Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Academic Units with Mildly Amusing Names, #2 in a Series

The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. I only want to gently mock these folks, because they actually seem to be pursuing some interesting topics (ie, how you get from kin selection to group selection to seemingly un-genetically-motivated acts of altruism).

Unlimited Love means love for all humanity without exception. Participation in this love inspires inner peace, abiding kindness and service. People of "Unlimited Love" deeply affirm and serve all humanity without exception. Participation in this love is the pinnacle of spirituality, inspiring inner peace, abiding kindness and effective action in the world. This love is expressed in a number of ways, including empathy and understanding, generosity and unselfishness, compassion and care, altruism and self-sacrifice, celebration and joy, and forgiveness and justice. In all of these expressions, unlimited love acknowledges the absolutely full significance of every human being that, because of egoism or hatred, we otherwise acknowledge only for ourselves or those closest to us.

How do we understand Unlimited Love?

Just as we investigate the force of gravity or the energy of the atom, we can scientifically examine the power of unlimited love in human moral and spiritual experience. Even though thousands of books have been written about this love, they have focused on the history of theological and philosophical ideas without considering scientific research. How can we better understand unlimited love in a way that brings together evolution, genetics, human development, neurology, social science, and positive psychology with great religious thought and practice, and with the moral vision of a common humanity to which all great spiritual traditions give rise?

This mess seems very tightly linked to the Templeton Foundation. I dunno, maybe there is something there but the name makes it way too woo-woo for me and I suspect for most people. Why "unlimited"? Wouldn't it be better to start out by understanding limited love, which maybe you could measure somehow? But that wouldn't be pushing the right theological buttons I suppose.

#1 in the series may be found here.

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