Bibliography A1: The Nature of Humanisms

CAVEAT: This is the first of a number of annotated bibliographies that I will be adding to the site over the next year or so. Originally I wrote a bibliography of 30, 000 words for the book but have since decided it is just too much: I can’t imagine many people being interested in it. So gradually I will present some that are more selective. I hope to update regularly.

A1 Introducing Humanity and Humanism: General Introductions

To get us going, I start with a few very general, scene setting and popular books that provide very readable guides to contemporary issues around humanity and humanism. Two key texts here are Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Human: A Portrait of Our World, GoodPlanet/Thames and Hudson, 2015 and Yuval Noah Harrari’s Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind Vintage, 2011. Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Human: A Portrait of Our World is full of extraordinary photographs and a linked online film that provides details of the 2,000 interviews conducted, again with spectacular imagery. The already classic recent sweeping account, a world bestseller, is Yuval Noah Harrari’s Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind Vintage, 2011 which provides a great introduction. Along with his other works, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, 2016, Secker, Penguin and 21 Things for the 21st Century, 2019, Vintage we have a key trilogy of works taking humanism seriously for today. It I so popular it has also been turned into a comic book version: Sapiens: A Graphic History, 2020, Harvill Secker.

Both authors have lively web sites.

Some popular magazines also usefully set the scene for contemporary humanist and humanitarian debates:

The New Humanitarian

New Internationalist

New Humanist

Humanity – an international journal of human rights, humanitarianism, and development

Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (Human Development Association)

Other and Belonging Institute, Berkeley!

IA2 Critical Humanism Introduced

The very idea of Critical Humanism itself has quite a history and has been used before in a diverse number of ways. In recent times it has grown out of modern social theory and radical politics. One key illustration is Jeff Noonan’s Critical Humanism and the Politics of Difference, 2003 McGill which argues against the ‘essence of humanity‘ by highlighting the humanities of diverse groups and looks at their social movements and politics for change. (See also his Democratic Society and Human Needs, 2006). Likewise, Martin Halliwell and Andy Mousley’s Critical Humanism: Humanist/Anti-Humanist Dialogues, 2003 Edinburgh, focuses on a mixed range of Western theorists who have been engaged with debates on humanism, including Marx, Fanon, Bakhtin, James, Dewey, Arendt, Foucault, Haraway, Rorty and Baudrillard.  Some are not very sympathetic but nevertheless provide us with insights. 

The philosopher, linguist and critic Tzvetan Todorov used the term in his own way across a wide range various of some 40 books. He is seen as’ one of France’s most important and respected intellectuals of the past fifty years’. See Tzvetan Todorov: Thinker and Humanism, 2020, edited by Karine Zbinder, Camden House. Probably from my point of view, his most central work is Facing the Extreme. Some of his wide range of books will be discussed later

My own early ideas around crucial humanism were developed initially in Ken Plummer Documents of Life -2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism (2001; orig 1983)) Sage as well as implicitly in two introductory sociology texts applied this strong humanist line: Ken Plummer Sociology: The Basics (2010, now 2021 3rd ed) Routledge.; Macionis and Plummer Sociology: A Global Introduction 5th ed, 2102, Pearson (note the films, books etc listed in these books which mark it off somewhat from a more classic scientific approach to sociology…)  I apply and extend the arguments in a number of places: but notably Cosmopolitan Sexualities (2015), ‘Critical Humanism & Queer Theory’ with new afterword and comment ‘Moving On’: in 4th edition of Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage (2010).  

On the Diversity of Humanisms

Humanism has a very long worldwide history and has taken many forms. There are many practitioners who make very particular claims. Critical humanism flourishes on making connections across systems of thought – it is not bound up with any one system and certainly not just western enlightenment thinking.

Atheistic humanism  
Anthony G. Flew Atheistic Humanism (Prometheus, 1993)
The Four Horsemen 

Buddhist Humanism

Daisaku  Ikeda  A New Humanism: The University Addresses of Daisaku Ikeda (I.B..Tauris, 2010)
Felix Ungder and Daisaku Ikeda  The Humanist Principle: On Compassion and Tolerance (I.B. Taris, 2016) 

Christian Humanism
Jens Zimmerman Envisioning Christian Humanism: Education and the Restoration of Humanity (Oxford: 2016)
Rowan Williams, Being Human SPCK.(2018)

Civic humanism where the political being and the procedures for good governance come to the fore (eg (Habermas)

Confucian Humanism

Duck-Joo Kwak, Morimichi Kato, Ruyu Hung The Confucian Concept of Learning: Revisited for East Asian Humanistic Pedagogies (Routledge, 2018)

Democratic worldly humanism
Edward W. Said was one of the world’s leading cultural critics of the late twentieth century. His work Orientalism spearheaded the postcolonial movement and decolonization.

