Humanism as a philosophy- by Corliss Lamont (1949) PDF ebook

Humanism as a philosophy

Humanism as a philosophy



Excerpt:

Since the earliest days of philosophic reflection far back in ancient times in both East and West thinkers of depth and acumen, whose number has greatly increased in the modem era, have advanced the simple proposition that the chief end of human life is to work for the happiness of man upon this earth and within the confines of the Nature that is his home. 

This philosophy of enjoying, developing and making available to everyone the abundant possibilities of this natural world is profound in its implications, yet easy to understand and congenial to common sense. This man-centred theory of life has remained relatively unheeded during long periods of his- tory. While it has gone under a variety of names, it is the philosophy that I believe is most accurately designated as Humanism. Humanism as a philosophy has ever competed with other philosophic viewpoints for the allegiance of men. But however far-reaching its disagreements with rival philosophies of the past and present, Humanism at least agrees with them on the importance of philosophy as such. 

That importance stems from the perennial need of human beings to find significance in their lives, to integrate their personalities around some clear, consistent, and compel- ling view of existence, and to seek a definite and reliable method in the. solution of their problems. Philosophy brings clarity and meaning into the careers of individuals, nations and civilizations. Actually, as Aristotle once remarked, everyone follows out a philosophy whether he is aware of it or not/


Every Adult conducts his life according to some general attempt behaviour that is more or less conscious, more or less consistent, more or less .adequate to cope with the everyday affairs and the inevitable crises of the human scene. This guiding pattern in the life of every person Is his philosophy, even though it be implicit in his actions other than explicit in his mind; “his inarticulate major premise,” as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes put it. As a matter of fact, such as the strength of tradition that men have always tended to accept the particular philosophy or religion prevailing in the group into which they were bom. In any case, human beings, primitive or civilized, educated or uneducated, plodding or brilliant, simply cannot escape from philosophy. 

As a developed study and discipline philosophy has for its purpose the analysis and clarification of human actions and aims, problems and ideas. It brings into the light of intelligence the half-conscious, half-expressed gropings of men and of peoples. It teaches us to say what we mean and to mean what we say. It is the tenacious at- tempt of reasoning men to think through the most fundamental issues of life, to reach reasonable conclusions on first and last things, to suggest worthwhile goals that can command the loyalty of individuals and groups. Philosophy as criticism boldly analyzes and brings before the supreme court of the mind dominant human values, ideas and institutions. Though it often succeeds in reconciling apparently conflicting viewpoints, “the mission of philosophy,” as Professor Morris Cohen has said, “is to bring a sword as well as peace.” 


This means that philosophers have the obligation of opening up the closed questions of the past, of exposing fanaticism and folly, of raising pro- vocative issues where none were seen before. Philosophy as synthesis attempts to work out a correct and integrated view of the universe, of human nature, and of society. This is an immense and unique task. It was Plato’s ambitious claim that “the philosopher is the spectator of all Time and all Existence.” 

This statement is true, though I hasten to add that the philosopher cannot afford to be merely a spectator. Plato’s observation makes plain that the philosophic enterprise covers, in its own particular way, practically the whole gamut of human thought and activity. In order to attain a reasoned inter- pretation of Nature and man, the philosopher must inquire into the major branches of the natural sciences, such as chemistry, astronomy and biology, and likewise of the social sciences, such as history, economics and politics. Moreover, he must study carefully the realms of religion and art and literature; and cast a discerning eye over the day-to-day preoccupations and common-sense attitudes of the average person.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I The Meaning of Humanism

1. The Importance of Philosophy

2. The Meaning of Humanism 17

3. Different Kinds of Humanists 29

Chapter H The Humanist Tradition 40

1. Philosophic Forerunners 40

2. Religious Roots of Humanism 62

3. Cultural Background 77

Chapter IH This Life Is All and Enough 100

1. The Unity of Body and Personality 100

2. Some Other Considerations 120

3. The Destiny of Man 134

Chapter IV Humanism's Theory of the universe

1. Science and Its Implications 145

2. The Rejection of Dualism and Idealism. 164^

3. The Universe of Nature 183

4. The Appreciation of Nature 212

Chapter V Reliance on Reason and Science 229

1. Five Ways of Seeking Knowledge 229-

2. Modern Scientific Method 236

3. Science and the Meaning of Truth 258

Chapter VI The Affirmation of Life 273

1. The Ethics of Humanism 273

2. The Social Grood and Individual Happi-
ness 297

3. Humanism and Democracy 310

4. A Humanist Civilization 333

NOTES 351

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 357

INDEX 359

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 369


the book details :
  • Author:Corliss Lamont
  • Publication date:1949

  • Download 54.4 MB - PDF rbook

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