St. Socrates


“St. Socrates: Some Thoughts on Humanism” is the title of the address that I delivered. Don Cullen shakes hands with JRC after handing him the certificate that attests to his standing as HAT’s Humanist of the Year. [Photo Ed Bil]

The Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT) has named me as its Humanist of the Year. HAT extended the honour to me through an old pal, Don Cullen, who serves on its executive. (Don and I worked side-by-side at the old Bohemian Embassy more than forty years ago.) I was asked to address the group at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., 10 March 2009. I did so, delivering a fifty-minute talk to about sixty of its members, including some of my family members and good friends.

The talk was titled “St. Socrates – Some Thoughts on Humanism,” and in it I discussed a number of subjects of interest to sceptics, rationalists, freethinkers, and humanists. For instance, I examined Anatol Rapoport’s “Tit for Tat” as a model for interpersonal and intergovernmental relations; I considered E.M. Forster’s four characteristics of the humanist; I raised a hackle or two by suggesting that official Multiculturalism (8 Oct. 1971 – 15 March 1900) should be put out to pasture; and I predicted that the new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff would adopt Sir Isaiah Berlin (especially his theory of “incommensurate values”) as his mentor, just as Stephen Harper made use of the neocon notions of Tom Flanagan, and Pierre Trudeau adopted F.R. Scott and his “just society.”

I spoke without notes but I do have a script and will email it to anyone who asks for it. New friends Bill and Danica Andersen were in the audience, along with Ben Viccari, and they recorded the talk and have made it available here:

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The talk concludes with an aphorism of poet Louis Dudek: “There is enlightenment in questions, but there is only barbarism in beliefs.”

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