Dialogic Humanism where the conversation between self and other are focus. (Buber, Bakhtin, Levinas)
Moses Pave Jewish Ethics as Dialogue: Using Spiritual Language to Re-Imagine a Better World (Palgrave, 2009)

Environmental Humanism/Ecological Humanism
Brian Morris Pioneers of Ecological Humanism(Black Rose, 2017) highlights the early work of Lewis Mumford, René Dubos and Murray Bookchin

Existential Humanism where the very nature of our very being in the world is the focus. Look at the works of De Beauvoir, Heidegger, Sartre, Arendt, Fanon.

Feminist Humanisms

Pauline Johnson Feminism as Radical Humanism, (1994) is a key work. See also Catherine MacKinnon Are Women Human?)

Hindu Humanism

Chiraq Patel & Rishabh Prasad Humanism: The Untold Tale, 

Islamic Humanism (Independent, 2019)
Lenn E. Goodman Islamic Humanism (Oxford, 2003)

Judaic Humanism

Sherwin T. Wine & Adam Chalom Judaism Beyond God (International Institute for  Secular Humanistic Judaism, 2017)
David Ibry Exodus to Humanism: Jewish Identity without Religion (Pometheus, 1999)

Marxist humanism. The earlier Marx can be readily linked to humanism through his theory of alienation but his later work is usually seen as anti-essentialist and anti-humanist. See Norman Geras  Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend, Verso, 1983/2016 which debates the idea that Marx was anti human in his later work. See also his Crimes Against Humanity: Birth of a Concept, Manchester 2012; Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind Verso 1995,  The Contract of Mutual Indifference, Verso, 1998

nonviolent, pacifist humanism Mahatma Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Writings (Oxford, 2008)

Arturo Escobar in Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible

(Duke University Press, 2020). 

Raewyn Connell looks at the world history of ideas and suggest the need for a mosaic epistemology in ‘Meeting at the Edge of Fear: Theory on a World Scale’, Feminist Theory 16/1 (2015): 49–66. See also

 Walter Mignolo, ‘On Pluriversality and Multipolar World Order: Decoloniality after Decolonization: Dewesternization after the Cold War’, in Bernd Reiter, ed., Constructing the Pluriverse: The Geopolitics of Knowledge Duke University Press, 2018), pp. 90–116.

Kothari et al., Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary

Psychodynamic Humanism whereby we focus on the inner (often tortured) world (Freud )

Psychological Humanism (Maslow et el) where the conditions of human flourishing become a key focus 

Pagan Humanism (Nietzche, Bataille), where the void of nothingness takes over

Pragmatic humanism, where humanity is a practical and down to earth business (James, Dewey, Rorty, Morgan)

Religious Humanisms generally

Romantic Humanism (Shakespeare, Marx) which highlights

Scientific Humanism
Daniel Dennett Consciousness Explained: Darwin from Bacteria to Bach

Secular Humanism

Sociological Humanism

Spiritual Humanism (Martin Luther King), god

Technological Humanism (Foucault, Haraway

See also:
Martha Nusbaum’s ‘cosmopolitan-cultivation-capabilities’ humanism

Paul Gilroy’s antiracist planetary humanism

Jeffrey Weeks’s radical humanism

Judith Butler’s mortalist humanism

Cornell West’s prophetic humanism of love

William E. Connolly’s entangled planetary humanism

Roberto Unger’s new religious pragmatic humanism – and many more. 

See also 
Religious Humanism s discussed below

IA3 Discussing Western Humanism

Humanism as western enlightenment

I have deliberately not given priority here to Western Enlightenment Humanism. The widely accepted claim that humanism is Western, hopeful and derives from the Enlightenment has been a view put forward over the last 250 years and is pervasive in the academy and the West. Its most prominent, popular proponent these days is the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. See
 Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanity, and progress, 2018, Allen-Lane
Of interest too is the recent popular publication by 

Rutger Bregman Humankind: A Hopeful History (Bloomsbury, 2020)   Utopia for Realists  (Bloomsbury, 2017).


