A HUMANIST DARES TO DREAM

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Joseph H

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Sep 13, 2004, 5:15:32 PM9/13/04
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I suppose I'm a humanist. Don't believe in god, absolutely "believe"
in humankind. But that's not enough. It might be praiseworthy, it
might be closer to the reality of existence than most positions, it
might not add further to the mountain of error overwhelming truth in
every quarter, it might satisfy your own private conviction and your
private decision to hold fast to what you see to be true.....

But it ain't going to change the world. It ain't going to even BEGIN
to dismantle that mountain. It is to some extent a question of
emotion. Holding fast to a truth hardly impels one to action. It is a
possession, a conviction even - but hardly a passion. There are no
suicide-bombers for humanism.

Anyway, humanism doesn't have a drama; it doesn't have a myth; it
doesn't promise deliverance; there is no ebb and sway, no fiery
heroes.

"Humanisation", on the other hand, does have a drama, does have a
myth. It is predicated on a positive view of existence. It says
existence is good. We all want it. It says life is good - likewise, we
all want it. These are not philosophical statements. They won't
exercise the most subtle minds. They are observations based on an
effort to see the nature of existence.

Humanisation is based on a view that life is essentially intelligent,
that the creatures of the planet are endowed with the capacity to
fulfill the often very complex tasks necessary for survival. It goes
further, saying that we are most intelligent creature on the planet
and that therefore we should expect - no more - to surmount the
challenges of life more successfully than any other creature. But, it
suggests, the human colonisation of the planet was - and is - a
fraught process, not over yet in any sense.

And yet we have come far. Democracy is now the chosen system of more
than half of the world's population - much more than at any other time
in history. And yet, we are stalled. Democracy has lost its charm.
It's now a matter of taxation and health-plans. We need a new myth, a
new dream. The belief that we are the mind of matter, that we are the
sole creature on the planet, indeed the sole creature in our solar
system, maybe even the sole creature in the universe...capable of
perceiving the universe, capable of celebrating it, capable,
eventually, of traversing it, capable in time - possibly - of altering
it...is, I feel, a sufficient dream for most people.

This is not a fantasy. It is a view of the human place in the cosmos.
We are the only creature - we know - made of matter with the capacity
to understand matter. In that sense, and in that sense only, we are
the mind of matter. This belief is founded on, or partakes of, some of
the insights of humanism. But it goes further than humanism. It is
more challenging and more ambitious. I ain't going to die for it - but
it is something I can feel passionate about.

Joseph H
www.humanisation.org

merv bitikofer

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Sep 16, 2004, 10:21:11 PM9/16/04
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> Holding fast to a truth hardly impels one to action.

Then just what is it that does compel your actions?


> There are no suicide-bombers for humanism.

Humanism of one flavor or another has had some passionate believers in
recent history. Stalin or Hitler come to mind. Of course, perhaps
they don't rank as suicide bombers since they proved much more
efficient at executing millions of others without personal danger to
themselves through most of it. But I'm sure you would insist what you
have in mind will somehow be "different" (it always is.)


>
> "Humanisation", on the other hand, does have a drama, does have a
> myth. It is predicated on a positive view of existence. It says
> existence is good. We all want it. It says life is good - likewise, we
> all want it. These are not philosophical statements. They won't
> exercise the most subtle minds. They are observations based on an
> effort to see the nature of existence.

This is remniscent of late nineteenth century thought before a
revolution or two and a couple world wars sobered people up. Does the
memory of atrocity already fade away from you? I don't care to watch
the news much either.

So how is humanisation any different than a redressed form of humanism
with a bit of a more subdued tone about it?

--merv

David V.

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Sep 17, 2004, 12:11:46 AM9/17/04
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merv bitikofer wrote:
>> Holding fast to a truth hardly impels one to action.
>
> Then just what is it that does compel your actions?
>
>> There are no suicide-bombers for humanism.
>
> Humanism of one flavor or another has had some passionate
> believers in recent history. Stalin or Hitler come to
> mind...

