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Humanism: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) Paperback – 12 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (12 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851685898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851685899
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.5 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An admirable guide for all those non-religious (surely the true silent majority ?) who may wake up to the fact that they are humanists ... What we have in common is, indeed, not faith but our humanity." --Sir Bernard Crick - Emeritus Professor of Birkbeck College, University of London, and author of Democracy: A Very Short Introduction

"Peter Cave brings to a serious subject his characteristic wit and humour, as well as wide knowledge and sharp insight. This is a very readable introduction to humanism and a deeply human one." --Richard Norman - Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Kent

Review

"An admirable guide for all those non-religious (surely the true ‘silent majority’?) who may wake up to the fact that they are humanists … What we have in common is, indeed, not faith but our humanity." (Sir Bernard Crick - Emeritus Professor of Birkbeck College, University of London, and author of Demo)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Collis on 16 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Peter Cave has written another excellent book. He explores the theme of humanism sensitively, pointing out common misconceptions about humanism that often lead to ill founded criticisms, while at the same time answering the more genuine concerns people have about the subject, and explaining the difficulties humanists have concerning religion. In tackling topics, ranging from, religion, morality, politics, living and dying and the meaning of life, he argues we should take responsibility for our own actions and lives, and treat others as responsible agents based on our intuitive understanding of humanity and its values, rather than defer to religion. Further to do so is not necessarily selfish, neither will it lead to chaos and hedonism, but rather a celebration of best qualities of a very unique species.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CB on 17 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beginner's guide, but it's not lightweight. The author outlines the Humanist positions of the great philosophers. Quite a lot of space is spent on the argument against God before getting to what, for me, is the nitty-gritty - how does a Humanist make sense of life and death? The answer is is clear and, yes, humane: all decisions about our behaviour must be made on a case-by case basis, since there is no creed to fall back on for answers, with reference to Humanist morality.This morality is based on kindness, empathy and doing no harm to humans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TICKER1 on 15 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm very happy with this book as it's my current 'pet subject', well explained and informative.
People of all Religions should read this in order for mankind to come out of the 'Superstitious era' and move into a brighter future.
I like the convenience of buying it on Amazon--no problems and very reliable service.Thanks.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Old Bookworm on 22 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is extremely well structured. It offers a very clear view of every aspect of humanism. In my opinion it should be read by all people who have open minds and especially also by those who have the deluded idea that scripture is the word of their God. "Humanism" will appeal to agnostics and religious doubters. It is not exclusively the domain of atheists. It represents all that is good and moral, without being tied to any religious apron strings!
Devout religious people have yet to learn that they do not have a monopoly on what is good, moral or right.
They assume that anyone who has no religion is automatically evil. To them I say "Judge not, that ye be not judged!"
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B.Right.On on 15 May 2009
Format: Paperback
A great and very readable introduction to what it means to be a Humanist from Peter Cave, who is getting a reputation for explaining some of life's complex thoughts in a down-to-earth, intelligent and often witty way. If you're a human, buy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Humphrey on 6 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very differnt but very informative. The deliver was very quick, I have since passed this book on.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. D. Holley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
Despite being described as a beginner's guide, this is not easy to read, especially the opening chapters, though it does get more straightforward as it proceeds. Unfortunately it's mainly a matter of poor writing style - the subjects and concepts discussed are not especially complicated.

Sadly, the author presents a militantly anthropocentric view of the world. John Gray, in his book 'Straw Dogs', is evidently right to criticise some humanists on this point. I was amused to read the story of McTaggart's cat in chapter 7, especially as I had just finished reading a book about cats. McTaggart's cat is held up as an example of a brainless and worry free existence. A story like this perhaps tells us more about Peter Cave's lack of perception than it does about the cat's.

The author is over-fond of superficially clever word riddles reminiscent of an autistic but arrogant 14 year old boy. Here lies the main problem I have with the book - the humanism it describes comes across as self satisfied, smug, amoral, written for an exclusive elite who hold themselves above the masses. Humanism potentially represents a higher level of morality than is possible within religion, but Peter Cave leans towards an "anything goes" approach.

The discussion on politics adds little, for it is equally possible for a good humanist to be a conservative, a liberal or a socialist.

To summarise, this is a badly written book that paints humanism in a very unappealing light. I would encourage prospective readers to sample Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Frans de Waal or Richard Dawkins for a more sympathetic (and more elegantly written) description of contemporary humanism. How disappointing to see this book recommended on the British Humanist Association website. Apparently humanism is a very broad church indeed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carole D on 4 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very readable general introduction to philosophy, enlivened by wit and humour.
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