Here are some of the most optimistic books of our time

My thinking on humanism was initially shaped by Western humanism but later the long history of humanisms.  Two key shapers were sociological humanism and critical humanism.

Sociological Humanism

A key recent discussion can be found in Iain Wilkinson and Arthur Kleineman’s A Passion for Society: How we think about human suffering (2016) California – a passionate plea for a more critical and engaged social science that is directly concerned with suffering, social action and care. Marcus Morgan’s Pragmatic Humanism: On the nature and value of sociological knowledge (2016) Routledge links humanism strongly to the history of pragmatism.  Daniel Chemillo’s Debating Humanity: Towards a Philosophical Sociology (2017), Cambridge discusses the links between key social theorists and humanism: Arendt, Parsons, Joas, Habermas, Taylor, Archer, and Boltanski. I found it a curious choice of key thinkers. 
Christian Smith’s works …All these are all major recent books with sustained arguments that open up new spaces for rethinking humanism in the social sciences.  

More classic sociological introductions to humanism and sociology can be found in the multiple works of Alfred McLung Lee especially Toward a Humanist Sociology (1973) New Jersey: Prentice Hall; Sociology for Whom? (1978) Oxford; Sociology for People: Toward a Caring Profession ((1988) Syracuse. Peter Berger’s Invitation to Sociology 1963 Middlesex: Penguin Books was a very influential text. Another wonderful earlier introduction to sociological humanisms was Audrey Borenstein’s Redeeming the Sin: Social Science and Literature1979 Columbia UP. A modern classic has become Les Back’s The Art of Listening 2007 Berg.  Many years ago, I found T.S. Bruyn’s The Human Perspective in Sociology, (1966) Prentice Hall to be a most important contributions that links theory, humanism and method together very well. Of course, Herbert Blumer’s Symbolic Interactionism, 1969 Prentice Hall is a classic statement of how Symbolic Interactionism can puff humanism into sociology. 

Pragmatic Humanism

That said there are certainly many Western thinkers about humanism and humanity who do not see humanism just in Western terms and who adopt a more critical world critical stance. This might include in recent times the works of William James, John Dewey, Hannah Arendt, Richard Rorty, Martha Nussbaum and xxx Todorow may be seen as crucial to understanding modern Western humanism. 

For an overview and collection of the writings of James, see The Heart of William James edited by Robert Richardson (2010). Harvard. His classic is The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, 1902, 1955, Longman. John Dewey was a signer of the original Humanist Manifesto (1933), and a key developer of ideas of democracy and the public sphere. His ideas are collected in The Philosophy of John Dewey, ed John J.McDermott, 1973, Chicago. 

Richard Rorty once said that ‘At 12, I knew the point of being human was to spend one’s life fighting social injustice’ in Philosophy and Social Hope, 2000, Penguin. His key work is Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, 1989, Cambridge. Most of these classic works are well discussed in Richard J. Bernstein’s The Pragmatic Turn, 2010, Polity. 

A classic of modern humanism is Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (1958), Chicago. 

And the work of Martha Nussbaum is very prominent today. A prolific writer, for her basic ideas see especially Cultivating Humanity, 1997: Harvard; Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach 2011 Harvard.  Much of her recent work is concerned with taking seriously the importance of emotions in social, ethical and political life. For examples see, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, 2001, Cambridge; Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law,2004, Princeton; Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership, 2006, Belknap; and Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice,2013, Belknap.

There is a distinctive humanism in the UK. It is well documented and illustrated in The Wiley Handbook of Humanism, edited by Andrew Copson and A.C. Grayling, 2015, brings over 20 contributors together. 

IA4 The Humanities

James Turner Philology 2015 Princeton. This tells the forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university. The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. This book helps us understanding their common origins. Contemporary developments in the Humanities are well explored in Mikhail Epstein’s The Transformative Humanities, 2012, Bloomsbury and Rens Bod’s A New History of Transformative Humanities: The Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present, 2013, Oxford. The modern synthesis of Digital Humanities can be found in David M Berry and Anders Fagejord, Digital Humanities, 2018, Polity.

That the idea the humanities shape our understanding of the human world is an old idea has been well illustrated in Robert Coles Handing One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection. 2010 Random House (which provides an account of his own course which for a long while introduced students to literature as a s way of understanding humanity) and Martha Nussbaum’s Cultivating Humanity….  . Likewise Tony Davies Humanism (1997) Routledge shows the role of humanism across literature but especially of the rise of the 19thand 20th century secular humanism as a new kind of religion.  But much of this focuses, tacitly or explicitly, on the notion of the Canon as a key to understanding literature. This idea was strongly defended by Harold Bloom ….

