 books, many of which map the same ground.?Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

?Kurtz, a former copresident of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, says he is writing not philosophy but eupraxophy--instruction for a good and practical life....This is not a book to persuade nonhumanists but rather to provide a clear, readable, and encouraging outline of the prospects for those who put their trust in science alone....it does its job very well...?-Library Journal

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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark I. Vuletic on February 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this eloquent little book, Paul Kurtz expounds upon the three core values of secular humanism: courage, cognition, and caring. The section on cognition can be somewhat heavy going at points for non-philosophers (and frankly I disagree very much with the pragmatic emphasis) but most of the book reads like a sermon. This book offers inspiration without appeal to religion, and will challenge those who think atheists cannot have high standards of personal conduct and civic duty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Greer on February 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Paul Kurtz is an excellent writer presenting evidence easly understood. In this book "The Courage to Become" he writes from his own background as a "humanist." His own question, "Does life have meaning if one rejects belief in God" is present in this book on the postive side according his belief as a humanist. His chapter on "caring" is excellent. Stated simply, "people should care for one another." He show that it is not necessary to have belief in God to have a meaning life. However, he does not present how there can e an objective moral view without belief in God. His believe thus become subjective and relative.Any student of humanism or belief in God will profit from reading this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By calmly on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Can secular humanism make do without mythology? Perhaps not: Kurtz appeals to the myth of Prometheus. Stories have their place, even amidst this rather dry philosophy. Sartre is alluded to ("Man is condemned to invent man") but anything like Sartre's storytelling is missing. The depth of existentialist humanism seems to be missing as well and the passion. There is no "Saint Genet" here but instead the rules of reason. Attention to critical thinking and pragmatic naturalism can avoid escape into "transcendental theism" (and, although Kurtz omits it) (immanent) mysticism. The challenge of skeptical nihilism is also considered. How to avoid the comfort of theism or the license or despair of nihilism? Courage, cognition, and a caring that is also mindful of a sense of obligation to posteriority: that we don't mess the world up for future generations. With a belief in human potential, with that Promethean will to not only survive but to thrive, mindful that we will die, our courage must go beyond that of being into that of becoming.

Seem sufficient? It may be already too familiar to me...although no less of a challenge and at least clearly and succinctly spelled out. Kurtz is, however, too dispassionate for my tastes, let's admit that if we could believe in some god or gods we would. Let's admit that if we really felt we shared in some mystical power, we'd proclaim it. We have our desperate longings too. But we're stuck, too postmodern, too messed up, too positively disintegrated. Somehow we need to find a sane way to go on, to be reasonable, to care for one another, to hope we can get by.

This book may be for me forgettable. Not that it isn't well-considered but it doesn't seem heartfelt enough. It may be a great help to those less familiar with humanism.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an elaboration and extension of humanistic ideas found in earlier works of Paul Kurtz (most specifically, Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism and Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy), however, this book stands on its own and doesn't require familiarity with the earlier works.

This small book provides a brief but concise introduction to three positive humanistic virtues (courage, cognition, and caring), by comparing and contrasting them with a theistic perspective, and from the perspective of a sceptical nihilist. The book provides the atheist and theist alike with a means to explore what can constitute a life of meaning. Because of this comparative approach, there is an expected amount of criticism of the other two opposing views. What is most welcome, though, is that the criticism is civil in tone, and the humanist perspective is presented in a positive way.

Thus, this book is useful at several levels. First it provides the reader with a good introduction to several humanist virtues that can assist in developing an affirmative life of meaning. This is done through a thorough, but civil comparison with two opposing views. And finally, it does so in a positive and constructive way.

If, after reading this, you seek a more sustained analysis of these types of ideas by Kurtz, consider looking at Kurtz's books Forbidden Fruit and Living Without Religion.
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