Tag Archives: humanism

Little Book of Humanism

A timely new book by Humanists UK President Alice Roberts and Chief Executive Andrew Copson is to offer universal lessons on finding meaning, purpose, and joy in our ever more uncertain world.

The Little Book of Humanism, published on 27 August, shares over two thousand years of humanist wisdom through an uplifting collection of illustrations, stories, quotes, and meditations on how to live an ethical and fulfilling life, grounded in reason and humanity. The book quotes everyone from ancient philosophers like Epicurus and Mencius, through to contemporary humanist sources of inspiration such as Frozen and The Good Place actor Kristen Bell, the novelists Zadie Smith and Margaret Atwood, and the playwright and poet Wole Soyinka.

It examines how humanity came to be, our unique place in the world, and why humanists reject religious explanations, before offering reflections on how to be good, how to live well, and how to think clearly. It emphasises the need to celebrate diversity and promote equality and why we should rely on science for the answers to many of life’s most important questions. Finally, it offers some particularly timely reflections on death and dealing with loss. It does all of this whilst drawing upon a cornucopia of humanist thought from many of the world’s greatest thinkers, accompanied by beautiful original illustrations.

Welcoming the publication of their book, authors Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts commented: ‘In the past, people were more likely to turn to religion during times of crisis than look to other sources of guidance. But there has always been an alternative – the humanist approach – and in today’s UK, where most people are now not religious, that alternative is more relevant than ever.  We hope this book offers timely sources of guidance, comfort, and inspiration, in a way that has a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives.’

The book can be purchased from Waterstones, Amazon, Blackwell’s, and all good bookshops, with both hardback and eBook available at £7.99 RRP. It is published by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. Author royalties from the book go towards supporting the work of Humanists UK.

About the authors

Professor Alice Roberts is a writer, broadcaster, and President of Humanists UK. She is the bestselling author of eight popular science books including Evolution: The Human Story, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being and Tamed: Ten Species that Changed Our World. Making her television debut on Time Team in 2001, she has become one of Britain’s best-known broadcasters and has written and presented a huge range of television series for BBC2, BBC4 and Channel 4, including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us and Ice Age Giants, and several Horizon programmes. Her humanist ‘mini-sermons’ on Twitter have been liked and shared many thousands of times.

Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International. He has provided a humanist voice on many television and radio programmes and written on humanism for publications including The Economist, New Statesman, Guardian, Prospect, The Times and Buzzfeed. With AC Grayling, he edited the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism and his most recent book is Secularism: A Very Short Introduction.


The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Featured Photo Courtesy of: http://www.lbabooks.com/cover-reveal-the-little-book-of-humanism-by-andrew-copson-and-alice-roberts/

Philosophy Now Issue 138: The Religion & Society Issue

Issue 138 of Philosophy Now (June/July 2020) bears the bold sub-title: The Religion & Society Issue. While it was Robert Griffith’s article entitled “Beyond Humanism?” that first caught our attention, the issue’s Table of Contents offers a number of great articles, including a feature section on religion and secularism. The periodical’s website appears to allow complimentary viewing of up to four articles per month – so select carefully! Or subscribe and enjoy some interesting reading. Here are a few of our favorites:

Einstein & The Rebbe

Ronald Pies sets up a dialogue between science and religion.

Christianity & Homosexuality

Rick Aaron argues that religious recommendations are sometimes unrealistic.

Beyond Humanism?

Robert Griffiths argues that humanist ethics has significant limitations.

Suffering & the Media

Ian Church queries the influence the media has on our perception of evil.

Buddha Travels West

Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Philosophy & The Creation of the Individual

Mark Vernon chronicles a revolution in consciousness.

The Character Gap by Christian B. Miller

Massimo Pigliucci is frank about human character.

Issue 138

Visit the Philosophy Now website.

Featured Image courtesy of Philosophy Now.

Auckland Festival of Photography: Marco Bischof

Unseen – Werner Bischof

Queens Wharf Fence • 23 May – 21 June

Hours 8pm 27 May | 1 June Freeview CH 200
Where outdoor exhibition 24 hrs/7 days – 89 Quay St, City
09 307 7055
http://www.wernerbischof.com
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Artists Werner Bischof
ThemeExhibitions

Auckland Festival of Photography is excited to present an exclusive outdoor waterfront exhibition of work by Werner Bischof, Switzerland.

Werner started his career in his studio in Zurich, Switzerland, where he perfected his artistic photography in “painting with light and shadow”. In 1945 he creates maybe the most significant photographic documentation of Europe in the aftermath of WWII. 1949 he joins Magnum Photos and travels two years in Asia: India, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Indochina he continues his humanistic photography, combining form and content.

His untimely death in a car accident in Peru at age 38 was the catalyst to maintain his photography in an archive for future generations.