The trouble with much of this writing is that it manages to restrict its discussions to the West! This is very odd indeed. Still, recently there has been growing interest the world history of literature.  Indeed, a vast array in the past fifty years which it is hard to keep up with. Look at the web site on the World Canon… examples etc mORE

A wider approach altogether is most clearly exemplified in Rens Bod, A New History of Humanities: The Search for principles and patterns from Antiquity to the Present, 2013, Oxford.  This is ambitious in scope, but in a relatively short space it cannot so easily take in all disciplines and all the world and all time! That said, there is now widespread interest in this idea, and its work can be found in a journal History of Humanities and an academic society, Society for the History of Humanities.

As we move into the age of transnational humanities…. 

Note Jean Franco Cruel Modernity, 2013: Duke on the humanities discussing atrocities in Latin America; or  Rob Nixon Slow Violence and the environmentalism of the Poor, 2011, Harvard

Rens Bod, A New History of the Humanities (2013), Oxford, and

Braidotti Posthuman

Transnational Cinema

A short and clear introduction to transitional cinema has been provided by Steven Rapple, Transnational Cinema: An Introduction, 2018, Red Globe Press. He introduces the idea of both ‘national cinema’ and wolrd cinema; before discussing different versions of it including: border crossings, diasporic and Globalized genres. 

This understanding of stories links us to what is often called a phenomenological – hermeneutic approach to narrative developed in the work of many including Carr, 1991; Ricoeur, 1992; 2005, and others.


I B1 Philosophical Problems with Humanity and Humanism

Modern humanism is challenged in many directions. A major debate about humanism in the twentieth century, that led to the arguments for its demise and the Death of Man, can be found in an esoteric and difficult cluster of writings linked to Cassirer, Heidegger, Levinas, Sartre, Derrida, and Foucault which was influential after the Second world war. The existentialist philosopher Sartre made the claim that Existentialism is a Humanism (1946); Heidegger disagreed in his response in Letter on Humanism, and later Levinas makes the strongest of claims for a Humanism of the Other. Much is thrown in into doubt with Derrida’s Ends of Man (1982 Finally Foucault…. A consideration is found in Daniel Chernillo, Debating Humanity, 2017, Cambridge: Chapter 1,

A small coterie of Western (mainly French) writers had a great influence on Western thought, they seem to have been of little interest outside of the West.  Unfinished….

IB2 The Problem of Essentialism

Modern humanism is also challenged by the critique of Universalism The death of universalism is announced by Heller and Feher in The Grandeur and Twilight of Radical Universalism 1995. (They more or less mean the death of Marxism). Others speaks of strategic essentialism (Spivak and Gilroy. Paul Gilroy is leading figure – one of a number black scholars who more or less keeps a link to humanism. Discussed in Against Race, 2000. Here he is critical of race ideas and looks for a humanism that is both cosmopolitan and global. He seeks a new moral language to handle issues of anti-racism. See also Cornell West. In the text I draw most from the idea of differentiated universalism, found in ….. and developed by Ruth Lister in her ideas of Feminist Citizenship, 2003 2nd ed. 

IB3 The Colonial Critique  

Said etc

On colonization, see Robert Gildea, Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the Politics of the Present(Cambridge University Press, 2019); Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India (Hurst, 2017); Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain (Viking, 2021); David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History (Pan, 2017); Philip Dwyer and Amanda Nettelbeck, eds, Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). All of which needs contrasting with Nial Ferguson’s Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (Penguin, 2018).

See Colin Samson The Colonialism of Human Rights: Ongoing Hypocrisies of Western Liberalism (Polity, 2020). Similar Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity(Duke University Press, 2003); Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke University Press, 2007). 

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s new book  Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism, Verso, 2019 “calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences. Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, … see the cover blurb

I B4 The Trans Humanism and Post Humanism Debates

Modern humanism is challenged in many directions. Another major contemporary debate centres on the post/transhuman.  Although many of these serve as a critique of humanism, I tend generally to see them as illustrations of humanism moving into a new stage with promising new arguments and new developments. In this Manifesto, these arguments are used as building blocks rather than as necessarily in opposition. 

