Our experiment concerns the relations among and between knowledge, thought, and care, as well as the different forms and venues within which these relations might be brought together and assembled. Our commitment is anthropological, a combination of disciplined conceptual work and empirical inquiry. Our challenge is to produce knowledge in such a way that the work involved enhances us ethically, politically, and ontologically.
Such a project obliges us to think. Thinking no doubt involves the work of "freeing-up" possibilities: demonstrating contingency precisely where necessity is expected. But in zones where contingency has become dominant, where heterogeneous truth claims abound, where stable relations have become unstable, and elements, old and new, are being re-assembled, thinking must shift modes. Thinking involves the work of contributing to the form of the near future, scientifically and ethically. Such form-giving, we are persuaded, should be oriented, guided, and evaluated by the hope and goal, the metric, of mutual flourishing. That today we have barely any idea of what such flourishing might consist in, only underscores the urgency and joy of undertaking the challenge.
An initial step and partial motivation for this site is to look back to a moment in which such conceptions and practices did exist. For Diogenes and other Cynics truth telling was integral to a form of life. The question was: what form of life is there such that frank speech (parrhesia) can be a formative practice. Said more generally: What is the form, mode and practice of a philosophic life: a bios philosophikos? The curve of Western philosophy has been to place more and more emphasis on deciding whether or not something is true while practices of spirituality have been confiscated by religion. The challenge of a contemporary anthropology is to invent and experiment with new forms of relating them. The question: what is a worthwhile -- salvational -- philosophic and anthropological practice today?
It follows that our challenge is to invent and to practice new forms of inquiry, writing and ethics for anthropology and her sister sciences and to invite others to do likewise. The dominant knowledge production practices, institutions, and venues for providing an understanding of things human in the 21st century are derisory when measured against the ethical, political, and ontological significance of such work. Thinking requires sustained work on the self, with all this entails in terms of adjustments in modes of reasoning and the venues whose mandates are to foster thought.