Road to Reason: Landmarks in the Evolution of Humanist Thought


"There would seem to be a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding in the public mind about the life stance of modern humanism and its philosophical  underpinnings.  Who better to clear this up than the eminently deserving Year 2000 recipient of the 'Humanist of the Year Award' of The Humanist Association of Canada and recipient of the American Humanist Association's 'Humanist Distinguished Service Award' for 2001!
 
Pat Duffy Hutcheon is a sociologist and retired university educator living in Vancouver. As a committed humanist she has made many invaluable contributions to the clarification of the nature and origin of evolutionary naturalism as a necessary component of modern humanism.  This collection of topical essays is the most recent addition to her ongoing pursuit, following her analysis of cultural development in Building Character and Culture (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999) and her earlier seminal work tracing the evolution of the naturalistic basis of social-scientific thought in  Leaving the Cave (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996).
 
Pat Duffy Hutcheon's newest book presents the ideas, in the context of their time, of some of the most prominent thinkers who have, in one way or another, shaped the evolving philosophy of humanism over the centuries.  It is a much needed and most welcome resource for any thoughtful person who wants to better appreciate the naturalistic view of human existence rather than the supernatural or mystical approaches that so regrettably dominate the current scene."
 

-- Theo Meijer, retired educator and Past President of the British Columbia

Humanist Association.
 
"It is no small matter to lay bare, within so jumbled a spectacle of cultural history, a truly common set of goals.  It is an achievement of scholarship and interpretation to trace it, persuasively, back through the millennia. This Pat Duffy Hutcheon has done in text so lucid, so temperate and modest, that it begs to be read.  One fails to notice the special quality of the writing until one stumbles upon one of her two short poems, slipped into the text unannounced and unsigned. Her long career as a teacher, among several other careers simultaneous and sequential, is much in evidence in this exposition.  Because, moreover, Pat Duffy Hutcheon's essays succeed individually, their collection into a single volume, arranged by historical chronology, succeeds further by means of its emergent properties. The book as a whole follows the Ariadne-thread of the liberation of human understanding."
-- Paul R. Gross, University Professor of Life Sciences Emeritus, University of Virginia, and Trustee, American Academy for Liberal Education.

"These succinct and well-written sketches of humanist thinkers and thinking, from the Buddha to Richard Dawkins, are both remarkable for their originality and insight and valuable as contributions to the history of ideas. Dr. Hutcheon succeeds brilliantly in demonstrating the core of unifying ideas that constitute true humanism, continuing today as evolutionary naturalism.  Her work stands as a stunning rebuke to those in the so-called 'humanities' whose anti-science attitudes are the inverse of classical humanism.  If this book could be read by all college students--and a good many teachers--it would make up some of the sad deficit in what currently passes for education."
-- Robin Fox, University Professor of Social Theory, Rutgers University.

"An interactionist vision of evolutionary change, says the author, is central to the humanist world view. The thinkers who meet us in the pages of this book are presented in context, acted on within their own evolving culture, but also functioning as agents of change.   Serendipity or perhaps chance-relationships are woven in.  One thread leading to Unitarianism begins with criticism of the 'Donation of Constantine' *by a papal secretary.* And, reading Hume, where he puts his thoughts into the mouth of a 'reconstructed Epicurus,' we realize the amazingly intricate dodges sometimes necessary to safely express critical thought!"
-- Clif Bennett,  adult educator and labour consultant (from review in Humanist in Canada, Winter 2000/2001).

CONTENTS OF THE BOOK
 

Preface

Acknowledgments
 
1.  Was the Buddha the First Humanist?
2.  Confucius as a Pioneering Humanist
3.  What Lucretius Wrought
4.  The Epicurean Humanism of Omar Khayyam
5.  Renaissance Humanism and Its Unitarian Offshoot
6.  Michel de Montaigne's Goslings
7.  David Hume: Beacon of the Enlightenment
8.  Harriet Martineau: The Woman Who Thought Like a Man
9.  The Monistic Naturalism of Ernst Haeckel
10.  John Dewey's Commitment to Science and Democracy
11.  The Ethical Humanism of Albert Schweitzer
12.  Julian Huxley: From Materialism to Evolutionary Naturalism
13.  Sartre and Camus on Existential Humanism
14.  The Legacy of Isaac Asimov
15.  Carl Sagan's Scientific Humanism
16.  The Humanism of Edward O. Wilson: Toward Consilience
17.  Richard Dawkins and the Scientific Foundations of Modern Humanism
18.  Changing Perspectives on Free Will: An Example of Cultural Evolution
Conclusions: A World View for the Global Village
Epilogue: Amazing Life
Index

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