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 Philosophy Emerging from Culture

 September 1-November 1, 2007                                       Washington, D.C.



The Challenge


            The theme of the 2008 World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul, “Rethinking Philosophy for a Global Age” is most appropriate. The year 2000 proved to be not only the beginning of a new century, but also the end of the 400 years of the modern era. Philosophers had already begun to speak of a post-modern era. The attempt to enter this new global arena in terms of the old coordinates of control for national self-interest has quickly shown itself to be a progressive disaster. Truly, it is time to rethink the philosophical enterprise, to look for a new paradigm able to integrate not only the achievements of the past but the many cultures and civilizations of our newly global context.

            Global times now endow -- and challenge -- philosophy with a broad diversity of cultures and civilizations. At the same time the progressive deepening of human concerns reaches beyond what is clear and distinct to what is of meaning and value, and beyond what is universal and necessary to free human creativity. This directs attention to persons and communities which over time and space cumulatively generate their cultural traditions. These two dimensions: one of global breadth and the other of the depth of the human spirit, now combine to open new sources for philosophy as the work of the human spirit.

            Thus this seminar will address the issue of “Philosophy Emerging from Culture”. Its intent will be to examine this new dynamic of philosophy, moving now not only top-down to apply restrictive principles, but bottom-up. That is, from the full breadth of human experience and creativity to evolve a more rich vision which can liberate and guide all in our newly wholistic world.

           The seminar will study this in a series of sub-themes: “The Dynamics of Change?”; “The Nature of Cultures”; and “The Challenge of Global Interchange of Civilizations”.




          For this work there are significant and promising resources. The humanities (history and literature) can uncover the values of the various cultures. The social sciences (psychology, sociology and economics) can contribute understanding of the structures of the world in which we live. Above all, it will be necessary with these to think together philosophically in order to understand the way in which faith inspires reason and reason articulates faith, that human freedom is open rather than closed, and that self-assertion consists in reaching out to others in the solidarity and subsidiarity in which civil society consists.

          For this a seminar is projected with the following characteristics.


          - Size: restricted to under 20 scholars, in order to facilitate intensive interchange around a single table;

          - Interdisciplinary: in order to draw upon the contemporary capabilities of the various humanities and sciences and to penetrate deeply into the philosophical roots and religious meaning of cultures;

          - Intercultural: to benefit from the experiences and commitments of the various cultural communities from all parts of the world, to discover their particular problems in our day, and especially to envisage new and creative responses;

          - Focused: a single integrating theme, in order to encourage a convergence of insights;

          - Duration: 10 weeks, in order to allow the is­sues to mature, the participants to establish a growing degree of mutual comprehension, and new insight to emerge;

          - Intensive: analyzing in detail a set of related readings and the papers planned in common and written by each of the participants during the seminar; and

          - Publication: the resulting volume, consisting of substantive, over 20 page studies, written by the individual seminar participants, intensively discussed in the seminar and then redrafted, will reflect concretely the work of the seminar and share it with those working in the various cultural communities in facing the problems of contemporary life.




          - Sponsor: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP), and The Center for the Study of Culture and Values, Catholic University of America (CUA).

          - Participants in each seminar: 10 philosophers from the various continents, who are expected to take part in all sessions of the entire seminar and to write a chapter for the publication. They will be joined by an equal number of professors from various disciplines from the universities and institutes of the Washington area. The visiting scholars will be welcome to join in seminars and courses at CUA, where they will be designated Visiting Research Professors. They will have the use of the research facilities of the Library of Congress and of the universities and institutes of the Washington area. Thus, the period of the seminar should constitute effectively a hard working mini-sabbatical.

          - Schedule: The seminar will meet on Tuesdays 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 noon for discussion by the visiting scholars of key contemporary texts related to the evolution of the theme of the seminar; and on Thursdays, 2:00-5:00 p.m. for presentation by the participants of the drafts of their chapters as a basis for intensive critical and exploratory discussion by the group.

          - Costs: Successful applicants will be granted an RVP Research Fellowship which covers all fees for the seminar itself including simple room and board, but not travel.

          - How to apply: By a letter of application before March 20, 2007, together with a curriculum vitae and bibliography, providing details of the importance of the seminar to the applicants overall work and the achievement of his or her specific goals.







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