USA is a series of work that brings early 1950s America vividly to life, yet Bischof’s tragic death at 38 meant the photographs were never printed during his lifetime. This is the first time they are being shown to the public in New Zealand.

Werner Bischof; Americana

Bischof was the first non-founding member to be welcomed into the then-fledgling Magnum collective, in 1949 joining Robert Capa, David  Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger. He had already become recognised for his pioneering use of colour photography, and was one of the first documentary photographers to take the format seriously. At the time of joining Magnum, most of Bischof’s contemporaries still predominantly worked in monochrome, a trend that continued well into the 1960s.

The photographs serve as a fleeting snapshot of a unique point in history: Bischof arrived in post-war United States from Switzerland in 1953, and stayed there for just one year, chronicling a booming and optimistic America through the eyes of an outsider. The 25 photographs that make up the series comprise few suggestions of interaction, they are instead stolen moments through shop windows and cars that blur past, evoking anonymity, and a contemplative look at everyday life in America during a period of immense change. (some text courtesy of the British Journal of Photography).

Thanks to Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Panuku Development, Lion Foundation and Werner Bischof Estate.

Talking Culture – Artist Talk 12pm (noon)-1pm Wed 27 May 
10am-11am Sat 30 May
Marco will give a talk about his father, Werner Bischof’s photography ‘USA’ series. Read more and Zoom in to join the talk…

Further Information

  1. Marco Bischof on curating his father’s photography for a written and 16-minute audio article by Radio New Zealand
  2. www.wernerbischof.com/main.html

Feature Image Courtesy:ndmagazine.net

Student Essay Contest

Humanist Canada

The national voices for English and French Humanism in Canada, Humanist Canada and Association humaniste du Québec, respectively, will host another essay contest this year. The theme for the Humanist Canada Essay Contest this year is “Religion and Humanism in Education” in a Canadian context. We welcome Canadian high school students to submit their strongest ideas, thoughts, and arguments to us.

The essay contest provides an opportunity for students to think critically on Humanism in Canadian society. The first place prize in each language will be $1,000. Deadline is September 30th, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern Time. There are no predefined topics. However, the bounds of the content should be relevant to the humanist community and its values across Canada.

“We are once again pleased to be able to host this forum for young writers interested in humanist themes,” Dr. Lloyd Robertson, Vice-President of Humanist Canada, stated, “This forum promotes a defence of science and reason from those who would attack it,” The full information for the essay contest can be found on the Humanist Canada website.

Chair of the Humanist Canada Essay Contest Committee and Member of the Board of Directors of Humanist Canada, Scott Jacobsen, said, “This is a rare opportunity for the presentation of the best and brightest young freethought minds the country’s high schools have to offer, in a formal academic-based competition with written essays. Any inculcation of values comes from the passing of them and providing a space for the next generations to evaluate, present, and live them. The Humanist Canada Essay Contest is one opportunity for young freethinkers to shine.”

About Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada (HC) promotes education and awareness of humanism. We are a resource for secular groups and causes across Canada. We support the advancement of scientific, academic, medical, and human rights efforts.

Contact information

Lloyd Robertson
Vice-President, Humanist Canada

Vice-president@humanistcanada.ca

Humanist Canada Essay Contest Link

Museum of Modern Art ONLINE Exhibit: Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures

Social distancing and self-quarantine present no barriers to exploring humanism, art and the human condition. In Ela Bittencourt’s April 30, 2020 Hyperallergenic essay she writes that “Lange’s instinct not to shrink from misery but to embrace it evidenced her profound sense of empathy. If we’ve grown a bit immune to it these days, the havoc wreaked on American life — on global life — by the COVID-19 crisis lends Lange’s humanist vision renewed relevance.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, celebrate creativity, openness, tolerance, and generosity. We aim to be inclusive places—both onsite and online—where diverse cultural, artistic, social, and political positions are welcome. MoMA is committed to sharing the most thought-provoking modern and contemporary art, and hope you will join them in exploring the art, ideas, and issues of our time.

Exhibit

Toward the end of her life, Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) reflected, “All photographs—not only those that are so called ‘documentary’…can be fortified by words.” Lange paid sharp attention to the human condition, conveying stories of everyday life through her photographs and the

Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo California March 1936

voices they drew in. Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures brings iconic works from the collection together with less seen photographs, from her landmark photobook An American Exodus to projects on criminal justice reform. Presenting her work across many contexts—photobooks, Depression-era government reports, newspapers, magazines, poems—and alongside the voices of contemporary artists, writers, and thinkers, the exhibition lets us consider the importance of Lange’s legacy and of words and pictures today.

This exhibition is currently being presented as part of MoMA’s Virtual Views series, as a “museum from home.” Explore iconic works that redefined how we see America with a live Q&A with curator Sarah Meister and photographer Sally Mann, enjoy poetry and artist’s books inspired by Lange, and unravel the mystery around one of the most famous photographs in the world.