Hitler was christian. Stalin was not in any way any "flavor"
of humanist.

--
David V.

UDP for WebTV

Ty

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Sep 17, 2004, 6:30:19 AM9/17/04
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I've never found dreaming to be particularly "daring" or difficult. In my
experience, it is far more "daring" and difficult to actually *do*
something...

--Ty


ian

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Sep 17, 2004, 9:42:14 AM9/17/04
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jos...@humanisation.org (Joseph H) wrote in message news:<2b0ce0c5.04091...@posting.google.com>...

With your humanism it is associated with a democratic enviroment. But
still this create an enviroment of sitting back and expect the
"humanistic" people to provide. Now, capatalism come into play, thus
the humanist should initially have been a capatalist to be able to
provide to the sit back humanist.

merv bitikofer

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Sep 17, 2004, 8:32:55 PM9/17/04
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> Hitler was christian. Stalin was not in any way any "flavor"
> of humanist.

Thanks for shaking me up on this. It actually had never occurred to
me that anyone seriously thought Hitler was a Christian – (and I've
never read Mein Kampf). But a brief perusal on the net quickly
relieved me of this ignorance. Apparently, many among you take Hitler
at his word – (maybe he was a trustworthy and honest gentleman as
well?) So, when are we to believe Hitler; As he uses Jesus to fuel
his personal invective against Jews? Or as he admires Nietzsche?
Another quote attributed to Hitler states that one can be a good
German or a good Christian but not both simultaneously. Or perhaps
Hitler just made use of anything he had handy to advance his true
cause?

Given the life he lived and what he did (anti-tobacco and anti-porn
crusades being irrelevant to the question), anybody that would now
maintain he was a Christian needs to at least familiarize themselves
with a few fundamentals of Christianity to see how absurd this is.
Humanism is much less of a stretch.

Regarding Stalin – my grasp of humanism is modest, so I consulted the
dictionary to discover that, indeed, he doesn't completely fit any of
the definitions there. Only his adherence to materialism would
overlap – and that with only one branch of humanism. I guess I'm not
the first to have to apologize for that association!

It is a fascinating topic to me to see where proponents of human
dignity and worth try to identify their foundation if materialism is
the only allowed domain.

--merv

Marvin Edwards

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Sep 17, 2004, 9:39:37 PM9/17/04
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Actually, I find Humanist values consistent with Christian values. Take the
theology out of Christianity and you have a man named Jesus teaching
morality. Rather than the legalistic view of the Judaism he grew up with,
where, like my NT instructor said, all of the big rules were surrounded by
layers of little rules, Jesus taught the importance of a moral heart. The
humanist principle of the "worth and dignity of every person" is consistent
throughout Jesus's teachings, of the importance of the one lamb, and how
even the despised (Samaritans were hated for having betrayed other Jews in
some historical thing I've forgotten about) could show better morality (the
"good Samaritan") than religious leaders.


"merv bitikofer" <mer...@netscape.net> wrote in message
news:fe247ea7.04091...@posting.google.com...


>> Hitler was christian. Stalin was not in any way any "flavor"
>> of humanist.
>
> Thanks for shaking me up on this. It actually had never occurred to

> me that anyone seriously thought Hitler was a Christian - (and I've


> never read Mein Kampf). But a brief perusal on the net quickly
> relieved me of this ignorance. Apparently, many among you take Hitler

> at his word - (maybe he was a trustworthy and honest gentleman as


> well?) So, when are we to believe Hitler; As he uses Jesus to fuel
> his personal invective against Jews? Or as he admires Nietzsche?
> Another quote attributed to Hitler states that one can be a good
> German or a good Christian but not both simultaneously. Or perhaps
> Hitler just made use of anything he had handy to advance his true
> cause?
>
> Given the life he lived and what he did (anti-tobacco and anti-porn
> crusades being irrelevant to the question), anybody that would now
> maintain he was a Christian needs to at least familiarize themselves
> with a few fundamentals of Christianity to see how absurd this is.
> Humanism is much less of a stretch.
>

> Regarding Stalin - my grasp of humanism is modest, so I consulted the


> dictionary to discover that, indeed, he doesn't completely fit any of
> the definitions there. Only his adherence to materialism would

> overlap - and that with only one branch of humanism. I guess I'm not

David V.

