Isaac Asimov, Nightfall
The philosophy of humanism began in the fourteenth century as European academics questioned the antiquated authority of Aristotelian science and various bronze-age gods that had consumed medieval thought. Scientific discovery, astronomy, mathematics, and logic all advanced with the help of humanism. Modern-day humanism helps us understand and value human autonomy, science, and empathetic reasoning.
Sadly, in our present century, ignorance has become an idiocentric philosophy in and of itself. Purveyors of disinformation seek to dehumanize, often with violent rhetoric, targeting people and communities whose lives and values do not comport with their own conspiratorial cult fantasies. Ignorance dismisses centuries of accumulated knowledge, and it diminishes that which makes us human: curiosity and empathy.
Compelling humanist science fiction and speculative fiction evoke a sense of empathy in the reader. Whether it is the hunted alien, Kreega, in Poul Anderson's Duel on Syrtis, or the tortured child in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, the reader comes away with a deeper understanding of conceptual metaphors and the human condition. Empathy is knowledge, and good science fiction delivers a future where knowledge is valued.
Jesse Rowell Author
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