Suggested reading on Humanism

Only books about humanism appear on this list. We haven’t included books about atheism or critiques of religion because these are easily found elsewhere on the web. If you have a particular recommendation for a book that may be of interest to humanists, why not join the forum and post in one of the book-related threads?

Humanism by Barbara Smoker

Basic and easy to read, this slim paperback is another publication recommended for beginners. Suitable for adults and teenagers and now in its 4th edition, it was revised and expanded in 2005 to include an account of the historical development of humanist philosophy and activity.

Humanism Anthology compiled by Margaret Knight and Jim Herrick

A primer on the development of humanist ideas from Confucius to Attenborough, this volume contains thought-provoking quotes from a long and distinguished line of great thinkers from ancient to contemporary times.

Humanism: an introduction by Jim Herrick

humanism: an introductionStraightforward and very readable, this introduction to the nature and principles of humanism devotes a chapter each to explaining how humanism approaches the issues of morality, religion, politics, science, arts and the environment and why there is no single humanist conclusion on ethical or political questions.

On Humanism (Thinking in Action) by Richard Norman

A founder member of the BHA philosophers’ group, Richard Norman discusses what humanism is and why it matters. For Norman humanism is, principally, concerned with ethics. He offers a critical review of the standard arguments for the existence of God and on the divine command theory of morals as well as a consideration of utilitarianism. For Norman humanism is, principally, concerned with ethics. A good introduction to philosophy.

What is Secular Humanism? by Paul Kurtz

American humanist, Paul Kurtz, has written numerous books on humanism, ethics and skepticism. His latest book, published in 2006, offers an overview of the humanist perspective and describes the Kurtz how humanist ideas have influenced civilisation throughout history and how they are especially relevant in the modern world.

Debating Humanism edited by Dolan Cummings

In 2005 the UK based Institute of Ideas launched its inaugural Battle of Ideas festival. Most of the contributors to this collection of twelve essays spoke at the festival. These are thoughtful and controversial essays discussing where humanism is at in the 21st century. As editor, Dolan Cummings, writes: “More than to sleep and feed, to be human is to debate, to argue and to engage with the ideas and opinions of others”. Contributors include Simon Blackburn, Dylan Evans, A. C. Grayling and Kenan Malik.