This symposium, sponsored by the refereed humanist journal, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, published by the American Humanist Association, is an annual preconference event for all who are interested in exploring the philosophical underpinnings of humanism and keeping up with original humanist scholarship and research.
Dr. Shook is the education coordinator for the American Humanist Association, director of education and senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry, and a co-mentor with The Humanist Institute. From 2000 to 2006 he was a professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and in 2006 became Research Associate in Philosophy and a faculty member of the Science and the Public online EdM program for the University at Buffalo, New York. He continues as an instructor in the program. For several years he was president of the Society of Humanist Philosophers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson created transcendentalism after reading Hume and those arguing that the Bible was written by human beings. Darwin’s revolutionary ideas caused most of humanists to stop taking Emerson so seriously. It is time to return to Emerson’s transcendentalism, but with a modern strict naturalism to take a new look at subjective experiences and fit them into a modern philosophy of life.
Bishop has a Ph.D. in computer science and spent twelve years in the semiconductor industry. He also served nearly thirty years as a leader and member of the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley. He joined Marvin Rosenblum as webmaster and humanist philosopher for the International Federation for Secular and Humanistic Judaism, and brought its offices to Washington, DC. He now works primarily on humanist philosophy and is a member of the Washington Ethical Society.
Life may be partly defined by how we answer the question, “What sort of world is this?” Though largely unexamined by psychological science, our answers, such as “it’s interesting” or “it’s safe,” may create highly-generalized expectations that affect our behavior and daily lives; William James describes them as “our individual way of just seeing and feeling the total push and pressure of the cosmos.”
After growing up in Taiwan, Clifton studied philosophy before joining AmeriCorps as an inner-city community organizer and joining Habitat for Humanity International as a strategic planner. Since attending the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, he has pursued an idea he’s been developing for nearly a decade and expects to be his life’s work: specific overall judgments of the world may affect human life. He will start as a University of Pennsylvania psychology Ph.D. student under Dr. Martin Seligman in the fall.
Former President Jimmy Carter published a book this year, A Call to Action, Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. It is a recital of injustices done to women and girls and an indictment of the failures of society to end iniquitous practices by individual men, religions, armed services, universities, and other institutions in the United States and other countries. Finch’s paper will list some of Carter’s examples and offer one criticism: Carter’s neglect of previous calls to action by others on the same subjects. Witness John Stuart Mill, Betty Friedan, and many others. The paper will discuss where this leaves us.
Dr. Finch was educated at Imperial College, London, where he studied Physics and obtained his Ph.D. in 1963. While a student he helped found a humanist club called the Huxley Society. He was appointed to the faculty of the University of Houston where he is now a Professor Emeritus. He is author of the textbook “Introduction to Acoustics” and has been president of the Humanists of Houston and a member of the board of the American Humanist Association. He is part of the Sugar Land Humanist Forum in Texas.
Some people thrive throughout life; others struggle. What distinguishes different trajectories? Drawing on a lifespan perspective, this talk will explore what existing “long data”–studies that have followed individuals over many years of their lives–tell us about personal and social factors that influence health and well-being across the lifespan.
Dr. Kern is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. Her research focuses on understanding and measuring healthy functioning, and evaluating sophisticated theories of psychosocial processes underlying health over time. She has recently developed brief measures of flourishing for adults and adolescents, and is currently studying how wellbeing assessment can be used to inspire positive change for individuals and organizations.
Humanists love to talk, as many have no doubt already experienced (especially at conferences). They do it well and often; sometimes they even listen. But what do they do when they’re not talking? What do you do? How do humanists put their words into action? There are in fact many ways: art, song, dance, and social justice activism, among others. Klaeysen will explore some of them and invite attendees to share their non-verbal experience of humanism with others.
Dr. Klaeysen is Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Humanist Chaplain at New York University, Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University, and Co-dean of The Humanist Institute. She holds Masters Degrees in German from the State University of New York at Albany and in business administration from New York University. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastor counseling from Hebrew Union College. Previously she led the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island from 2002 to 2008.
Dr. Pawelski is director of education and senior scholar in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Dynamic Individualism of William James, editor of the philosophy section of the Oxford Handbook of Happiness, and co-editor of The Eudaimonic Turn: Well-Being in Literary Studies. In addition, he is the founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (and one of its principal faculty) and the founding executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association.
Self-transcendent experiences range from the routine (e.g. getting lost in a book) to the transformative (e.g. feeling at one with the universe), with various intensities in-between (e.g. meditation, awe, love). While these experiences have traditionally been linked with religion, a new humanistic vision for self-transcendence is emerging. This lecture describes the positive psychological outcomes that often arise from these experiences, as well as their dangers, and explores what is going on in the body and the brain during experiences of self-transcendence.
Yaden is a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in the Positive Psychology Center under the direction of Dr. Martin Seligman, and works in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He studies the cognitive neuroscience of self-transcendent experiences with Dr. Andrew Newberg. Yaden is also a public health educator with a focus on end-of-life care and stress management with Lourdes Health System and serves as a Humanist Chaplain.