Cosmopolitan Sexualities is now published My latest book was published in May 2015 by Polity Press. You can find details and a study guide for it by clicking here or the tab at the top: Cosmosexualities It is reviewed in the Times Higher Education here, along with my ‘full profile, at: Review’ From the cover:…
A MANIFESTO FOR A CRITICAL HUMANISM
ON QUESTIONING THE HUMAN SOCIAL WORLD
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
- Prologue: A very human animal in an all too human world
- On the Human Search for Meaning
- On Sociology
- The Challenge of Humanism
- Righting the Troubles with Humanism
- On Critical Humanism
- The Human Condition: Obdurate Features of the Human World
- On Human Potentials, Capabilities and Rights
- The Challenge of Plural Worlds, Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism
- On Becoming Human: The Process of Humanization
- A Sociology of the People: Being Practical and Pursuing the Wise Society
- We are the Story Telling Animals
- The Politics and ethics of Humanism: Living a Better Life and Making a Better World
- Dark Hope and Dreaming Ahead in Perpetually Troubled Timers: Key Directions For a Future Humanistic Agenda
- Further Reading
holidays at the blog! have a wonderful holiday It’s a Wonderful Life Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he. Clarence ,the angel, as he shows George Bailey what the world would look like if he had not lived. …
The Golden Stairs
Edward Bourne Jones
A copy of this celebrated painting has been recently given to us by dear friends after a visit to the Pre-Rapehlite Exhibition. I spotted this gem in the last gallery of the exhibition – and recalled it from the cover of Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists (currently one of my favourite books). It hints at my key themes of multiplicities, pluralities and the infinite. We had just been to see the musical Top Hat, and I was in a mood for the Ziegfield Follies or the Busby Berkeley Girls (and Boys!) which this nineteenth century image must have been well on the way to inspiring.
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…
I wake up most mornings with a deep sense of the multiplicities of things, and a bafflement at how we can ever comprehend any of it. I find Louis Macneice’s Snow quite inspirational.
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.
the starry, starry skies
and the snowiness of snow.
the infinity of lists
and the galleries of libraries.
little lives too full to grasp.
legions of dead too lost to see.
a babel of language and love.
a topos of inexpressible ineffability,
ad infinitum, this pluralistic world
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 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
On lists For most of my life, the list has been a central tool for thinking. I use lists to prepare lectures, books, articles; scratch the surface and all my lectures and writings are simply hidden and sometimes not so hidden lists. But more than this: everyday I get up and make lists: lists of…
On Human Potentials, Capabilities and Rights “What is each person able to do and to be?” (Nussbaum, 2011: p18). A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be. Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970)…
Below is my most recent article published in April 2012. It is my first published piece based on my illness. MY MULTIPLE SICK BODIES: SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM, AUTOETHNOGRAPHY AND EMBODIMENT Ken Plummer Published in Bryan S Turner ed. Routledge Handbook of Body Studies 2012: Routledge p75-93 What happens when my body breaks down…