“The New Humanism” with Chris Wells
The term “humanism” has a fairly long history. Most Westerners would describe modern humanism as that philosophy born first in the European Renaissance, and which then found its teeth in the European Enlightenment. Of course, both of those periods might be better understood as the birth place of reason, science and atheism, rather than humanism.
In 1933, the first of several “humanist manifestos” were written, and here is where science advocacy, reason and atheism were combined by some to form an “ethical, philosophical life stance.” Although this life stance affirms the non-theist, human-centered, naturalism of the Enlightenment, it also calls for a free and universal society, a cooperative economic system and a participatory democracy, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to freedom such as racism, sexism, classism and other forms of separatist ideologies.
The so-called “new” humanism was first articulated in Latin America by Mario Rodriguez Cobos (pen name, Silo), and while his interpretation of humanism also respects science and reason, it is far more centered around humanism’s sociopolitical ideology than naturalism or religious critique. In fact, the “new” humanism is not closed to religious people, as some secular humanists are, because they realize the only way toward a humanist future society is by welcoming non-fundamentalist religionists into the fight. As various humanist writers and political scientists have argued, not to do so is to isolate humanism as a fringe movement in this still quite religious world.
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Fund Drive Show – “African-American Naturalism: A Forgotten Tradition” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anthony Pinn & Muntu Matsimela
It’s widely accepted that faith and religious belief have been the most important elements sustaining the African-American community throughout their long history of subjection to oppression and adversity, but even in the Black Church, other worldly concerns were far less important than is generally believed.
The secular and humanistic traditions are long standing threads in African-American life that are hardly ever mentioned – yet it’s out of these traditions that the real world strategies and real world solutions which have yielded the greatest strides toward Black liberation and empowerment were developed and deployed.
What might happen if African-Americans today more fully embrace their rich history of naturalistic traditions; how might it make a difference for the future?
Dr. Anthony Pinn, author of “African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking like the Children of Nimrod” will help us trace the long and rich history of secular and humanistic traditions in African American life.
We will also be joined by Astrophysicist and Director of New York City’s Rose Planetarium and host of PBS’s “NOVA Now” series, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and African Studies Professor, Community Activist and former Black Panther, Muntu Matsimela.
To many, the antithesis of modern humanism, which was founded on Enlightenment principals, would be the philosophy of postmodernism. The political Left in America, over the past 45 years or so, has been marred by postmodernism, and the Right has taken advantage of that fact. What started out as an honest and justified consideration for the well-being of cultures ‘other than’ European and American (cultures which often have been historically the victims of European/American colonialism and hegemony), has morphed into an acceptance of double standards by some thinkers.
One might call this the ‘who are we to judge’ effect. The Right, as is its wont, fights back with fundamentalisms of every sort – or what might be called their ‘we alone are to judge’ doctrine. Is there then, a way to understand and implement a progressive humanism which, while Leftist in political orientation, is still Enlightenment based?
That is the question David Detmer tries to answer in his book, Challenging Postmodernism: Philosophy & the Politics of Truth. Challenging Postmodernism is a philosophical treatise which examines the problems with postmodernism and its anti-humanistic implications, and tries to determine whether or not the intellectual Left is indeed guilty en masse of cultural relativism. It then explains how a progressive politic is indeed very much in step with Enlightenment humanism.
For anyone who is a humanist, reform of our brutal criminal justice system is a major concern, but can real structural changes to our criminal justice system become adopted and be sustained without a radical change in our nation’s consciousness which departs from religion?
The host of WBAI’s ‘On the Count!’: The Criminal Justice and Prison Report’s” Eddie Ellis, join’s “Equal Time for Freethought’s” Arnell Dowret for a wide ranging examination of the philosophical and theological ideas involved in creating a new, more humane and just criminal justice paradigm. Included in this discussion is a look at how a secular humanist world view compares with a world view that is faith-based in regard to relevant social, economic, and political issues such as poverty, capitalism, racism, and reparations.
Keeping the Darkness at Bay, or How to Avoid Reliving the Lowest Moment in Human History w/ Brian Trent
Just before the dark ages began, there was a moment, when centuries of
the total accumulated evidence-based knowledge, as well as the empirical
approach to knowing, had people struggling for it not to be eviscerated by the forces of superstition, faith, and authoritarianism. For many reasons, that ill fated struggle to keep reason alive just before the thousand years of darkness which followed, was embodied in the story life of the ancient female mathematician and astronomer, Hypatia.
Brian Trent is the author of the recent historical novel “Remembering Hypatia.” Brian will help us understand what it is that this great woman represented, and why we aught to be especially vigilant today about how to protect humanity from those who would bring about a new Dark Age.
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Naturalism and Bodily Pleasure w/ James Prescott
Equal Time for Freethought begins 2006 with the first of a two part examination of how a culture that rejects precepts of religion should regard bodily pleasure and sexuality. To help us in our discussion we will be pleased to have joining us developmental neuro-psychologist, and cross-cultural psychologist, Dr. James Prescott.
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