A Dynamic Political Anthropology: Reframing Thomas Moore’s Spirituality

Conference: The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy (ACERP2022)
Title: A Dynamic Political Anthropology: Reframing Thomas Moore’s Spirituality
Stream: Religion - Religion and Peace Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Nathan Garcia, Oblate School of Theology, United States


The challenge of maintaining political solidarity in pluralistic societies has become a Herculean task. International meddling in elections, divisive national debate, and unequal representation foment dialogical discord. What is needed today is a versatile anthropology to begin constructively framing our diverse beliefs. I argue that Thomas Moore’s spirituality offers an anthropological foundation capable of fostering political dialogue. To this end, Moore outlines three indispensable virtues: First, the mystery he terms soul is the creative, passionate impetus at the source of our vitality. Second, his concept of psychological polytheism describes the complex, often paradoxical ways we know and express ourselves. Third, he emphasizes being open to life’s challenges, even if it spells discomfort and self-reevaluation. These observations are not abstract principles but universal dimensions of human experience. Further, that even in their universality, they accommodate diversity, change, and interpersonal connection. Based on Moore’s spirituality, this tripartite anthropological foundation acknowledges the validity of personal feelings and imagination [soul]. It accepts diverse expressions in rationalities and charisms (psychological polytheism). It encourages the world to both challenge and mold you (open to life’s challenges). In the absence of a national ethos, the way to restore civil discourse and constructive political engagement is to have a shared anthropology. Thomas Moore’s spirituality provides a tenable foundation for this purpose. If we take these dimensions seriously, then we have a basis for a dynamic anthropology that accommodates the passions, complexities, and changes in the body politic.

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