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'A History of Humanism: from Democritus to Dawkins'

By Charles - Posted on 23 June 2010

Meeting report - 22nd June 2010

As part of last year's programme, John Severs from Durham delivered his fascinating and thoroughly researched talk on Gerrard Winstanley, the founder of the Diggers, and one of the most influential figures in the English intellectual revoluton of the 17th century. For June's meeting this year he made a return visit to talk to us on 'A History of Humanism: from Democritus to Dawkins'.

There is a massive amount of material to cover here, and it was hardly possible in the hour that we had to do more than brush the surface. Nevertheless, John clearly identified the historical and intellectual contexts in which major contributions were made, the emergence of the distinct strands of thought that constitute our modern concept of secular humanism, and brought to life, usually in their own words, the (often heroic) individuals who brought us to where we are today.

It took concentration, but we all found it immensely rewarding. And best of all it brought us our biggest crop of new guests ever!

As part of a brief question session at the end, the issue was raised of the very small number of women who figured in the narrative, even well on into the 20th century. There's no very obvious answer, but with the last two BHA presidents being women, this all looks set to change.



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