Author:Joseph Sassoon


ISBN: 978-1-4917-3148-2 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4917-3149-9 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4917-3150-5 (e)

Author Sassoon’s repeated references, from title to finish, to self-actualization may lead some to believe that his book lies within the burgeoning category of self-help books. It clearly does not, and a reader should be forewarned that this book is not a chatty cajoling to be a better and more successful person, but rather a rather desiccated dissertation on the roots and value of social and political organizations, past and present.

There is no doubt that Sassoon’s perspective is that of a humanist. Indeed, no fewer than 16 sentences in the book begin, “As a humanist…” The same phrase appears regularly within the interior of sentences. And that the key fundamental of humanism is to produce the highest degree of self-actualization to as many people as possible is hardly understated.

The book’s exploration of these concepts from ancient times to the present is exhaustive in every sense of the word. The book comes with appendices and notes, which are sometimes conventional identifications of source materials, but are frequently textual arguments that could well have been incorporated in the book’s main body.

In addition to humanism, much ink is spilled on the concepts of “entelechy,” democracy,” and “axiopathy.” I found the first two in the dictionary. Truth, objective reality, and reason are given relatively short shrift.

To place the author’s philosophical premises in the conservative/liberal spectrum is daunting although his condemnation of totalitarianism is clear enough. On the other hand, we have the following, which would give any modern-day conservative hives:

“We must place society’s integrity before that of any individual. Society has a right to regulate the distribution of wealth in a way that benefitseveryone—or at least most people—and thus that preserves democracy and opposes plutocracy.

Another priority is to ensure public health. Most modern countries have elaborate health-care programs, although not all make sure that adequate health care is actually available to everyone. As a humanist, I believe that health care is a basic right of every citizen. How could anyone have a vital entelechial process without it? But the extent of health care depends society’s wealth and priorities, and these can fluctuate.”

Another IHOP-worthy waffle is stated thusly:

“So, as a humanist, I see no contradiction between creationism as an unverifiable proposition and evolution as a verifiable one. One supplies morality and the second supplies scientific truth. Even if we could disprove evolution, that still would not confirm creation, because creationism and evolution represent very different motivations. Both are essential and synergistic. Both support self-actualization and the humanist cause.”