Search results for: the-transcendental-temptation

The Transcendental Temptation

Author : Paul Kurtz
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In this landmark work, Paul Kurtz examines the reasons why people accept supernatural and paranormal belief systems in spite of substantial evidence to the contrary. According to Kurtz, it is because there is within the human species a deeply rooted tendency toward magical thinking—the “transcendental temptation”—which undermines critical judgment and paves the way for willful beliefs. Kurtz explores in detail the three major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—finding striking psychological and sociological parallels between these religions, the spiritualism of the nineteenth century, and the paranormal belief systems of today. This acclaimed and controversial book includes sections on mysticism, belief in the afterlife, the existence of God, reincarnation, astrology, and ufology. Kurtz concludes by explaining and advocating rational skepticism as an antidote to belief in the transcendental.

The Transcendental Temptation a Critique of Religion and the Paranormal

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Toward a New Enlightenment

Author : Paul Kurtz
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Paul Kurtz has been the dominant voice of secular humanism over the past thirty years. This compilation of his work reveals the scope of his thinking on the basic topics of our time and his many and varied contributions to the cause of free thought. It focuses on the central issues that have concerned Kurtz throughout his career: ethics, politics, education, religion, science, and pseudoscience. The chapters are linked by a common theme: the need for a new enlightenment, one committed to the use of rationality and skepticism, but also devoted to realizing the highest values of humanist culture. Many writings included here were first published in magazines and journals long unavailable. Some of the essays have never before been published. They now appear as a coherent whole for the first time. Also included is an extensive bibliography of Kurtz's writings. Toward a New Enlightenment is essential for those who know and admire Paul Kurtz's work. It will also be an important resource for students of philosophy, political science, ethics, and religion. Among the chapters are: "Humanist Ethics: Eating the Forbidden Fruit"; "Relevance of Science to Ethics"; "Democracy without Theology"; "Misuses of Civil Disobedience"; "The Limits of Tolerance"; "Skepticism about the Paranormal: Legitimate and Illegitimate"; "Militant Atheism vs. Freedom of Conscience"; "Promethean Love: Unbound"; "The Case for Euthanasia"; and "The New Inquisition in the Schools."

Skepticism and Humanism

Author : Paul Kurtz
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As we begin the third millennium there is cause for cautious optimism regarding the human prospect. Democratic revolutions and the doctrine of universal human rights have captured the imagination of large sectors of humanity, while major advances in science and technology continue to conquer disease and extend life, contributing to rising standards of living, affluence, and cultural freedom on a worldwide basis. Paradoxically, at the same time ancient authoritarian fundamentalist religions have grown in vitriolic intensity along with bizarre New Age, media-driven paranormal belief systems. Also surprising is the resurgence of primitive tribal and ethnic loyalties, unleashing wars of intolerance and bitterness. In Skepticism and Humanism, Paul Kurtz locates these threatening developments within a long-standing and largely unchallenged theological worldview. He proposes, as an alternative to religion, a new cultural paradigm rooted in scientific naturalism, rationalism, and a humanistic outlook. An estimated 60 percent of scientists are atheists or agnostics. However, the skeptical world view has been given little currency even in advanced societies, because of a cultural prohibition against the criticism of religion. At the same time, science has become increasingly narrow and specialized so that few people can draw on its broader intellectual and cultural implications. Skepticism and Humanism attempts to meet this need. It defends skepticism as a method for developing reliable knowledge by using scientific inquiry and reason to test all claims to truth. It also defends scientific naturalism-an evolutionary view of nature, life, and the human species. Kurtz sees the dominant religious doctrines as drawn from an agricultural/nomadic past, and emphasizes the need for a new outlook applicable to the postindustrial information age. At the same time, he rejects postmodernism for abandoning science and embracing a form of nihilism. There can be no doubt that as a new global civilization emerges, scientific naturalism, rationalism, and secular humanism have something significant to say about the meaning of life. Skepticism and Humanism shows how they can to foster democratic values and social prosperity. The book will be important for philosophers, scientists, and all those concerned with contemporary issues. Paul Kurtz taught at Trinity College, Vassar College, and State University of New York at Buffalo. He is founder of Prometheus Books, a major publisher of philosophical works. He is the author of some thirty books including Toward a New Enlightenment (available from Transaction) Humanist Manifesto 2000, and A Secular Humanist Declaration. He is chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry magazine.

Software and Mind

Author : Andrei Sorin
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Addressing general readers as well as software practitioners, "Software and Mind" discusses the fallacies of the mechanistic ideology and the degradation of minds caused by these fallacies. Mechanism holds that every aspect of the world can be represented as a simple hierarchical structure of entities. But, while useful in fields like mathematics and manufacturing, this idea is generally worthless, because most aspects of the world are too complex to be reduced to simple hierarchical structures. Our software-related affairs, in particular, cannot be represented in this fashion. And yet, all programming theories and development systems, and all software applications, attempt to reduce real-world problems to neat hierarchical structures of data, operations, and features. Using Karl Popper's famous principles of demarcation between science and pseudoscience, the book shows that the mechanistic ideology has turned most of our software-related activities into pseudoscientific pursuits. Using mechanism as warrant, the software elites are promoting invalid, even fraudulent, software notions. They force us to depend on generic, inferior systems, instead of allowing us to develop software skills and to create our own systems. Software mechanism emulates the methods of manufacturing, and thereby restricts us to high levels of abstraction and simple, isolated structures. The benefits of software, however, can be attained only if we start with low-level elements and learn to create complex, interacting structures. Software, the book argues, is a non-mechanistic phenomenon. So it is akin to language, not to physical objects. Like language, it permits us to mirror the world in our minds and to communicate with it. Moreover, we increasingly depend on software in everything we do, in the same way that we depend on language. Thus, being restricted to mechanistic software is like thinking and communicating while being restricted to some ready-made sentences supplied by an elite. Ultimately, by impoverishing software, our elites are achieving what the totalitarian elite described by George Orwell in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" achieves by impoverishing language: they are degrading our minds.

