Appignani Chair of Atheism

Chair of Atheism (May 2015)
American philanthropist Louis Appignani (right), with wife Laurie Appignani, and Richard Dawkins (center), at the May 2016 press announcement of the establishment of America’s first “chair of atheism, humanism, and secular ethics” at the University of Miami. [3]
In education, Appignani Chair of Atheism, Humanism, and Secular Ethics is a 2016-initated chair, established at the University of Miami, for the study of atheism, humanism, and secularism, stimulated into inception per $2.2 million endowment of American philanthropist Louis Appignani, an ex-Catholic Bertrand Russell inspired atheist, whose vision is to make atheism a legitimate academic subject in America.

Early models
See also: Atheism professor
In 450BC, Greek philosopher Empedocles, using his two element and four force model of everything, applied at the social level, e.g. friends mix like water and wine, whereas enemies separate like oil and water, is the first person, historically attributed, according to Theophilus (c.120-184) (Ѻ), as summarized below, to "teach" atheism:

“What good did it do Epicurus to maintain that there is no providence; or Empedocles to teach atheism; or Socrates to swear by the dog, and the goose, and the plane-tree, and AEsculapius struck by lightning, and the demons whom he invoked? And why did he willingly die? What reward, or of what kind, did he expect to receive after death? What did Plato's system of culture profit him? Or what benefit did the rest of the philosophers derive from their doctrines, not to enumerate the whole of them, since they are numerous? But these things we say, for the purpose of exhibiting their useless and godless opinions.”

In 1806, Goethe using his newly in-development elective affinities based human chemical theory, built in part on Empedocles’ atheism implicit oil, water, and wine model of social interactions, began teaching a young Arthur Schopenhauer, at first by intellectual mentorship and later by consultation (1819), implicit physicochemical atheism (Ѻ), a process Schopenhauer later described as being learned ideas as "fruit from the tree". Schopenhauer would go onto become "the first admitted and inexorable atheist among us Germans", as Nietzsche (1882) later summarized things. In 1868, Schopenhauer became Friedrich Nietzsche's intellectual “educator”. In 1910, German physical chemist and so so-labeled "radical atheist" Wilhelm Ostwald, building in part on Goethe's atheism implicit human chemical theory, via his Monistic Sunday Sermons, taught energy-based atheism. Into the early 20th century, the rise of Marxism-based atheism turned communism shut down efforts to "teach" intelligent versions of natural science based atheism. The only known example being the implicit atheism based Harvard Pareto circle, ranked by Pitirim Sorokin as on par with the "mechanistic schools" of history, which pitted Pareto-Gibbs based social science against Marxism-based social science. The passing of Lawrence Henderson and WWII, however, was said to have shut the program down.

In 2011, American sociologist Phil Zuckerman, author of Society Without God (2008), at Pitzer College, Ca, initiated a secular studies program and major, its most-popular class being “Secularism and Skepticism”. [10]

Appignani 2011Atheist chair
Louis Appignani at 2011 American Atheists meeting discussing his 2001 to present philanthropic efforts to promote and support reason and science based decision making over spirituality, myth, and faith based decision making. [2]
Appignani Chair | Overview
In 2001, American business magnate Louis Appignani, a former Catholic who turned Bertrand Russell inspired college atheist, donated $1 million towards the establishment of a “Louis Appignani Foundation” the gist philanthropic aim of which is the following: [2]

“About ten years ago, when I decided to get involved in philanthropy, I thought where can I, in my small way, make a difference? I thought, by concentrating on critical thinking, organizations that are secular, that emphasize science and reason, as opposed to spirituality and mythology, as a basis for making decisions, I thought that would be an area where very few people are passionate about those issues, and I thought that maybe I could make a small dent, by contributing to my country, by emphasizing that.”

In circa 2004, Appignani engaged into discussion with American philosopher Harvey Siegel, then chair of the philosophy department at the University of Miami, about starting some type of atheism professorship.

In 2015, Julio Frenk (Ѻ) became the new president of the University of Miami, and therein stated his vision (Ѻ) to establish 100 new academic chairs in time for the school's centennial celebration in 2025. This opened up wiggle room for the possibility to establish a chair of atheism.
Appignani article (2002)
A 2002 Star News article (Ѻ) about Appignani giving away $1 million to promote atheism as an ethical alternative to organized religion and innovative learning strategies, pre belief that “religion is getting too much into our lives; in the guise of fostering love, it creates hate and separates people—we’re all citizens of the planet.”

