I have some overarching themes and interests, and I am grouping them here into several categories:
- Political theory. For many years I taught classes about human rights and social justice. I developed an interest in political philosophy as well as political economy. The condition of our lives now depend on worldwide political and economic trends that nobody really understands anymore. Political philosophers face huge challenges when they try to adapt models of governance to a changing and unevenly globalized world.
- Nature, Environment, Ecology. This includes entries relating to the theory of evolution, biology in general, as well as environmental studies and ecology. What’s at stake here is our relationship to nature. This cannot be captured through science alone, or through the political efforts to stop global warming. Nature has deep meaning for all of us, but how do we express it?
- Area Studies: This field originates in geography, but includes interdisciplinary studies of particular geographical, political or cultural regions. I developed an interest in it based on my travels and after studying the theory of globalization a few years ago.
- Existentialism. It’s not a philosophical system; it describes a movement that centers on the uniqueness of our lives. Existentialism can be found in literature, philosophy, and the arts. It was an early 20th-century movement with many historical and intellectual roots. Thinkers as diverse as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre belong to it. I am including Emmanuel Levinas as well, because his theory centers on the existential encounter with the Other, even though he is more of a phenomenologist. Existentialism continues to bear fruit in our times.
- Psychoanalysis. I have probably devoted the most energy in my life to the study of psychoanalysis. The writers that interest me most are Freud, Bion, and of course Lacan, who was the topic of my dissertation. Jung is becoming interesting as well, but I need more time to read.
- Mysticism. A class about mysticism gave me the opportunity to revisit my early ideas about spirituality, religion, and theology. Buddhism and Zen mix well with our Western ideals of compassion and balance with nature, but the traditional Western religions are also still attractive for millions of people. We are witnessing new religious wars in the Middle East, and at the same time modern science has opened up a perspective of profound nihilism. Is there something to mystical experiences, and can this be a foundation for a new dialog between the different camps?