Multi Secularism

Author : Paul Kurtz
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The contemporary world is witness to an intense controversy about secularism. This controversy has intensified due to the presence of fundamentalism, which challenges secular society and the secularization of philosophical ideas and ethical values. Secularists maintain that the state should not impose a religious creed upon citizens and should respect freedom of conscience, the right to believe or disbelieve in the prevailing orthodoxy. This right is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the Rights of Man enunciated in the French Revolution. Yet many powerful religious institutions do not accept this principle. Paul Kurtz argues that secularism needs to be allied to the emergence of democratic institutions that respect individual freedom and the pluralistic society. He argues that a defense of secularism entails a defense of the civic virtues of democracy, which include the toleration of dissent and alternative lifestyles and the willingness to negotiate differences. Consequently, secularism will take different forms in different societies; the term multi-secularism best describes that. Many people believe that it is impossible to maintain a moral order without the support of religion. Kurtz vigorously denies that, and this volume attempts to explicate the values and principles of secular morality, which he sees as the cornerstone of the open democratic society. Kurtz was involved in the campaign for secularism throughout his career as a philosopher. This book reflects his participation in this battle and extends his thinking to new areas.

Exuberance

Author : Paul Kurtz
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Happiness is within everyone's grasp and is only a matter of making the right choices. Taking destiny into one's own hands and having the creative audacity to strive, seek, and meet challenges is the essence of life's drama and exaltation. Life per se has no meaning; it only presents opportunity to be seized and acted upon, thus paving the way for personal achievement and the full life. Paul Kurtz, in Exuberance, shows his readers how to banish drudgery from life and how to find happiness in the active life. Drawing upon his personal experience, knowledge, and success, Kurtz explains his philosophy of life, discussing learning and work, pleasure, eroticism and sexuality, morality, the need for love and friendship, and participation in contemporary issues. He suggests that self-power, resourcefulness, daring, creativity, and intelligence help guide and control one's life in spite of the many obstacles along the way. Only the individual can initiate his own success and therefore can take pride in accomplishing what he sets out to do. Exuberance also shows the reader how to cope with an ambiguous world. Life is charged with unexpected events and bizarre happenings. It is filled with richly diverse and idiosyncratic characters. Constant effort and exertion is needed in making a living, meeting new friends, falling in love, raising children, seeing projects through, and coming to terms with old age and death. Dealing with these problems directly rather than fleeing from life's risks reinforces a person and leads him towards an exuberant, rich, zestful life. According to Dr. Kurtz, the fulfillment of one's own purpose is in creating one's own ends and expending the power and energy to attain them. Thus, life's great sin, he suggests, is being lazy and noncreative.

Moral Wisdom and Good Lives

Author : John Kekes
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In this profound and yet accessible book, John Kekes discusses moral wisdom: a virtue essential to living a morally good and personally satisfying life. He advances a broad, nontechnical argument that considers the adversities inherent in the human condition and assists in the achievement of good lives. The possession of moral wisdom, Kekes asserts, is a matter of degree: more of it makes lives better, less makes them worse. Exactly what is moral wisdom, however, and how should it be sought? Ancient Greek and medieval Christian philosophers were centrally concerned with it. By contrast, modern Western sensibility doubts the existence of a moral order in reality; and because we doubt it, and have developed no alternatives, we have grown dubious about the traditional idea of wisdom. Kekes returns to the classical Greek sources of Western philosophy to argue for the contemporary significance of moral wisdom. He develops a proposal that is eudaimonistic—secular, anthropocentric, pluralistic, individualistic, and agonistic. He understands moral wisdom as focusing on the human effort to create many different forms of good lives. Although the approach is Aristotelian, the author concentrates on formulating and defending a contemporary moral ideal. The importance of this ideal, he shows, lies in increasing our ability to cope with life's adversities by improving our judgment. In chapters on moral imagination, self-knowledge, and moral depth, Kekes calls attention to aspects of our inner life that have been neglected because of our cultural inattention to moral wisdom. He discusses these inner processes through the tragedies of Sophocles, which can inspire us with their enduring moral significance and help us to understand the importance of moral wisdom to living a good life.

Forbidden Fruit

Author : Paul Kurtz
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America's leading secular humanist philosopher affirms that it is possible tolive the good life and be morally responsible without belief in religion.

Facing Evil

Author : John Kekes
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Arguing that the prevalence of evil presents a fundamental problem for our secular sensibility, John Kekes develops a conception of character-morality as a response. He shows that the main sources of evil are habitual, unchosen actions produced by our character defects and that we can increase our control over the evil we cause by cultivating a reflective temper.