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Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
"Zdraviy Smysl" ("Common Sense") Magazine Elected Articles
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Issue 29

Editor’s CORNER

  • Valery Kuvakin: “Scepsis” in Russia: Unthought of Before, Is It Possible Now?" - The RHS President welcomes the second issue of the “Scepsis” magazine. “We share the values maintained by the editors...

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

  • Clericalization of School Is Illegal / A Second Appeal of the “Common Action” Initiative Group appeals to the Russian Education Minister Vladimir Filippov with regard to unlawful attempts to introduce “Basics of Orthodox Culture” classes in general education curricula. “Understanding of religion should be developed from a modern, scientific worldview, based on human and Humanist values...”

HUMANISM AROUND THE GLOBE

  • From the President. A message by Roy Brown, President of the IHEU, reads: “There is increasing awareness among politicians and religious leaders alike that if we are ever to escape from the vortex of violence and retribution that has characterized much of human history secularism is the only possible way forward...” / International Humanist News, August 2003

THE PRICE OF THE LIFE STANCE IS THE HUMAN LIFE

  • In a letter that arrived from Pakistan without return address, Mustafa Kamal Pasha (nom de plume) calls on the Russian public to add their voice in support of dr. Younas Sheikh who is locked up in death cell on fabricated charges of blasphemy. “I’m writing on behalf of dr. Younas Sheikh and other humanists from Pakistan...”
  • Mustafa Kamal Pasha concludes his article, The Dangerous Polisy of Islam: “The West must give moral support to the 3 rd world liberals, secularists and humanists especially in Islamic religious countries and societies”.

DISCUSSING THE NEW TEXTBOOKS ON HUMANISM

  • For Collective Humanism by Alexander Shutov is a review of the two Humanism textbooks: Basics of Modern Humanism by V. Kuvakin, I. Borzenko. A. Kudishina, and Humanism and Civil Society by G. Givishvili. “Even the 19th century philosophers were aiming at “humanization of circumstances”, and the Common Sense talks about a humane future society. That is impossible unless Humanism becomes an ideology and political agenda...”

HUMANISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS

  • Sergey Borodavkin offers his Reflections on the Subject of Russian Democracy. In the wake of Russian parliamentary elections he concludes that “It seems that the primary element of democracy – its subject – will not be an individual, but rather a grassroot unit of people bonded by common professional interests, national identity, or a system of values...”

WHAT IS HUMANISM?

  • In his essay on Biological Aspects of Humanism, the scholar and Medical Professor Vsevolod Lyashenko asks whether we can actually do without our “biological” humanity, which is rooted in our instincts? The answer is: certainly not! “I am human, and let the humanity persist!”

CELEBRATING LEO TOLSTOY’S 175TH ANNIVERSARY

  • Anna Kudishina: The Genius Denunciator of Untruth. “Since his early youth, Tolstoy sought to create a “new religion” that would correspond to the spirit of times. He found this type of “religion” in his ethical and philosophic teaching, which he hoped would promote a psychology of vigilant, sensible humanity. This is the essence of Tolstoy’s attitude: while talking of heavenly things, he does care about earthly matters, about human beings”.

GREAT HUMANISTS

  • Arseny Chanyshev: Giordano Bruno. Towards Quincentenary. “...In Russia, too, the 400th anniversary of the execution of Bruno passed almost without notice. This was an important date, though not exactly a jubilee. His birthday anniversary was in 1948, and the next one will be in 2048. Those of us who have just turned twenty have a chance to celebrate it – they will be only 67 or 68 years old.”

THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED. TERRORISM OF TODAY

  • Clark R. Chapman and Alan W. Harris A Sceptical Look at September 11th / How We Can Defeat Terrorism by Reacting to It More Rationally. “At the one-year anniversary, we examine reactions to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the context of other causes of premature deaths. An objective of terrorism is to multiply damage by inducing irrational fears in the broad population. One defense is to learn to evaluate: such situation more objectively.”

BOOK REVIEW

  • Alexander Kraynev. Protecting the Reason – a Task for the Reasonable / Review of the Articles Collection “In Defense of Reason: Opposing the Onslaught of Charlatanism and Paranormal Beliefs on Early 21st Century Russian Culture”. According to the author, the goal of the Moscow International Symposium “Science, Antiscience and Paranormal Beliefs” (October 2001) was to a great extent achieved during the event. Publication of Symposium papers, will be the next important step augmenting the success.
  • In his polemic essay Are Jews Needed in Russia? / In Response to the Publication of Volume 2 of “200 Years Together” by Alexander Solzhenitsin, Lev Fontalin regretfully points to the fact that “...the author has followed the same old tendency: the extremely complex system of cultural, economic and political relations between the two peoples is reduced almost to the level of a police-style investigation into actual and alleged wrongdoings of the Jews against the Russians...”

AMONG OURSELVES

  • Gennady Shevelev, Chairman of the RHS St. Petersburg branch. Reflections of a Saddened Optimist: “RHS leaders should, first, be more persistent in pressing the government for the same level of funding as enjoyed by the Orthodox Church; and second, lose no time in learning some basic entrepreneurial skills, hire… a good manager and open some profitable business”.
  • Valery Kuvakin. Humanism – Persistent Work of Humanity (replying to my RHS’ colleague). “...I am positive that what we are doing is very important for the country. This gives me energy to do it and help others doing it. Here, in fact, one does not need money, but only reason and conviction.”

HUMANIST DICTIONARY

  • Following Alexander Kruglov’s definition, Fairness means complying, in every situation, to that type of virtual agreement on mutual relationships that would ensure maximum benefit to each party... This implies equal significance (absolute dignity) of all parties who entered the agreement, and an adequate reciprocity of their rights and obligations.

ESSAY

  • Mikhail Beilin, a prominent Russian chess player and personal coach of the 1954 1955 World Champion Vasily Smyslov. The Solid Content.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Valery Kuvakin briefly reviews the Contemporary skeptical literature issued in English (based on the Prometheus Books’ catalogue).