Event: Webinar Book Series: Unveiled by Yasmine Mohammed

Sunday May 17, 2020 – 3 pm EST

Register for the Event

Unveiled

book cover_edited.png

With Yasmine Mohammed

Canadian human rights activist, Yasmine Mohammed, advocates for the rights of women living within Islamic majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism.

Her book, Unveiled, is a memoir/polemic that recalls her experiences growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic household and her arranged marriage to a member of Al-Qaeda. In it, she sheds light on the religious trauma that so many women still today are unable to discuss.

Yasmine Mohammed is an activist, writer, college instructor and the founder of Free Hearts Free Minds, an organization that provides psychological support for freethinkers living within Muslim majority countries, where the State-sanctioned punishment for leaving Islam is death.

To learn more about Free Hearts Free Minds visit www.freeheartsfreeminds.com.

References and Resources

  1. https://centerforinquiry.org/speakers/mohammed_yasmine/

Gold Humanism Society Inducts Class of 2021

UC faculty, residents and medical students honored for delivery of care, compassion and teaching

The UC College of Medicine’s Gold Humanism Honor Society Chapter, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, will induct the GHHS class of 2021 and present several humanism awards to residents and faculty during a virtual ceremony available online Wednesday, May 20.

Dr. Melissa Klein, professor in the UC Department of Pediatrics and Cincinnati Children’s physician, will be recognized as the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty honoree. Klein will officially be presented the award, which recognizes a College of Medicine faculty member who best demonstrates outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, as well as clinical excellence.

Fourth-year medical student, Caroline Hensley is the recipient of the Leonard Tow Student Award this year.  Dr. Melissa Klein

Dr. Melissa Klein/photo submitted

The purpose of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is to promote a culture of humanism in the practice of medicine by publicly recognizing students, residents, and faculty whose clinical competence and professionalism include exceptional humanistic behavior and commitment to service. 

Each spring, the UC College of Medicine’s chapter of GHHS recognizes those students who at the end of their third year have demonstrated exemplary attitudes and behaviors characteristic of the most humanistic physicians: integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy, and service.

Twenty-six students will be inducted into GHHS: Sarah Appeadu, Rachel Azriel, Matt Byrne, Saige Camara, Margaret Carney, Thomas Daley, Adam Darwiche, Hagar Elgendy, Olivia Gobble, Caroline Horton, Kristen Humphrey, Basil Jafri, Jun Kim, Shawn Krishnan and Derrick Lin. 

Other inductees will include Sarah Marshall, Katherine Melink, Kevin Milligan, Jasmine Prince, Mia Samaha, Alex Schoenberger, Santiago Serna, Dylan Sexton, Zach St. Clair, Vanessa Wagner and Max Yang.Caroline Hensley

Caroline Hensley/photo submitted

All students were nominated by their peers and faculty as students who best exemplify integrity, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and a dedication to service. Their awards will be presented by Laura Malosh, assistant dean of student affairs, during the virtual ceremony on Wednesday, May 20.

Finally, the society will recognize two residents with the Arnold P. Gold Humanism Teaching Awards this year. It recognizes outstanding humanistic teaching residents as identified by their students. Third year medical students select residents to receive The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award, based on their exceptional teaching skills and commitment to the compassionate treatment of patients and families, students and colleagues. This year the M3 class recognized Dr. Young King, Department of Surgery and Dr. Megan Sax, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.Dr. Megan Sax

Dr. Megan Sax/photo by Colleen Kelley of UC Creative + BrandDr. Young King

Dr. Young Kim/photo by UC Department of Surgery

Original article by Cedric Ricks re-published from University of Cincinnati News

Book Review: There is No Difference by Peter Best

According to the back cover of his book and his website, Peter Best is “a lawyer who has practiced law in Sudbury, Ontario for 43 years. Raised in nearby Espanola, favored with lifelong personal and professional relationships with indigenous Canadians, he brings a personal, literary and historical perspective to the greatest social crisis experienced by Canada today- the perilous state of its original peoples.”

What is the book? The long-form version of the title probably acts as the best summary of its contents: There Is No Difference: An Argument for the Abolition of the Indian Reserve System and Special Race-based Laws and Entitlements for Canada’s Indians. In a regular book review, we might investigate the overt arguments and contents of the book. Certainly the title contains enough potential for drama and controversy to whet almost any intellectual appetite. But that’s not what we’re going to do here. What we’re going to do, instead is feature, an underlying theme presented by Mr. Best.

On page three, he writes that when he was growing up in Espanola, “there was a sense that old religious and ethnic prejudices were hollowing out and being overcome, and that increasing social unity and equality was happening.” It is the first of many hints (and outright declarations) of an underlying theme of humanism to be found in the book. This is what we will consider.

