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AAR Annual Meeting
Atlanta, GA
November 21-24, 2015

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Religion and Humanism Group

Statement of Purpose: 

This Group seeks to open a space of reflection at the intersection between various positions that fall under the general title of “humanism” and the contemporary study of religion. This reflection includes philosophical, historical, and comparative methodologies. We provide a forum for scholars exploring the following:

The historical legacy of religious humanism

Traditional humanist concern with rhetoric as a means to study religion

The offer of critiques and constructive reappraisals of humanism as a contemporary theological and philosophical stance

Call for Papers: 

Religious Humanism and Human Rights

Human rights, it has often been asserted, cannot exist without a robust understanding of the idea of human dignity. The study of religious humanisms can play an important role in the current debates about the relationship between the ideals of human dignity, flourishing, and rights. This panel welcomes papers that address some of the following questions: How has religion both supported and suppressed human rights? What is the place of various religious humanisms in the grounding of human dignity? Can the contemporary articulations of religious humanisms address the critiques and rejections of human rights? Could the humanistic principles in religious traditions be directed toward highlighting human dignity and human rights without the challenges and legacies of modern secular humanisms?

Uncovering Religious and Secular Humanisms (Co-sponsored with Secularity and Secularism group)

Humanism is a complex notion and requires the recognition of a range of ideas--from ancient Greek philosophy and a variety of Renaissance humanisms, to the Christian, Confucian, Enlightenment, and liberal humanisms, or communist and socialist humanisms. This panel invites papers that consider religious and secular humanisms (either or both), to address several important questions such as: Why is it so often assumed that humanism is an inherently secular or secularizing ideal? Why don't we know more about various expressions of humanism that constitute religious traditions? What do the differences and similarities between religious and secular humanisms tell us about the changing nature and ethical premises of humanism? Can humanism, secular or religious, survive the long line of critiques of humanism--from Jean Paul Sartre's ("antihumanist") "existentalist humanism" to Emmanuel Levinas's posthumanism, to Tzvetan Todorov's "critical humanism"? Or, should the contestations of humanistic ideals be seen as part of the history of humanism and an indication of its capacity for revival? We welcome papers that address these questions from historical, philosophical, ethical, or social scientific points of view.

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