Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, VOL 19 (2) 2011


Alistair J. Sinclair
Issued Date: 9 Oct 2013


European civilization largely lost its sense of direction after World War One when its humanist consensus, that promoted human betterment, collapsed into a fruitless political opposition between left and right wing extremism. This collapse is here exemplified by the breakdown in relationship between left winger Bertrand Russell and right winger D.H. Lawrence during WW1. However, the real causes of the loss of the humanist consensus are more deep-rooted, as that consensus has its roots in the Renaissance andn Enlightenment movements when the influence of humanist views was at its height. By the late 19th century imperialism and militarism threatened the consensus, and the senseless slaughter of WW1 brought it to an end. The humanist consensus re-emerged post-WW2, largely through American influence, but it has declined since. To restore the consensus, it is argued here that humanism can be strengthened by dualist theory and by a process of contextualization that brings humanity to the fore. By using ‘connecting contexts’ we can open our minds to larger perspectives. In that way, we are collectively more inclined to be optimistic about our prospects. The future of humanity seems to depend on such developments in our critical thinking about ourselves.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v19i2.43


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