In 2016, the University of Miami, stimulated by a $2.2 million Appignani, established the nation’s first chair for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics”. The university, of note, resisted the chair proposal per reason that they didn’t want the name “atheism” in the title of the chair, preferring to call it instead: “philosophical naturalism”.

“There was great reluctance on the part of the university to have an endowed chair with the word ‘atheism’ in the name, and that was a deal-breaker for Lou. He wasn’t going to do it unless it had the word atheism in it.”
— Harvey Siegel (2016), on University of Miami atheism chair, May 20 [1]

The overt reason for resisting the name atheism in the chair title, was: “We didn’t want anyone to misunderstand and think that this was to be an advocacy position for someone who is an atheist”, said Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost, said in an interview.

Chair | Objective
The holder of the chair, according to David Kling, professor and chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Miami, is to (a) offer one course annually on the history, philosophy, and influence of atheism; (b) engage with the community (university and public); for example, through public lectures, forums, or conferences.” Moreover, that the academic objective of the new position “would be to examine questions of science, knowledge, ethics, and social policy from a strictly atheistic perspective.” (Ѻ) The May 2016 chair description, specifically, is as follows: [4]

“The new chair will be an interdisciplinary appointment held by a distinguished scholar whose research and interests include the study of atheism—understood, for purposes of this gift, as a philosophical approach that emphasizes the methods and techniques of science, logic, and reason in dealing with questions of knowledge, ethics, politics, and social policy. The new chair also will offer annually a minimum of one course on the history, philosophy, or influence of atheism.”

The Oct 2016 chair description is as follows: [5]

“The ideal candidate is a distinguished scholar whose research and teaching interests include the study of atheism, humanism, and or secular ethics, and intellectual and academic methods that emphasize a naturalistic approach in dealing with problems affecting humanity. The holder of this chair will be expected to engage the broader community and offer at least one class a year on atheism and or its role in human affairs as part of his or her regular faculty duties. She or he will have a recognized body of scholarship and evidence of effective teaching. The holder’s appointment will be in one or more of the College’s departments.”

(add discussion)

In May 2016, YouTube atheism activist Aron Nelson, in his “Professor of Atheism?”, blogged his confusion about an atheism professorship; the gist of which is as follows: (Ѻ)

“There’s no belief system, no body of dogma to rehearse: none of that. Just the things that everyone should already be studying anyway, minus all the volumes of imaginary nonsense that you get with religion. So it occurs to me that a professor of atheism wouldn’t actually have a field of study.”

(add discussion)
Appignani, Einstein, and Richard Dawkins
Louis Appignani (c.2010), funder behind the 2016 established “chair of atheism” at the University of Miami, sitting (Ѻ) with Albert Einstein and Richard Dawkins, leader of the new atheism movement, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, two of whose lectures, at the University of Miami, Appignani sponsored.

The following are related quotes:

“The cancer that exists in our society has to do with religion. The way this country is going, we’re not interested in science anymore. The cancer is with people’s thinking. I think it’s vitally important that all of us in our respective organizations somehow encourage secular free thought groups or free thought people who can think for themselves and not pray to an almighty for solutions to complex problems.”
— Louis Appignani (2011), “Speech at Southeast Regional Atheist Meeting” [2]

“I’m trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists. This is a step in that direction, to make atheism legitimate.”
— Louis Appignani (2016), commentary on new University of Miami “Chair of Atheism” [1]

“I think it’s a very bold step of the University of Miami, and I hope there will be others. It’s enormously important to shake off the shackles of religion from the study of morality.”
Richard Dawkins (2016), on University of Miami atheism chair, May 20 [1]

See also
Nightingale Chair of Social Physics

1. Goodstein, Laurie. (2016). “University of Miami Establishes Chair for Study of Atheism” (Ѻ), The New York Times, May 20.
2. (a) Appignani, Louis. (2011). “Talk at Southeast Regional Atheist Meeting” (Ѻ|23min), r3ggi3000, Dec 29.
(b) Nardi, William. (2016). “Donor behind UMiami’s new atheism chair: Reagan ‘downfall’ of country, religion ‘cancer’” (Ѻ), The College Fix, Jun 15.
3. Staff. (2016). “Gift Establishes Chair in Atheism, Humanism, and Secular Ethics” (Ѻ), University of Miami News & Events, May 23.
4. Anon. (2016). “Gift Establishes Chair in Atheism” (Ѻ), Veritas, May 2.
5. Siegel, Harvey. (2016). “Finalized Advert for Appignani Chair”, Email attachment, Oct 11.

● Appignani, Louis. (2015). “Openly Secular” (Ѻ), Openly Secular, Jun 5.

TDics icon ns

More pages