Paperback book in VGC
"Humanism" is a highly ambiguous word, and before it can be used with safety its ambiguities must be elucidated... Humanism is a very good word, and many have found it convenient to use. It is in fact too good a name, a fact which has tempted many to use it somewhat unscrupulously, without justifying their use of it, and without explaining how it was related to other and earlier uses. The result has been widespread confusion in the public mind, and this is the first obstacle a writer on humanism has to surmount. So wrote F. C. S. Schiller, a leading proponent of one sense of Humanism, in a lecture on "Humanisms and Humanism" published in 1937. Unfortunately, he failed to follow his own advice, and no other writer on the subject has surmounted this obstacle, so there has been no reliable survey of the various uses and ambiguities of the term, and widespread confusion has continued to exist. This book now attempts to fill the gap. After an introduction to the earliest ideas of and terms for Humanism in the Ancient World, it gives an account of the original appearance and first meanings of the word Humanist in the Italian Renaissance and of the word Humanism in the German Enlightenment, and then a survey of the varying senses used by various groups and individuals, until the gradual adoption of the title by the old Freethought movement and the eventual establishment of a new Humanist movement. Nicolas Walter is a lifelong Humanist who has worked for the Humanist movement for more than twenty years.