Paul Kurtz Quotations
I believe that a person should take an affirmative outlook. There are always problems in life, old and new, uncertainties, and unexpected contingencies. The optimal way to deal with this is not to give up in despair, but to move ahead using the best intelligence and resources that we have to overcome adversity.
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We are saddened by the death of Paul Kurtz, the leading humanist of his age, this week. He led a long and influential life, and among other activities was a founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry. He will be missed.
His obituary as published by the Center for Inquiry can be found here:
Here is a selection of quotations by Paul Kurtz.
- Life, when fully lived under a variety of cultural conditions, can be euphoric and optimistic; it can be a joy to experience and a wonder to behold.
- If there are any lessons to be learned from history, it is that we should be skeptical of all points of view, including those of the skeptics. No one is infallible, and no one can claim a monopoly on truth or virtue. It would be contradictory for skepticism to seek to translate itself into a new faith. One must view with caution the promises of any new secular priest who might emerge promising a brave new world—if only his path to clarity and truth is followed. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to temper the intemperate and to tame the perverse temptation that lurks within.
- The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; on the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the Tree of Life and by living in the here and now as fully and creatively as we can.
- Calling for stronger security in the context of terrorism is a mistake. I think it is a mistake because the implication is that it is the government's responsibility to solve the problem.
- It is not the "courage to be" that we must develop as much as the "courage to become." We are responsible for our destiny. The meaning of life is not located in some hidden crevice in the womb of nature but is created by free persons, who are aware that they are responsible for their own futures and have the courage to take this project into their own hands.
- A fundamentalist is a person who is committed to a set of basic beliefs or doctrines with dogmatic and inflexible loyalty.
- There still lingers among some true unbelievers an unflinching conviction toward atheism—God does not exist, period ; they are convinced of that! This kind of dogmatic attitude holds that this and only this is true and that anyone who deviates from it is a fool.
- Most humans feel the transcendent temptation, the emotional drive to festoon the universe with large-scale meaning.
- What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression. Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire ... To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press _ so vital for our democracy.
- Humanists find exuberance to be intrinsically worthwhile for its own sake. This is usually identified with happiness. The Greeks called it eudaimonia, or well-being; this meant the actualization of a person’s nature, with pleasure as a by-product, not for the solitary moment, but in a complete life. This entails some moderation of a person’s desires. But I add that, in joyful exuberance, there is high excitement, the intensity of living, throbbing with passion, engaging in daring activities of enterprise and adventure.
- Science is not interpreted as an esoteric method of inquiry, but is continuous with standards of critical intelligence used in common, ordinary life.
- No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.