Humanism: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199553648

Stephen Law
168 Pages
112 x 174 mm
Pub date
Jan 2011
Very Short Introductions


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  • Explores humanism as a positive alternative to religion
  • Examines the history of humanism as a movement up to the present day
  • Looks at the role of humanist ceremonies and humanist views on education
  • Considers the importance of a secular society
  • Explores the idea of leading a purposeful and meaningful life without religion

Religion is currently gaining a much higher profile. The number of faith schools is increasingly, and religious points of view are being aired more frequently in the media. As religion's profile rises, those who reject religion, including humanists, often find themselves misunderstood, and occasionally misrepresented. 

Stephen Law explores how humanism uses science and reason to make sense of the world, looking at how it encourages individual moral responsibility and shows that life can have meaning without religion. Challenging some of the common misconceptions, he seeks to dispute the claims that atheism and humanism are 'faith positions' and that without God there can be no morality and our lives are left without purpose. 

Looking at the history of humanism and its development as a philosophical alternative, he examines the arguments for and against the existence of God, and explores the role humanism plays in moral and secular societies, as well as in moral and religious education. Using humanism to determine the meaning of life, he shows that there is a positive alternative to traditional religious belief.
Awarded the 2011 Morris D. Forkosch Award for Humanist Book of the Year


1: The history of humanism
2: Arguments for the existence of God
3: An argument against the existence of God
4: Humanism and morality
5: Humanism and secularism
6: Humanism and moral and religious education
7: The meaning of life
8: Humanist ceremonies

About the author: 

Stephen Law is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He has written many books including several popular philosophy titles including The Philosophy Gym (Headline, 2003), Companion Guide to Philosophy (Dorling Kindersley, 2007), and Greatest Philosophers (Quercus, 2008). He is also the Editor of THINK, the journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

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