Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 23, No 1 (2015)

An Awkward Quarrel: The Defense of Humanism in 1970s Britain

D. L. LeMahieu
Issued Date: 23 Nov 2015


In the 1970s, student radicals, left-wing academic theorists and second-wave feminists challenged the relevance and social neutrality of humanistic study. Yet for all its tentativeness and studied modesty, humanism proved more powerful and aggressive than its critics realized. In their willingness to critique both their own limitations and those of their adversaries, humanists sometimes contributed to the deterioration of institutions and values that they most sought to protect. The reputation of universities as impartial and even hallowed places of learning suffered as education became politicized. The Left undermined its own authenticity when sectarianism eroded its political solidarity and disconnected socialism from its aspirational future.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v23i1.26093


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