A Wealth of Insights
Humanist Thought Since the Enlightenment
By Bill Cooke
(Prometheus Books, Hardcover, 9781591027270, 528pp.)
Publication Date: December 30, 2009
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Humanism is a relatively young word, coined only in 1808, and yet it is the most transcultural mode of thought ever conceived. Centered on the plight of all humans in the here and now and committed to reason, free thought, and producing a better, more democratic world, humanism encompasses positive and constructive perspectives and goals.
In this enlightening study, Bill Cooke, author and independent scholar, explores the history of humanism—the word, the concept, and the thinkers who identify themselves as humanist (or ought to). Investigating the works and lives of humanists from England to Nigeria, New Zealand, America, China, India, and beyond, Cooke reveals that humanism is not only the most transcultural of perspectives but also one of the oldest, with roots that can be traced back to ancient cultures.
Until now there has never been an account of humanism that outlines and acknowledges the extent of its cultural and intellectual richness, not only for American and Western humanism, but also for the less well-known humanist traditions of Asia, the Near East, and Africa. In this extensive yet accessible overview of the global humanist tradition, Cooke shows that humanism has indeed produced a wealth of insights.
Bill Cooke, an independent scholar, is author of A Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism; The Gathering of Infidels: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association; and A Rebel to His Last Breath: Joseph McCabe and Rationalism, among other books and articles. He was also senior lecturer at the School of Visual Arts, University of Auckland at Manukau from 1996 to 2008.