Customer Review

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad, but not too good either, September 24, 2004
This review is from: In Defense of Secular Humanism (Paperback)
In Defense of Secular Humanism is a collection of essays written by Paul Kurtz, mostly in reaction to allegations leveled against secular humanism (and humanism in general) by the Religious Right and other fundamentalist Christian organizations in the United States.

And therein lies the chief problem: it's a collection of essays that are almost totally focused on one central concern. Whereas many other essay collections by other authors tend to cover wide ranges of concerns (anything from war, to ethics, to religion, to sports), Kurtz's collection is focused almost entirely on answering allegations by his opponents.

And since his opponents had a habit of making the same allegations again, and again, and again, much of this book is Kurtz writing the same responses again, and again, and again.

To sum the problem up, there's a heck of a lot of repition in this book.

Of course, there are several good essays, and some excellent ones. Kurtz's "Principle of Tolerance Reaffirmed", "Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle", and "The Democratic Ethic" are very thought-provoking works to read. However, much of the book delves into seemingly mindless repition and even vitrolic rhetoric, which is, in my opinion, unbecomming of a person of Kurtz's intellectual capabilities.

Bear in mind that I do have some biases on this subject. This was my first introduction to humanism, and it's a very poor book for a first exposure. If you're like I was, and looking for something to introduce the ideas of Humanism to you, read "The Philosophy of Humanism," by Lamont.

Ultimately, I would hesitate to buy this book if I were you. If you're like me, and willing to spend the money to add this to your collections (and read the occasional very interesting articles within), go ahead. However, overall the book is intellectually unstimulating, and probably not worth most people's money. These essays just weren't meant to be put together.
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