Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Humanism - Philosophy Bites

Vitruvian Man - Leonardo da VinciDavid Edmonds and Nigel Warburton invited on their podcast Richard Norman to speak about Humanism. As usual, and it never ceases to amaze me, they manage to get so much clearly explained in ten minutes.

Humanism is defined as the 'belief (?) of living a good life without religion' and this would gather atheists together with agnostics. The human and human values are set to measure the good life. Good meaning rewarding as well as moral. Norman is very effective in showing the various angles of this starting point. David Edmonds's excellent questioning adds to the experience.

A great question Edmonds poses is about the strength of religious traditions to deal with key moments in life such as birth, marriage and death. Norman presents a personal example, to show how humanists offer the same an possibly more personally meaningful. However, he doesn't side with the ardent atheists such as Richard Dawkins . The problem with ideological atheists in Norman's mind are the necessary element of respect in the discourse, even if it is hard to have respect for believers, because respect is essential to dialog. In addition, one cannot lump all the believers together as if there is no significant difference between the Islamist suicide bomber or the naive Christian creationist and the many intelligent and sincere believers who try to put their beliefs into practice in order to serve humanity and make the world a better place.

More Philosophy Bites:
Is war innate?

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