How many books are currently published with an overt declaration of humanism or humanist values? More specifically, how many books are written about contemporary issues wherein humanist-based positions are asserted, explained, referenced and documented? These aren’t questions with precise answers. These are startled observations of an avid reader. I haven’t seen humanism asserted and affirmed so clearly and frequently in a long time. Water for the thirsty.

On page seven, Best writes…”the humanist assumptions were ones that emanated from the confident, busy, properous people we were then. They seemed to be shared by everyone, right to the political and economic top of the country. They highlighted what a civilized, progressive, ‘ideals in action’ society Canada was becoming.

The book is written as a series of essays which, across 700+ pages, delves the matter outlined in the title in pains-taking detail. Frequently Best grapples head-on with various ideologies and asserts arguments and positions contrary to those from Canadian intellectual and political “elites” (Best’s term). The book is thoroughly referenced and widely sourced. The overall theme is that “somewhere along the way, liberal, humanist aspirations once common to our entire country have ceded to various forms of petty and chauvinistic ideological tribalisms and, with respect to our Indian peoples, to actual racial tribalism.”

And then again, Best asserts that he believes “that the vast majority of Canadians profoundly disagree with this trend towards further legal and social racial apartness between Indian and non-Indian Canadians. They want our humanist values – with their emphasis on equality and the rights of the individual over the rights of any racial group – respected, maintained and promulgated in all areas of society….why this rejection of 200 years of enlightenment thinking?

The point to be made is not that all of Best’s arguments represent a clear, consistent and authoritative humanist approach to the topic. It seems highly unlikely, not to mention undesirable, that a singular humanist outlook should be asserted on any substantive matter. Nor should this article be read as an endorsement of every argument Best makes. Instead, Best is here approved on the basis of making an attempt to present a considered humanist-principled perspective on a hot and fraught topic.

Best makes an argument about his chosen subject that may be stated about any number of contemporary issues: “this issue is being driven and dictated by…a minority elitist theory of democracy, where on an issue of this importance the majority is being asked for and being offered no say.

Peter Best has asserted his version of a humanist-informed opinion. More humanists need to step forward to assert similarly cogent humanist perspectives on whatever contemporary issue seems to require the attention.

Dr. Richard Thain Versus

We consider this matter closed.

On September 20, 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was opened to the public. Located in the City of Winnipeg, one of the Museum’s guiding principles is to inspire human rights, reflection and dialogue. It is a principle that ought, perhaps, to have been given closer attention when Dr. Richard Thain was advised that his interest to place a series of advertisements on the City of Winnipeg’s buses was rejected.

Dr. Thain had planned to advertise his opposition to the public funding of Catholic school systems in Canada. His idea was to leverage local and national media coverage of the museum’s grand opening to bring attention to his position on this issue. Thain worked with a professional advertising designer to develop a series of simple and elegant bus-ads. The theme of the ads was that the system of public funding for Catholic schools in Ontario is a human rights disgrace. The ads contained no images, words or phrases that could reasonably be considered offensive. The only contained a message that some people might disagree with.

Thain grounded his views with a position taken in 1999 by the United Nations Human Rights Committee when indicating that the provision of funding to Catholic school systems while simultaneously denying it to all other religious groups is discriminatory. Thain hoped to inspire intelligent, reasonable public discourse on this long-standing issue.

Thain contacted Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the firm responsible for the management of the City of Winnipeg’s bus advertising at the time, to gain access to advertising space. During the back-and-forth of price negotiations and content review, he began to understand that that some of the “higher-ups” did not agree with his views and planned to put an end to his campaign. It was then that he received a letter advising that his ads would not appear via the Winnipeg Transit system and that he would not be provided an explanation of why his ads had been blocked. No one from the City of Winnipeg called him as he had requested.

Thain says that he received a letter from the City of Winnipeg’s agent, one of Canada’s most powerful and influential advertising agencies, that contained a five-word sentence which altered his view of human rights in ways that he could not have imagined. The sentence read, “We consider this matter closed.”

No dialogue. No reflection. No right to self-expression.

Thain’s initial shock soon passed and he was struck by the need to confront a deep and worrisome dilemma. What do you when authorities tell you to go away? How do you fight City Hall? Thain decided that the matter was not closed. He decided to sue the City of Winnipeg and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.

In the summer of 2017, Thain procured Winnipeg-based legal counsel, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP to represent him in his response. Thain believes that he has been denied his charter right to freedom of expression. and has launched a legal suit against the City of Winnipeg and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.  The parties in the suite are set for an examination for discovery on January 30 & 31. 2020 – 62 months since the attempted advertising campaign. An examination for discovery process is intended to help all parties in a law suit find out about the other side’s case. Generally the idea is for each party to find out what the other parties have to say about the matters contained in the lawsuit, to see whether there are areas of agreement and to try to obtain admissions which could be used during a trial.

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