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Humanist Anthology: From Conf [Hardcover]

Knight , Margaret Knight

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Book Description

19 Sep 1995
When this important volume was first compiled in 1961, Margaret Knight brought together a full range of humanist thought to depict the Stoic and Epicurean traditions in the ancient world, the writers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as well as significant thinkers in the 19th-and 20th-century rationalist traditions. Acclaimed writer and skeptic James Herrick has updated this impressive roster by adding novelists Mark Twain and E.M. Forester as well as scientists J. Bronowski, Richard Dawkins, and David Attenborough. Herrick also includes contributions by A.J. Ayer, Antony Flew, Sidney Hook, and Paul Kurtz. Incisive items from Shelley, Voltaire, T.S. Eliot, and T.H. Huxley, and many others are also provided.

Among the subjects addressed are: morality without God, atheism and agnosticism, facing death, the nature of the physical world, ideas of human progress, and the criticism of claims of religion. Humanist Anthology provides ample ammunition for those engaged in arguments with religionists as well as sustenance for those who wish to reconsider their own attitudes about life.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Continuous Line 29 Aug 2000
By Dale McGowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This anthology stands alone as a thoughtful and thorough retrospective of humanist writings throughout history. It provides an intellectual ancestry for humanists of today, many of whom will have been unaware of the long and distinguished line of great thinkers in every age who reached the same conclusions on the greatest questions we can contemplate.
The best-known humanists are present, including Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, and the rest, but one of the great accomplishments of this volume is the "outing" of humanists whose views on religion have been quietly buried or ignored by the historical record as it reaches most of us --- including such prominent figures as Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain.
A fascinating read, reflecting solid scholarship and what must have been exhaustive research.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good collection of short paragraphs 25 Oct 2007
By Book Lover #52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book collects many thought-provoking quotes and will serve as a good primer on humanist thought. I wished that the quotes had been better-contexualized-- but it's generally a good book that I would recommend.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2500 Years Of Humanism In Less Than 200 Pages 18 Aug 2008
By Joshua L. Soldati - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Update of a fascinating source book of Humanist Thinking 4 Jan 2007
By David Anthony Causer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was fortunate to meet Margaret Knight in Aberdeen in the late 1960s where she kindly gave me a signed copy of her original anthology. The present publication includes writings by outhors from the ban-the-bomb era of the 60s when traditional moral and religious values began to be questioned (as exemplified by Margaret's BBC programmes "Morals without Religion)up to the present day. Thus we have here a compendium of Humanist Thinking from ancient to contemporary times which may be used as a source book or read as a stimulating review of the development of Humanist ideas.
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