For over three decades, philosopher Paul Kurtz has been a strong advocate of scepticism, not only as a philosophical position, but also as a fulfilling way of life. Contrary to the view that scepticism is merely a negative, nay saying, or debunking stance toward commonly held beliefs, scepticism as defined by Kurtz emerges reborn as 'skeptical inquiry' - a decidedly positive philosophy ready and able to change the world. In this definitive collection, editor John R Shook has gathered together seventeen of Paul Kurtz's most penetrating and insightful writings. Altogether these essays build an affirmative case for what can be known based on sound common sense, reason, and scientific method. And as each essay cogently and convincingly explains, so much can be known, from the natural world around us to the moral responsibilities among us. The work is organised in four topical sections. In the first, 'Reasons to Be Sceptical', Kurtz presents compelling reasons why the methods of inquiry used by the sciences deserve respect. In short, science provides reliable knowledge, without which humanity would never have emerged from the age of myth and widespread ignorance.
In the second section, 'Scepticism and the Non-Natural', Kurtz shows how sceptical inquiry can be fruitfully used to critique both paranormal claims and religious worldviews. He also investigates whether science and religion can be compatible. In the third section, 'Scepticism in the Human World', he considers how sceptical inquiry can be applied to politics, ethics, and pursuit of the good life. Realising the essential connections between scientific knowledge, technological power, and social progress, Kurtz has understood, as few other philosophers ever have, how the methods of intelligence can be applied to all areas of human endeavour. The volume concludes with Kurtz's authoritative reflections on the sceptical movement that he founded and has led. As he never tires of explaining, the forces of blind faith and stubborn unreason still fight for control of the mind, so the sceptic can never rest. If there is a brighter future for humanity, a future in which every person enjoys a realistic opportunity for the pursuit of excellence, Kurtz's exuberant scepticism can show us the way.
Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of Prometheus Books, the Institute for Science and Human Values, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and has lectured at universities worldwide.