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Humanism: An Introduction Paperback – January 1, 2005
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Jim Herrick ambitiously offer an introductory exploration of a huge subject in his Humanism: An Introduction. Although Herrick is a good stylist and clear author, the result is mixed. He's at his best when discussing the history of humanism (chapter 2), humanistic responses to religion, morality and politics (chapters 3-6), and humanism and the environment (chapter 9). But he seems out of his depth in his exploration of humanism and science (chapter 7), his discussion of humanism and the arts seems platitudinous (chapter 8), and his rundown of institutionalized humanism (chapters 10 & 11) is boringly skip-worthy and way too long (taking up a full one-fifth of the book). Moreover, even the better chapters are short on argument and long on declaration. Finally, the book lacks a bibliography to guide further reading, an essential for any introductory volume.
So although Herrick's book isn't awful, there are better short introductions to humanism. Paul Kurtz's terse What Is Secular Humanism? (2007) may be the single best place to start. It's accessible but rigorous. Corliss Lamont's The Philosophy of Humanism (reprint, 1997) remains a classic, although dated in some sections. Margaret Knight's and Jim Herrick's Humanist Anthology From Confucious to Attenborough (1995) is a decent collection of primary sources. Finally, for those with a taste for Continental approaches, Sartre's Existentialism Is a Humanism (reprint, 2007) can't be beat.
The author's unifying outlook on Humanism is commendable: he declines to get involved in delving into the differences between different kinds of Humanism, preferring instead to highlight the philosophy's unifying features. This is good because emphasizing the unity of the worldview is more useful than pointing out differences, especially in an introduction. A central idea is that Humanism is an atheistic/agnostic outlook on life that emphasizes values and requires thinking and reason. Anyone looking for a clear, simple introduction to the philosophy of Humanism should benefit by reading this book.
A great starter book for someone who wants to learn more about Humanism. It is a bit less in-depth for the advance humanist reader.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Explains humanism but does little to address the inconsistencies with the worldview.Published 1 month ago by rmcollins3
I previously knew little about this subject but know feel I have a solid overview of a subject I intend to learn more about.Published on December 17, 2012 by Ron Oest
This book is okay, but some-what boring. It isn't as insightful as I thought it would be.Published on April 15, 2009 by J. Sanders
it is one of the most boring books I have ever read. Perhaps that's why humanism is not that popular. What humanism needs is some mythic heroes :)Published on May 26, 2008 by book lover