Archive Page 2

The pleasures of bad arguments

I have recently moved to a new neighbourhood and while taking advantage of the free wifi at my local library I also took the opportunity to dig around in their shelves. There I made the pleasant discovery of a small and somewhat random philosophy section where I unearthed a recent offering from the British philosopher Julian Baggini. Baggini is a member of the Humanist Philosophers Group and one whose work I had not yet read so I decided to check him out, literally. The book I selected was The Duck that Won the Lottery: and 99 Other Bad Arguments published in 2008 by Granta.

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A life based on reason and compassion

One of my favourite ways to define Humanism is to say that it’s the belief that we can live good lives based on reason and compassion. The British Humanist Association also refers to ‘shared human values’ which adds another dimension to the discussion. While that’s a nice succinct description of the philosophy I use to live my life, it begs the question of how one lives a life based on reason and compassion. We’d all like to think that we’re perfectly rational and reasonable individuals with a clear idea of where to draw the lines but how should I hone my reasoning skills and open my mind to the perspectives and experiences of others?

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Ritual for a new mother

Recently, I was reading Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet. It is the second in a series of graphic novels telling the story of a young woman, Aya, growing up on the Ivory Coast during the late 1970s. The joys and worries of the characters are themes universal among people growing up anywhere but the pages are rich with the colours, styles and sounds of the author’s childhood home. As an extra in the back of the book, Abouet includes some recipes, tips and explanations relating to the story and its environs. One part of this is an explanation of the attitude to raising children and the ritual that happens when a child is born. I thought the ritual sounded like a great example of a non-religious cultural ritual or ceremony so I’ve included an excerpt below.

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A rational response to racism

Today I would like to make one thing clear: there is no such thing as race. Join in with me this time. There is no such thing as race. ‘Race’ as we commonly refer to it in our current language usage only describes superficial differences in skin colour and other superficial physical features and not even consistently at that. In this post, I’m going to discuss points raised in a talk given by the science writer Kenan Malik this year as part of the British Humanist Association’s Voltaire lecture series. Finally, I will discuss the responsibility that a rational humanist community has to reject and fight racism.

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Interning with a humanist organisation

At the beginning of the year I spent three months volunteering at the British Humanist Association (BHA) as a part-time intern. The internship consisted of helping the campaigns team as a campaigns assistant, as well as helping with events and other tasks. I thought it might be useful to share my experiences and explain how it came about for anyone else who is curious or interested in working for a humanist organisation.

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