Remembering Paul Kurtz, Humanist Pioneer
Paul Kurtz, 1925-2012
Paul Kurtz has been a leader in the humanist movement for his entire life. He was integral to the development of the American Humanist Association, Center For Inquiry, and his most recent endeavor, the Institute for Science and Human Values. He led the movement from a scholarly perspective, publishing a long list of books and papers, teaching at several colleges, and retiring as Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo. He is also a veteran, having served in World War II like much of his generation.
World War II I found very exciting. I found it adventurous, although I was appalled by the suffering and the destruction. Nonetheless, it expanded my horizons. I met fascists, Nazis in concentration camps, communists from Eastern Europe, and refugees from it. I saw the barbarism and also remained hopeful that the world would improve. And indeed that has been my main interest, the amelioration of the human condition and particularly on the planetary level since the earliest. So I still am encouraged by the constant improvement of the human condition.
Dr Kurtz is an example of what humanists mean when they talk of making meaning in life. Knowing he would had only one life to live, he dedicated his life to the service of improving the human condition. From his service in World War II to his pursuit of knowledge in academia to his books, institutions, and personal leadership, Paul Kurtz has left a legacy for humanity. He is a leader of modern humanism who will be missed alongside other greats like Sherwin Wine, Lloyd Morain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Corliss Lamont. We have lost one of our best, but we are all better for the life he lived. We will mourn today, and then we will move forward inspired and sustained by the work of Dr Kurtz and the other great leaders of humanism.