Friday, January 4, 2013

Freethinker: a question of definition & taxonomy

Written September 23, 2010 at 2:31 am
A discussion is now in progress [Were Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes Freethinkers?: You be the judge] as to who is to be classified as a "freethinker". There are standard dictionary definitions, but the implications are hardly unambiguous. Here are some links that delve further into the implications of this term.

"Freethought Revival" / Susan Jacoby

Is "Freethinker" Synonymous with Nontheist?
Jeffery Jay Lowder

Rationalism  - It's Meaning and Implications
By Aparthib Zaman

Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History.
Teacher Resource Section: Freethought and Religious Liberty:A Primer for Teachers

I am not satisfied with any of these approaches. My inclination is to tailor my taxonomy historically rather than to apply a single taxonomy to all times & places. By this I mean I see freethought as a historical cone, that takes in a wider spectrum in the past and excludes more and more unacceptable positions as we approach the present. But I have doubts that I can apply this principle authoritatively.

[See also:] Freethought by Amnon H Eden

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