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Humanist profile.

Author, philosopher, and teacher H. J. Blackham celebrated his one-hundredth birthday on March 31,2003. Commonly called the father of modern British Humanism, he helped to found the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in 1952, serving as secretary general, and was the first executive director of the British Humanist Association upon its formation in 1963. He describes his attitude about life as "resourceful, self-dependent, realistic, [and] constructive" and has lived accordingly.

An avid horse lover, Blackham worked on a farm in the Midlands in England. Afterwards he enrolled at the University of Birmingham, studying English in the honors school at the postgraduate level for two years. He has been involved with many grass roots humanistic campaigns, especially working to improve education, saying, "Humanism is a teaching, an education in living and an organization of help in practice." He taught at Doncaster Grammar School in Yorkshire, England, for two years and helped to found the British Association of Counseling.

Upon leaving academia, Blackham became interested in philosophy, collaborating with such leading intellectuals as A. J. Ayer, Julian Huxley, and Barbara Wootton. His published works include Six Existential Thinkers, Fable As Literature, Education for Personal Autonomy, and Humanism. In 1988, in honor of his eighty-fifth birthday, Barbara Smoker compiled Blackham's Best, a book of his quotations and writings. The book has been republished with additional material in 2003 to mark Blackham's centenary.

In honor of Blackham's birthday, the British Humanist Association, the IHEU, and the Rationalist Press Association held a celebration in London, England, in late March 2003. Jim Herrick of the Rationalist Press Association says of Blackham, "He lived the exemplary life of a liberal humanist--thought and action welded together." Blackham enjoys his retirement in the Wye Valley in Wales, where he has lived for many years. He continues to read and write regularly, and also grows vegetables.

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values--be they religious, ethical, social, or political--have their source in human nature, experience, and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.
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Title Annotation:Biography; H.J. Blackham
Publication:The Humanist
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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