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Keeping Humanism at The Forefront of “The Cause”
Posted: 02 December 2007 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Hum. The problem with “pessimistic humanism” as you put it is that it doesn’t actually suggest we do anything ... at least so far as I see it. FWIW, I am also a bit skeptical of Kurtz’s optimism, though I do understand how it can motivate people to act. My own suggestion would be for realism.

And social science is indeed extremely important. But it’s not as though it can’t be abused as much as physics or engineering. In the final analysis, knowledge gives you power, and power can be used for good or ill. But there is no good substitute for knowledge. Ignorance is even worse.

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Posted: 02 December 2007 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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mjosef - 02 December 2007 05:01 AM

I have been battling some of these issues out in public in the entertaining pages of the Capital District Humanists monthly.

Thanks for the post. I went to the WWW http://www.humanists.net/cdhs/ of the Capital District Humanists Society, you must be referring to a newsletter (?in print   gulp ?) and followed the links to American Humanist Association http://www.americanhumanist.org/index.html

And this Humanist Manifesto III that Mriana was talking about a while back.
http://www.americanhumanist.org/3/HumandItsAspirations.php
I decided my question was so long it should be in a different thread—which is probably what Erasmus would like since it is another post in humanism column.

I was interested to see that Manifesto II mentions God but Maniesto III is pretty secular.

What is the significance that Kurtz does not sign this manisfesto—is there a link to someplace that explains the conflict between this manifesto and the inside-the-cover ‘statement of principles” in Free Inquiry?

Thanks

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Posted: 02 December 2007 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I asked a similar question, about Kurtz, a while back, Jackson.  I still have no clue as to why he didn’t sign it either, except he disagreed with the AHA.  IF I understand correctly, he only includes secularists as Humanists, although I could be wrong about that and misunderstand.  I’m hoping I misunderstand, because it makes no sense to me to exclude other forms of Humanism.  I think the term Humanism covers a wide variety of POVs and I see no reason to exclude those like Epstein and Spong from that definition.  I keep using them as examples because they more widely known, so forgive me for using them as examples so often.  If I understand correctly, Kurtz would exclude one, if not both, of them from Humanism.  I would very much like to hear that I misunderstand Kurtz and it would be nice if Kurtz came out and say clearly what the deal is.  All I have to go on is some of the comments he’s made, which does not give a clear picture or a very good understanding of him.

However, this does not explain why Kurtz didn’t sign the Humanist Manifesto III or the significance of that.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 02 December 2007 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Mriana - 02 December 2007 10:57 AM

I asked a similar question, about Kurtz, a while back, Jackson.  I still have no clue as to why he didn’t sign it either, except he disagreed with the AHA.  IF I understand correctly, he only includes secularists as Humanists, although I could be wrong about that and misunderstand.  I’m hoping I misunderstand, because it makes no sense to me to exclude other forms of Humanism.  I think the term Humanism covers a wide variety of POVs and I see no reason to exclude those like Epstein and Spong from that definition.  I keep using them as examples because they more widely known, so forgive me for using them as examples so often.  If I understand correctly, Kurtz would exclude one, if not both, of them from Humanism.  I would very much like to hear that I misunderstand Kurtz and it would be nice if Kurtz came out and say clearly what the deal is.  All I have to go on is some of the comments he’s made, which does not give a clear picture or a very good understanding of him.

However, this does not explain why Kurtz didn’t sign the Humanist Manifesto III or the significance of that.

Thanks—I know that you had posts on this topic and reviewed them—I can paste in links if that helps.

I’m not sure it matters except a proliferation of “principles” and “manifestos” is confusing—especially since they all look superficially pretty reasonable and one needs to know the context of the discussion behind their crafting to know why some difference is considered important.

