Sunday, July 05, 2015

Simon Blackburn's Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, comparisons, changes and additions made at some point between the first edition in 1994 and 2005

Humanism
Most generally, any philosophy concerned to emphasize human welfare and dignity, and either optimistic about the powers of human reason, or at least insistent that we have no alternative but to use it as best we can. More particularly, the movement distinctive of the Renaissance and allied to the renewed study of Greek and Roman literature: a rediscovery of the unity of human beings and nature, and a renewed celebration of the pleasures of life, all supposed lost in the medieval world. Humanism in this Renaissance sense was quite consistent with religious belief, it being supposed that God had put us here precisely in order to further those things the humanists found important. Later the term tended to become appropriated for antireligious social and political movements. Finally, in the late 20th century, humanism is sometimes used as a pejorative term by postmodernist and especially feminist writers. applied to philosophies such as that of Sartre, that rely upon the possibility of the autonomous, selfconscious, rational, single self, and that are supposedly insensitive to the inevitable fragmentary, splintered, historically and socially conditioned nature of personality and motivation. 
The underlined was added.
"...renewed celebration of the pleasures of life, all supposed lost in the medieval world." 
"supposedly insensitive to the inevitable fragmentary, splintered, historically and socially conditioned nature of personality and motivation."
Snide, and wrong.

The entry, unchanged, for Montaigne. No mention of humanism.
Montaigne had no very high opinion of the faculties and achievements of mankind. His attitude found ample confirmation in the work of Sextus Empiricus whose motto "Que sais-je" ("What do I know?") Montaigne adopted to himself.
Erasmus, unchanged
One of the earliest and greatest humanists of the Northern Renaissance,
...had little confidence that the unaided powers of men were capable of forging new utopias. 
Blackburn can't keep his definitions straight.

The entry for Thomas More doesn't refer to him as a humanist though he's referred to in other entries as a humanist. He and Erasmus are linked in both their entries.
He is remembered philosophically partly as a friend of Erasmus and a key figure in the renaissance in England but, also as the author of Utopia (1516) a description of the quest for a political ideal that is satisfied by a system of communism, national education, and free toleration of religion.
No mention of irony.

1994 - Entry for Liberalism but not for Republicanism, for Isaac Newton but not Blackstone. Both were added.  Locke is treated deferentially, Montesquieu snidely. No changes.

No comments: