“Death and Taxes: Humanism and the Limits of Charity”

“Death and Taxes, Part One: Humanism and the Limits of Charity”
“Death and Taxes, Part Two: Humanism, Death, and Cultural Production”

Anthony Pinn

By death and taxes I mean to point out two anecdotal certainties of life – human mortality and human need. More to the point, the “all I have to do is pay taxes and die” statement highlights an awkward recognition of two examples of human uncertainty, or human frailty. In some of my recent work, I’ve turned attention to an exploration of these two episodes of uncertainty. I bring my recent exploration to the Collegium by addressing the nature and meaning of this human uncertainty/frailty framed in terms of death and charity (as a response to human need). My goal is to explore how humanism might respond to these markers of human frailty, and in this way I want to give greater attention to the human in humanism. The first presentation uses Albert Camus and other thinkers to wrestle with the ultimate utility of charity. The second presentation extends my _The End of God-Talk_ by exploring death (in both existential and ontological terms) through Camus and hip hop culture. To get my conclusions, you’ll need to attend the sessions!

Anthony Pinn, our 2014 Distinguished Scholar, is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas.