An aphoristic little tweet got my attention an hour or so ago –
Think like a skeptic, act like a humanist
That might seem like a good recipe, but it isn’t. You can’t act like an X unless you also think like an X. Thinking and acting don’t bifurcate that cleanly – how could they?
No, it’s more difficult than that. Life isn’t easy. You have to combine the two, in thought and action.
I think about this in general a lot, and in particular especially right now because I’m on a panel discussing the two at the CFI Summit weekend after next.
Plenary session: “Humanism and Skepticism: Separate or Joint Agendas?”
Panel discussion chaired by Ronald A. Lindsay. The Panel: Barry Kosmin, Ophelia Benson, Daniel Loxton, Mark Hatcher, Ray Hyman, and Michael De Dora.
I’m going to be saying joint, not separate. But there’s a certain kind of skepticism (or at least a kind of skeptic) that sees humanism as a betrayal of skepticism. I think the aphorism is a reflection of that. The idea is that humanism is credulous and/or dogmatic, and that’s why it should be banished from thinking, where only skepticism should rule. You know the drill – “feminism is a religion” blah blah blah.
I say it’s the other way around. It’s not that humanist (aka moral, liberal, egalitarian) thinking is corrupted, but that purely skeptical thinking is inadequate.