Exploring Renaissance humanists’ debates on matter, life and the soul, this volume addresses the contribution of humanist culture to the evolution of early modern natural philosophy so as to shed light on the medical context of the ...
As the Fantasy Football Philosopher's League heads for its climax, we join one of the key matches, The God Squad v Humanists United. The God Squad led at half time, but the Humanists made a strong showing in the second half and after 25 minutes injury time, the score is equal and we move to the penalty shootout. In this league, the penalty shootout is held between the two team captains — each in goal against the other. The (...) games take place in the twenty first century and team captains have been able to watch all the past matches they may have missed. Team captains are Thomas Aquinas and Bertrand Russell. You, the reader, keep the score. (shrink)
C.P. Snow observed that universities are largely made up of two broad types of people, literary intellectuals and scientists, yet a typical individual of each type is barely able, if able at all, to communicate with his counterpart. Snow's observation, popularized in his 1959 lecture Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (reissued by Cambridge 1993), goes some way to explaining the two distinct cultures one hears referred to as "the humanities" and "the sciences." Snow's lecture is a study of these (...) two cultures, their rules, hierarchies, and educational traditions, which raises the following question: to what degree are "the humanities" and "the sciences" a consequence of how we organize and fund modern universities? Rather than a happenstance of interests and temperament, perhaps "humanist" and "scientist" are largely bureaucratic categories. (shrink)
Originally published in English in 1980, Rhetoric as Philosophy has been out of print for some time. The reviews of that English edition attest to the importance of Ernesto Grassi’s work. By going back to the Italian humanist tradition and aspects of earlier Greek and Latin thought, Ernesto Grassi develops a conception of rhetoric as the basis of philosophy. Grassi explores the sense in which the first principles of rational thought come from the metaphorical power of the word. He finds (...) the basis for his conception in the last great thinker of the Italian humanist tradition, Giambattista Vico (1668–1744). He concentrates on Vico’s understanding of imagination and the sense of human ingenuity contained in metaphor. For Grassi, rhetorical activity is the essence and inner life of thought when connected to the metaphorical power of the word. (shrink)
Messenger, Dally The renowned and popular philosopher, Alain de Botton, TV-and-radio crawled Australia in February 2012 promoting his new book, Religion for Atheists: a non-believers guide to the uses of religion. It was a thesis which many, including me, welcomed as sensible and constructive. Basically his message was that the human wisdom and artistry which has evolved over thousands of years though the various religious movements is part of everyone's heritage, and should be culturally assimilated and used by us, to (...) affect human behaviour for the better. (shrink)
Cognitive Science, Literature, and the Arts is the first student-friendly introduction to the uses of cognitive science in the study of literature, written specifically for the non-scientist. Patrick Colm Hogan guides the reader through all of the major theories of cognitive science, focusing on those areas that are most important to fostering a new understanding of the production and reception of literature. This accessible volume provides a strong foundation of the basic principles of cognitive science, and allows us to begin (...) to understand how the brain works and makes us feel as we read. (shrink)
A common perception of Spinoza casts him as one of the precursors, perhaps even founders, of modern humanism and Enlightenment thought. Given that in the twentieth century, humanism was commonly associated with the ideology of secularism and the politics of liberal democracies, and that Spinoza has been taken as voicing a “message of secularity” and as having provided “the psychology and ethics of a democratic soul” and “the decisive impulse to… modern republicanism which takes it bearings by the dignity of (...) every man,” it is easy to understand how this humanistic image developed. Spinoza’s deep interest in, and extensive discussion of, human nature may have contributed to the emergence of this image as well. In this paper, I will argue that this common perception of Spinoza is mistaken and that Spinoza was in fact the most radical anti-humanist among modern philosophers. Arguably, Spinoza rejects any notion of human dignity. He conceives of God’s - and not man’s - point of view as the only objective perspective through which one can know things adequately, and it is at least highly questionable whether he allows for any genuine notions of human autonomy or morality. The notions of ‘humanism’ and ‘anti-humanism’ have been discussed extensively -mainly among continental philosophers - since the end of World War II. Because these notions carry a variety of historical, ideological, and philosophical meanings, it is important to provide at the outset at least a rudimentary clarification of my use of these two terms. By ‘humanism’ I mean a view which (1) assigns a unique value to human beings among other things in nature, (2) stresses the primacy of the human perspective in understanding the nature of things, and (3) attempts to point out an essential property of humanity which justifies its elevated and unique status. This definition of philosophical humanism has only little in common with the historical notion of Renaissance humanism, and seems to match quite well the common understanding of philosophical humanism suggested by current philosophical dictionaries and encyclopedias. This notion of humanism should be understood in contrast to two competing positions. On the one hand, in contrast to the theocentric position that considers humanity to be radically dependent upon God, humanism affirms at least some degree of human independence. On the other hand, in contrast to the naturalist position which endorses the scientific examination of human beings just like any other objects in nature, humanists affirm the existence of a metaphysical and moral gulf between