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2500 Years Of Humanism In Less Than 200 Pages,
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This review is from: Humanist Anthology (Hardcover)
What is humanism? I am sure that twenty experts would give twenty different answers. And, in fact, it seems contrary to the spirit of humanism to insist on a single, dogmatic definition.
What this fine anthology does, however, is provide a broad context for understanding humanism's place in the realms of philosophy and religion (with a definitive Western focus). By collecting brief excerpts from writings dating back to Confuscious, the editors succeed in conveying that elements of humanism are almost as ancient as the many religious traditions with which it often finds itself in conflict.
But much more than that, the anthology also captures many of the core propositions that most self-described humanists would agree with. A few of the recurring themes in this anthology:
- Humans are responsible for improving the human condition
- Science and scientific method have proven the best means for understanding the world around us
- Supernatural religion is not required to live ethical, meaningful lives ("the good life")
If I have one criticism, it would be that many of the excerpts tend to focus on (and attack) what humanism is not (i.e., supernatural religion, especially of the organized variety) rather than what it is (or can be). But this may have more to do with the historical development of humanism as a philsophy (belief system?) than any specific editorial bent. Also, the last update to the anthology was over thirteen years ago, and I believe that it would benefit from a revised third edition.