2016: Terry Eagleton, Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, delivers the ninth annual Theos lecture
Wholly Living: A new perspective on international development
10th October 2010
In developing countries, poverty, disease and starvation are a reality for millions. In the developed West, social problems abound.
Neither of these contexts represents human fulfilment. Why is it that an existence conducive to human flourishing eludes so many people?
Wholly Living attributes both material and relational poverty to the prevailing understanding that economic growth is the sole indicator of progress. The report advocates a holistic approach that recognises that a society is more than its economy.
Our emphasis on personal gain as the ultimate priority has led to a devaluation of relationships, and our image of ourselves as disconnected individuals severely impedes our ability to live well.
The product of a year-long research project into what constitutes human flourishing, conducted by Theos, CAFOD and Tearfund, Wholly Living aims to bring the inadequacy of traditional indices of development from the intellectual margins to the heart of public debate, in order that its practical implications for UK policy may be considered. While policy, both domestic and international, cannot make people more productive, creative or relational, its strategic implementation removes obstacles and facilitates a shift in attitude.
While the theory of human flourishing outlined here draws on a Christian understanding of humanity, the resulting recommendations are accessible and of relevance to all those who are concerned about our growth-oriented society.