humanity and nature. This gulf assigns a special value to humanity and does not allow us to treat human beings like any other things in nature. For many humanists the nature/humanity gulf does not allow the application of the methods of natural sciences to the disciplines of the humanities. Humanism does not begin with modernity. In order to see how far back we can trace this position, we may recall Protagoras’ saying: “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.” In modern philosophy, the humanistic position had regained dominant status since the Renaissance, and variants of this position were vigorously argued for by prominent thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, and finally, Hegel. In this paper, I will argue that Spinoza was a foe, and not a friend, of this tradition. I suggest that, in contrast to these humanist philosophers, Spinoza considers man as a marginal and limited being in nature, a being whose claims and presumptions far exceed its abilities. “To what length will the folly of the multitude not carry them?.... [T]hey imagine Nature to be so limited that they believe man to be his chief part.” Arguably, Spinoza locates the origin of our most fundamental metaphysical and ethical errors in a human hubris which not only tries to secure humanity an exceptional place in nature but also attempts to cast both God and nature in its own human image. (shrink)
“One should always cherish some ambition to do something in the world. They alone rise who strive.” is the great wording of Dr.Ambedkar. There are two fundamental types of human nature. Creative and possessive. Creative humans use human intellect for creative endeavors which enriches human thought; knowledge and wealth thereby contribute to the development of human heritage for the posterity. Possessive people, on the other hand do not believe in the use of human intellect for creative purpose. Gautam Buddha, Jesus (...) Christ, Guru Nanak, Kabeer, Ravidas, Tukarama, Krantiba Jotirao Phoolay, Periyar and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar they all belong to the great class of Ceative humans called as Humanists in Indian context. Here we studies Ambedkar’s views related to humanism and Buddhism. (shrink)
A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our (...) natural sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’. (shrink)
David Cooper explores and defends the view that a reality independent of human perspectives is necessarily indescribable, a "mystery." Other views are shown to be hubristic. Humanists, for whom "man is the measure" of reality, exaggerate our capacity to live without the sense of an independent measure. Absolutists, who proclaim our capacity to know an independent reality, exaggerate our cognitive powers. In this highly original book Cooper restores to philosophy a proper appreciation of mystery-that is what provides a measure (...) of our beliefs and conduct. (shrink)
This article offers a review of Richard Rorty’s attempts to come to terms with the role of religion in our public and intellectual life by tracing the key developments in his position, partially in response to the ubiquitous criticisms of his distinction between private and public projects. Since Rorty rejects the possibility of dismissing religion on purely epistemic grounds, he is determined to treat it, instead, as a matter of politics. My suggestion is that, in this respect, Rorty’s position is (...) best construed as that of a humanist rather than a post-modernist. Ultimately, it appears that, in his view, the positive element of religion—i.e. the idea of religion as a social gospel—has been absorbed and transformed into a utopian striving which humanists associate with the ideal of democracy. Hence, in this regard, religion can be considered obsolete. Yet, without explicitly invoking the usual epistemic grounds, Rorty’s arguments for excluding religion from the public sphere remain rather thin, and an interest in reforming rather than excluding religion would have been more consistent with his general outlook. (shrink)
Medical ethics changed dramatically in the past 30 years because physicians and humanists actively engaged each other in discussions that sometimes led to confrontation and controversy, but usually have improved the quality of medical decision-making. Before then medical ethics had been isolated for almost two centuries from the larger philosophical, social, and religious controversies of the time. There was, however, an earlier period where leaders in medicine and in the humanities worked closely together and both fields were richer for (...) it. This volume begins with the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment when professors of medicine such as John Gregory, Edward Percival, and the American, Benjamin Rush, were close friends of philosophers like David Hume, Adam Smith, and Thomas Reid. They continually exchanged views on matters of ethics with each other in print, at meetings of elite intellectual groups, and at the dinner table. Then something happened, physicians and humanists quit talking with each other. In searching for the causes of the collapse, this book identifies shifts in the social class of physicians, developments in medical science, and changes in the patterns of medical education. Only in the past three decades has the dialogue resumed as physicians turned to humanists for help just when humanists wanted their work to be relevant to real-life social problems. Again, the book asks why, finding answers in the shift from acute to chronic disease as the dominant pattern of illness, the social rights revolution of the 1960's, and the increasing dissonance between physician ethics and ethics outside medicine. The book tells the critical story of how the breakdown in communication between physicians and humanists occurred and how it was repaired when new developments in medicine together with a social revolution forced the leaders of these two fields to resume their dialogue. (shrink)
Oberman, H. A. Quoscunque tulit foecunda vetustas.--Bouwsma, W. J. The two faces of humanism.--Gilmore, M. P. Italian reactions to Erasmian humanism.--Dresden, S. The profile of the reception of the Italian Renaissance in France.--IJsewijn, J. The coming of humanism to the Low Countries.--Hay, D. England and the humanities in the fifteenth century.--Spitz, L. W. The course of German humanism.
