Dr. Paul Kurtz, former editor of the American Humanist Association’s Humanist magazine and founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, died yesterday on Oct. 21, 2012 at the age of 86. His death means the loss of one of secular humanism’s most prominent advocates.
It was a great privilege to have known him, I shall personally miss him very much.
Paul Kurtz was a prominent American skeptic, and has been called “the father of secular humanism”. He was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for Social Research.
Kurtz published over 800 articles or reviews and authored and edited over 50 books. Many of his books have been translated into over 60 languages. They include The Transcendental Temptation, Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism, The Courage to Become, and Multi-Secularism: A New Agenda. His published bibliography of writings from 1952 to 2003 runs over 79 pages.
Kurtz founded the publishing house Prometheus Books in 1969. He was also the founder and past chairman of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)), the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry.
In his most recent major statement, Kurtz declared that “our planetary community is facing serious problems that can only be solved by cooperative global action.” In Neo-Humanism Statement of Secular Principles and Values: Personal, Progressive, and Planetary, published in 2010, Kurtz offered 16 detailed recommendations for a humanistic world.
“These are the vital principles and values that a secular, personal, progressive, and planetary humanism proposes for humanity,” Kurtz wrote about his statement. “Today the campaign for equal rights and for a better life for everyone knows no boundaries. This is a common goal for the people of the world, worthy of our highest aspirations.”
In 2007 the American Humanist Association presented Kurtz with the Humanist Lifetime Achievement Award. During his acceptance speech, he stated, “I am a secular humanist because I am not religious. I draw my inspiration not from religion or spirituality, but from science, ethics, philosophy, and the arts.”
After leaving the Center for Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism, Kurtz established the Institute for Science and Human Values in 2010, a humanist think tank based in Tampa, Fl.
Kurtz was born on Dec. 21, 1925 in Newark, New Jersey. He received his BA from New York University in 1948. Columbia University was next, where in 1949 he earned his MA and his Ph.D. in philosophy was awarded in 1952.
Kurtz later became Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That post followed time teaching at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, as well as the New School for Social Research.
- American Humanist Association press release
- Paul Kurtz’s Wikipedia Page
- Paul Kurtz . net
Here is a special episode of The Humanist Perspective that features a conversation with Paul Kurtz …