Episode 47 - Eupraxsophy and Philosophy, Part 7

September 20, 2010

Part Seven of a continuing course presentation by Center for Inquiry founder Paul Kurtz. In 2006, Dr. Kurtz taught a course entitled “Eupraxsophy and Philosophy” before an audience of adult learners at the Center for Inquiry / Transnational in Amherst, New York. It was the principal course offering in that year’s Center for Inquiry Institute.

“Eupraxsophy” is a word coined by Dr. Kurtz. From Greek roots, it means good practice and wisdom. On his view, secular humanism should be understood not as a philosophy nor a religion but rather as a eupraxsophy.

This course represents a “capstone” career summation of Kurtz’s thinking on secular humanism, ethics, and skepticism.

Paul Kurtz is founder and former chair of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is professor of philosophy emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Editor-in-Chief of Free Inquiry magazine. He is the author of essential books in the field including Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism, Living without Religion: Eupraxsophy, The Courage to Become, The Transcendental Temptation, and many others.

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Episode 47 - Eupraxsophy and Philosophy, Part 7



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On his view, secular humanism should be understood not as a philosophy nor a religion but rather as a eupraxsophy.

Can anyone explain what that means except that humanism “should” be understood as good practice and wisdom? Why isn’t that a philosophy? Why isn’t it a religion?

When I look at Kurtz’s word, I see all three domains of being: emotion (eu), thought (sophy) and action (prax) but the way Kurtz formulates it, as good practice and wisdom, emotion and I suppose sensation are all but removed - I understand, they’re implicit in the idea of “good” but why leave it there, especially when there’s such an inclination among self-described Humanists to overlook the positive role of emotion in life?

I think “eupraxsophy” adds something to the understanding of Humanism but saying that it is how we “should” understand it asks too much. It’s one way of looking at things but for me there are more complete expressions of this idea.

Posted on Oct 04, 2010 at 3:43am by PLaClair Comment #1

I love the word eupraxsophy.    I first was introduced to this word in one of Paul’s latest books. 

This word fits me so well as an active inquirier…

Eupraxsophy (previously “eupraxophy” but updated) is a nonreligious life stance or worldview emphasizing the importance of living an ethical and exuberant life, and relying on rational methods such as logic, observation and science (rather than faith, mysticism or revelation) toward that end. The word “eupraxsophy” was coined by Paul Kurtz, and comes from the Greek words for “good practice and wisdom.” Eupraxsophies, like religions, are cosmic in their outlook, but eschew the supernatural component of religion, avoiding the “transcendental temptation,” as Kurtz puts it

Posted on Oct 21, 2010 at 6:22am by questionsaboutfaith Comment #2