Ellis, Brian Humanists have an unconditional concern for the wellbeing and dignity of humankind. They are fundamentally concerned with increasing the overall quality of people's lives, regardless of their behaviour, and to treat people with respect. They seek to do so by promoting the development of people's natural talents and inculcating attitudes of mutual respect and tolerance. Their central idea is that every person should be treated with equal concern for their good.
In this book, Ellis argues that moral and political objectives are not independent of one other, and so must be pursued in tandem. Social humanism is a moral and political philosophy that does just this.
This essay explores the relation between two perspectives on the nature of human rights. According to the "political" or "practical" perspective, human rights are claims that individuals have against certain institutional structures, in particular modern states, in virtue of interests they have in contexts that include them. According to the more traditional "humanist" or "naturalistic" perspective, human rights are pre-institutional claims that individuals have against all other individuals in virtue of interests characteristic of their common humanity. This essay argues that (...) once we identify the two perspectives in their best light, we can see that they are complementary and that in fact we need both to make good normative sense of the contemporary practice of human rights. It explains how humanist and political considerations can and should work in tandem to account for the concept, content, and justification of human rights. (shrink)
This paper provides a critical exploration of the capability approach to human rights (CAHR) with the specific aim of developing its potential for achieving a synthesis between “humanist” or “naturalistic” and “political” or “practical” perspectives in the philosophy of human rights. Section II presents a general strategy for achieving such a synthesis. Section III provides an articulation of the key insights of CAHR (its focus on actual realizations given diverse circumstances, its pluralism of grounds, its emphasis on freedom of choice, (...) its demand for public reasoning, its context-sensitive universalism, and its broad view of obligations). These insights go some way toward the achievement of the desired synthesis. But, as explained in IV.1, in its current form CAHR faces two serious objections by the defenders of the political perspective: the Gap Between Capabilities-Interests and Rights Objection and the Disconnect From Practice Objection. Answering these criticisms requires some amendments to CAHR. Section IV.2 suggests a response to the first objection based on the introduction of a contractualist framework of justification. Sections IV.3 and IV.4 tackle the second objection by introducing a re-characterization of the cosmopolitan standard underlying the humanist perspective and by identifying the differences and relations between various dimensions of a conception of human rights and their significance for actual political practice. The paper illustrates the practical implications of CAHR, in its modified form, for the pursuit of some important rights. (shrink)
Jean-Paul Sartre claims in his 1945 lecture ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’ that there are two kinds of existentialism: that of Christians like Karl Jaspers, and atheistic like Martin Heidegger. Sartre's ‘spiritual master’ Heidegger had no problem with Sartre defining him as an atheist, but he had serious problems with Sartre's concept of humanism and existentialism. Heidegger claims that the essence of humanism lies in the essence of the human being. After the Enlightenment, the Western concept of man has been presented (...) in education in the form of Kantian humanistic essentialism. At least in the Finnish educational system, Kantian humanism is almost an official ideological background of all national curriculums. Is such a kind of essentialism and metaphysics plausible in our modern or postmodern times? We examine the Sartre-Heidegger controversy on humanism and the concept of man in education using Freire's humanism and Gelassenheit education as exemplars. (shrink)
Management theory and practice are facing unprecedented challenges. The lack of sustainability, the increasing inequity, and the continuous decline in societal trust pose a threat to ‘business as usual’ (Jackson and Nelson, 2004 ). Capitalism is at a crossroad and scholars, practitioners, and policy makers are called to rethink business strategy in light of major external changes (Arena, 2004 ; Hart, 2005 ). In the following, we review an alternative view of human beings that is based on a renewed (...) Darwinian theory developed by Lawrence and Nohria ( 2002 ). We label this alternative view ‘humanistic’ and draw distinctions to current ‘economistic’ conceptions. We then develop the consequences that this humanistic view has for business organizations, examining business strategy, governance structures, leadership forms, and organizational culture. Afterward, we outline the influences of humanism on management in the past and the present, and suggest options for humanism to shape the future of management. In this manner, we will contribute to the discussion of alternative management paradigms that help solve the current crises. (shrink)
During nearly two millennia of European history in which Christian dogmas could not be questioned, many prejudices put down deep roots. Humanists are, rightly, critical of Christians who have not freed themselves of these prejudices-for example, against the equality of women or against nonreproductive sex. It is curious, therefore, that, despite many individual exceptions, humanists have on the whole been unable to free themselves from one of the most central of these Christian dogmas: the prejudice of (...) speciesism. (shrink)