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Sep 18, 2004, 12:30:28 AM9/18/04
to
merv bitikofer wrote:
>> Hitler was christian. Stalin was not in any way any
>> "flavor" of humanist.
>
> Thanks for shaking me up on this. It actually had never
> occurred to me that anyone seriously thought Hitler was a
> Christian

Hitler did.

> – (and I've never read Mein Kampf). But a brief perusal
> on the net quickly relieved me of this ignorance.
> Apparently, many among you take Hitler at his word –
> (maybe he was a trustworthy and honest gentleman as
> well?)

Is this going to degenerate into a No True Scotsman Fallacy?

> So, when are we to believe Hitler; As he uses Jesus to
> fuel his personal invective against Jews? Or as he
> admires Nietzsche?

Martin Luther had more effect on Hitler than Nietzsche.

> Another quote attributed to Hitler states that one can be
> a good German or a good Christian but not both
> simultaneously. Or perhaps Hitler just made use of
> anything he had handy to advance his true cause?

That's been attributed to him... got any proof he said it?

> Given the life he lived and what he did (anti-tobacco and
> anti-porn crusades being irrelevant to the question),
> anybody that would now maintain he was a Christian needs
> to at least familiarize themselves with a few
> fundamentals of Christianity to see how absurd this is.
> Humanism is much less of a stretch.

Only if you come at it from the point of trying to change
his religion.

> Regarding Stalin – my grasp of humanism is modest, so I
> consulted the dictionary to discover that, indeed, he
> doesn't completely fit any of the definitions there.
> Only his adherence to materialism would overlap – and
> that with only one branch of humanism. I guess I'm not
> the first to have to apologize for that association!

That's alright, many do not want to understand what Humanism
is about. They need to see their god at the top of the list
instead of at the bottom or gone completely.

> It is a fascinating topic to me to see where proponents
> of human dignity and worth try to identify their
> foundation if materialism is the only allowed domain.

There is no human dignity or worth in a religion; the god
and what it wants and says is all that matters.

Joseph H

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Sep 18, 2004, 1:03:57 PM9/18/04
to
mer...@netscape.net (merv bitikofer) wrote in message news:<fe247ea7.04091...@posting.google.com>...

> > Holding fast to a truth hardly impels one to action.
>
> Then just what is it that does compel your actions?
> Much else: passion, anger, ambition, desire, need... My point - I suppose put badly - was that belief alone may not impel one to action.

>
> > There are no suicide-bombers for humanism.
>
> Humanism of one flavor or another has had some passionate believers in
> recent history. Stalin or Hitler come to mind. Of course, perhaps
> they don't rank as suicide bombers since they proved much more
> efficient at executing millions of others without personal danger to
> themselves through most of it. But I'm sure you would insist what you
> have in mind will somehow be "different" (it always is.)

Bit heavy, Merv, don't you think? I don't associate any of these
gentlemen with standard notions of humanism - though part of their
outlook may have been similar.


>
>
> >
> > "Humanisation", on the other hand, does have a drama, does have a
> > myth. It is predicated on a positive view of existence. It says
> > existence is good. We all want it. It says life is good - likewise, we
> > all want it. These are not philosophical statements. They won't
> > exercise the most subtle minds. They are observations based on an
> > effort to see the nature of existence.
>
> This is remniscent of late nineteenth century thought before a
> revolution or two and a couple world wars sobered people up. Does the
> memory of atrocity already fade away from you? I don't care to watch
> the news much either.

I really don't see how my paragraph evokes that response. To say that
people want life, that they value existence, is hardly contentious.


