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Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of…
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Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope (udgave 2023)

af Sarah Bakewell (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2538106,093 (4.24)11
""This is a book about humanists, but even humanists cannot agree on what a humanist is," declares Sarah Bakewell. Indeed, for centuries now, thinkers, writers, scholars, politicians, activists, artists, and countless others have been searching for and refining a philosophy of the human spirit. Humanism can be found in writings of Plato and Protagoras and in the thought of Confucius. It is ever-present in the work of Michel de Montaigne, and guided the thinking and activism of Harriet Taylor Mill. When Zora Neale Hurston writes, "Somebody else may have my rapturous glance at the archangels. The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me." That is humanism par excellence. In Humanly Possible, Bakewell puts forward that all the different meanings of "humanism" are worth looking at together because they are all concerned with humanitas, or, as she puts it, "our culture and learning, our words and art, our good manners and sociable desire to say hello to the universe." What unites humanists, religious or not, scholarly or not, philosophical or not, is that they all put the human world of culture and morality at the center of their concerns. What could be more human than that? Embracing and indeed celebrating humanism's swirling, kaleidoscopic, rich ambiguity, Bakewell sets out not just to trace this vital philosophical lineage through the lives of its major protagonists but in fact to make her own dazzling contribution to its expansive literature. The result is an intoxicating, joyful celebration of the human spirit from one of our most beloved and charming writers"--… (mere)
Medlem:CADesertReader
Titel:Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope
Forfattere:Sarah Bakewell (Forfatter)
Info:Penguin Press (2023), 464 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:*****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope af Sarah Bakewell

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Quick Review: I'm so happy I stumbled across this book and decided to take it home. I've never read a more insightful and enlightening, encouraging and hopeful book! ( )
  CADesertReader | Apr 9, 2024 |
Ms. Bakewell covers 700-plus years of humanism and philosophy with grace and with. ( )
  nmele | Jan 1, 2024 |
A history of freethinking, literary immersion, and rejection of religious authority
I read Sarah Bakewell's "At the Existentialist Cafe" a few years ago, thoroughly enjoying her writing. I therefore bought this book as soon as it came out, and also enjoyed it. The goal of the book is to define humanism by reference to many of its practitioners, starting with Petrarch, and ending with a 2022 manifesto from the British humanist society. Humanists have generally been skeptical of religion, and often had to hide or delay publishing their works, because they lived in societies that were prosecutory. There writing focus on human concerns rather than theology. Boccaccio, Erasmus, Hume, Montaigne, Bertrand Russell, are famous characters in humanism. Lorenzo de Valla and Robert Ingersoll are less well known. Zora Neale Hurston appears early, Confuscius is mentioned, and several of the stories concern gay writers, so that the diversity boxes are checked, but generally this is about mainstream European philosophers. As a physician, I was especially interested in a section discussing Vesalius and de Valla promoting the study of anatomy based on dissection. I think of myself as a freethinking person, so the theme of the book made perfect sense to me. A recurrent quote from Robert Ingersoll sums up the attitude of the author and the humanists:
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to make others so. ( )
  neurodrew | Dec 28, 2023 |
  pw0327 | Dec 19, 2023 |
The Whig interpretation of history, wrote Herbert Butterfield in 1931, meant writing ‘to emphasise certain principles of progress in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present’. Humanly Possible is, by that measure, a Whiggish history of humanism. A lifelong humanist, Bakewell traces the chequered but irresistible development of her convictions from the Renaissance to the present, when they have not exactly triumphed, but have certainly proved their resilience.

Before embarking on a genealogy of humanism, Bakewell tries to say what it is. Humanism means an emphasis on the ‘human dimension of life’, although it turns out ‘almost everything we do can seem a bit humanistic’. More substance comes from its affinity with freethinking. Not all, or even most, humanists have denied the existence of the divine, but they have tried to stop it from becoming a distraction from, or obstacle to, human flourishing. As humanist advertisements on London buses advised some years ago: ‘There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’ Bakewell celebrates the great people of the past who have sought in that spirit ‘just a little more of the good stuff in life, and less of the bad stuff’.

The pursuit of the ‘good stuff’ falls into four phases. In their obsession with classical times, Renaissance scholars developed a new confidence in what humans could achieve, not least because they revelled in the power of their minds and even their physiques: Leon Alberti could throw an apple over the Duomo in Florence. Writers such as the anatomist Vesalius soon went beyond revering ancient authorities to exposing their mistakes. Enlightened thinkers added to this critical ferment an open hostility to theology and a commitment to social improvement. In the 19th century, intellectuals took up their meliorism, while completing the undermining of religion’s authority over human beings. Although scientific humanists came to understand humankind as the product of evolution by natural selection, their emphasis on our animal origins merely heightened their faith in duty and intellect. The final phase of humanism’s development was embattled. The First World War and the rise of fascism and communism menaced any faith in the dignity and equality of individuals. Yet this dark time was their finest hour: humanists saved Europe’s cultural patrimony from destruction, then founded the United Nations to enshrine its protection and the recognition of human rights.

Read the rest of the review at HistoryToday.com.

Michael Ledger-Lomas is the author of Queen Victoria: This Thorny Crown (Oxford University Press, 2021).
  HistoryToday | Aug 8, 2023 |
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'What is humanism?' That is the question posed, in David Nobbs' 1983 comic novel Second from Last in the Sack Race, at the inaugural meeting of the Thurmarsh Grammar School Bisexual Humanist Society – 'bisexual' because it includes both girls and boys. Chaos ensues.
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You can generally be sure, whenever ideologues speak of true or serious freedom, that it will be at the expense of actual, ordinary freedom. And when the rhetoric is transcendental, the reality will probably be miserable. (ch. 11)
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""This is a book about humanists, but even humanists cannot agree on what a humanist is," declares Sarah Bakewell. Indeed, for centuries now, thinkers, writers, scholars, politicians, activists, artists, and countless others have been searching for and refining a philosophy of the human spirit. Humanism can be found in writings of Plato and Protagoras and in the thought of Confucius. It is ever-present in the work of Michel de Montaigne, and guided the thinking and activism of Harriet Taylor Mill. When Zora Neale Hurston writes, "Somebody else may have my rapturous glance at the archangels. The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me." That is humanism par excellence. In Humanly Possible, Bakewell puts forward that all the different meanings of "humanism" are worth looking at together because they are all concerned with humanitas, or, as she puts it, "our culture and learning, our words and art, our good manners and sociable desire to say hello to the universe." What unites humanists, religious or not, scholarly or not, philosophical or not, is that they all put the human world of culture and morality at the center of their concerns. What could be more human than that? Embracing and indeed celebrating humanism's swirling, kaleidoscopic, rich ambiguity, Bakewell sets out not just to trace this vital philosophical lineage through the lives of its major protagonists but in fact to make her own dazzling contribution to its expansive literature. The result is an intoxicating, joyful celebration of the human spirit from one of our most beloved and charming writers"--

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