Humanist Ethics, Dialogue on Basics

Humanist Ethics, Dialogue on Basics

Humanist Ethics, Dialogue on Basics

Humanist Ethics, Dialogue on Basics

Excerpt

Is humankind floundering toward a fate like that of the beached whales? We think of the threatening deterioration of our environment--sea and sky and shore, air and water and food. We think of the menace of East- West conflict--more than half of our industrial labor force addressed to munitions manufacture--nuclear and otherwise--and a heavier concentration on their part. We think of our generation's rape of the resources of the earth. We think of the swelling rate of violent crime, disorder and cynicism, drugs and abandonment in schools, decline of literacy under the impact of television, the runaway concentration of wealth and income, the despair of the exploited, corruption of leadership. It is hard to reject the sense of a mortally sick world.

Why, in the face of this, a symposium on humanist ethics? (1) Because the health and harmony of the human world, of its nations and its communities and its individual members, depend on their morality (or call it "justice"). (Plato even defined morality as "health and harmony.") (2) Because humanists have an especially heavy responsibility for these things today. And (3) because humanists are at odds about the meaning of morality. There is an imperative need for a fuller humanist consensus in this area. We have to work for it.

Humanism has to face special responsibility in this area because a large majority of the educators of America and of the western world are humanist in their outlook. The faculties of American colleges and universities are predominantly humanist, and a majority of the teachers who go out from their studies in the colleges to responsibilities in primary . . .

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