Post Human: Above all, postmodernism moves beyond the autonomous and isolated human being towards an interdependence with other animals and objects. In a key sense it moves beyond persons. A foundational text is Donna Harraway, Simians, Cyborgs and Women.  As is N. Katherine Hay, Why We Became Postmodern, 1999, Chicago. The work of Rosi Braidotti has become very influential, outlining the arguments in The Posthuman(2013) Polity; gathering an extraordinary and important (if often baffling) guide to the new terminology these scholars have produced in Rosi Braidotti & Maruia Hlavajova eds Posthuman Glossary, 2018, Bloomsbury; and in her Posthuman Knowledge,2019, Polity. She is one of the most stringent critics and stimulating reads of both the very idea of the humanism and anthropocentrism whilst encouraging a multiplicity of studies around the posthuman.  See also Pramod K. Nayar Posthumanism, 2014. David Roden’s Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (Routledge, 2015), esp ch. 1. I have drawn mainly on Rosi Braidotti’s three key works: The Posthuman (Polity, 2013); Posthuman Knowledge (Polity, 2019); and, with Maria Hlavajova, Posthuman Glossary(Bloomsbury, 2018).

Chapter 1 in particular is an attempt to sort out the contrasting terminologies. 

Transhuman:  Transhumanism is a different matter. It takes us more into the land of how human beings becoming more and more extraordinary and exceptional. It is another move in making humanism – but one of a different kind. Cary Wolfe in What is Posthumanism? sees transhumanism as ‘an intensification of humanism’ (2010: pxv). We will gain longer health and life, enhance our capacities and increase control over our minds and lives.  Ray Kurzweil’s account of The Singularity is Near is  a classic. See also Max More and Natsaha Vita –More (eds), The Transhumanist Reader (2013).

B5 The debates over Religious, Scientific and Secular Humanism

On Christianity, see Rowan Williams, Being Human, (2018) SPCK.

John H C Wu  Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality (2017) Angelico; 2017
Lenn H Goodman 2003 Islamic Humanism Oxford University Press
Mahtma Gandhi. Essential Classic Readings   Oxford 


There has been a string push towards creating common grounds on different religions and humanism see: 

Dalai Lama’s Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2011,Rider) Daisuku Ikeda A New Humanism: The University Addresses of Daisuku Ikeda  I. B. Tauris, 2010 
Felix Unger and Daisaku Ikead creating a dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism in The Humanist Principle: On Compassion and tolerance (2016, I.B. Tauris). 

Ulrich Beck A God of One’s Own, 2010, Polity.

Mark Juergensberger, God in the Tumult of the Global Square: Religion in the Global Civil Sphere (2015):

Hans Joas & KLau Wiegandt eds, Secularization and the World’s Religions, 2009, Liverpool University Press

Peter Berger ed The Descecularization of the World: Resurgent Religions and World Politics, 1999, Washington.

Phil Zuckerman Society Without God, 2008, NYU Press

IB6 Secular Humanism

Most of the early writings of the 20th century took a position that humanism was in opposition to religion. A useful anthology collecting the ideas of many past secular humanist thinkers is Margaret Knight’s Humanist Anthology (1961(Rationalist Press).  Peter Cave’s account of Humanism: A Beginner’s Guide (2009) Oneworld, Oxford and Richard Norman’s On Humanism (2004) Routledge provide introductions to this secular description. More recently four thinkers have been strident in their opposition to religion and championing atheism. Known as The Four Horsemen,2019, Bantham, key works included Christopher Hitchens. God is not great; the case against religion, 2007, Atlantic; Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, Bantham, 2006; Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: A scientist presents evidence for belief, Free press 2006 and  Sam Harris, The End Of Faith; Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason, 2004, Norton. For a potpourri of relevant ideas, see Jack Huberman ed The Quotable Atheist, 2007, Nation.

Two critical reviews are: Alister McGrath, The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World,2004, Rider; and Tina Beattie, The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion, 2007, D.L.T This is really just a strand of humanism and a very recent one at that. It is not the position of critical humanism which while very critical of religions does recognize the role it has, can and does play in human life. See also: Phil Zuckerman, Society Without God NYU Press, 2008.

IB7 Scientific Humanism

Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s preeminent scientific evolutionary naturalists; his main field of study is ants. But he is also a leading humanist: in his later years, much of his writing has studied aspects of human creativity, suggesting the importance of  genetics and evolutionary theory to morality and creativity, the importance or special role that humans play in the universe; and his alarm at our current  desire to redesign human beings as we wish! He has a vast reading list, but see  most recently: The Meaning of Existence, Liveright, 2014;  The Origins of Creativity, 2017, Allen Lane.  Stephen Hawking is another big name: his final book is Brief Answers to the Big Questions, 2018: John Murray.

