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Exuberance: An Affirmative Philosophy of Life

by Paul Kurtz

Happiness is within everyone's grasp and is only a matter of making the right choices. Taking destiny into one's own hands and having the creative audacity to strive, seek, and meet challenges is the essence of life's drama and exaltation. Life per se has no meaning; it only presents opportunity to be seized and acted upon, thus paving the way for personal achievement and the full life. Paul Kurtz, in Exuberance, shows his readers how to banish drudgery from life and how to find happiness in the active life. Drawing upon his personal experience, knowledge, and success, Paul Kurtz explains his philosophy of life, discussing learning and work, pleasure, eroticism and sexuality, morality, the need for love and friendship, and participation in contemporary issues. He suggests that self-power, resourcefulness, daring, creativity, and intelligence help guide and control one's life in spite of the many obstacles along the way. Only the individual can initiate his own success and therefore can take pride in accomplishing what he sets out to do. Exuberance also shows the reader how to cope with an ambiguous world. Life is charged with unexpected events and bizarre happenings. It is filled with richly diverse and idiosyncratic characters. Constant effort and exertion is needed in making a living, meeting new friends, falling in love, raising children, seeing projects through, and coming to terms with old age and death. Dealing with these problems directly rather than fleeing from life's risks reinforces a person and leads him towards an exuberant, rich, zestful life. According to Dr. Kurtz, the fulfillment of one's own purpose is in creating one's own ends and expending the power and energy to attain them. Thus, life's great sin, he suggests, is being lazy and non-creative. It is the kind of book that many people will wish they had written and almost everybody will be glad to read. -ReasonPaul Kurtz (Amherst, NY), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, is president of the International Academy of Humanism and is one of the leading spokespersons for Secular Humanism today. He is the author or editor of over thirty-five books, including Embracing the Power of Humanism (Rowman & Littlefield) and The Courage to Become (Praeger/Greenwood).

Exuberant Skepticism

by Paul Kurtz

For more than three decades, philosopher Paul Kurtz has been a strong advocate of skepticism, not only as a philosophical position, but also as a fulfilling way of life. Contrary to the view that skepticism is merely a negative, nay saying, or debunking stance toward commonly held beliefs, skepticism as defined by Kurtz emerges reborn as "skeptical inquiry"--a decidedly positive philosophy ready and able to change the world. In this definitive collection, editor John R. Shook has gathered together seventeen of Paul Kurtz's most penetrating and insightful writings. Altogether these essays build an affirmative case for what can be known based on sound common sense, reason, and scientific method. And as each essay cogently and convincingly explains, so much can be known, from the natural world around us to the moral responsibilities among us. The work is organized in four topical sections. In the first, "Reasons to Be Skeptical," Kurtz presents compelling reasons why the methods of inquiry used by the sciences deserve respect. In short, science provides reliable knowledge, without which humanity would never have emerged from the age of myth and widespread ignorance. In the second section, "Skepticism and the Non-Natural," Kurtz shows how skeptical inquiry can be fruitfully used to critique both paranormal claims and religious worldviews. He also investigates whether science and religion can be compatible. In the third section, "Skepticism in the Human World," he considers how skeptical inquiry can be applied to politics, ethics, and pursuit of the good life. Realizing the essential connections between scientific knowledge, technological power, and social progress, Kurtz has understood, as few philosophers ever have, how the methods of intelligence can be applied to all areas of human endeavor. The book concludes with Kurtz's authoritative reflections on the skeptical movement that he founded and has led. As he explains, the forces of blind faith and stubborn unreason still fight for control of the mind, so the skeptic can never rest. If there is a brighter future for humanity, a future in which every person enjoys a realistic opportunity for the pursuit of excellence, Kurtz's 'exuberant skepticism' can show us the way.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Exuberant Skepticism

by Paul Kurtz

For more than three decades, philosopher Paul Kurtz has been a strong advocate of skepticism, not only as a philosophical position, but also as a fulfilling way of life. Contrary to the view that skepticism is merely a negative, nay saying, or debunking stance toward commonly held beliefs, skepticism as defined by Kurtz emerges reborn as skeptical inquiry-a decidedly positive philosophy ready and able to change the world. In this definitive collection, editor John R. Shook has gathered together seventeen of Paul Kurtz's most penetrating and insightful writings. Altogether these essays build an affirmative case for what can be known based on sound common sense, reason, and scientific method. And as each essay cogently and convincingly explains, so much can be known, from the natural world around us to the moral responsibilities among us. The work is organized in four topical sections. In the first, Reasons to Be Skeptical, Kurtz presents compelling reasons why the methods of inquiry used by the sciences deserve respect. In short, science provides reliable knowledge, without which humanity would never have emerged from the age of myth and widespread ignorance. In the second section, Skepticism and the Non-Natural, Kurtz shows how skeptical inquiry can be fruitfully used to critique both paranormal claims and religious worldviews. He also investigates whether science and religion can be compatible. In the third section, Skepticism in the Human World, he considers how skeptical inquiry can be applied to politics, ethics, and pursuit of the good life. Realizing the essential connections between scientific knowledge, technological power, and social progress, Kurtz has understood, as few other philosophers ever have, how the methods of intelligence can be applied to all areas of human endeavor. The volume concludes with Kurtz's authoritative reflections on the skeptical movement that he founded and has led. As he never tires of explaining, the forces of blind faith and stubborn unreason still fight for control of the mind, so the skeptic can never rest. If there is a brighter future for humanity, a future in which every person enjoys a realistic opportunity for the pursuit of excellence, Kurtz's exuberant skepticism can show us the way. Paul Kurtz, professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He is the founder of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has appeared on many major TV and radio talk shows, and has lectured at universities worldwide. John R. Shook (Amherst, NY) is vice president for education and research and a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry Transnational, in Amherst, New York. He is the author of Dewey's Empirical Theory of Knowledge and Reality. He is the editor of Pragmatic Naturalism and Realism and, with Hugh McDonald, of F. C. S. Schiller on Pragmatism and Humanism: Selected Writings, 1891-1939, among other works.

Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism

by Paul Kurtz

An appropriate challenge to current trends in religion and politics. -Booklist (review of first edition)Paul Kurtz, America's leading secular humanist philosopher, affirms that it is possible to live the good life and be morally responsible, without belief in religion. In this original and penetrating book, Kurtz delineates the means by which humanity can transcend the limitations of traditional religious loyalties and achieve a higher stage of ethics. Fundamentalists deny the possibility of ethics without belief in God. Conservatives rail against secularists. Yet belief in God is no guarantee of moral virtue - as the evils committed in the name of religion have vividly shown. Are there secular ethical principles and values that are vital for a world in crisis?In this new edition of Forbidden Fruit, Kurtz defends the ethics of secularism and humanism. In order to progress to a maximum level of creative development, he maintains that we must be nourished by the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, grounding principles and values in autonomous reason. This is the path that leads to the discovery of significant ethical truths that can guide both self-reliant conduct and consideration for the rights of others. By breaking the bonds of theistic illusion, we can summon the courage and wisdom to develop a rational ethic based on a realistic appraisal of nature and an awareness of the centrality of the moral decencies common to all peoples. The ultimate key to the good life, Kurtz writes, is to eat of the fruit of the second tree in the Garden of Eden - the tree of life - discovering for ourselves the manifold potentialities for a bountiful existance. Forbidden Fruit contains important chapters on ethical excellences for individuals, moral education for children, and thoughts on privacy and human rights, in addition to presenting concrete ethical recommendations as alternatives to the reigning orthodoxies. Paul Kurtz, professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the author or editor of forty-eight books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. In addition, he is the founder of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has appeared on many major TV and radio talk shows, such as Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today, and NPR programs. He has lectured at universities worldwide and his books have been translated into many languages.

Meaning and Value in a Secular Age

by Nathan Bupp Paul Kurtz

The secular age has confronted human beings with a fundamental challenge. While the naturalistic worldview rooted in science has persuasively shown that traditional religious conceptions of the universe are unsustainable, it has so far offered no compelling secular narratives to replace the religious narratives so entrenched in civilization. In the absence of religion, how do thoughtful contemporary individuals find meaning in a secular world? This book argues for a new approach called eupraxsophy, a term first coined in 1988 to characterize a secular orientation to life that stands in contrast to religion. Derived from three ancient Greek roots, eupraxsophy literally means "good practice and wisdom." Drawing upon philosophy, science, and ethics, eupraxsophy provides a thoroughly secular moral vision, which respects the place of human values in the context of the natural world and presents an empirically responsible yet hopeful picture of the human situation and the cosmos in which we abide. For the first time, Paul Kurtz's key writings about the theory and practice of eupraxsophy are together in one volume. Written with eloquence and scope, these incisive essays show how Kurtz's brand of humanism moves above and beyond the current "new atheism." Eupraxsophy successfully bridges the cultural divide between science and value and provides a genuine and constructive alternative to religion. With an informative introduction, this book places the concept of eupraxsophy in historical perspective and shows why it is critically important, and relevant, today.

The Transcendental Temptation

by Paul Kurtz

A landmark work. Mandatory reading for anyone who wants to learn to be a good skeptic.In this widely acclaimed and highly controversial book, Paul Kurtz examines the reasons why people accept supernatural and paranormal belief systems in spite of substantial evidence to the contrary. According to the author, it is because there is within the human species a deeply rooted tendency toward magical thinking - the "transcendental temptation" - which undermines critical judgment and paves the way for willful beliefs. He explores in detail the three major monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - finding striking psychological and sociological parallels between these religions, the spiritualism of the 19th century, and the paranormal belief systems of today. There are sections on mysticism, belief in the afterlife, the existence of God, reincarnation, astrology, and ufology. Kurtz also explains the nature of skepticism as an antidote to belief in the transcendental.From the Trade Paperback edition..

The Turbulent Universe

by Paul Kurtz

In his final book, the late Paul Kurtz outlines his personal vision for a planetary ethics inspired by scientific wisdom. Blending realism and optimism, he lays out the basic principles of an ethical approach that he calls humanist eupraxsophy--that is, the application of practical moral choices inspired by scientific wisdom. Emphasizing the dramatic character of the biosphere, human affairs, and the physical universe itself, Kurtz has structured the book in terms of an operatic scenario, with an overture, intermezzo, nine acts, and a grand finale. Citing the emergence of a new planetary civilization, he proposes the development of a planetary ethics based on universal human rights, free scientific inquiry unfettered by dogma, an attitude of exuberance toward human potentials, and courage and determination in the face of the daunting challenges of our time. Kurtz concludes on an enthusiastic note: there is meaning to be found in creative human endeavors as well as a sense of awe and profound reverence inspired by the spectacle of the enormous universe and the prospects for the human adventure.

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