>
> So how is humanisation any different than a redressed form of humanism
> with a bit of a more subdued tone about it?

Humanism, as I understand it and as I respect it, bases value on the
existence of life on this planet. It does not look elsewhere. As such,
it advocates tolerance,care etc. It also accords the human the respect
of being the sole voice of value on the planet.

I go along with all of that. I seek, however, to broaden the
discourse. I am not so hung up on value alone. I suggest that all life
is intelligent - that all life brings with it the wherewithal to
perform the functions and tasks appropriate to that form oflife. Human
beings are the most inteligent. We have broken free from instinct or
nurture as a guide to action. Our capacity for knowledge opens endless
possibilities.There is no limit to what we may eventually achieve.
There is, however, a certain standard of life we may consider
commensurate with our intelligence. We should expect that every human
being is accorded the basic rights of freedom, food, shelter etc. In
reality, we have failed to achieve this. Billions of human beings are
still without these basics. Our history, our necessarily traumatic
colonisation of the planet, is central here.
But this process is over in essence. We have reached every landfall.
We have crossed thresholds of knowledge too. We have removed most of
the powerful tyrannies of the past. We are free. But our discourse is
still all to do with freedom. We have no post-freedom discourse. We
have no sense of ourselves as a species. So we trip out on drugs and
fun and rock'n'roll! Nothing wrong with that - it's just that we need
more. we have such a spiritual capacity, a capacity for belief, an
appendix now unused like the real one.
I offer belief. I say we are an extraordinary creature. We are
privileged. We are the voice of creation. Are we not the voice of
creation - literally? It is a view of the human. It doesn't deny any
of the terrible things we have done. It just says that they are an
unavoidable part of any creature who emerged from the crucible of
evolution.

So...this is not just redressed humanism. It is not modified etc. It
is more than that.

Best wishes Joseph H

www.humanisation.org
> --merv

Joseph H

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Sep 18, 2004, 1:09:03 PM9/18/04
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mer...@netscape.net (merv bitikofer) wrote in message news:<fe247ea7.04091...@posting.google.com>...
> > Hitler was christian. Stalin was not in any way any "flavor"
> > of humanist.
>
> Thanks for shaking me up on this. It actually had never occurred to
> me that anyone seriously thought Hitler was a Christian ? (and I've

> never read Mein Kampf). But a brief perusal on the net quickly
> relieved me of this ignorance. Apparently, many among you take Hitler
> at his word ? (maybe he was a trustworthy and honest gentleman as

> well?) So, when are we to believe Hitler; As he uses Jesus to fuel
> his personal invective against Jews? Or as he admires Nietzsche?
> Another quote attributed to Hitler states that one can be a good
> German or a good Christian but not both simultaneously. Or perhaps
> Hitler just made use of anything he had handy to advance his true
> cause?
>
> Given the life he lived and what he did (anti-tobacco and anti-porn
> crusades being irrelevant to the question), anybody that would now
> maintain he was a Christian needs to at least familiarize themselves
> with a few fundamentals of Christianity to see how absurd this is.
> Humanism is much less of a stretch.
>
> Regarding Stalin ? my grasp of humanism is modest, so I consulted the

> dictionary to discover that, indeed, he doesn't completely fit any of
> the definitions there. Only his adherence to materialism would
> overlap ? and that with only one branch of humanism. I guess I'm not

> the first to have to apologize for that association!
>
> It is a fascinating topic to me to see where proponents of human
> dignity and worth try to identify their foundation if materialism is
> the only allowed domain.

But, Merv, why do you need a foundation other then the mere fact that
we are here and that we have a capacity for value. Cast off the past,
Merv, you have nothing to lose but your preconceptions.
Joseph H

www.humanisation.org
>
> --merv

Joseph H

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Sep 18, 2004, 1:11:40 PM9/18/04
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"Ty" <tbear...@tyler.net> wrote in message news:<10klf72...@corp.supernews.com>...

Ouch!

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