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Posted: 02 December 2007 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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You’re welcome.  You may be right about the proliferation of “principles” and “manifestos” may not matter as much as the context of their crafting, but it could depend on if you are talking about the AHA or the CHS- the H III and the H 2000.  However, I have examined both and I’m wondering if there is really much difference in them.  I also have Kurtz’s book concerning the H 2000 and have compared the two books, both appear as they could be all inclusive of various Humanistic POVs, but the discussion behind them could be very much different than interpretation afterwards.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 02 December 2007 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Thanks for post, Doug. I also agree fully that social science can be just as abused and oppressive as any other human institution. I know of no place in the academy that is not dominated by a corporatist ethos, and so I do not work in it. I work in a far worse system, but at least it knows is an empty shell, not the puffed-up floating blimp of education.
  As far our what we should “do,” we should make this world a far better place than it is, of course. However, given the array of institutional forces arrayed against that prospect, it ain’t gonna happen. Knowledge is NOT power, never has been - power is power, it is identifiable and easily analyzed, and it does not reside stateside in these fine, upstanding parts. We can look after our own minds and our actions, and that is a wonderful gift that comes with this marvelous human life, but we “USA Americans” are in no way are capable of governing our social world . The pamphlet put out by one member of the Capital District Humanists is indeed a print one, and it is has proven to be the most spirited thing I’ve come across in my admittedly short tenure as an atheist humanist non-attending member of this Humanist group. CFI’s publication is still hitting hard at the atheist/religious humanist divide, and I’ve also enjoyed that. I’ll be interested to see how this issue plays out - the older members are seeing the new blood coming in two strains of atheists and the “New Humanists” of the respect-all-religions types, and I wonder if they enjoy the upsurge or see it destined to fall apart.

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Posted: 02 December 2007 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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<>

[ Edited: 02 December 2007 09:28 PM by zarcus ]
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Posted: 02 December 2007 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Mriana - 02 December 2007 10:57 AM

I’m hoping I misunderstand, because it makes no sense to me to exclude other forms of Humanism.  I think the term Humanism covers a wide variety of POVs and I see no reason to exclude those like Epstein and Spong from that definition.

I agree with you Mriana.  I am undeniably of the “secular” variety that you refer to, but I see no reason not to include other forms of humanism under the humanist umbrella.  To me, the cause of asserting good ethical principles both precedes and supersedes the need for increased secularism and I see no reason why secular humanists shouldn’t work cooperatively with liberal religionists toward ideals that are compatible to humanism.

Jackson,

I am curious what you find to be “dogma” in “The Affirmations of Humanism: Statement of Principles” that is listed on the inside cover of Free Inquiry, or in the Humanist Manifestos.  I might change a word or two to the focus of my interests, but by and large I find them to be altogether different from such morally absolute statements as the ten commandments.  If you don’t like the assertion of moral absolutes, would you consider it as acceptable to assert that one should not assert a moral principle that is absolute?  This assertion seems, to me, implicit in the wording of each and every one of these affirmations.  In this light, I don’t think that they tell people what to do, as such, but rather point toward independent thought in various categories of human experience.

I was very skeptical of the “Statement of Principles” when I first encountered it, but I don’t think that any humanist really takes it as a set of rules or laws that they obliged to obey.  Humanism is much more of a milieu than it is a belief system.  Similarly, while it has its celebrities and its respected thinkers, it doesn’t have authorities in the conventional sense.  You don’t have to answer to anyone.

I can understand how you might see these principles that are detailed in the “Statement of Principles” as obvious if they are obvious to you, but I don’t think that they are obvious to most people.  I think that one ought to say something about what one does believe, in light of the fact that religious people generally regard “atheists” as being without any principles.

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Posted: 02 December 2007 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 December 2007 05:11 PM
Mriana - 02 December 2007 10:57 AM

I’m hoping I misunderstand, because it makes no sense to me to exclude other forms of Humanism.  I think the term Humanism covers a wide variety of POVs and I see no reason to exclude those like Epstein and Spong from that definition.

I agree with you Mriana.  I am undeniably of the “secular” variety that you refer to, but I see no reason not to include other forms of humanism under the humanist umbrella.  To me, the cause of asserting good ethical principles both precedes and supersedes the need for increased secularism and I see no reason why secular humanists shouldn’t work cooperatively with liberal religionists toward ideals that are compatible to humanism.

Yes and think that is the only way anything will get done, but if we start pushing people away because they are not this or that we risk burying ourselves.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 02 December 2007 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 December 2007 05:11 PM

I am curious what you find to be “dogma” in “The Affirmations of Humanism: Statement of Principles” that is listed on the inside cover of Free Inquiry, or in the Humanist Manifestos. 
...
Humanism is much more of a milieu than it is a belief system. ...

Sorry—
I was originally thinking of ‘humanism’ as being pretty generic and not having such a detailed definition.  (or multiple definitions if we use the “Principles” and the “Manifesto(s)”). But you clarifed this point,  thanks.

[ Edited: 21 December 2007 08:48 PM by Jackson ]
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Posted: 03 December 2007 05:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Well, I’m not a spokesman for humanism.  I have no greater of a claim to it than you or anyone else calling themselves a humanist.  Just a loose agreement about certain generalized principles.  For me that’s the attraction.  The individual autonomy and my agreement with the general attitudes.

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