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The Philosophy of Humanism Paperback – April 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Humanist Press; 8th edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0931779073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0931779077
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Both readable and persuasive." --The New York Times

From the Back Cover

"In a work that has a standard text and reference in the ongoing national debate that swirls around secular humanism, Lamont offers a vigorous argument for a philosophy that advocates happiness in this life rather than hope for a heaven in an afterlife."

(The New York Times)

Born in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1902, Dr. Lamont graduated first from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1920, then magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1924. He did graduate work at Oxford and at Columbia, where he received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1932.

He was a director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1932 to 1954. Then, until 1995, he was chairman of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. A leading proponent of individual rights under the Constitution, he won famous court decisions over Senator Joseph McCarthy and the CIA. In 1965 he secured a Supreme Court ruling against censorship of incoming mail by the U.S. Postmaster General.

Dr. Lamont has long been associated with Humanism, authoring the first edition of The Philosophy of Humanism in 1949. It has since become the standard text on the subject. He taught at Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard Universities, and at the New School for Social Research. Corliss Lamont was the honorary president of the American Humanist Association at the time of his death in 1995.

More About the Author

Corliss Lamont (March 28, 1902 - April 26, 1995), was a socialist philosopher, and advocate of various left-wing and civil liberties causes. As a part of his political activities he was the Chairman of National Council of American-Soviet Friendship starting from early 1940s. He was the great-uncle of 2006 Democratic Party nominee for the United States Senate from Connecticut, Ned Lamont.

Dr. Lamont was born in Englewood, New Jersey and graduated first from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1920, then magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1924. He did graduate work at Oxford and at Columbia, where he received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1932.

He was a director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1932 to 1954. Then, until 1995, he was chairman of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (NECLC), formerly known as the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (ECLC). A leading proponent of individual rights under the Constitution, he won famous court decisions over Senator Joseph McCarthy and the CIA. In 1965 he secured a Supreme Court ruling against censorship of incoming mail by the U.S. Postmaster General.

Dr. Lamont has long been associated with Humanism, authoring the first edition of "The Philosophy of Humanism" in 1949. It has since become the standard text on the subject. He taught at Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard Universities, and at the New School for Social Research. Corliss Lamont was the honorary president of the American Humanist Association (AHA) at the time of his death in 1995.

The video clip shown to the right (on Amazon's Corliss Lamont Page) is of Corliss Lamont and Pete Seeger being interviewed by Jonathan Heap, filmmaker and grandson of Corliss Lamont, on the occasion of the 1992 WESPAC (Westchester People's Action Committee, now known as WESPAC Foundation) Festival, held on the Lamont Estate in Ossining, NY in 1992.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Beth K. Lamont (beth@corliss-lamont.org) on November 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Philosophy of Humanism is a scholarly work, tracing the influence of Humanism from the ancient Greek philosophers through the Enlightenment and the Bill of Rights to the twentieth century. It is very well documented with reference notes and bibliography for those who prefer sources, yet it is written in a most readable style.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who truly wishes to investigate and understand this often misinterpreted philosophy. They will learn that Humanism certainly does not promote witchcraft or the worship of human beings, nor does it advocate selfishness, as in the "me" generation, or for conscienceless materialism and ruthlessness, as is often falsely asserted by those who fear and misunderstand the principles of Humanism.
Rather, as Dr. Lamont points out, it promotes ethical behavior and respect for others, yet with a freedom of conscience unfettered by traditional supernatural beliefs. Humanists oppose censorship and insist on full exercise of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech and access to information. Humanists are devoted to democratic principles, the employment of critical reasoning and scientific method, and the full recognition that we humans are products of continuing evolution.
The Creationists' wish to hold the line against the teaching of evolution in the public schools is understandable. Open scientific inquiry does not promote acceptance on blind faith; the scientist searches for evidence. It's a worrisome matter of indoctrination versus education.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eva on January 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The author's approach of explaining what is humanism is to contrast it against other schools of thought. This author did so in a concise way with clarity, which is quite rare amongst philosophers. I have been confused for the longest time what IS humanism? Not to mention materialism, naturalism, unitarinism, universalism, Deism...etc, which were not covered in my two college level philosphy classes. The level of discussion in this book is simple enough that someone with my background can understand.

The 6th edition I own contains the author's introductions of previous editions, which could actually be interesting and entertaining to read. They are basically the author's sometimes condescending, sometimes logical, defense against the smearing of humanism by different religous groups. Although this book is quite old (1960s), given the increasing level of religious conservatism in US, this book still have relevance.

The reason why this book would not get a 5 star from me is that a large part of this book is devoted to proving why God does not exist and that only scientific method produces Truth. Such topic for this intro text is just too ambitious and the arugement used is probably less sophisticated that other books that attempts to disprove the existence of god. It feels like there is cherry picking of examples. The author used examples, perhaps too many of them, to explain why things like natural moral law, miracles, after life, mysticism..etc does not makes sense. I agree with one reviewer that the author's tone is dogmatic. I expect this author, as an academics, to sound less opinionated and more open minded.

After understanding what humanist means, I agree with the author that many forms of beliefs has qualities of humanism. However, I am not persuaded by the author that other forms of beliefs are necessarily wrong. I think I am 50% athetist and 50% agnostic. This book did not manage to suade me to the athetist camp.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. D. on August 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
FYI for those looking for a digital version of this book, the writer's own website hosts a free digital copy in PDF format:
[...]

The comment attached to the first page of the document graciously declares:
"We encourage free, not for profit, personal and educational distribution of this copyrighted electronic text document, so feel free to print and distribute it, but first please read the special copyright notice on the third page following for additional information."

There are also free digital copies of some of his other works listed on his homepage [...]
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