This document titled “The Power of the Person: On the Nothing Butness of Humanics” is the Humanics Lecture that was given at Springfield College by Distinguished Professor of Humanics Henry J. Paar on May 14, 1981. Paar, who worked as a psychotherapist and also teaches psychology at Springfield College, began his lecture with a humerous quote by Alben W. Barkley, the long-time congressman under President Harry S. Truman. “The best audience is ...
This document titled “The Power of the Person: On the Nothing Butness of Humanics” is the Humanics Lecture that was given at Springfield College by Distinguished Professor of Humanics Henry J. Paar on May 14, 1981. Paar, who worked as a psychotherapist and also teaches psychology at Springfield College, began his lecture with a humerous quote by Alben W. Barkley, the long-time congressman under President Harry S. Truman. “The best audience is one that is intelligent, well-educated and a little drunk.” Paar goes on to state that he does not agree with everything that past and current contributors to the history and tradition of Humanics at Springfield College have said about Humanics, but he states he has learned a lot from them. He agrees with Seth Arsenian’s concept that Humanics is more functionalist than essentialist, more empirical and pragmatic than philosophical, and more applied than pure. Paar thinks Humanics is concerned with doing, utilizing, and applying. Paar discusses a Humanics Newsletter in which he asked faculty and administrators to react to his proposal to make Humanics more central to our All-College Requirements. He said that out of 140 individuals, he only received 20 replies, indicating that Humanics is a lower priority on the list than Paar would like it to be. Paar defines all the things that he knows Humanics is not. He says, “Humanics is not what we wear. It is neither business suit nor gym suit, dresses or slacks, fashionable or old clothing, beards or make-up, short hair, long hair or no hair at all. Humanics is not how we spend our time. Working, playing, vegetating, arguing, loving, watching, speaking, listening, reading, laughing, sighing, exercising, dreaming--all are neither dependent upon nor superior to Humanics.” He says Humanics is not words, nor a triangle, nor solely unique to Springfield College. Humanics is not happy students and faculty, it is not racial harmony, it is not psychology (as much as it pains Paar to say that). He says, “Humanics, in short, is not any subject we offer or discipline we embrace or activity we sponsor or rhetoric we utter or tradition we honor.” He explains it is only what each of us makes of it, and each conception cannot be fully known to anyone else. Along with Holmes VanDerbeck, Paar believes Humanics is neither a noun nor an adjective. It is a happening. It is humane contact. He says it allows us to experience connectedness to the earth and to Springfield College. Paar ends the lecture by explaining his establishment of a Humanics Prize, similar to a scholarship fund, that will be awarded to the person or persons who clearly demonstrate Humanics and the human potential. Humanics is a word that has a special meaning in the history and philosophy of Springfield College, as well as in the college’s motto of “Spirit, Mind, and Body.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines Humanics as, “the subject or study of human affairs or relations, especially of the human element of a problem or situation as opposed to the mechanical.” In 1962, Dr. Glenn Olds, President of Springfield College at the time, began to wonder why this name was given to the intended philosophy of the college by Dr. Laurence Locke Doggett, Springfield College’s first full-time president. Olds acknowledged that the practices of the faculty were in large part consistent with the Humanics philosophy, but he believed that a more self-conscious application would improve chances of its continuity and survival. To ensure this, a Distinguished Professor of Humanics position was created at the college, first filled by Dr. Seth Arsenian from 1966-1969. The purpose of this position was to catalyze a renewal of consciousness in the philosophy. This was done by annually mandating the Distinguished Professor of Humanics to give a Humanics lecture on the definition of Humanics and what the concept means to them. Arsenian started this tradition in 1967 with his speech titled, “The Meaning of Humanics,” in which he described the concept as a set of ideas, values, and goals that make our college distinct from other colleges and make commitment and unity toward commonly sought goals possible.