Spirit Matters: A Series Exploring Identity, Religion, and Human Rights

"The Rights of Others: Citizens, Migrants and Residents"
Seyla Benhabib, Ph.D.

Chapel co-founder Dominique de Menil built her life according to the belief that spiritual forces are of consequence in real world affairs.  She insisted that a capacity for reverence was essential to successfully advancing justice.  And yet, contemporary religious forces often seem to be at odds with human rights concerns. Though the passion for human rights involves a deep commitment to equality of all people and their right to flourish, the underlying legal framework of human rights discourse, with its foundation in enlightenment philosophy, often ignores humankind’s spiritual aspirations and constitution.   Human rights are, in this sense, built upon a discourse of “universality.”  Religion, especially as it intersects with nationalism and culture, is often (though clearly not always) a domain of particularity that highlights difference– the saved and unsaved, believers and unbelievers, us and them.  Speakers in this series will explore the tension between a universal discourse on human rights and the particular claims religion makes on its adherents: in what ways does religion further the promotion of human rights?  In what ways does religion inhibit the promotion of human rights? And how can the conversation transcend a legal framework and remain open to the deepest longings of the human spirit?

Well-known scholars and intellectuals conversant in the world’s philosophical and religious traditions will deliver a series of lectures.  They will represent various faith perspectives in the promotion of human rights and will address a range of human rights concerns.

Seyla Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and former director of Yale University’s Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics (2002-2008).  She is the author of many books, including The Rights of Others: Aliens, Citizens and Residents (2004), which won the Ralph Bunche award of the American Political Science Association (2005) and the North American Society for Social Philosophy award (2004).

Friday, April 29, 2011
7:00 PM

Engage with various faith perspectives in the promotion of human rights.