What We Do, Why, and How

Our Strategic Perspective

In this context we believe that historic strategies for social transformation which are centered on achieving state power (by whatever means) and then enacting reforms (no matter how radical) are inadequate to the challenges facing humanity. We have, fundamentally, two distinct but interrelated tasks. First, we need to unite as broad a section of humanity as possible in order to contain the climate crisis and defend the liberal and democratic order against the fascist assault. Within this broad popular front we can struggle for more far-reaching reforms (such as the defascistiation of police forces and the establishment of a universal basic income), but we must not hesitate to unite even with those with whom we disagree, so long as their commitment to the liberal order and to democracy is secure, and we must place the highest priority on preventing the consolidation of fascism.

Second, we face a very protracted process of rebuilding human communities and institutions –and, frankly, of restoring to people the humanity of which capitalism has largely stripped them. This is a complex, multidimensional task, and our own work focuses on initiatives which speak to our own comparative advantages and to the communities with which we have enduring ties. More specifically, our key strategic priorities are elaborating a vision and strategy which can carry humanity through this difficult period, and building a core of leaders who can carry, further develop and refine, and implement that vision over the very longue duree.

Our approach is focused on serious research. scholarship, and creative work and patient, in-depth organizing. Our principal method of work is, simply, conversation: in-depth, intentional conversation about the ends of human life and the means to those ends.This is, in fact. the method shared by both philosophers and organizers. It is the dialectics which we historically associate with Socrates but which was practiced by philosophers across humanity’s spiritual and civilizational traditions. It is also the method which built the labor movement and which Saul Alinsky brought into community organizing. We ask agitational questions which surface the stories of the people we engage. We map out their interests and values, their networks and capacities. And then we ask further questions which challenge them to situate themselves and their lives –their hopes and their struggles– in a broader context.

We are currently working on the following initiatives:

Research and Scholarship

Finding Our Way: A Summa for an Era of Spiritual and Civilizational Crisis: This work uses an updated version of the medieval quaestio method to explore systematically fundamental questions of meaning and value, from what we can know and how, through the nature and meaning of space and time, the emergence of complex organization,the human civilizational project, and the ends of human life. It engages the complex question of “God,” bringing it into dialogue with alternative approaches to the problem of first principles, such as the Buddhist concept of interdependent generation, and works a synthesis. It then goes on to chart a distinctive way of being human, centered on seeking wisdom, doing justice, and ripening being. The work engages these questions in a way that is informed by a –critical– engagement secular science and which is in dialogue with essentially all of humanity’s spiritual and civilizational traditions.

Meaning, Values, and Power: An In-Depth Interview Study of the Ways in Which Ordinary People Approach Questions of Meaning and Value and Act on their Answers Across all Dimensions of their Lives: This study uses a revised version of Dan McAdam’s Life History interview protocol, coupled with well established assessments to help us understand how people across class, gender, and ethnoreligious divides approach and act on questions of meaning and value. It has the dual purpose of creating an ongoing, evolving ideological map of our society and of pinpointing the causes for the continuous re-emergence of authoritarian tendencies.

Political-Theological Analysis: We continue to publish regular analysis of current events which situates them in a broader civilizational context, drawing on our distinctive model of the way in which human civilizations develop.

The Alchemist’s Kitchen: This is an exploration of the complex relationship between gastronomy, science, and the sacred in the context of a culinary “book of secrets.”

The Desire to Be God

The Desire to Be God is a multimedia creative project exploring the human condition and the human civilizational project through image, story, and (eventually) music. This complex, constantly evolving project began with a cluster of short stories and novel fragments which crossed the lines between magic realism, science fiction, alternate history and other genres. It explores the same questions as Finding Our Way, but by means of image and story rather than concept and argument. We hope eventually to add an interactive element to the project, creating what we call an altereality, a game which effectively changes reality.

Seeking Wisdom Online:

We offer a variety of educational videos through our YouTube channel, and will soon be linking them to an online course platform to offer a distance only program to train scholars, teachers, organizers, and pastoral leaders. The following series are currently available:

  • Introduction to the Humanities
  • World Religions
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Power and the Common Good

Finding Your Way

We offer a a cluster of individual and collective processes using in-depth interviews, quantitative assessments, and ongoing study and mentoring to help individuals decide for themselves what it means to be human, and to develop a personal business plan to be able to act on those decisions effectively under current conditions. We offer both an individualized process and a more economical group process linked with the courses listed above. This service is offered through Guide for the Perplexed, our channel for spiritual and pastoral work.

Organizing and Consulting

Defending and Advancing the Liberal Arts, especially in historically oppressed communities, along with the traditions of academic freedom, faculty governance, and institutional autonomy the liberal arts require in order to thrive. We do this through a leadership advisory and strategic consulting services for colleges and universities as well as through blogs and advocacy.

Helping Organizations Find Their Way: We work with academic, spiritual, civic, and political organizations to help them understand their comparative advantages and existing and potential constituencies, define their value proposition, and build the power necessary to realize their missions.

These services are offered through Brigata Camaru, a leadership advising and strategic consulting practice which is part of Seeking Wisdom.

Craft and Merchant Projects

The Alchemist’s Kitchen is our website devoted to the relationship between gastronomy, science, and the sacred and contains history, theory, and recipes which will eventually become part of a major scholarly cookbook.

Ripening Being is our Etsy site where we sell artwork, greeting cards, and other products to support Seeking Wisdom.