Category: Imagining Better Worlds

Candide: From Voltaire to Bernstein and Sondheim

I first encountered Voltaire’s witty and scatty satire Candide when I was at school ( it was a set text for A level); and it has stayed with me. Not least because of the glorious musical by Lenny Bernstein ( with lyrics by Sondheim) that he wrote in the 1950’s. Initially a flop, it has…

Inspirations- Great Humanists: Nelson Mandela

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“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world
“Tread softly, Breathe Peacefully, Laugh hysterically”
“It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world”

As Nelson Mandela dies, and a new film also appear based on his memorable book,  Long Walk to Freedom, it  is time to celebrate his role as a leading world humanist by remininding ourselves of some of the things he said:

“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.”

“A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”

“Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.”

“Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs.”

“I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.”

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

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Someone who wrote to me recently had this quote attached from Aldous Huxley; and I rather liked it. It reminded me of one by William James. Here it is:

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It’s rather embarrassing to have given one’s entire life

to pondering the human predicament

and to find that in the end one has little more to say than,

‘Try to be a little kinder.

Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)

Source: Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

Charting Gay Rights Around The World

I am working at present on constructing a resource of web sites for a book I am working on. Prompted by an article in the Guardian on world gay rights, I checked out these web sites which are really very useful. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/gay-rights-world-best-worst-countries So here  are a few web sites International Lesbian and Gay Association http://ilga.org/…

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A MANIFESTO FOR A CRITICAL HUMANISM

IN 

SOCIOLOGY

ON QUESTIONING THE HUMAN SOCIAL WORLD

 Ken Plummer

(Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex, U.K.)

 This was First Presented at the VI Congreso Andaluz de Sociologiá, University of Cadiz, November 2012

In June it was  published in

Daniel Nehring: Sociology: A Text and Reader ( Pearson, 2013).


This is the first edition; it is now under revision for a 2nd version. Comments are welcome

Contact Ken Plummer at plumk@essex.ac.uk

 

_________________________________________________ 

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,

            Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit

            A social science

– W.H. Auden  ‘Under Which Lyre’. 1946

 

We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom. Leo Tolstoy War and Peace, 1869

These then are my last words to you. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James:  The Will to Believe. 1896

 

SUMMARY

  1. Prologue: A very human animal in an all too human world
  2. On the Human Search for Meaning
  3. On Sociology
  4. The Challenge of Humanism
  5. Righting the Troubles with Humanism
  6. On Critical Humanism
  7. The Human Condition: Obdurate Features of the Human World
  8. On Human Potentials, Capabilities and Rights
  9. The Challenge of Plural Worlds, Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism
  10. On Becoming Human: The Process of Humanization
  11. A Sociology of the People:  Being Practical and Pursuing the Wise Society
  12. We are the Story Telling Animals
  13. The Politics and ethics of Humanism: Living a Better Life and Making a Better World
  14. Dark Hope and Dreaming Ahead in Perpetually Troubled Timers: Key Directions For a Future Humanistic Agenda
  15. Further Reading

 Click here for the rest

 

 

Hate begets hate,

violence engenders violence,

hypocrisy is answered by hypocrisy,

war generates war,

and love creates love

Pitirim-Sorokin

Pitirim A Sorokin, 1954, The Ways and Power of Love

 

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Some Recent Presentations

Handouts for recent presentations       Today I have posted some summary handouts of recent lectures that I have given.   The first was given  at a lecture for Spanish sociologists.  I launched the manifesto for Critical Humanism at that time; and this was the handout I gave them as I lectured to powerpoints.…

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