Sunday, February 07, 2010

On Rethinking Human Nature: Beyond the Culture of Contest

Who cares about the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada? OK, well some people do. It's inter-nation-al. That's a good thing. It's a competition. Not always such a good thing, but oh well. Yes, I'm going to a Super Bowl Party that Kim and Dylan are having, but it's the party and fellowship, not the competition I'm going for. Yeah, right.
But what I really care about is that the Association of Baha'i Studies is scheduled for Vancouver this coming August. It's close. We can drive up. We're going. -gw
“Rethinking Human Nature”
34th Annual Conference to be in Vancouver

The beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been chosen as the site of the 34th Annual Conference of the Association for Bahá’í Studies–North America, which will be held 12–15 August 2010 on the theme “Rethinking Human Nature.”
How can Bahá’í scholarship contribute to the emergence of a new consensus regarding human nature? How we see social reality depends largely on our assumptions, but much contemporary discourse implicitly or explicitly assumes that human nature is selfinterested and competitive and that human relations are necessarily conflict-based. In economics, political science, sociology, education, law, international relations, and even religious studies, theories have been built upon these assumptions. Consequently, social institutions, media representations, the arts, and popular culture largely reflect and
reinforce them.
Despite this prevailing world view, new understandings of human nature are emerging at the margins of many academic disciplines. These acknowledge the human potential not only for egoism but also for altruism, not only for competition but also for cooperation. Such emerging scientific understandings are further supported by the world’s great religious systems, which offer spiritual and social practices designed to cultivate our altruistic and cooperative potential. Yet these scientific and religious insights continue to
be eclipsed by an entrenched model of human nature based on egoism and conflict.
Mindful of the complementary insights of both science and religion and in collaboration with like-minded individuals, Bahá’ís can draw upon both the Bahá’í writings and emerging knowledge in various disciplines to articulate and advance new models of human nature. The experiences of the Bahá’í community and others can be investigated to lend support and insight to these efforts. The annual ABS conference is one venue where scholarship and ongoing collaborative efforts can be fostered.

Posted via email from Baha'i Views

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