RVP Annual Seminars

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Re-Learning to be Human for Global Times

Understanding the Meaning of Being Human

across Cultures and Civilizations

August 21-September 22, 2017                                                                  Washington, D.C.


Thematic Description


New and threatening challenges are urging us to re-think and re-evaluate many fundamental issues which had been taken for granted for centuries. As we face these challenges, some important issues emerge: How can the philosophically inclined disciplines and especially reason-guided questioning illuminate our self-understanding? What is the meaning of being-human? How do we relearn to be authentically human in circumstances such as ours? These are perennial issues. However living as we do in these complex and pluralistic times, one of the major issues to be tackled concerns the way in which humanity faces its own future. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity; hence the theme of the RVP 2017 annual seminar.


As George F. McLean (1929-2016) used to point out, “globalization is the contemporary mode of being,” a determination of what it means to live a human life. Modern transportation breaks the barriers of nations and continents; the media create and share human experiences across the globe; indeed, a global horizon arises with many possibilities, along with serious questions: 1. How to understand freedom and responsibility? 2. How to live personal identities in connection with belonging to one’s own cultural community? 3. How to relate to the whole of humanity without suppressing the distinctive reality of peoples, cultures, and religions in this global age?


In these circumstances we are called to overcome self-enclosure and so be open to the ‘Other’, as Emmanuel Levinas famously stresses, or to the multiple others, as Vincent Shen wisely articulates. We must live in relationships towards the presence of other human beings and their distinct approaches to the challenges faced in their lives. As McLean often said, we need to be attentive to the uniqueness of cultural identity of each people and each civilization, and to their proper way of cultivating the meaning of being a person. Indeed, we need to relearn how to express and articulate the ultimate concern for life and how to commit ourselves to the realization of its plural dimensions, both temporal and eternal. Hence, it is necessary to go beyond merely economic and political concerns when dealing with the nature of human beings, and to relearn how to uncover and experience anew of the role of religion in the process of reconfiguration of human and cultural identities in these challenging global times.


Seminar Plans


The 2017 RVP international seminar will be composed of three parts:


1. During the first three weeks, the seminar will proceed with a complex hermeneutics of the Western notion of the person and its cognates in the different cultures and civilizations of the world, and with the exploration of the thought of George F. McLean on related thematic issues.


2. Subsequently, in the fourth week, the seminar will focus on the work of David Walsh, The Modern Philosophic Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence and The Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being. It will explore some notions of the person to be applied to the understanding of the human being as an existent, open structurally to others and concomitantly to the Ultimate Other.


3. Finally, in the last week, each seminar participant will be required to present an elaborate version of his/her paper as drafted and prepared before arriving in Washington and then enriched, revised and completed during the seminar.


Once the seminar is over, the participants will be required to submit a final version of their work to be considered for publication once peer-reviewed.


Application for Participation


Applications for participation in the RVP 2017 seminar should be sent by email by April 15, 2017 to cua-rvp@cua.edu. Participants cover their own travel costs; the RVP provides simple room and board during the seminar. The seminar will be conducted in English and held at the RVP Seminar Room: Gibbons Hall B-12, 620 Michigan Avenue, North East, Washington, D.C., 20064. Email: cua-rvp@cua.edu; Telephone: 202/319-6089.


In order to be considered, please enclose:


(1) CV describing the applicant's education, professional positions and activities;

(2) List of the applicant's publications;

(3) Letter stating the applicant's interest and involvement in this seminar theme and its relation to his/her past and future work in philosophy and/or related studies; and

(4) Abstract (250-500 words) of the paper the applicant intends to present during the seminar.







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Gibbons Hall B-12, 620 Michigan Avenue, North East,  Washington DC 20064; Telephone: 202/319-6089; Email: cua rvp@cua.edu; Website: www.crvp.org