Tag: kindness

This week I am launching the first draft of 

A MANIFESTO FOR A CRITICAL HUMANISM IN

SOCIOLOGY

ON QUESTIONING THE HUMAN SOCIAL WORLD

  

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

To be 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

you can find it by clicking here: Manifesto


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

        YOU CAN FIND THE FULL MANIFESTO BY  CLICKING ON MANIFESTOS

 

Nigeria is days from passing the “Jail the Gays” bill 

This is one of the harshest anti-gay laws the world has ever seen. The proposed law will mean 10 years in prison for two people daring to hold hands in public.

  • Live with someone of the same sex – 10 years in prison
  • Organise a gathering of gay people – 10 years in prison
  • Support the idea of a pride march – 10 years in prison
After a year languishing in the House of Assembly, the “Jail the Gays” bill has been rushed through with zero notice. The only roadblock before it becomes law is one signature – President Goodluck Jonathan’s. Last year, 65,000 of us stood against this bill and it was abandoned! Can you take one minute to help us do it again?  It takes only one minute but it could change history:

www.allout.org/nigeria-veto

When the bill was first introduced, politicians said there were no gay people in their country. Our friends in Nigeria have said they are not taking this lying down – they’ve got a plan and they’re asking for our help. Right now, they are organising an unprecedented response of African advocates – both straight and gay – to speak out against this bill. Today, we are showing that not only do Nigerian LGBT people exist, but the whole world has their back. Will you stand with Nigerians against this hateful law and help us to get to 100,000 signatures?

www.allout.org/nigeria-veto

The only way to stop this bill is to trumpet Nigerian voices for equality – supported by millions around the world. President Jonathan can veto the bill – and if he hears these Nigerian voices, he’ll have to.

We know we can drive the right message to every government and media organisation around the world to make sure President Goodluck Jonathan knows his people and their allies will not tolerate him signing this bill into law. Will you take one minute and add your name now?

www.allout.org/nigeria-veto

Thanks for going All Out.

On Cosmopolitanism

Ten Theses on Cosmopolitanism There exists a real humanistic universalism of differences (including sexual differences). Human difference is a sine qua non of human existence. I believe that these differences have to be a key subject for the human studies. There are perpetual conflicts about these differences (including sexual differences), the source of much human…

On Jimmy McGovern: Sociologist manque

Jimmy McGovern comes from Liverpool , one of nine children. From a very poor family, he taught in a secondary school for a while, and knows very well  the complexities of the lives of ordinary everyday people trapped in ordinary everyday, but challenging, circumstances. And this is what he researches, writes about and produces. And…

Love, Loss and Laugher: Visions of Alzheimer’s

The work of the sociologist –photographer Cathy Greenblat  has aimed to show the ‘active’ nature of Alzheimer’s across the world; and how ‘good care’ can be crucial in creating situations to enable a better life for people with Alzheimer’s.  As she remarks: As a social scientist, I know how much expectations influence achievement, and I…

Quoting Humanisms

Here are a few thoughts from George Eliot. Her Middlemarch is one of the great sociological novels: it should really be a part of any sociology syllabus.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? I cannot be indifferent to the troubles of a man who advised me in my trouble, and attended me in my illness

I concluded my textbook with another quote from her.

Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

O may I join the choir invisible
O my I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence: liveGeorge Eliot
In pulses stirred to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man’s search
To vaster issues.
    So to live is heaven:
To make undying music in the world,
Breathing as beauteous order that controls
With growing sway the growing life of man.
So we inherit that sweet purity
For which we struggled, failed, and agonised
With widening retrospect that bred despair.
Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued,
A vicious parent shaming still its child
Poor anxious penitence, is quick dissolved;
Its discords, quenched by meeting harmonies,
Die in the large and charitable air.
And all our rarer, better, truer self,
That sobbed religiously in yearning song,
That watched to ease the burthen of the world,
Laboriously tracing what must be,
And what may yet be better— saw within
A worthier image for the sanctuary,
And shaped it forth before the multitude
Divinely human, raising worship so
To higher reference more mixed with love—
That better self shall live till human Time
Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky
Be gathered like a scroll within the tomb
Unread for ever.
    This is life to come,
Which martyred men have made more glorious
For us who strive to follow. May I reach
That purest heaven, be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardour, feed pure love,
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty—
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
And in diffusion ever more intense.
So shall I join the choir invisible
Whose music is the gladness of the world.

1867

Inspirations: William James

I first encountered the work of William James as an undergraduate in the 1960’s through his ideas of The Self.

Later, I read more and more of his work. His ideas of pragmatism, the plural universe and kindness have been been important to me.

Nowadays I read him often.

Below are a few of his sayings that have inspired me.

William James (1842-1910)

William James asks his uncle : What is a life for? And is told: Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. (cited in Robert Coles: Handing one Another Along (2010) p241.)

Now the blindness in human beings … is the blindness with which we are all inflicted in regard to the feelings of creatures and people different from ourselves. We are practical beings, each of us with limited functions and duties to perform. Each is bound to feel intensely the importance of his (sic) own duties and the significance of the situations that these call forth. But this feeling is in each of us a vital secret, for sympathy with which we vainly look to others. The others are too much absorbed in their own vital secrets to take an interest in ours. Hence the stupidity and injustice of our opinions, so far as they deal with the significance of their lives. Hence the falsity of our judgments, so far as they presume to deal in an absolute way on the value of other person’s conditions or ideals…What is the result of all these considerations…?  It is negative in one sense, but positive in another. It absolutely forbids us to be forward in pronouncing on the meaninglessness of forms of existence other than our own; and it commands us to tolerate, respect, and indulge those whom we see harmlessly happy and interested in their own ways, however unintelligible they may be to us. Hands off: neither the whole truth nor the whole of good is revealed to any single observer, although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the peculiar position in which he (sic) stands… William James, On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings…. James (1899/1913).

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.  The Will to Believe. (1896)

What most horrifies me in life is our brutal ignorance of one another… William James, in Richardson 2006 p381

The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me…William James

I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride. William James: Letters; and also cited in Biography” by Robert D Richardson   2006/7   p384

Imaginations

Closure of old site and opening of new

The old site for Ken and Everard was set up by Daniel Nehring

Today sadly we closed it down.

It was up for 4 years but a bug had got it, and it was starting to look tired.

It is now resting in the Grand Galaxy of Dead Superspace Websites!

But a new one has arrived with a song and a dance.

From now on, there will be usually be two or three new posts a week on the new site.

So here’s a song and dance; and an inspiration.

I always wanted to be a tap dancer and a chorus boy, instead I became a sociologist!

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Cheek to Cheek  (Click here)

Wherever there is a human being , there is an opportunity for kindness

Seneca

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BC-65AD): the Roman playwright whose works were very influential in the Renaissance

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