This lecture explores the intellectual, cultural, and natural conditions of peace, conditions necessary if the search for truth, justice, freedom, and redemption is to achieve its full potential. A crucial requirement is ‘cool’ love and the appreciation of modest, shared joy. When such love and joy are accompanied by the reliable promise of participation in eternal life, eternal peace, and the divine powers, they help to create conditions in our world that promote peace – politically, legally, and religiously.
An understanding of the liberating potential inhering in the search for truth requires that we consider not only its cognitive and ethical dimensions but also its religious manifestations. The latter necessitate a critical look at distortions, such as the influential metaphysical and subjectivist conceptions of God that are largely responsible for people having turned away from faith. Critiques of religion (Marx, Nietzsche, Bonhoeffer) also disclose how such distortions promote reductionistic conceptions of human beings.
This lecture examines the moral-political processes of communication among human beings with regard both to the potential and to the illusions associated with notions of freedom. It illuminates the power as well as the risks associated with moral communication. Which legal, political, and religious factors best facilitate the reception of this spirit of freedom and its incorporation into people's lives?
Over centuries of evolution, the traditional patriarchal ethos has only reluctantly, and only in parts of the world, embraced legal concepts, morality, and politics based on equality – that is, an ethos based on justice and the protection of the weak, and focused on the freedom and equality of all human beings. This ethos also shapes the evolution of jurisprudence and provides a foundation for both international and interreligious understanding, prompting a critical reexamination of ‘natural law’.
Rather than conceive the spirit in an intellectual fashion—as consciousness, intelligence, rationality, and such bipolar notions as body-soul or body-spirit—we should understand both the human and the divine spirit in a multipolar and multimodal fashion. Only then do the full reality and creativity of the spirit become apparent, illuminating the challenges to which human beings are called today.
The almost religious enthusiasm that competitive sports generate through mass media finds a negative parallel when the passions of the masses are successfully manipulated by a political system such as the Third Reich. The resulting brutalization and terror call into question any references to human beings as formed in the ‘image of God’. Hannah Arendt's studies challenge us to discover powers capable of countering such processes.
This lecture concludes the series by facing head on the idea of "classical civilisation". How far has it always been a weapon of elite exclusivity? Or how far has it simultaneously acted to challenge elite power? And what is its future?
This lecture is about politics ancient and modern. What political inheritance do we imagine we can trace back to the ancient world? On what does our admiration for Athenian democracy rest, or our hatred of Roman autocrats?
This lecture explores various forms of exclusion and inclusion in antiquity, from slave versus free to women versus men. Can we ever understand how that might have seemed "natural"? And what does it tell us about our own exclusions? Given the drastic disparities in power, wealth and influence that underpinned all ancient cultures, in what sense can they ever be seen as a model of inclusion and "toleration"?
In ancient Rome political change was regularly tied to sexual violence (the Rape of the Sabines, the Rape of Lucretia, the murder of Virginia). How do we make sense of this? The lecture argues that the Romans themselves discussed these (mythical) incidents much more subtly than we often give them credit for, and that the Rape of Lucretia in particular has for 2000 years raised important questions about power, responsibility and consent.