About this Project

2017 – 2018

This project supported the Visiting Fellowship of Günter Thomas from Ruhr-University Bochum. In collaboration with William Schweiker (Divinity), Thomas explored the place of aspirations from the vantage point of moral philosophy, religious thought, and socio-cultural analysis. The project took it as intuitively the case that one of the most profound characteristics of human beings is to seek to realize their aspirations in actual life. The experience of aspirations coming alive, really motivating thought and action, is the starting point of all social, religious, and academic creativity. The project considered aspirations as the key missing link, under-examined in current thought, between human creativity and social and cultural processes of transforming and enriching life. The project raised three fundamental questions: (1) How and under what conditions do human aspirations become powerful drivers of innovation in culture, religion, the sciences, and society?; (2) What are the conditions that endanger human aspirations from motivating thought and action for the sake of enhancing life?; and (3) How do we distinguish between aspirations that are destructive of human life from those aspirations that respect and enhance life?

Image: Tom Friedman, Looking Up (2015) © Tom Friedman. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.


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