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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small but packed book
There are few American philosophers better qualified to write on secular humanism than Paul Kurtz, and his What Is Secular Humanism? attests to that fact. This small book, which is actually the text of an article Kurtz wrote for the New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, is a very good primer on the conceptual structure of secular humanism. Perhaps because he's a philosopher,...
Published on June 7, 2008 by Kerry Walters

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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pay attention to the page count
I was really looking forward to this book and had it on pre-order for months. Unfortunately, I never noticed that it was only 42 pages long. Actually, there are only 25 pages of content. 25 pages for $9.95!?!? I didn't realize I was paying almost $10 for a leaflet. There are much better, meatier introductions to Secular Humanism out there.
Published on May 4, 2007 by M. Gibbs


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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pay attention to the page count, May 4, 2007
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This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
I was really looking forward to this book and had it on pre-order for months. Unfortunately, I never noticed that it was only 42 pages long. Actually, there are only 25 pages of content. 25 pages for $9.95!?!? I didn't realize I was paying almost $10 for a leaflet. There are much better, meatier introductions to Secular Humanism out there.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small but packed book, June 7, 2008
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Kerry Walters (Lewisburg, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
There are few American philosophers better qualified to write on secular humanism than Paul Kurtz, and his What Is Secular Humanism? attests to that fact. This small book, which is actually the text of an article Kurtz wrote for the New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, is a very good primer on the conceptual structure of secular humanism. Perhaps because he's a philosopher, Kurtz doesn't merely offer assertions and descriptions (as other introductory texts on humanism--e.g., Jim Herrick's Humanism: An Introduction--do). Instead, he seeks to provide arguments that defend humanism's basic conclusions.

The substance of Kurtz's argument is the book's second half, "A New Paradigm" (in the first half, he offers a quick look at the history of humanism). According to Kurtz, the humanist paradigm has six main characteristics: (1) a scientific method of inquiry; (2) a naturalistic cosmology; (3) a nontheistic orientation; (4) a commitment to naturalistic ethics; (5) a commitment to democratic forms of governance; and (6) a commitment to international cooperation. It might be argued that several of these characteristics aren't really unique to humanism. But to give Kurtz his due, his point seems to be that the convergence of them all constitutes secular humanism.

In discussing these six characteristics, Kurtz especially shines in his treatment of naturalism and naturalistic ethics. In discussing naturalism, for example, he points out that "nature cannot be reduced simply to its material components; a full account also must deal with the various emergent levels at which matter is organized and functions" (pp. 26-27). In doing so, Kurtz avoids simplistic reductionism. When it comes to his defense of naturalistic ethics, Kurtz summarizes his position of objective relativism, which he elaborated on in his Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism (reprint, 2008), and argues that "three key humanist virtues are courage, cognition, and caring--not dependence, ignorance, or insensitivity to the needs of others" (p. 38).

Kurtz concludes his book with an excellent four-page bibliography. All in all, probably the single best short introduction to secular humanism available.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very short and simple, August 29, 2010
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This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
I was very dissapointed with how thin this book was, but I figured I would give it a shot. I laughed when I saw how large the print was and how big the margins were. Also the author filled the books with unneeded photos. This book is more like a flyer on the subject and should really be free. Decent info, but not much of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are there ethical values and principles nonreligious individuals can live by?, October 6, 2007
This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
Are there ethical values and principles nonreligious individuals can live by? Secular humanism attempts to address these principles and thus is an essential acquisition for any collection strong in linking spirituality to ethical and moral behavior patterns. It provides a blend of science, philosophy, ethics and spirituality that offers up new insights into both spiritual and humanistic behavior choices: perfect for college-level library acquisition and debate.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Humanism!, October 1, 2009
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This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
I would like to add my voice to Kerry Walter's review that stated above, "All in all, probably the single best short introduction to secular humanism available." This is the perfect summary of secular humanism in all its aspects and agenda for a better world. Yes, there are "meatier" books, but for someone without a lot of time who wants to really know what this movement is all about, Kurtz's little book is just what they need! It's the most comprehensive short book I have encountered on the subject, and I highly recommend it.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent primer on modern secular humanism from the master!, August 2, 2007
This review is from: What Is Secular Humanism? (Paperback)
The previous reviewer needs to understand that this really isn't a book per se; it is rather a primer or position paper on secular humanism, and as such, is quite excellent!
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What Is Secular Humanism?
What Is Secular Humanism? by Paul Kurtz (Paperback - June 27, 2007)
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