Philosopher discusses war and its alternatives in annual Zerby lecture

Sam Keen

Philosopher, author and producer Sam Keen gives a presentation titled The Lasting Appeal of War and the Quest for a Moral and Erotic Alternative at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave. The public is invited to attend the 2008 Zerby Lecture in Contemporary Religious Thought, sponsored by the Office of the Multifaith Chaplain, free of charge. For more information, please call 207-786-8272.

“To make any progress toward a more peaceful world, we need to begin by questioning the accepted wisdom that we hate war and love and long for peace. Far from simply being morally outraged by war we have a clandestine love affair with violence, a dreadful attraction, a perverse eros,” says Keen.

Keen’s working hypothesis, he says, is that “the habit of war is embedded in a complex social and political creation that satisfies many social, political and psychological needs not otherwise acknowledged by ‘good’ people. To break the hypnotic power of the warfare system we must explore our cultural fascination with the myth of redemptive violence, deconstruct the  myth, unmask the hidden appeals. ”

Our only hope of waking up from the “nightmare of history,” he says, is to replace the warfare system “with an equally complex system aimed at providing alternative ways of satisfying basic needs for identity, meaning, heroism, belonging, adventure and rites of passage. ”

Educated at Harvard and Princeton universities, Keen was a professor of philosophy and religion at what he calls “various legitimate institutions” and a contributing editor of Psychology Today for 20 years before becoming a freelance thinker, lecturer, seminar leader and consultant. The author of a dozen books, he is the co-producer of an award-winning PBS documentary,Faces of the Enemy.  His work was the subject of a 60-minute PBS special with Bill Moyers titled Your Mythic Journey with Sam Keen.

When not writing or traveling worldwide lecturing and leading seminars, Keen cuts wood, farms in the hills above Sonoma, hikes and practices the flying trapeze.

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