AMHERST, N.Y. — Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor who was influential in American humanism and secularism, died Oct. 21 at his home in Amherst. He was 86.
In 1973, when he was editor of The Humanist magazine, published by the American Humanist Association, Mr. Kurtz cowrote the Humanist Manifesto II, which updated an organized statement of morals and philosophy oriented to people rather than the supernatural. The Humanist Manifesto was first published in 1933.
The author of more than 50 books and the founder of Prometheus Books, which publishes titles on skepticism, humanism, and atheism, Mr. Kurtz was also the founding editor of Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, and he started institutions including the Center for Inquiry, the Committee for Skepticism, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Institute for Science and Human Values.
Mr. Kurtz was a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and, in his service, he visited both the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps soon after they were liberated.
In his free-thought-oriented writing, Mr. Kurtz worked to advance the concept that morals are practiced between people and not tied to supernatural concepts. He came up with the term eupraxsophy, roughly meaning “good wisdom and practice in conduct,” according to the Center for Inquiry to identify that values are human-oriented.