Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Against Neo-Humanism

Issued earlier this month, Paul Kurtz has issued a 「Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values」. As liberal socialists, we reject his position and consider our relations and common interests with Kurtz and Neo-Humanists to be only partial. We consider mutual incompatibilities to prevent either our philosophy as being under their unbrella or their philosophy as being under ours.

Points of contention, nuance, and limited commentary on points of agreement:

  • On the intro: We note that there are many alternatives to religious philosophies, and humanism is neither the sole alternative nor particularly noteworthy as one (apart from having a certain popularity). We condemn the statement for not acknowledging that Humanism as a life philosophy is but one of the secular philosophies available as an alternative to religious philosophies.
  • On the intro: We concur on the importance of cooperation with other philosophies when common cause can be found. We reject a commitment to be (or not to be) antireligious.
  • On the intro: We reject the phrasing of "rational inquiry" as a possible central tool for approaching value-conclusions, as it neglects the necessity of dealing with values themselves. Their phrasing (end of paragraph beginning with "First, Neo-Humanists aspire to be") is not strictly wrong, but it is deceptive - rational inquiry is an ill-defined term that only has pwer approaching their claims when it pulls in significant parts of their philosophy, uninvestigated.
  • On the intro: We reject the statement of qualifications on skepticism of traditional theism without taking a firm stance against them - no position like the ones they provide is mandatory or recommended for our philosophy.
  • We reject the "best defined by what they are for and not what they are against" as mere posturing and not a matter on which we should take a stance. PR tactics do not belong in a statement of principles.
  • On principle five, we reject firm statements that rational inquiry necessarily applies to value conclusions. This type of statement is bad philosophy.
  • On principle six, we reject (for now) the particular phrasing of their commitment to their key ethical principles, noting however that a statement of our own might be reasonably similar
  • We nuance the seventh point's subpoint on moral growth by noting that it should instead reference growth in socialist virtues (which have some overlap with other notions of virtue and are not all exclusive to our commitments)
  • We reject the eighth point (without committing to its reverse), not taking a stance on privacy
  • We reject the ninth point and commit to a liberal-socialist way of life instead, which has some overlap in style with their notion of a democratic way of life
  • We strongly commit to the tenth point, and note further that consideration of classic notions of virtue (including those from religious foundations) is important to coming to an adequate understanding of the framework
  • On the eleventh point, we reject such a strong stance on rule of law, considering our relations to the law being driven both by circumstance and by the nature of the particular legal system in which individuals may be immersed. We likewise reject their rejection of radical improvements in society.
  • We concur with the twelfth point
  • We concur with the general idea of the thirteenth point but do not commit to particular positions on abortion
  • We reject the fifteenth point primarily because of the particular positions advocated. A commitment to evolutionary changes in capitalism is, by our philosophy, secondary to a commitment to replace the system should the opportunity arise to do so in a positive way. Should it be possible to transition towards a socialist system piecemail, we would accept it, and in the meantime or as part of that we aim to reshape society to the extent that doing so is possible using existing mechanisms towards social justice and our values, but participation in these causes and methods does not diminish our commitment towards reaching those end goals as quickly and most reliably as reasonably possible.
  • We reject the sixteenth stance as mandatory or recommended without taking a firm position against it. We note that a global political order may prove to be a barrier towards the social changes we're committed to.

It appears that others who are actually humanists also disagree.

Tags: philosophy

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