For the non-scientist, the programmes and books of David Attenborough, Bryan Cox and….  Can be very useful. These readable books also usually come with accompanying videos and films which show the world’s glory and complexety. An overview of the state of general science and technology is….

See also: Andrew Rutherford The Book of Humans: A Brief History of Culture, Sex, War and the evolution of us, 2019 W & N 

On more specific issues see: 

Steven Mithen The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Arts , Religion and Science, 1998, WN  and After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5,000BC 2004 Phoenix 


Frans de Waal studies apes, chimpanzees, bononbos. He finds an innate capacity for empathy and cooperation; and the line between apes and humans is a fine one. Morality is part of human nature. He has written many works but a good sense of his ideas can be found in Frans De Waal, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates.  2013, Norton, and The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lesson for a Kinder Society, 2019, Souvenir. 

Mary Goodall – books, films and Institute.

On Neanderthals, see Rebecca Wragg-Sykes Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love Death and Art, 2020, Bloomsbury, Sigma.

Simon Baron-Cohen The Pattern Makers: A New Theory of Human Invention, 2020, Allen-Lane.


A broad sweep neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio sweeps through our emergence from single cells into feeling consciousness and ultimately major cultural forms. See: Descartes’s ErrorLooking for Spinoza, and The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling and the Making of Cultures, 2018, Random 

Mind and Consciousness

Daniel C Dennett is a Philosopher and cognitive scientist developing a theory of consciousness, mind and free will.  From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, 2018: Penguin.  A critical approach to neuroscience can be found in Steven Rose and Hilary Rose, Can Neuroscience Change Our Minds? 2016, Polity.

DNA and Genes 
It has become vital in Genetic engineering, genetic profiling, DNA nanotechnology, and bioinformatics.
General introductions

David Reich Who we are and how we got here, 2018, Oxford.

Steven Rose Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene, 2005, Vintage
Adam Rutherford A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes, 2017, Weidenfeld and Nicolson

On Astrophysics and interplanetary 

Martin Rees On the Future: Prospects for Humanity, Princeton.

Michio Kaku The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality and Our Destiny Beyond Earth. Middlesex, Penguin Books 
Nigel Clark and Bronislalwa Szerszynski Planetary Social Thought, 2020 Polity

See also:
Raymond Tallis, (2011) Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity. London: Acumen.

Nikolas Rose The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjects… 2001, 

Angela Saini Superior: The Return of Race Science,2019, 4th Estate

IB7  Human Suffering and Humanitarianism

On suffering, the classic philosophical introduction to suffering is Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Suffering of the World. More recentlyIain Wilkinson Suffering: A Sociological introduction, 2005, Polity provides an important overview of ideas. He looks not just at classical theorists and what they have to say, but also introduces some of the newer directions that an understanding of suffering might move through such concerns as ‘mediatized suffering’ & the ‘internationalization of conscience’. This book was followed up with his co-author Arthur Kleinman in A Passion for Society: How we think about human suffering, 2016, California. Here the argument is made that a focus on human suffering – and its (partial) resolution should be the central concern of sociology and anthropology.  

On humanitarianism, Michael Barnett provides the classic history in Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism, 2013, Cornel. A substantially more critical stance is taken by Didier Fassin in  Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present, 2012, Duke. .  

More widely, many of these ideas are captured well in what Jeremy Rifkin calls The Empathic Civilization, and Natan Sznaider, The Compassionate Temperament: Care and Cruelty in Modern Society, 2001,  Rowman and Littlefield.  See also Amanda Lashow  Cultures of Doing Good… and a so called compassionate capitalism.

More critically, see Philip Cunliffe Cosmopolitan Dystopia: International Intervention and the  Future of the West, 2020, Manchester University Press. International intervention has led to failed states and the breakdown of modern order.

See also on suffering and distant others, see Luc Boltanski, Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics,  1999 Cambridge. And the work of 

Lili Chouliarakiy in The Spectatorship of Suffering, 2006, Sage, and 

and The Ironic Spectator, 2013, Polity


At the heart of a Critical Humanism lies the idea of a Circle of Human Connection. Early thinkers on the circles of humanity see

Fonna Forman- Barzilai …….. page 121. See also 

Adam Smith, 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 

W.E. Lecky, ……

This is a draft downloaded on 24th September: to be continued

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