The New Humanism

November 4, 1970

Report Outline
Response to the Technological Age
Humanism and Western Civilization
New Challenges to Humanist Ideals

Response to the Technological Age

Rising Protest Against Dehumanizing Influences

Man's age-old search for the good life on earth is moving along new tracks as the 20th century approaches its last quarter. And the goal is more elusive than ever. Not only is technology leaping along at a bewildering pace, changing the physical conditions of life, but social institutions are becoming increasingly complex and remote from the individual's control. The idea is taking hold that what man has wrought, he has not always wrought for his own well-being. The result is a rising demand for more humane considerations in the making of fateful decisions that determine what kind of world modern man and his progeny must live in. Thus at the dawning of the “post-industrial” age, a new humanism is arising.

Much of the new humanism takes the form of protest against technological “progress.” As culture critic William Braden puts it, there is “a humanistic revolt against technology, against the debatable form of affluence that technology has so far produced in this country, and indeed against the basic psychological, philosophical, and theological assumptions that underlie the technological impulse to manipulate the environment and thereby to dominate the universe.” He added that “no less than the whole thrust of western civilization since at least the Renaissance and Reformation” is being called into question.

As expressed by Prof. Charles A. Reich of the Yale Law School in his much-discussed new book. The Greening of America (1970), the revolt of youth—long hair, student protest, rock music, rejection of careers—is basically a repudiation of the “corporate state” and its web of impersonal institutions that determine the conditions of modem life. Young people, however, are not the only ones affected; among older Americans there is widespread disillusionment. Social reform and economic progress—the gods of yesteryear—have tailed to produce a paradise on earth.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sep. 15, 1971  Future of Liberalism
Nov. 04, 1970  The New Humanism
Oct. 15, 1969  Science and Society
Jun. 11, 1969  Eastern Religions and Western Man
General Social Trends