December 10-11, 2010
Desire is arguably a constitutive feature of human being—and one, in any case, in which our contemporary culture is heavily invested. But what exact role does desire play in the accomplishment and thwarting of true flourishing in individuals and communities?
The theological heritage of desire has roots going all the way back to St. Augustine, who famously claimed that our desire for God mobilizes our fundamental ‘restlessness’ as creatures. Though clearly implicated in our collective flourishing, both desire’s precise nature and the extent to and means by which we ought to discipline and channel it remain matters of great debate. To ask about the necessary transformations human desire must undergo in order to facilitate the flourishing of human beings is also to recapitulate, on a more concrete level, the questions explored in our first consultations: is God necessary to human flourishing and, if so, of what relation are non-theological conceptions of flourishing to properly theological ones? This consultation assembled scholars concerned directly with these questions, each engaging in a reading of how desire circulates in our present culture and of what sorts of visions of the good life undergird, chasten, and animate our loving and wanting.