Volume 24, Issue 2 (2016)
Reconstructing Photohumanism: Pluralistic Humanism, Democracy, and the Anthropocene
by Tibor Solymosi
Roy Scranton argues for a new philosophical humanism as the best response to the existential crisis of the Anthropocene, the new geological epoch for which human industrial activity is responsible. This threat from climate change, Scranton argues, is better met through what he calls photohumanism than by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) alone. This new humanism shares many affinities with pluralistic humanism. A key concern is political action, which is problematized by what Tschaepe calls dopamine democracy. Scranton shares this concern, but his approach puts too great an emphasis on binaries, such as culture and nature, mind and body, and life and death. I offer the philosophical method of reconstruction, as situated within pluralistic humanism and the philosophy of John Dewey. In introducing the need for reconstruction as a method for doing philosophy in a new but ancient sense of learning to die, I reconstruct photohumanism and offer the Deweyan ideal of democracy for overcoming the problem of the Anthropocene.
The Economics of Exceptionalism: The US and the International Criminal Court
By Tiphaine Dickson
This article is a response to a call for a study of international criminal law as an economic phenomenon, going beyond addressing administrability, commensurability, and interpersonal comparison of utility, band instead focusing on problems of institutional choice. This approach differs from the typical methods of normative and descriptive scholarship of international criminal law. An institution like the International Criminal Court (ICC) can be usefully examined as an international public good, and as such offering little incentives for states such as the United States of America to join as they can enjoy benefits without costs. This article examines the economic basis for the US non-participation in the ICC and grapples with future prospectives.
Poems of Man: Thomas Mann’s Ideas About a New Humanism
By Jeroen Vanheste
The questions “What is man?” and “What is Europe?” were among the main interests of Thomas Mann. In dozens of his essays and speeches as well as in some of his major novels Mann searched for the essence of European culture. In this paper we discuss Mann’s ideas about humanism, which he considered to be the core of the European identity. In both Mann’s novels and his essays he investigates the opposition between Enlightenment values and Romantic thinking. Mann believed in the necessity of a fusion of these two, a synthesis in which a belief in reason, morality and the possibility of progress go hand in hand with an awareness of the dark and tragic side of the human condition. “Dostoevsky in moderation,” as one of his essays is titled. This synthesis, which he named a “humanism of the homo Dei,” is Mann’s proposal for a renewed European identity. Mann’s ideas about a revived humanism as the foundation of the European identity are both interesting in the context of his literary oeuvre as well as inspiring in the light of our contemporary debates on European and Western values and identity.
Do You Need God for Meaning and Purpose?
By Gleb Tsipursky
While mainstream opinions and some scholarship suggests that we need God for a sense of meaning and purpose, this article proposes an alternative thesis. By digging into the data, it demonstrates how religious contexts provide the kind of atmosphere conducive to the development of meaning and purpose. Then, it shows that neither belief in God nor church attendance are needed for a strong sense of meaning and purpose. The article highlights how nonreligious societies helped their members lead meaningful lives full of purpose. It ends with specific research-based strategies for reason-oriented people to develop a personal sense of meaning and purpose.
Humanism and Public Policy in Germany: The Point Is to Change the World
Interview with Frieder Otto Wolf
By Frieder Otto Wolf, Charles Murn
Prof. Dr. Frieder Otto Wolf, President of the Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands (HVD), provides an overview of the main currents of modern humanism in Germany. He describes the central stream of German humanism as practical, in that it combines the principled imperative to overcome all structures and situations in which people are not treated as human beings with seeking to widen the horizons of humane existence in the arts and sciences and in capabilities of leading a fulfilling life. This humanism compels resort to other criteria than nature, such as those logical, emotive, cultural, in order to gauge the acceptability of value claims. The practical efforts to humanize society and widen human horizons requires engagement in public policy debates and social organizing and programming on consensus issues. Accordingly, the HVD works on such diverse issues as strengthening the rights to bodily integrity and sexual autonomy, preventing economic collapse, accommodating immigrants, protecting personal privacy, limiting the use of military force, building intra- and international peace, and exposing antihumanist prejudice.
The Problem of Evil and Liberal Theologies
By William R. Patterson
The Problem of Evil (POE), the idea that inexplicable human and non-human suffering is inconsistent with the existence of a benevolent, omniscient and omnipotent God, stands as one of the greatest challenges to classical theism. Many philosophers and theologians have offered theodicies, defense of God, in an attempt to blunt the force this problem. Others, however, believing that those theodicies have been effective have abandoned the classical definition of God and have embraced more liberal theologies, including deism, pantheism, process theology, and alterity theism. Theists of this sort argue that their theologies are immune from the POE. This is so because the POE derives its force from the supposed attributes of God. If God is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, the problem disappears. So rather than seek to resolve the POE, theists who hold one or the other of these non-classical positions seek to walk around it altogether. The problem simply dissolves, it is claimed, when these alternative theologies are embraced. This article critiques the most prominent liberal responses to the POE and demonstrates how they fail.
By Peter Bishop
Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that arose prior to Darwin publishing The Origin of Species. It arose out of the Enlightenment, in which the importance of natural law in the working of the universe was recognized. Ralph Waldo Emerson was interested in exploring religious questions from the point of view of the Enlightenment. For him, the human faculty of intuition was very interesting. After Darwin was published, most of science lost interest in exploring human intuition partly because no naturalistic basic for it was known. Today, it is appropriate to return to the study of transcendentalism, building on what was done in the nineteenth century, but with a twenty-first century understanding of the laws of nature. Much work can be done from this perspective, possibly developing a new philosophy of the humanities. This is the defining work by the author of this approach to philosophy.