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Human beings are small compared to the universe, but we're very important to ourselves. Humanism can be thought of as the idea that human beings are themselves the source of meaningfulness and mattering in our lives, rather than those being granted to us by some higher power. In today's episode, Sarah Bakewell discusses the origin and evolution of this dramatic idea. Humanism turns out to be a complex thing; there are religious humanists and atheistic anti-humanists. Her new book is Humanly Possible: 700 Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope.
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Sarah Bakewell did postgraduate work in philosophy and artificial intelligence before becoming a full-time author. Among her previous books are How to Live: a life of Montaigne, and At the Existentialist Cafe. She has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle award in biography, as well as the Windham-Campbell Prize in non-fiction.