We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It's not your parents' humanism. Scruton never disappoints. His main point is that the Old Humanism was about building up mankind's strengths and virtues, while the New is negative, and stands for nothing worthy. A quote from The New Humanism:
Like so many modern ideologies, the new humanism seeks to define itself through what it is against rather than what it is for. It is for nothing, or at any rate for nothing in particular. Ever since the Enlightenment there has been a tendency to adopt this negative approach to the human condition, rather than to live out the exacting demands of the Enlightenment morality, which tells us to take responsibility for ourselves and to cease our snivelling. Having shaken off their shackles and discovered that they have not obtained contentment, human beings have a lamentable tendency to believe that they are victims of some alien force, be it aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, capitalism, the priesthood, or simply the belief in God. And the feeling arises that they need only destroy this alien force, and happiness will be served up on a plate, in a garden of pleasures. That, in my view, is why the Enlightenment, which promised the reign of freedom and justice, issued in an unending series of wars.
I had some questions about a couple of statements Mr. Scrotun made, so I tried substituting 'religion' in place of 'humanism' and still came up with the same questions.
1. "Having shaken off their shackles..." - What are those shackles?
2. "...they have not obtained contentment..." Who is determining what 'contentment' is here?
3. "...human beings have a lamentable tendency..." I don't have this tendency. He should have said, to be honest, 99.9999999% of humans. Still, I doubt he'd be correct. I cannot believe I'm alone in this gargantuan generalization.
4. "...they need only destroy this alien force, and happiness will be served up on a plate,..." - This sounds like Jeremiah Wright talking about Whitey. Define happiness..... gag...
5. "...the Enlightenment [...] issued in an unending series of wars." With alien forces? With religious zealots? With megalomaniacs? What about the wars before the Enlightenment?
6. "Like so many modern ideologies, the new humanism seeks to define itself through what it is against rather than what it is for." Substitute 'theologies' for 'ideologies' and see how profoundly this mockery of humanism stands up.
If it's a fool's errand, are you saying people should give up the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness? If paradise to one is a happy family, a suitable home, and good work, is that person a fool? How do you define paradise, B.? In the same vein, do you equate paradise with happiness, and if not, why should anyone strive for anything?
Maybe B. doesn't go back to his posts or something - which is kind of weird because I always see lawyers as happy to debate a point. Anyway, I think B. was talking about religion and the article talks about the two humanisms. That is, Mr. Scrotun has decided there are two humanisms, that humanism itself can be retooled in meaning and substance. He's British and is using British society as his basis for decrying its bad behavior as Humanism II. That's like saying Baptist II, or Existentialism II, or Kindness II, or Islam II, or Bhuddist II. Words mean something and Mr. S. doesn't seem to get that what he's talking about is his culture. Humanists remain humanists despite the culture. Christians remain Christians despite the culture. Mr. Scrotun is the fool.